Buddy is bored with his life. Working at the local Office Max sucks. All he does is make copies for people and stacks shelves. He only took the job because his mom threatened to kick him out of the house, which would seem like a drastic thing to do if Buddy wasn’t a 32-year-old man with no defects.
He tries to tell her he has a job. He is a writer. She tells him to get a real job. He took the Office Max job to get her off his back. Plus he is tired of hearing her say: ‘why can’t you be like your sister? She’s out there making it. All you do is sit around my house, eat my food and daydream.’
Buddy is a dreamer all right. He comes up with a new scheme every other week that is going to make him rich. He figures once he gets rich, he can do anything he wants. He can even pursue his dream of being a Hollywood screenwriter and director like Spike Lee. He met Spike Lee once at a Knicks game. Buddy was selling popcorn in the aisles. He made an ass of himself and blames Spike for not given ‘a brother a break.’ One day he will make it big despite all of the non-believers.
Buddy walks to the corner store and picks up a copy of the Asbury Park Press. He is after the film review section, which he checks every week hoping to get inspiration from seeing what other people have written. He sees an ad that catches his eye: ‘we are looking for energetic people who want to have fun working in the entertainment industry. Unlimited income potential.’
Music to Buddy’s ears.
The ad gives a phone number to call. Buddy dials straight away.
A man answers.
“Do you have what it takes?” No small talk.
“I do,” Buddy answers. “I’ll do anything.”
“Good. Be here at 1 o’clock tomorrow!”
“Is that going to be a problem?”
“No sir. I’ll be there.”
The man hangs up without a good bye.
Buddy has a problem. He is working tomorrow. He can call in sick, but he doesn’t have anymore sick days left. And he’s been absent so many times that his boss told him if he missed one more day of work not to bother coming back. Buddy doesn’t care. This new job could be his chance to make it. This new job sounds like what he has been looking for all his life. Entertainment industry. Unlimited income. Everything he has ever wanted.
The man said to meet at the Holbert Building in downtown Philly. That means he has to catch a train. His mom won’t drive him. She wouldn’t understand. She doesn’t believe like he believes.
The meeting is in a white room. There is a black table in the middle of the room with two black chairs. Buddy sits down and waits. A man enters. He is wearing a black suit and dark sunglasses. The image reminds Buddy of the Matrix. He begins to think that the whole thing is a joke.
The man in black assures him that it is not a joke. The man in black is a member of a government organization that has been set up to eliminate dreamers and listless people. Buddy has been selected for termination.
Buddy demands to know why the government would want to get rid of dreamers. The man in black explains that dreamers are idle and dangerous to an orderly society. He recounts some of history’s most dangerous men who were dreamers – men with ideas and visions. The man in black quotes Lawrence of Arabia: “All men dream; but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds awake to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of day are dangerous men, that they may act their dreams with open eyes to make it possible.”
Buddy doesn’t understand.
“Idle dreamers are the worst breed of dreamers because they produce nothing,” the man in black adds.
“How can dreamers be dangerous?”
“They are dangerous because they are non-productive to an orderly society. Society needs people who do their part to keep the machine functioning. Society wants polite members. Society wants people who are content to work 9 to 5. Society wants people who are happy to work 60 hours a week and get paid for 40 hours. Society wants people who are happy to get 2 weeks vacation in June or July. Society wants people who are content to work until their bodies are useless to the society. Then they can chase their dreams. Society wants to keep the people strung out on the hope of a better tomorrow.” The man in black says all this with no emotion.
“The world needs dreamers, and besides I am not a dreamer. I have plans. Big plans. And just as soon as I catch a break, I’ll show all the cynics who doubted my abilities how wrong they were,” Buddy argues.
“Be that as it may,” says the man in black, “the government considers you to be a dreamer and all dreamers must be terminated.”
Buddy doesn’t want to die with his dreams unfulfilled.
Buddy doesn’t have a choice.
Buddy doesn’t know what else to do.
Buddy watches the lights fade to black.
“May I take your order please?”
A group of young professionals are laughing and joking with each other. They’ve had their menus for 20 minutes, but haven’t bothered to look at them. It’s Friday. They are in a good mood. There is no rush. It’s the end of a long profitable week. They just want to have a good time.
One of them looks up and sneers at the waiter who has interrupted their little party. A good servant should have manners. A good servant should know his place.
“Like we’re going to need more time,” she pauses, glances at his nametag and says his name with distaste, “Buddy.”
“But you can make yourself useful and get us some more drinks.” She says, and then returns to her happy little party.
Buddy wonders how he ended up here. Once upon a time he had dreams. Big dreams. But now those dreams are gone, dead and buried.Categorised in: short fiction