They stayed in the lounge with a few other people who had stayed at the dream house. There were two boys who belonged to a cult named True Believers who said that Jesus had talked to them when they dreamt. A girl whose eyes kept wandering toward the window, was obviously one of the dream addicts that Sebastian had spoken of. The employees at the dream house all knew her by name, and they stopped to talk to her often.
“The ultimate escapism,” noted Joel.
“How do you mean?” asked Lily looking up from a book.
“They can dream forever.” Joel shook his head. “It’s heaven, they don’t have to stop for food, or shelter. They’re immortal, they can just go on dreaming and dreaming.”
“Isn’t that what heaven is for?” The girl looked up. “The real heaven isn’t what I expected, but my dream heaven is just as its suppose to be. There’s angels singing, people caring, everything is perfect.”
“You, my dear,” Joan knelt beside her, “are not perfect. Nor am I, Nor is he, Nor is he. We’re imperfect gods living in an imperfect heaven. Is there anything that can be more perfect than that?”
“You wouldn’t understand, you can handle it.” The girl wiped her nose on her dirty robe.
“Yes I can.” Joan looked over at her friends, and said a silent thank-you to Marc for helping her. “But I couldn’t a few days ago. What’s your name?”
“Well Angela, let’s say tomorrow morning, instead of leaving town just to come back in, you spend the day with me.” Joan brushed Angela’s bangs from her eyes. “And if by tomorrow evening I haven’t changed your mind, you can go back to your dreaming.”
“What’s in it for me?” Angela tried to straighten the wrinkles from her gown.
“Well you have a chance of making a new friend, and,” Joan smiled and winked, “you have a chance of making something of yourself.”
Yeah, well. I’ll think about it.
I’ll think about it as I walk home. I’ll think about it tomorrow and maybe the next day, and the day after that. No big hurry I’ve got some good years left to think on it. What time is it anyway? Ten o’clock. I’ve got me plenty of time.
What the hell was that? Oh just someone falling asleep at the wheel and crashing through a fence. The playground fence. Oh shit.
Hey you, get the hell out of there! Come on Marc, you can run faster than this. Yeah right I can, I’ll be paying for this little burst of energy for the next week.
Get out of the way. Run! Hey you with the hat, can’t you hear me? Shit! He’s wearing a walkman. Lets go Marc, pump those legs.
I’ve got you. Let’s get the hell out of here.
“Not a bad city, wouldn’t want to live here though,” said Joel as they walked through a municipal park.
“The people really like their city,” Meribah agreed. “I guess that’s why they don’t like outlanders. But still they know better than to bite the hand that feeds.”
“Thus the free dream houses,” added Lily.
“I wonder how much of their income is directly associated with tourists?” said Marc.
“Probably close to twenty percent,” figured Meribah.
They stopped and looked at a stone sculpture. It depicted a girl laying in a meadow with a pack under her head for a pillow, while a boy stood guard of her unconscious body and prayed.
“The founders?” asked Lily.
“Probably so.” Joel continued to walk. “Meribah, in your travels have you seen money used anywhere else?”
“Yes, but it is always an internal thing. Used for trade purposes within a city or island. But we never had any trouble finding people with whom we could trade.” Meribah smiled. “After all, we were traders.”
“We are going to have to find something that we can trade for services and goods,” Marc said solemnly. “I think it’s only going to get more important as we go on. What do we have, or what can we make that we can trade?”
“So you see, Angela, I’m still finding myself. I’ve only just stopped denying that I was in heaven.” Joan took Angela’s hand. “Together, maybe we can find ourselves. And help others find themselves, and fight the urge of repeat dreaming.”
“Where would we stay? People here wouldn’t accept us as productive members of their society. What do we have to offer?” Angela shook her head.
“First and most important we offer to help stop a negative trend that has been building. Then we offer our services of rehabilitating the followers of that trend, and hopefully we’ll be able to be independent.”
“What would we do?” asked Angela a little more encouraged.
“I don’t know, bake bread, or maybe a laundry service.” Joan waved at the air. “Anything that will give us and them a purpose, and show the rest of heaven that you are worth something. What do you say?”
Angela’s only reply was a smile.
“Glad to see you could join us Mr. Labonté”
Who are you.
“I’m doctor Johnson. And you are at St. Peters Hospital.”
Oh. Hey Doc, I don’t feel so good.
“Well Mr. Labonté you’ve got a dis…
Doctor call me Marc, and just tell me. Am I gonna make it.
“Well Marc, it’s not good. If you were ten years younger.”
Never mind then. How’s the boy?
“He’s going to be okay. He’s lost his legs but he’s going to pull through.”
And the driver.
“He was dead before the accident. Heart attack.”
Doctor, get a nurse in here for a witness.
“A witness to what?”
Doctor, just do it. I don’t think I can stay awake much longer.
“Nurse come here.”
Is she here.
One of those male nurses eh? Good for you. Okay, now listen carefully. My lawyer’s name is Frank Scagnetti, tell him I want to give all my money to the kid. God knows he’ll need it.
“You mean the boy in the accident?”
Yes, and tell Frank he can have the house as payment. Got it?
And God saw that it was good.
“What do you mean, Marc isn’t going to wake up?” Lily shouted.
Sebastian scratched his head. “Oh he’ll wake up, but not here and not in this city.”
“So we’ll just take him out of the city right now,” Joel said.
“It’s not that simple. First of all, it’s night time and you know the rules.” Sebastian frowned. “And also moving a sleeper is never easy work.”
“But it can be done?” asked Lily.
“Oh yes it can be done, and it will.” Sebastian looked uncomfortable. “But first we have to wait till morning, and then we wait for the city people and their movers.”
“Why didn’t he wake up?” asked Meribah.
“Sometimes the dreams are so real that the spirit is fooled into thinking that they are. Marc forgot that he was in heaven, he’s forgotten that he’s dead,” said Sebastian.
“First thing tomorrow, your friends better be here to move him,” warned Joel.
“They will. I’ve already notified them.” Sebastian breathed in deeply for the first time. “I’ve got a room prepared for you next to your friend. I hope this will be alright.”
“In the morning then,” Joel said, and the three of them walked out.