The Soupster learns that some dreams have gray linings.
Yet again, the Soupster couldn’t sleep. Every night, he closed his eyes and started snoring, only to find himself transported to the pilot house of a tug boat, hauling an over-stacked cargo barge northbound from Ketchikan to Skagway.
Soupster at the helm, the barge’s bulk sailed slowly through misty Southeastern darkness. The barge and tug were well lit, but droplets of mist hanging in the air absorbed and concentrated the light, rendering the shore invisible.
The result was a sense of moving, yet staying still. Much like driving a car on the endless flatlands of Kansas. The Soupster had been dreaming this dream, off and on, for the past fortnight.
The Soupster rose and padded through his dark house. His bum knee ached. He poured himself a glass of milk and drank it at the fridge, then returned to his bed. He started the mental calculation to decide which to have checked out first – his painful knee or his unrestful sleep. In the morning, he knew to take care of things from the head down.
The Soupster called the assistant of a hypnotist who happened to be visiting Our Town to drum up hypno-business on local call-in radio shows and classified ads
“I’m Dr. Magma’s hypno-sistant,” confessed Lonnie.
The Soupster made an appointment with Lonnie’s boss, Dr. Lorenzo Magma. In the surprisingly professional-looking temporary clinic, the Soupster told Dr. Magma the sad story of his sleeplessness.
“A cargo barge, hour after hour of slow churning,” commiserated Dr. Magma. “Sounds very bad.”
For treatment, Dr. Magma told the Soupster that he would take over piloting the barge every night in Kake. Then, said the doctor, he would take the barge the rest of the way to Skagway and the Soupster could get some shuteye.
Dr. Magma’s cure worked. Each night, as the barge approached Kake, the Soupster felt a relaxation come over him and he awoke in the morning vastly more refreshed.
About a week later, the Soupster saw on the streets of Our Town a disheveled man who looked like he might keel over any second. With a start, the Soupster realized it was Bruce Willforge, the gunsmith.
“Bruce, you look terrible,” said the Soupster.
“I haven’t slept in two months,” Bruce admitted. “Every might I dream that I go to an elaborate banquet with everything in the world to eat and lots of clever entertainment and I spend all night gorging and partying.”
“I have just the man for you,” the Soupster said and told Bruce to make an appointment with Dr. Magma.
Willforge did make the appointment and did receive treatment, the Soupster found out when he saw the gunsmith the following week. Despite that, Willforge showed no improvement in his pallid mien.
“Bruce,” said the Soupster. “Do you still have to dance and stuff yourself with scrumptious food all night in your dreams?”
“No, Dr. Magma took that off my hands,” Willforge said.
“Then why do you look so terrible?”
“Because now, every night, I have to pilot a cargo barge from Kake to Skagway instead!”