The Dream by Ilan Herman


The Dream
by Ilan Herman

“Don’t get on the plane,” Andy pleaded. “It’s going to crash! Please listen to me!”

The passengers ignored him and boarded the plane. He stood breathless by the window overlooking the runway, sweaty palms pressed against the chilly glass, and watched the plane taxi out from its hub. The plane revved its engines, rushed the runway and took off.

Andy breathed a sigh of relief. The plane seemed secure in the air…but then its cockpit arched downward….the plane fell from the sky and exploded in a ball of flames. The building shook. Window shattered. Andy fell to the floor and shielded his head with his arms. Shards of glass flew like bullets and pierced his back and embedded in his flesh.

Sweaty and frightened, Andy woke up. The clock on his nightstand showed six in the morning. He sat up and ran his bony fingers through his thinning reddish hair. His mind reeled with the frantic sensation of the plane engulfed in flames and people screaming.

A man of facts and logic, an accountant by trade, Andy, who’d never had a premonition, reluctantly followed his panicky intuition and decided to check on the flight schedules. In his dream, he’d known the flight was one leaving Los Angeles for Mexico City, and that it was to depart at 8:00 A.M.

The computer hummed in slow defiance, and took ten minutes to sift through the airport Web site to track the information—long enough for Andy, who’d recently quit smoking, to seriously consider resuming the nasty habit. Finally the schedule confirmed that American Airways Flight 305 was due to depart for Mexico City at 8:00 A.M.

Apprehensive and confused, but resolute, Andy rushed to his car. His lanky frame stooped over the steering wheel, he drove recklessly, which resulted in a cab driver giving him the finger and loudly referring to his mother in derogatory terms, and in a little old lady frozen in fright in the crosswalk of the intersection Andy’s car screeched through while running a red light. A quiet man who shunned public displays of emotion, Andy was nonetheless driven by the nightmare’s vividness, enough so, that he decided to risk embarrassment by raising public alarm.

“Better safe than sorry,” he muttered to himself. “What’s the worst that can happen if I’m wrong? I’ll take my chances of getting busted.”

Trying to chase away the dream’s fearful outcome, Andy shook his head like he was fending off a pesky fly, but the horrid images remained anchored in his mind; his racing heart would not calm.

Upon his arrival at the terminal, Andy left his Toyota Camry running at the curb and dashed inside. The terminal teemed with people, voices mixing in a loud buzz echoing off the high ceiling. Andy scanned the TV monitors displaying flight departures; there were hundreds of flights, and he was tapping his heels in frustration when he located Flight 305 boarding at gate 18-C. He followed the signs, climbed two flights of stairs, and ran down a long corridor before arriving at the check in counter, where passengers waited lined up in two long cues.

Bleary-eyed, unshaven, and dressed in crumpled light-green sweats, Andy’s voice quivered when he spoke to the young Hispanic brunette standing behind the ticketing counter. “Pardon me, miss, but who can I talk to about canceling this flight? I’m afraid it’s going to crash.”

The ticket clerk paled and pressed a red button beneath her counter that signaled security. Within seconds, two big men, one white, the other black, both dressed in dark-blue uniforms, came running toward the counter.

Andy saw them and ran up and down the line of passengers, waving his arms. “Don’t get on the plane! It’s gonna crash! Don’t get on the plane!”

Then he was tackled by the two security guards who threw him to the ground, handcuffed him, and whisked him away. He could hear a soothing masculine voice over the P.A. “Everyone please stay calm. The situation is under control. Boarding will resume in a few moments.”

Some passengers remained stoic while reading a newspaper or magazine; others rolled their eyes, shook their heads, and shrugged their shoulders at one another. One middle-aged woman, dressed in a gray business suit, silver hair cropped above her shoulders, shook her head and mumbled to herself, “There are too many nuts in this world.”

Andy was ordered into a bare room lit with bright florescent tubes. His wallet was confiscated, and his identity was checked for warrants and parole violations. Andy proved to be a model citizen: white middle-class middle-aged single male of Irish descent, no priors and no arrests, not even an outstanding parking ticket.

He was moved to a larger room furnished with two gray metal chairs separated by a black metal desk. Gruffly told to sit in one of the chairs, Andy watched a heavyset man with a crew-cut and a thin mustache enter the room and sit in the chair across the desk from him. The man’s pale-blue gaze raked over Andy’s face, and then he barked, “What the hell you think you’re doing?”

