I hate phone calls in the middle of the night.
No one ever calls you with good news at that hour. Even the Nobel Prize Committee knows enough to wait until it is morning in your time zone.
So when the phone rang at 2:30 am, I figured it was either tragedy or my buddy Stan going through a crisis.
“Stan,” I said, “can you call me back at a decent time?”
“No,” he said, “I had a dream about you and I wanted to tell you about it while it was still fresh in my mind.”
The call woke my wife. She had to get up for work in two hours and was not the least bit happy.
“Who is it?” she asked.
“Stan,” I told her. If looks could kill I would have been dead decades ago.
“He wants to tell me about a dream he had,” I told her.
“You better listen; dreams are important,” she said and drifted off to sleep.
“In my dream,” Stan began, “you were living in medieval times and the village hag accused you of repossessing a chicken from her which of course you didn’t do, but she didn’t know that – so she gave you the evil eye and you started having really bad luck.”
“And that was your dream?”
“I just thought you would want to know,” he said and hung up.
The thing is, Stan was onto something. My life went into the crapper that afternoon. It started with a flat tire. I have not had one in years but sure enough, on the way into town a rear tire blew out. Then I couldn’t find the jack (apparently someone ‘borrowed’ it). When I called roadside assistance, I learned that my subscription had expired. But I did get assistance from a deputy who towed my car to the impound lot because both my tabs and license were also expired.
Now, I will readily admit that I should have been on top of the renewals – but I had this odd feeling that I had already taken care of them and having them all pop up after my tire blew out had more to do with the natural order of things slipping out of place than my negligence.
And that was just the tip of the iceberg; things kept getting worse and worse. When these things happen, if we are honest, we accept blame for our own actions – but when the bad luck becomes systemic, we begin to look at things outside ourselves: at others, at society, at conspiracy theories and eventually at forces beyond reason itself. I was very close to questioning my faith in the world when an old truck rumbled down my road and I learned how all this came to be.
That was when I called my buddy back. “Hey Stan,” I said.
“Yeah?” he replied.
“This strange old woman and her son came by my place…”
“I think they are Romanian.”
“Actually,” he said, “they are from Moldova. It’s a little country just east of the Carpathian mountains where Dracula lived.”
“Interesting,” I said,” and even more interesting is they claim that the bulldozer you parked next to my shed is theirs.”
“And you believed them?”
“Not really but the old woman said she put a hex on everyone who was involved in repossessing her son’s construction equipment. That I have to believe.”
“So you gave them my bulldozer?”
“I did,” I told him, “and I also gave her a rototiller, a weedwacker, a bunch of tools and almost everything that you dumped into my shed over the last year.”
“It’s what it cost to remove the hex.”
“I never thought you believed that stuff.”
“I didn’t… but Stan?”
“I had a dream about you after they left….”