To his horror, he realized he’d been this way before, but it had been a dream then, and it was very very real now, as the road curved to the right and then to the left. He slowed his car down to look, and yes, there was the burned out building on the left, with the business sign on a 20 ft pole by the street, the front cracked and mostly missing, except for the silhouette of a black cat on one corner. Now there was going to be a grimy local convenience store on the right, and there it was.
He wasn’t sure why he had chosen to take this particular road home from the business meeting. He’d been preoccupied with thoughts of what his wife was going to make for dinner and trying to remember if there was a basketball game on tonight, just simple thoughts really, although he’d also thought briefly about the peculiar mole the man he’d met had above his left eyebrow. It was darkest brown and large and in the shape of a gum drop, and it kept moving as his potential client talked. It was quite distracting, actually. He’d tried to put the mole image out of his head, because it mildly repulsed him and the man was very nice, otherwise. He’d like to have him as a client. Perhaps mostly by phone and computer though.
He could turn around and go back to find his normal route home but his car had only a quarter tank of gas and he had no idea where there was a gas station in the area. It was probably just a coincidence that he’d dreamed about driving this road. What was up ahead? Ah, yes the same row of apartment buildings, with kids playing ball in the parking lot. And right there–was an L shaped single level business complex, with most of the windows empty. There were no other cars on the road, just like in his dream.
A feeling of dread grew in him as he saw familiar landmarks to the right and to the left and to the right again. And up ahead, if things continued like this….the bridge over the river. And after he crossed over the bridge, he’d see the same burned out building again, and the convenience store and he’d drive and drive and drive on an endless loop with no way out. He’d always wake up from this dream sweaty, his heart pounding, and his wife murmuring half awake soothing sounds.
Was there a way off this path? Could he turn down a side street and break free? He wasn’t sure, and was afraid to try. What if there was something worse waiting for him down a dark side street?
He kept driving.
There was the bridge ahead. It was the moment of truth and his heart felt like it was going to leap out of his chest. The car tires hummed as he drove over the bridge and then he was on the other side. Was there going to be the burned out building ahead? Could he bear it? He stopped the car on the side of the road.
What is the worst that can happen? he asked himself. There might be the burned out building ahead, which means he is stuck in a loop. But maybe there isn’t. There was only one way to find out. And maybe if he IS in the loop he only thinks he’s not dreaming. Maybe he’s in the dream….and then he’ll wake up with his lovely wife lying next to him. And he loved waking up next to her.
“I’m on my way to you, one way or another, Margo,” he said out loud.
He moved his car back onto the road and began to drive.