Andy tried to appear calm and sane as he replied, “I had a dream that the 8:00 A.M. flight to Mexico City will crash. I have to try and stop it. I don’t want these people to die.”

“A dream you say?” the man sneered. “Well, woopty-doo, I have dreams, too. Do you have any proof? Any real information we can use?” He leaned forward and placed his elbows on the metal desk.

“No, I don’t.” Andy shook his head and gazed at the floor beneath his feet.

“Is there a terrorist plan to blow this plane up?” The detective was now standing up, face leaning into Andy’s, the words, plan and plane peppered with drops of spit that landed on Andy’s right cheek.

“I don’t know . . .” Andy mumbled and shifted in his chair.

“You better not be holding anything back. If it turns out to be true, I guarantee you will fry!”

Andy slumped in his chair and whispered, “All I know is I had a dream . . .”

“Psycho,” the man with the crew-cut muttered and backed away from Andy.

The authorities checked and rechecked all baggage coming onto the plane, but no bombs or weapons were found. They zealously reviewed the passenger list and ended up refusing passage to four people who could possibly fit a suspicious profile. Mechanics sent to inspect all systems on the plane returned to report the plane was safe to fly.

The responsibility of authorizing Flight 305 for takeoff traveled up the FAA ranks until it reached the Pentagon, where the Secretary of Defense, surrounded by numerous aids dressed in starched military uniforms, conversed in low tones. At 10:00 A.M., two hours after the scheduled departure, the green light was given; the plane left the hub and taxied runway 101.

Surrounded by four investigators, Andy, fingers tapping his knees, sat in the security office. In tense silence, they watched the plane take off. It flew east over the ocean and soon became a blip on the control tower radar screen that was transmitted to a laptop sitting on the table.

The people in the stuffy office breathed a sigh of relief, and one of them chuckled and said, “Can we go to lunch, now?” when the blip on the radar screen disappeared.

The man with the crew-cut and the thin moustache slammed his fists on the desk and muttered obscenities.

Andy lowered his head and watched the tears stain his pants.

* * *

Kevin Bell was a decorated FBI investigator. A rotund man in his mid-forties, with vibrant black hair and dark-brown eyes, Kevin had a disarming demeanor and spoke in a warm baritone. When interrogating suspects, he relied heavily on his intuition, which he’d named Aunt Pam, in memory of his aunt who’d look into little Kevin’s eyes and know when he lied.

While his black Cadillac Escalade drove up to the airport security offices, Kevin was scanning his Blackberry for e-mail updates concerning the high-priority case assigned to him: interrogate the prime suspect in the downing of American Airways Flight 305, one Andy Clinton, a forty-eight-year-old accountant from Culver City, California, who worked for Bristol Mortgage, and who’d predicted the airplane crash by claiming he’d had a dream.

Followed by three tall agents, eyes shaded by sunglasses, leather shoes echoing off the hallway walls, Kevin paced toward the security offices where he met a man with a crew-cut and a thin moustache, who introduced himself as Detective Coolidge and firmly shook Kevin’s hand.

The FBI agent entered the florescent-lit room with the black metal desk and the two metal chairs. A pale, lanky man with thinning reddish sat in one of the chairs. Kevin Bell signaled all personnel out of the room and approached the desk, where he set his black leather briefcase. He sat in the chair across from Andy, surveyed the room and chuckled, “Austere ain’t it?”

The ragged man before him looked up with red, tired eyes; he shuffled in his chair and said nothing.
“Mr. Clinton, we need to talk, and soon,” Kevin said in a friendly tone while opening his briefcase and bringing out his files. “I have the Pentagon on my ass and a downed aircraft four miles deep in the ocean.” He turned a sympathetic gaze on the suspect. “Are you going to help me help you?”

Kevin was perturbed by what Aunt Pam was signaling to him. Pam thought the suspect had certainly not orchestrated the terrorist act, and that he probably knew nothing about how or why the plane crashed. Is he a lunatic? Is he a terrorist? How did he know this was going to happen? What else does he know?

Kevin interrogated the suspect. An exasperated and exhausted Andy had no answers. An hour passed in interrogation when a polygraph machine lumbered into the room. Kevin did the test that yielded no sign of lying or hiding anything. The machine’s quivering tentacles insisted that Andy indeed had a dream that predicted the future.

