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Flash Fiction: Dreams of Failure

Updated on August 7, 2012

Dreams of Failure

Every day from nine till five, I sit at my desk facing the door of the office and type up people's dreams. Dreams that will ultimately fail.

No one tries as hard as Pete, but the harder he tries, the further off course he goes. The first time I met him, I was sitting in the pub, stuffing peanuts in my mouth because they were free and I was hungry. Pete was sitting at a booth by the corner by himself; feet up on the green stained cushions, crisps down his shirt and a beer in hand. Every now and then an unsanitary word came out his mouth when his opposing team scored a goal on the box. I ignored him as I did all the other larger louts. During the week it was my job to help these drunken losers, but it was Friday night and I was one of them.

I guzzled down my pint of light and bitter as if it were holy water. I enjoyed the burning sensation as it went down my throat. We’re all going to hell anyway, it was best to get used to the heat. Maybe that’s what all my patients thought too. I stared blankly into the mirror above the vodka bottles. A grey haired man looked back at me as though passing judgement. It was hard to tell though; a thick fog hovered in the air.

A whistle sounded. I turned around saw a player being kicked off the field as the referee handed him a red card. “What!” A voice erupted from the corner. Pete was up on his feet – a quick reaction time considering. “The bastard! He can’t do that! It wasn’t a foul!” A group of geezers at the next table seemed to disagree. Within seconds chairs were being thrown across the room. Maybe now was the time to do something? But which side to defend? After all, Pete had started the brawl – then again, it was one against four. Hardly good odds.

A wrinkle-eyed man broke a leg off one of the bar stools and thrust the sharp, splintered weapon at Pete. The stick caught him in the abdomen and sent him crashing down onto the whiney floorboards. Blood spilled from his middle. My mind was made up. I jumped into the action. Catching the geezer off guard, I swiped the stick from his grasp and pointed it at his gang of over-aged thugs. “Now everyone lay off!”

The sound of sirens diverted my attention. The next thing I knew, a nurse in the back of an ambulance was stitching a cut on my forehead while the paramedics were all over Pete. That was how Pete ended up in my self-help scheme. After a few weeks in intensive care and several more in the clink, he decided to turn his life around. He sought me out.

“You are the only person who ever stood up for me.”

So three times a week he comes to our meetings and I set him and my other patients a daily programme to follow. Then at the end of the week I type up a progress report for each one of them. Their dreams. To be sober, to stay calm, to not beat up their wives if they had a bad day. They all had the same dream. They would all fail. I felt most sorry for Pete though. He came to me for help. He trusted me to help him; but how can I help him when I can’t even help myself? I closed my laptop and swigged down the last drenches from my glass, then got up from my desk and left the King’s Head.


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