I had the dream again last night, but this time, it was different in an important way

Image courtesy of Del Stone Jr.

Last night I had the dream again.

You know, the dream. The one where you realize you have a final exam tomorrow for a class you forgot to attend all semester.

Mine is a variation of that dream. It’s 10 o’clock on a Sunday night and I’m just showing up for work at the Daily News. I’m there alone and I’ve got to lay out the front page, local leadoff, Editorial, all the inside news pages and the classified overrun page.

My deadline is two hours away. Oh, and I’m a little hazy on how to use the computer system as it’s been decades since I laid out a page, 31 years to be exact.

Why do I keep having this dream? Why does it always apply to my job of laying out pages – I had LOTS of other jobs at the paper with LOTS more responsibility and deadline pressure.

This version of the dream departed from the others in one way – I was about to say screw it and head home, even though none of the pages had been laid out. Does that mean I’m finally starting to let go?

I can’t badmouth my time at the paper. It provided me with a living for 41 years. I made lots of friends there, people with whom I still communicate, almost like a second family. And there were times when I loved that job so much I’d come in on my day off and work for free.

But there was quite a bit about it I didn’t like – the immense pressure to get it right, the deadlines, the need to go above and beyond the idea of an eight-hour workday. There were some Type A personalities I truly hated, and even a few Type B’s and C’s, and some of the work was deadly dull (I disliked doing B&I or typing in Mr. Piper’s gardening column). I was never a good manager and hated the fact that some of the people who worked with me hated me. I could never make the unpopular decisions, despite being told by one departing editor that I needed to “knock some heads together.”

The job was my life, but I think parts of it gave me PTSD.

Maybe in my next dream I’ll actually get up, go home and call it a career.

About the author:

Del Stone Jr. is a professional fiction writer. He is known primarily for his work in the contemporary dark fiction field, but has also published science fiction and contemporary fantasy. Stone’s stories, poetry and scripts have appeared in publications such as Amazing Stories, Eldritch Tales, and Bantam-Spectra’s Full Spectrum. His short fiction has been published in The Year’s Best Horror Stories XXII; Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine; the Pocket Books anthology More Phobias; the Barnes & Noble anthologies 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories, Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, and 100 Astounding Little Alien Stories; the HWA anthology Psychos; and other short fiction venues, like Blood Muse, Live Without a Net, Zombiesque and Sex Macabre. Stone’s comic book debut was in the Clive Barker series of books, Hellraiser, published by Marvel/Epic and reprinted in The Best of Hellraiser anthology. He has also published stories in Penthouse Comix, and worked with artist Dave Dorman on many projects, including the illustrated novella “Roadkill,” a short story for the Andrew Vachss anthology Underground from Dark Horse, an ashcan titled “December” for Hero Illustrated, and several of Dorman’s Wasted Lands novellas and comics, such as Rail from Image and “The Uninvited.” Stone’s novel, Dead Heat, won the 1996 International Horror Guild’s award for best first novel and was a runner-up for the Bram Stoker Award. Stone has also been a finalist for the IHG award for short fiction, the British Fantasy Award for best novella, and a semifinalist for the Nebula and Writers of the Future awards. His stories have appeared in anthologies that have won the Bram Stoker Award and the World Fantasy Award. Two of his works were optioned for film, the novella “Black Tide” and short story “Crisis Line.”

Stone recently retired after a 41-year career in journalism. He won numerous awards for his work, and in 1986 was named Florida’s best columnist in his circulation division by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. In 2001 he received an honorable mention from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for his essay “When Freedom of Speech Ends” and in 2003 he was voted Best of the Best in the category of columnists by Emerald Coast Magazine. He participated in book signings and awareness campaigns, and was a guest on local television and radio programs.

As an addendum, Stone is single, kills tomatoes and morning glories with ruthless efficiency, once tied the stem of a cocktail cherry in a knot with his tongue, and carries a permanent scar on his chest after having been shot with a paintball gun. He’s in his 60s as of this writing but doesn’t look a day over 94.

Contact Del at [email protected]. He is also on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, tumblr, TikTok, Ello and Instagram. Visit his website at delstonejr.com .