It was past midnight when Andy was moved to an FBI facility. Sitting on a thin mattress in a twelve-square-foot cell with a toilet in the corner, he was offered a roast beef sandwich, coleslaw, and a coke. He ate in ravenous bites, and then lay on the bed and fell asleep.

Watching the detainee via two-way mirror, Kevin was also chewing on a roast beef sandwich.
“Dang you and the torpedoes,” he muttered and tossed the sandwich wrapper into the trashcan.

Three days passed. Under heavy media scrutiny, with very powerful people noisily demanding answers and becoming increasingly impatient with his inability to provide any, Kevin Bell continued to interrogate the suspect. No answers came. Pressure tactics like sleep deprivation, standing in one spot for hours, speed metal music played at an excruciatingly loud volume, and denying the detainee bathroom privileges, also proved ineffective. One of the interrogators suggested water-boarding but Kevin stood firm against it. “I’ll do it on fuckin’ Jihadists, but he’s one of us.”

Civil rights advocates headed by Zelman Shapiro, a Beverly Hills lawyer, questioned the legality of the investigation. Is there a charge? And if there is, what is it? Andy is a citizen entitled to his rights. Should we start incarcerating people just because they dream? Not only should he be released, but he should be commended for his effort to avert a tragedy. So preached Shapiro, a man who resembled Marlon Brando in his waning years, as he visited TV and radio talk shows.

Within two weeks, the groundswell of support for Andy reached fever pitch. He became a national hero. “It’s the classic case of the little man bulldozed by the system trying to save its own skin, and it ain’t gonna fly,” Zelman Shapiro argued when interviewed on HBO’s “The Week in Politics,” a liberal talk show hosted by Freddy Maher. “Slogans like ‘In the interest of national security’ are maybe good for Arab students, but Andy is USA born and raised, as American as apple pie and Hummers.”

“I hear you, my brother,” Freddy said, then peered into the camera and bellowed, “Let him go!”

“Let! Him! Go!” The audience joined in the chant that reverberated in the room and rippled throughout the rest of the homeland. “Let Him Go!”

Kevin Bell was convinced that Andy knew nothing about how or why Flight 305 crashed. By that time, interrogator and detainee had spent more time together than most couples do when first caught up in the throes of passion.

As he’d done with all interrogation suspects, Kevin profusely apologized before and after putting Andy through an unpleasant interrogation, saying he hated doing so but had no choice. To his surprise, Andy understood, even supported his interrogator. “You’re only doing your job. I’d do the same if I were in your shoes.”

Andy was perplexed by his own almost joyful reaction to the interrogation. Throw everything you got at me, he’d mumble while standing still for six hours, because I, as much as you, want to find out why I had the dream and how I knew the freakin’ plane was gonna crash.

One night, Kevin showed up at Andy’s cell. He brought pepperoni pizza and a six-pack of Pepsi, and said, “Nothin’ like saturated fat and sugar to lighten the mood.”

The interrogations left Andy—a skinny man with a fast metabolic rate—hungry all the time; he relished the food. Kevin parsed a slice for himself, took a bite, and said, “Maybe you have a sixth sense, like in that movie where Bruce Willis is really dead, and the kid who sees dead people knows it, but won’t tell the Willis guy cause he doesn’t wanna hurt his feelings.”

“That was a good movie. I had no idea his character was dead,” Andy said.

He felt secure, could tell Kevin was looking for justice, not a scapegoat.

He developed a grudging sympathy for the restless FBI agent and his constant companion—a white mug filled with coffee. Andy quit coffee. He did so cause he knew that if he sipped the stimulating beverage, he’d want a cigarette. Fortunately, even if he was tempted to smoke, he could not: smoking was strictly prohibited in captivity.

“I knew that Willis guy was dead pretty much from the get-go,” Kevin said and sipped from his soda. “I noticed there were no other people around him and the kid when they hung out.”

“Good point,” Andy said. “I guess that’s why you’re an FBI man and I’m an accountant.”

Kevin pointed to Andy and laughed. “Some of us have all the fun.”

Andy shrugged. “I like predictable. I want to go home.” He still didn’t know why he dreamt about the plane crash. He didn’t dream again. The dream was a memory he wished to forget.

“You’ll be released soon enough,” Kevin said and sighed. “You’re a rock, and I ain’t gonna squeeze any water out of you.”

Kevin was fond of the nerdy accountant who said he felt guilty betting in his office pool, and who found security in counting the paces he took from his house to the corner bus stop.

