The Machine of Dreams Circa 1999
This is it, folks. This is the story that made me a writer. It began as an innocuous English project in tenth grade of high school. I loved the hell out of writing it, and it even won a creative writing award. It holds up better than I expected, and it wasn't complete torture reading it again for the first time in about seven or eight years. I present to you the Machine of Dreams. And yes, I'm embarrassed by the jokes I stole from other media. I was young. It happens.
Meet Jim. Jim is a moron. He is also the main character of this story; therefore, you’ll have to deal with him. Enjoy. You see, the problem with Jim lies in his complete lack of common sense when it comes to, well, everything. He dropped out of high school and has a very rich daddy that gives him a cushy job at his business, DaddyCorp. Jim is happy with his job. He is regional monitor of sanitation. This, of course, means he is a janitor, but Daddy does not want him to know this fact; the title is meant to have big, important sounding words to make Jim content. It works. He lumbers around the offices all day with his mop and bucket, looking in amazement at all of the flickering fluorescent lights. Flashing lights amuse Jim, but so do food processors; therefore, that isn’t saying much.
DaddyCorp itself has many products. So many that they are impossible to count. You see, they specialize in making everything you’ve ever desired. You call them, place an order with their phone answering specialists, better known as secretaries, and no matter how insane or implausible that wish it, it will arrive at your door within two weeks or your money will be reimbursed. For example, if you want a vintage German World War 1 helmet filled with shaving cream and signed by Abe “The Fish” Vigoda, they can have it whipped right up. If you want a Steve Vai guitar pick dipped in gold and used to kill an old lady, it can be made, lickety-split. In fact, that little item was last year’s best seller. It was a slow year.
By now, you’re probably wondering how this company could possibly create these wondrous requests. It’s quite simple, actually. DaddyCorp has created a special Machine of Dreams (Patent number 00123004) that has a way of conjuring up anything you would ever want. Jim’s daddy is the inventor and sole owner of the only Machine of Dreams ever made, for more than one of such a powerful machine operating at a time would surely rip apart the space time continuum and destroy the world as we know it in exactly 5.3467782291155 seconds. However, there is no danger in this ever happening, for everyone but a moron knows the power of that machine. It’s just common sense.
Now, a problem presents itself (as most problems do around this time of a story). DaddyCorp hits a wall, a very large wall with spikes protruding from it. This is quite a wall. In fact, this particular wall has won Most Valuable Metaphorical Wall for three straight years in “Metaphorical Walls Weekly,” but I digress. Back to the problem. Daddy is dead. It is quite a grisly death, involving a rabid hamster, a tube of super glue, and a wet suit with the bottom cut out. I’ll leave the rest up to you. You may now wonder who did this dastardly deed. Well, Louie the Skunk is the official killer, but he is paid off by another. By whom, you ask? None other than Jim himself. Why would Jim kill his own daddy? Is it for greed? For fame? For the really comfy leather chair that spins in Daddy’s office? Of course not. Jim is too stupid to have an ulterior motive, or even a motive at all. He simply turned to the wrong card in his Rolodex at the time of the “order,” and has Daddy whacked instead of his arch rival, the man that killed his hamster so many years ago. It was first degree hamstercide! Why he would have this man in his Rolodex is another question altogether, but with people like Jim, you learn to stop asking questions.
As Daddy’s only son and heir to the family business, Jim is given way too much power for his own good. First of all, he decided to change the name of DaddyCorp to Multinational Compuglobal Hyper Meganet, or Jim’s Stuff for short. Despire the name, Jim’s business has nothing to do with computers at all. Unlike Daddy, Jim is not a shrewd business man. He did not go to any fancy business colleges, nor did he even finish high school for that matter, and he suddenly has all this power. His opponents know that Jim is not cut out for his new place in life, and they’re ready to exploit him at their earliest convenience. They also know that with patents, Daddy would never have to share his Machine of Dreams without expressed, written consent, signed in triplicate, lost, found, lost again, and passed through the digestive tract of a puma (Daddy had very good lawyers), and everyone knows that will never happen. Even Jim isn’t that dumb. However, he is dumb enough to accidentally burn the patent papers by lighting a cigar with them. In normal progression, Jim is sued for the lucrative gains that having a monopoly on the market of everything in the world you’ve ever desired supplies. The stage is set for a hostile takeover of gastronomic proportions.
* * *
The court date approaches quickly, and Jim decided to call his lawyers for the first time on the morning of the trial. Jim is happy in his blissful ignorance; he thinks everything will be okay. He thinks that if Daddy handled these types of cases with relative ease, he always could. The only problem with this is the fact that Jim forgot to factor in his overwhelming ignorance. Whoops. The lawyers have absolutely no case without patent papers, and they don’t have time to get new papers from the patent offices. Jim’s empire is about to crumble.
The trial is long and tedious, although the only witness throughout the entire proceedings is Jim. Why would one witness take so long to be examined? Yet again, this is Jim we’re talking about here, and ignorance is yet again the key descriptive word. It takes the bailiff 45 minutes to swear Jim in, during which the questions “What is a Bible?” is repeated to the point of futility. During the testimony itself, Jim must be reminded many a time to stay on task and leave out his drinking buddies and that cute girl in the third row of the court gallery. After much, much too long, the trial is over, and Jim is forced to share his Machine of Dreams with two other companies.
* * *
There is now fierce competition in the field of everything you’ve ever desired between three businesses: Multinational Compuglobal Hyper Meganet, Jim’s corporation; SiblingRivalryCorp, which is founded and run by two warring brothers; and ShrewdBusinessMan Inc., owned and operated by the greatest businessman in the world. After a short period of time, SiblingRivalryCorp and ShrewdBusinessMan Inc. begin to lower their prices. Jim does not. In fact, he raises his prices. After a month, Multinational Compuglobal Hyper Meganet is in dead last and getting none of those important lucrative gains the former monopoly he occupied provided. Jim himself even begins to buy from SiblingRivalryCorp. Hell, he ran the business far enough into the ground already, why stop now? Things are looking very grim indeed for our moronic hero.
Jim is not vanquished yet. He is determined to make his dead daddy proud; therefore, he starts selling hamburgers. Jim’s House of Murdered and Processed Cow Carcasses is born. Sadly, the snappy title does not help Jim’s sales figures one bit, and although they seem very popular with the FDA, he soon goes out of business. He is undaunted, and opens a salad shop, for everyone is a health nut these days. He names the new franchise Jim’s House of Murdered Plants, Fruits and Vegetables Thrown into a Rather Large Bowl and Smothered in Fattening Dressing, Which is Made of Even More Dead Stuff. Another snappy title, but even less business, and Jim soon loses that business as well. He tries for one more product. Fried chicken. Everyone loves chicken! It can’t fail! Jim’s House of Murdered Poultry Slaughtered and Deep Fried for Your Enjoyment is another dismal failure, and Jim is fresh out of ideas.
Walking down the street one day, Jim comes across a homeless man. Looking at him, he gets an idea. The idea to end all ideas! He will build another Machine of Dreams and make hot dogs with it! