Dream journal: The vending machine.

I’m wandering through a shopping mall with Bender, the robot from Futurama, who at some point changes without explanation into my friend Stu, currently residing in Austria. Bender-Stu spies a vending machine that dispenses toy battleships and decides he wants one. The machine has four chunky buttons depicting four progressively more elaborate and expensive models of battleship. Bender-Stu chooses the most expensive one, priced at forty-two dollars. He feeds three twenty-dollar bills into the machine.

The machine whirs and trembles and a toy battleship clatters down into the dispensing tray, along with eighteen bucks of change in loonies and toonies. The battleship is about a foot long, made of cast iron and die-molded plastic, with googly eyes glued on either side of the bridge. Before we can remove it from the tray, a strange man walks up, reaches between us, grabs the battleship, and bolts.

Bender-Stu, who by this time has morphed permanently into Stu, takes off after the thief. I hesitate. Should I join the chase? There’s still eighteen bucks sitting in the vending machine, and I don’t want to abandon it. Moreover I don’t really expect Stu to catch the guy. Still, I have a niggling sense of cowardice as I scrape the coins one by one from the shallow dispensing tray.

Another stranger approaches. “Your friend is asking for you,” he says, pointing. Coins clinking in my jacket pockets, I jog through the mall in the direction of the chase. Stu is lying in the middle of the corridor. “You bailed on me,” he says, as I pull him to his feet. He has no injuries but he’s been roughed up.

“I’m sorry,” I say, “I wasn’t sure what to do.” There’s no point trying to explain. I scoop a handful of coins from my left and then my right pocket into his cupped hands.


Previous dream journals have featured Barnaby Rudge, Tom Cruise, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the novels of Thomas Hardy.


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