Faced with Andy’s innocence, Kevin’s ironclad theories crumbled like a sturdy computer firewall when invaded by a super-virus. He became depressed and resumed drinking beer, a habit he discarded five years earlier.

* * *

Andy was released three days later, and returned home to face TV cameras on his front lawn filming the FBI car dropping him off. He stood quietly by Zelman Shapiro who shared with reporters what a great day it is for American civil liberties, how the system proved its inherent ability for self-correction. He also said that since his client was still under investigation, he would not converse with the press.

Andy shook Zelman’s clammy hand, and was reminded of the slimy slugs he used to catch when he was a kid. Then he entered his house, shut the door, and took the phone off the hook.

* * *

Sitting in the living room of her condominium overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Bay Bridge, Debra Morris, a business consultant for Horizon Telephone, watched Andy’s press conference. She sipped from her three-olive martini and sighed. He hasn’t changed much, she thought, though his hair used to be really thick.

Lori, a thin-limbed high-school senior with sparse freckles dotting her cheeks, joined her mother. She watched the press conference for a moment. “They let him go?”

Debra nodded. “Talk about barking up the wrong tree,” and wiped a tear.

“What’s wrong, Mom?”

Debra shrugged. “Nothing. Just memories.”

“Of what?” Lori asked, eyes darting from her mother to the TV screen.

Debra crossed her legs. “Really, it’s nothing.”

“I don’t believe you,” Lori said “So unless you wanna be nagged to death, you better tell me what’s up.”

Debra sighed and sipped from her martini.

* * *

“Alone at last,” Andy declared and slumped into his maroon armchair. He was sad, quiet life turned inside out by fifteen minutes of fame he hadn’t asked for and didn’t need. He wanted to smoke a cigarette, but decided not to. He called his work place and was sympathetically granted a week’s leave.

In that time, Andy and his maroon armchair grew fond of each other and watched TV. At night, still in his slippers, Andy shuffled to his bedroom where he dreamed about standing naked atop a frozen mountain peak. He pinned a Do Not Disturb sign on his front door. The phone remained unplugged except five minutes a day when Andy ordered spaghetti and meatballs and a Caesar salad from a an Italian restaurant that delivered. His message service brimmed with unreturned calls, but he did answer e-mails that dealt with accounting issues of his clients. The TV cameras and tabloid reporters left after three days. Andy was alone and lonely; he had no family and few friends, and realized he’d lived his life wrapped in a bubble of statistics and numbers.

While Andy communed with his maroon armchair, Kevin Bell asked to be taken off the case, and then drove to San Diego, where he checked into a motel by the ocean.

He stayed a week, morning strolls on the beach and Coors Light the rest of the day until he passed out. His divorce haunted him, how philandering and compulsive gambling led to Judy, his wife, gaining custody of their two young daughters. Then Judy started fresh in New Zealand, where her brother lived. Naomi and Emily were now teenagers. The heartache of losing his fatherly privileges would never abate.

Kevin had drowned his pain in eighteen-hour work days. Now he wasn’t working and the pain returned, compounded by the unsolved mystery of the airplane crash.

As he drove back to LA, bleary-eyed from a week of drinking and sour memories, Kevin decided to talk with Andy one more time and offer an apology.

He called Andy’s home number; no one answered.

“He’s there,” Aunt Pam whispered inside his head.

Kevin drove to Andy’s house. He walked up the path, saw the Do Not Disturb sign and knocked loudly. “Open up, Andy. It’s Kevin. I need a minute of your time.”

Andy was sitting in his armchair absorbed in Survival: Fiji.

He got up and opened the door a crack. The disheveled agent fidgeted on the doorstep.

“Are you alone?” Andy asked.

Kevin spread his arms. “Nothin but lil’ ole me.”

Andy opened the door. “You look like crap.”

“And feel like it, too,” the agent said. “I’m quitting the agency.”

Andy raised his eyebrows. “I’m sorry to hear that. I thought you liked your work.”

“Too much pressure . . .” Kevin said. “Can I buy you a beer for old times sake?”

A tepid drinker, Andy initially declined, but Kevin managed to coax the accountant out of his residence and into a neighborhood pub nestled in the mall across the street from Andy’s house.

The establishment had a bar with high stools, a pool table, a dart board, and three booths with red vinyl couches set in the back. The air was thick with cigarette smoke. They settled in a booth. A blonde in tight black jeans and a black leather jacket came up to take their orders.

“How come people smoke in here? It’s against California state law,” Kevin said.

