Friday, June 18, 2004

by Tom Hendricks

Tuesday evening, Dallas, Texas, 1949. Setting: Parks Liquor Store. It was near closing and 37 year old store owner Mort Parks was sitting behind the counter and watching the clock over the ice cooler tick. It was 8:45, about an hour before closing. He was alone and bored. The last customer left 45 minutes ago. He checked some prices and then left without buying anything. Mort had had maybe 10 sales all day and that was about average lately.

He had inherited the store from his parents in '46. Now 3 years later he had just about run it into the ground. He had alienated his parent's largest customers, most of the small occasional customers, and a lot of the inbetween customers. Not only that but his rent was 2 months overdue, a beer supplier had cut him off, and his last employee, redheaded Tourney, had stormed in, had a tirade, and quit when his paycheck bounced--and customers liked Tourney.

His parents had a hard and fast rule all the years that they ran the store to never ever close the store before 10 PM. Mort watched the clock tick 8:46, tick 8:47, then gazed into the blue black night out the open front door, then said with decision, "This is a waste of my time."

He locked up, flipped the open sign to closed, counted the money, and went home.

The next day Mort was walking the 2 blocks to the store and thinking about a dream he had had. It was clear as a bell ringing. An old man said through a closed door, "You go to Fort Worth and get a lot of money." Sure was a vivid dream, thought Mort. Not like the normal dreams a person has. This dream had authority!

When he reached the shop, the door was padlocked with a sign on the inside of the window. "Mort, You won't get in til you pay me my rent." Signed, Richardson Co.

"That bastard. How am I supposed to pay him if I can't open my store?"

Mort needed a beer but then it dawned on him that it was inside too. "Well that does it."

He went back home, put a hefty sack lunch into a paper bag, and following the directions in his dream, got on a bus heading west.

* * *

When he got off the bus in downtown Fort Worth he looked left and right and then thought, "Now what?" The dream didn't exactly explain this part. So he just started walking up and down the canyon of skyscrapers on Main St. Eight hours later (a shift at his store) and footsore, he found a deserted bench in a park and went to sleep. After an uncomfortable night of fitful sleep on the wood slats, he got up, scratched his chin--now with one day's growth of beard, and began walking the streets again.

Second day, nothing. So back to the bench.

But that night was not so quiet as the last. Robbers broke into, the "Adam Hats and More" store, a downtown Western clothes shop, and escaped with $350 and two Stetson hats. A
paperboy saw them and reported the crime. The police came, did their report, and began to investigate the area. The first suspicious person they found was a transient sleeping on
a part bench--Mort.

He was hauled into jail for questioning on the robbery and for being a transient. The detectives soon figured out that Mort had nothing to do with the robbery but he was still a transient and there was still some question as to why he was roaming the streets. And besides that, he was beginning to smell bad.

He was dumped before tough Judge Hadley.

* * *

After reviewing the notes of the case, the Judge addressed Mort and said, "You think I want bums in my town, Son? You think I want shiftless men to fall off the bus and wander downtown Fort Worth just lurking around our women and children? You think Godfearing men (that have jobs I might remind you) work hard to pay taxes to build park benches just for you to snore on and God knows what else? Well I'll tell you--No to all the above! You listen to me fellow. I don't like you or your kind. And I want to make sure goons like you get out of here and never come back. Am I understood?"

Mort: Yes, sir. (As Mort scratched the back of one leg with the other)

Judge: What were you thinking. What was going on in your mind when you were roaming downtown for 2 days? (Judge Hadley whirled his hands in circles around his ears to show the workings of the mind under question and illustrate his point.) If you were looking for trouble--you've found it in my courtroom...Now explain yourself.

Mort: Well, Judge, I'd had some hard times in Dallas with my business. And I had this dream that, clear as a bell ringing, said 'go to Fort Worth.'

Judge: A dream? What happened in this dream?

Mort: Well, I'm standing in front of this big closed door and an old man on the other side, says, "Go to Fort Worth and get the money." So I open the door and there I see all these white bags of money. And each has little golden wings and they're flying all around the room. And each has a big dollar sign on it in green ink. And they're just flying around and around...

Spectator in the courtroom: Ha ha!

Judge: (bringing down his gavel) Bailiff remove that man. There will be no outbursts in my courtroom. And if any others think this is a laughing matter, I'll find you a room in the courthouse upstairs. And you can laugh to your heart's content ... (Back to Mort) That's it? That's your dream?

Mort: Yes, sir. But it was real vivid.

Judge: (first taking a deep breath and giving a long sigh.) Listen to me and listen good. People have dreams all the time and they don't mean anything. I'll give you a for instance.
I myself have had a dream--very vivid as you say, and it didn't just happen once. I had this dream 3 nights in a row this week. And each time it was the exact same dream. I open an envelope and inside is a color postcard from Dallas. I turn it over and it changes into a folded map like you get at the Texaco. I unfold it and there's a treasure map, "clear as a bell" like you say. And under the map showing the streets are these directions written in fancy long hand: 1. Go to where La Salle meets Hawthorne. 2. Go to the garage apartment by the alley. 3. Dig under the stairs to the apartment. 2 feet down you'll strike a sheet of plywood. Take it out and under it is 2 suitcases of 20, 50 and 100 dollar bills--the "Treasure." And at the end of the word "treasure" is a star like a footnote sign. So I look down to where the footnote is, and it says, "All untraceable bills." I start laughing and then wake up. Now listen to me. I had MY dream 3 times. You had yours only once. My dream isn't goofy with flying bags of money. It's down to earth and real and makes sense. If anyone was to act on a dream, it'd more likely be me. But do you think I'm going to give up my judgeship, get a shovel, and go digging in somebody's garden in a Dallas suburb, like some NUT?

Mort: No, your honor.

Judge. No, indeed! Now listen to me. I ought to put a nut like you in jail and throw away the key. But it'd cost more for the city to pay for your board than to put you back on that bus to Dallas. But let me make this clear. I don't want to see your face in my town again. And so help me if I do...Bailiff give this man $10. And you (addressing Mort) go across the street and go into that Greyhound station, and don't you dare leave except to get on that 4:40 to Dallas. You understand me, Son?

Mort: Yes sir.

Judge: (bringing down his gavel) Case dismissed

* * *

Mort, with a smile on his face, followed the judge's advice to the letter. He went to the station, waited for the bus patiently, (was the first to board), took the bus back to Dallas, went to his home at La Salle and Hawthorne, took a shovel to the stairs leading to the garage apartment, dug down till he hit plywood, removed it and took out 2 suitcases full of unmarked 20, 50, and 100 dollar bills.

Kissing his first hundred, he said, "Thanks Judge! Woo Hoo!"

* * *

(from a story from 1001 Nights Tales)

Tom Hendricks hails from Texas, USA. He's a musician, painter, writer, editor of the zine Musea (now over 130 issues), and founder of the Zine Hall of Fame. In addition, he's also the only musician to give Box Office Concerts in a Theater (Inwood, Dallas); originator of the world's only guaranteed review service for all artists, writers, musicians, or any other conceivable type of artist; and advocate against the abuses of corporate art/media and for the best of indy art/media. He might also be the most prolific member of the Underground Literary Alliance. Contact him via email: tomhendricks474 (where it's at)

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