The Shortened Life of George Hendrix
John True

He couldn't figure out why it had happened. This was the third time he had had the same dream, but each time it seemed to become more real. Actually, the dream was a trilogy, but George Hendrix didn't have time for such nonsense. Because of that stupid tri-dream, he had overslept and now he was late for work.
He got up, cursing the Monday morning air. He put on his gray dress socks, his gray slacks, his black dress shoes, and his white button-down shirt with the horse-and-rider on it. Then he put on his tie and his blazer, grabbed his briefcase, ran out the door and didn't even remember to kiss his wife.
The last thing his wife heard him say was, "I hate Mondays and dreams are nonsense. Nonsense!"
He finally reached the skyscraper where he worked. As the Chairman of the Board of Sears-Roebuck, he had no time to think of stupid dreams even if they did repeat. "But what if they do mean something?" Having discovered he had spoken out loud, he subsequently stared down anyone that looked like they had heard him.
The "Good morning Mr. Hendrix" attacked him from every direction and George nodded them off. He went to the fifteenth floor and told his beautiful secretary, Sarah, that he wished not to be disturbed for at least thirty minutes. George closed the rippled opaque-windowed door with the "George E. Hendrix III, Chairman of the Board" painted on it with black paint.
Sitting down in his leather, high-back swivel chair behind his huge mahogany desk; he realized that he felt very drowsy. Each time he was about to nod off, he wrenched himself awake, saying "What would they think of me, sleeping on the job? Hah!" But he was helpless and so was forced to bow down and take it. He slept, and dreamed. The tri-dream was forming in his mind once again.
The first dream took him suddenly to a Viking-like ship, with three or four colorful round shields on its side and a wooden dragon on the front, going through a canal. Then he saw a huge wooden old-fashioned gate made of gigantic tree trunks put together vertically, side-by-side. While the gate opened slowly, he found that he couldn't breathe, both in his dream and in reality. Then he got his breath back when he was on the other side of the gate, which suddenly turned into a white metal gate, or was it black? His mind could never tell.
Then the second dream was loaded into his brain and the "play" button was pushed. This time his son was the key player. He was on an airplane and suddenly there was a lot of screaming. A single thought almost overcame the vision: "Oh my God, it's going to crash, we're all going to die!" George thought it might have come from his son, but in truth it came as a joint thought from all aboard this fatal flight. This dream stopped with the screaming carrying over into the third dream.
In this dream he has caught his wife with another man. As was intended, George's anger took him over, so he took his gun out of his pocket and shot his wife and her lover at the same time with a single bullet. The bullet continued through the mattress and landed with a thud upon the floor.
Whenever he awoke, the dreams seemed separate, because there was no smooth transition between them; but when he was asleep and having them, the transitions seemed as logical as calculus.
This time his own scream woke him up. He was sweating. He found that he had fallen to the floor. He turned on the radio to try to forget those awful dreams, but this was the beginning of the end.
The radio blurted out, "News flash! The TWA 747 heading for Wisconsin just crashed over Des Moines, Iowa. The cause of the crash is unknown. There were no survi."
George lurched at the radio and turned it off and then fumbled with it and knocked it to the floor. His mind wickedly reminded him that his son was on that flight. The shock made him speechless and he sat still for almost five minutes. Then he had the uncontrollable urge to go tell his wife in person that their son had died.
Walking out of the office in a daze, as if he were in a dream, George paid attention to no one and no one paid attention to him. They acted as if he were a ghost. He went down in the elevator and got out at the lobby, walked through the lobby and went through the revolving doors while they were turning and almost got hurt.
He got to his car and put the gear on "D" and pushed on the accelerator pedal. Nothing happened. He tried again and again, but still nothing. Finally, he found out that he didn't have the key in the ignition. He put the gear back on "P," put the key in, and turned.
He was turning onto his street when it hit him, and he slammed on the brakes and stopped. Luckily he stopped out of the way of traffic, so there was no danger of getting hit; even though his own safety was farthest from his mind. His son's well-being was the shadow on his mind, and he started to cry uncontrollably; and when he could talk he said, "Son, oh my Robby. Why did you have to die, why?"
Then he remembered his tri-dream, and insane anger overcame his shocked sadness. He sped his car towards his house, parked it haphazardly in front of it and jumped out. Fiddling with his keys, he tried desperately to find the one that opened the front door as quickly as he could. Evil, foreign thoughts burn into his mind like acid: "Your son is a brat, and your wife is a slut." "Yes," answered his mind, dumbly obedient.
The evil thoughts continue to be voiced inside his brain: "Now remember your tri-dream? What happens next?"
"I kill my wife because she is cheating on me."
"Very good! You know, you mortals are such wimps. I can control you as easily as a puppet and no one can help you. You don't see your stupid God helping you, do you?"
"No." Then the spell broke for a while: "Yes, go away, my son is not dead. He didn't go on that flight."
But he was helpless because he was mortal, and human. He was forgiven by the ultimate good, but punished by the beast.
"Now, Georgie, open up the door and say hello to your wife, then say hello to me." An all-evil laugh filled his head, echoed and tore, destroyed and manipulated.
But He had not abandoned His "son." The Shepherd always looks over His flock, and helps the totally , at least this time he did.
Then He said in a booming voice full of floods, fire, and fatal plagues: "Lucifer, leave this one alone."
"No, not unless he wants to come to you. If he doesn't, then he's mine."
"You're defying me?"
"No, it's a tacit agreement, remember?"
"I'm afraid he's right, George."
"Ye-Ye-Yes?" piped George?"
"Do you know why he has a small title to your soul?"
"He says you didn't pay enough attention to your family."
"Tha-That was only today, when I was late for work. Now that the spell is broken, I wanted to kiss my wife twice to make up for this morning."
"Okay, he says you're also ambitious."
"I am not. I worked my way up fair and square, I was only determined and tenacious-where's the sin in that?" Besides, I was generous."
"But the agreement. He still has to want to come to you. He must, he must, he must!" said Lucifer, sounding like a child who's rebelled against his parents but still is in awe of them.
"But what about my wife and son?"
"They'll be fine, that shouldn't affect your decision, though. Only you are on trial here. If you follow the devil you will live longer, but you will live by his rules. I can not help you, and I can't take you when you die. You must go to him."
"Yes, God?"
"Your son didn't die, he was on the Delta 747 and landed safely in Minnesota."
"Oh yes, I forgot."
Then the devil broke in, "If you don't die, you can see your wife and son again. Besides, you're young. You're thirty-two and you have a long life left to live."
Then God added calmly and confidently, "Only the first dream was true."
With that, the two Lords let him think.
At first George thought, "That's right, I am thirty-two, and I still have a lot of things I would like to see and do. Besides, I could see my son again." But then the mention of the dream decided it. So George said his last living words, "God, take me now, please."
His death was fast and painless, a cerebral hemorrhage.
His wife and son found out that he had died while still in his office sitting in his chair, where his secretary had found him. It wasn't suicide, he had died form natural causes; so the police left the scene, the evening stretching uneasily before them.
His wife and son did live long, happy lives; and his son married and carried on the Hendrix name.
As for George, he suddenly appeared on a boat from his first dream, on the other side of the wooden gate, and there was a fork in the river. The boat was heading towards the black gate. Names were called: "Bill Sneed, Bob Billmore, Fran Danven, and George A. Hendrix." His heart almost stopped at the mention of that last name, but then noticed that it wasn't his middle initial. Instead, he got out of the ship and went to God's gate, the white one.