“Some laws need to be broken,” the waitress quipped in a Southern drawl.

“Do you get fined?”

“We did, but now the cops pretty much leave us alone. Watcha having?”

“Two Coors Light and two Crown Royals straight-up.” Kevin made the V sign on both hands.
Andy said, “I don’t drink hard liquor.”

“The shots are for me.” Kevin chuckled and pointed two thumbs at his own chest.

He pulled out a pack of Marlboro Reds and a Zippo lighter, fished for a cigarette, shoved it in the corner of his mouth and lit the Zippo. His eyes curved in toward his nose to make sure the cigarette was lit. He dragged deeply and blew out two smoke rings.

“Ain’t life grand. I get to smoke in a bar again, just like a civilized man should.”

“I didn’t know you smoked,” said Andy.

Kevin shrugged. “No smoking in federal buildings, though I wish I could light up. I dig the idea of a smoky room.”

“Yeah, that’s old school,” Andy said, “but you should quit. I used to smoke but don’t anymore.”

“Good for you. How did you quit?” Kevin asked.

The waitress came with the drinks.

Kevin gulped a shot, swigged from the beer, gulped the other shot, and drank from the beer. He slammed the bottle on the table. “Wheeya,” and puckered his lips.

Andy sipped lightly from his beer and said, “I went to a hypnotherapist. He planted the suggestion in my mind, gave me confidence to quit.”

“That’s cool. Maybe I should try . . .” Kevin’s words trailed off. “Hyp-no-ther-a-pist!” He sat up. “You never said anything about a hypnotherapist. When was that?”

“About five weeks ago. It was cool . . .”

Kevin hissed. “What’s his name?”

“Why do you ask?” Andy was frightened by Kevin’s abrupt manner.

“Give me his freakin’ name,” the FBI agent hollered. Aunt Pam chugged like a freight train at a railroad crossing, whistle-blow steaming the frosty dawn.

Kevin reached for his cell phone and mobilized two FBI teams.

One team raided the offices of Dr. Mark Morgan at 1232 Lilly Street, while the other knocked on the front door of the doctor’s residence, woke the therapist, and politely yet firmly asked him to accompany them.

“Where are you taking me?” the therapist asked, voice aquiver as he entered the black SUV.

The agent beside him didn’t respond. Neither did the two agents sitting in the front seat. Dr. Morgan looked out the window—the route to his office. He sighed and slumped in his seat.

The doctor walked into his office where he saw a rotund man with tired eyes sitting behind the desk upon which lay an open folder. The man pointed to the chair across the desk. The doctor sat with his palms between his thighs; sweat glistened on his brow.

The man introduced himself as Agent Kevin Bell, of the FBI, and read from the open folder. “Captain Steve Evans, fifty-two, works for American Airways. Acute anxiety and suicidal thoughts. Responded well to hypnosis treatments. Prescribed Ativan, one milligram every four hours.”

Kevin frowned at the doctor. “Didn’t respond well enough, did he? And now we have two-hundred people four miles deep in the ocean, and we can’t even recover the flight recorder.”

In a shaky voice the doctor said, “He didn’t want the airline to know. He was scared of getting fired and losing his pension. He was getting better . . . I thought he was getting better.” he shook his head, “I’m sorry . . . I’m sorry.”

“Sorry ain’t good enough, pal,” Kevin said. Then he looked at the doctor’s schedule. “The pilot came for his appointment on August seventh at two in the afternoon, and the patient following him was Andy Clinton.” He lay down the schedule. “How did Andy know?”

The doctor sat up. “Andy was in hypnotic sleep when the pilot returned to my office. He mentioned having an eight o’clock flight to Mexico City and that he didn’t think he could fly. I told him to do his breathing exercises and take an Ativan before he boarded.”

“Andy retained the conversation in his subconscious?” Kevin asked.

“Highly unlikely, but possible,” the doctor whispered.

Kevin lit a cigarette and blew two smoke rings. “So… the pilot flipped out. Maybe he had a gun. He shot the co-pilot, turned the gun on himself and took the plane and passengers to their watery grave.” His eyes drilled the doctor. “Is that what happened?”

The doctor cowered in his chair and whispered, “It’s possible.”

Kevin snapped his fingers at an agent. “Get him outta my face.”

Knees shaking, the doctor staggered out of the office.

“You can come out now,” Kevin said.

Andy stepped in from the waiting room.

