Tamika Lamar keyed in and trudged to the same desk she’d written the factory’s procedures from for four years. What a dead end job. The place seemed to attract pale faced automatons like a robot magnet; the image of an electromagnet on a crane at a junkyard flashed in her mind. Opening her satchel wide, she filled it with her bag of Dove chocolates, her various lip glosses, her ink pens that looked like Crayolas, refills for the pens and her personal box of tissues. Her satchel wouldn’t fasten, so she put the tissues back.
Gaither Crumb, her boss, rushed up. “You’re late! Where is the zip seal application instruction? I sent you the pictures for it yesterday.”
At the anxious, reddened face she replied, “I dreamed a clear lake beckoned me and I drifted across it in a baby blue boat. I saw a golden trunk and opened it. A walnut tree popped out and a duck gave me walnuts to eat. They were really good. A young, handsome fella popped out of the trunk and we ate some of those giant campfire marshmallows. You never sent me any pictures.”
Crumb held his phone out and searched for a number. “Lisa, I got Tamika down here, she needs a drug test. Yes, Tamika Lamar. On a trip right now, or drunk or something. Well as soon as you get in; I’ll keep her here.” He looked back at her with his bottom lip poked out. “You sit tight. I’ll get Marvin to do up that procedure. I did too send you those pictures.” Hands in pockets, he stalked away.
“Tammy, why’d Old Ugly act like you took his teddy bear out of his sweaty hands and set it on fire?”
“Hi, Bev. I had a really lucid dream last night. I drifted across a peaceful, clear lake in a tiny blue boat and a white duck gave me walnuts to eat. Then me and Hambone ate some of those giant campfire marshmallows.”
“I think the new ones are too big, like they have a whole cup of sugar in each one. I thought you were allergic to walnuts.”
“No, I just said that to deter the awful coffeecake Crumb’s wife makes; it’s gaggable.”
“I know, I always wish there was a dog under the lunch table. Are you high?”
She sighed, letting her shoulders sag. “Because I told you a dream?”
“Nah, because you couldn’t care less that Ugly called in a drug test on you.”
Crumb appeared, his arms crossed. “Beverly, get back to work and mind your own business.” He motioned with his chin, saying, “You, come with me up to the Dispensary.”
Nurse Lisa shooed Crumb to end of the room with the audio test booth. In a hushed voice, she asked, “Tammy, why does your boss want you to have a drug test?”
“I dreamed I came up to a lake with a little skiff. I got in it and drifted across it. I saw a trunk and a tree popped out and a fella popped out and we ate some of those giant campfire marshmallows. Oh yeah, I ate some of the walnuts.”
“Blow into this tube as hard as you can.” Nurse Lisa went to fetch a pee cup. “Here, I’ll take that. Leave your pack in here and take off your jacket. Pee into this cup and bring it out right away. Don’t flush.”
When Tamika came back out, Crumb shoved her satchel away and snatched the foil wrapper off the table. “Dear Mr. Crumb, if you wanted some of that candy, you should have asked.”
Crumb smirked. “You’re on company property and I have a right to search for contraband.”
“Nurse Lisa, how can you not burn bridges if your boss is an arsonist?” The Twilight Zone theme emanated from her satchel. “This is Tammy. Yes, imminently. Okay.” She slipped the phone back in the satchel pocket. She peered directly at Crumb. “You did not send me those pictures.” Satchel and jacket tucked under her arm, she signed the custody label on the pee bottle and left.
A lanky guy leaned on his classic Camaro. “Say all your good-byes?” He opened the door for her.
As he started backing out of the Visitor’s spot, she said, “I told them my dream about a beautifully placid lake on which I drifting across in a shiny blue single-bench boat and how I saw a trunk made of gold with thick leather straps. A full-sized walnut tree popped out and walnuts went all over the place like soda pop fizz. A really smart-looking duck floated right up and gathered up lots of nuts with his wings. The duck gave me the walnuts to eat; he must have cracked them. Anyway, they were super good. Then you popped out of the trunk wearing a Tarzan loincloth and we ate up a whole bag of marshmallows.”
“You didn’t throw they bag in the water, did you?”
“You won’t see me trashing the environment.”
He grinned, showing lots of teeth. “Sweetheart, you won’t regret moving to Lexington. Us both getting jobs in the same area is some kind of Karma payback or something.”
“Nuts and puffs in a chocolate matrix.” He pulled into the lot. “I dreamed we were in spacesuits, ballroom dancing to Mozart. Decipher that one for me.”
“I think it’s good. Anything for you?”
“I want to share the dances and boats and ducks with nuts and all our dreams. Get enough rocky road for both of us!”