Some of The Dreams Lately…
Jim Morey was agitated. He had no idea what these people wanted, but they always came around on pay-days or the day after and cleaned out the Best Loved Books shelf. Rose
had been absent yesterday, and she hadn’t showed up again today. He hadn’t been able to restock Best Loved Books, and they were hanging around looking irritated at him and at
He’d been stuck at the register all day, and hadn’t been able to do payroll. Crap, crap, crap. He was at the register today, too. There’d been customers nonstop since he’d come in, so he hadn’t been able to get back to the office at all. Had Rose quit? Had something happened to her?
In the office, a tiny red light on his answering machine blinked to indicate that a message was waiting. But it was a payday, and the register was going to be slammed
all day. Whatever messages were left from before opening time, Jim would get later. The phone rang again. He picked up, juggling it while ringing up a sale for an angry-looking
woman in an embroidered jacket. “Morey’s bookstore,” he said. “Can you hold?”
After he’d collected her money, checked her books, and handed her the receipt, he held up his hand to the next customer in line and took the call.
“Hello, Mister Morey?” a voice said, “You don’t know me, but this is Rose DeCourtney’s mother. My name’s Lucy DeCourtney. I got a weird phone message from Rose today and I was worried about her, so I called the bookstore. Have you seen her?”
“Uh, Rose hasn’t been in yesterday or today,” said Jim. “I don’t know any details about it, but she’s been involved in a police investigation lately, and I’m worried about her too. Did she say what was going on when she called you?”
“No,” came the voice on the other end of the line, “but I’m almost sure something’s wrong.”
“Why do you think so, Mrs. DeCourtney?” Jim asked.
“It’s Miz, not Mrs,” said the voice on the other end of the line, suddenly flat where before it had had a softly musical cadence.
Uh oh, Jim thought. Touched a nerve there, didn’t I? “Uh, sorry about that, Miz DeCourtney,” he said. “Didn’t mean to offend.”
“It’s okay,” she replied. “I just …. I had this bad dream about her, and then there was the phone message, and… I know it doesn’t make much sense, but I’m her mom, and I’m worried about her.”
“Perfectly understandable, Miz DeCourtney,” said Jim. “I do apologize for cutting this short, but I have customers waiting in line here and I need to ring up their purchases.”
“Wait,” she said, “what’s going on with this police investigation?”
“I’m very sorry, Miz DeCourtney, but I don’t know much more than that, and all I can really tell you is to talk to the detectives. Uh, she’s been talking to an SFPD homicide detective about some case that happened a couple years ago. I think his name’s Flanagan. But that’s all I know. Bye now.”
The next customer was another regular, Doctor Abelard from the college. He bought a lot of books about psychology and history, and today was no exception. Jim wondered if anybody else knew the dear old doctor also read old used pulp thrillers and secondhand trashy romance novels.
“Sorry,” said Abelard. “But I couldn’t help overhearing. What was that about bad dreams?”
Jim shrugged. “Rose, the regular sales clerk here? She didn’t show up yesterday or today, and that was her mom. Says she had a bad dream about Rose.”
Abelard had turned pale. His eyes were wide and his hands were shaking. “I do hope she’s okay,” he said. “Some of the dreams lately have been real killers.”
What an incredibly weird thing to say, thought Jim, as a sudden silence fell in the store. The silence grew thick and tangible as Jim rang up the sale. Doctor Abelard turned and walked out, but then the other regulars all stared after him, then stared at each other, not moving a muscle. Even the ones in line didn’t step forward. Jim was just about to start being really creeped out by the pause, when suddenly it broke and the people started moving and talking again.
What was that all about? he wondered. And then, for no reason he could have ever articulated, he suddenly decided to stop wondering and put it out of his mind.
This is one chapter of The Hook, a novel which is being published serially on this site. This page links to all chapters so far serialized.
The complete novel is available from Amazon.