“Mystery solved.” Kevin clapped twice. “Guess I wanna keep my job after all.”

Andy shook his head. “I wish I could’ve saved these people.”

“You tried your best,” Kevin said. “It’s that a-hole doctor that screwed up.”

He picked up the cigarette pack that lay on the desk, offered Andy a cigarette and chuckled. “It took a dive bar where smoking rules don’t apply to get the bastard.”

Appalled by the glee in Kevin’s voice, Andy stood up. “I don’t smoke, and I want to go home.”

“Have a nice life, buddy,” Kevin said and stood up to shake Andy’s hand.

The accountant lightly shook the agent’s dry palm, and was escorted out by an agent.

Kevin Bell sat in the doctor’s leather swivel chair. He placed his feet on the desk and his palms under his neck.

“Ain’t life grand,” he said. Then he smiled. “Good job, buddy,” he said loudly.

His smile faded and was replaced by the vacant expression of sad resignation.

* * *

Andy slumped in his maroon armchair. The truth had only deepened his sadness. He was a pawn in the game played by an unscrupulous therapist and an equally devious FBI agent, both looking out to save their reputation. He reached in the drawer by his chair and pulled out a pack of Camel Filters. The pack lay in the drawer as proof of his resolve.

Andy sometimes fondled it and said, “You don’t have power over me. I decide if I will smoke or not.”

His resolve drowned in contempt of the man who’d helped him quit, a man he no longer respected or trusted, the man going to jail, put there by a drunken egotist who eyed his suspects through the lens of his need for promotion—a bottomless pit of insecurity never satiated by accolades.

If I didn’t quit smoking, none of this crap would’ve happened, Andy thought. He lit a cigarette that tasted deliciously bitter-sweet and filled his head with a pleasant buzz.

Andy smoked the cigarette to its butt, then lit another, and another after that, until the pack was empty and he grew nauseous and his temples throbbed with pain.

The clock above the fireplace showed five in the morning when Andy fell asleep in his armchair and dreamed about Steve Evans, the pilot of flight 305, and the doomed passengers aboard the airliner.

Someone knocked on the door. Andy sat up in the chair, mouth dry tongue crusty. The clock above the fireplace read ten in the morning. The knock on the door sounded again. Andy staggered to the door and peered through the peephole. A young woman with blue eyes and blondish hair pulled back in a ponytail stood on the doorstep.

He opened the door to a crack. “What can I do for you?”

“Are you Andy Clinton?” the young woman asked in a soft voice.

“I am.”

“Can we talk, please?” A tear rolled from the corner of her right eye.

“Why are you crying?” Andy opened the door. “Please come in.”

The woman wiped the tear and entered the house.

Andy reached out to shake her hand. “What’s your name?”

“Lori Morris,” the girl said. “At least that was my name until a week ago.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m Debra Morris’s daughter.”

Andy’s inherent pallor, deepened by his recent incarceration, deepened further. He remembered the woman he loved, and the ugly breakup, when Debra was hooked on cocaine. He moved away, refusing to deal with her addiction and abuse anymore.

“Debra,” he whispered. “How’s your mother?”

“She’s okay, but she doesn’t know I’m here to see you.”

“Oh . . .” He shrugged and asked, “Why are you here?”

“She says that you’re my father,” Lori said the words that made Andy’s heart race faster than ever before.

“I don’t understand,” he finally managed.

Lori said that her mother found out she was pregnant after Andy moved away. She raised Lori on her own and denied Andy the knowledge of his daughter.

“But when she saw you on TV, she started to cry, and I knew something weird was going on. Then she told me the truth, and I knew I had to meet you.”

Andy’s knees quivered. He sat in his armchair, tears running down his pale cheeks.

“I didn’t know . . . I didn’t know,” he whispered. He wiped his eyes and stood up and held out his arms to his daughter who rushed to hug her father.

Much later, they sat sipping tea in the kitchen, when Andy said, “If it wasn’t for the dream, you’d never find out about me.”

Lori smiled at her father. “Probably not.”

Andy pondered why two-hundred people needed to die for him to unite with his daughter. That was not a thought he could ponder for very long. Somewhere, somehow, something breeds the reality we’re powerless to control, he thought, and mine is now with Lori, my daughter, the sweetest gift I wouldn’t dare to wish for even in my dreams.

He smiled at his daughter. “Maybe quitting smoking was a good idea after all.”

* * * * THE END * * * *
Copyright Ilan Herman 2014

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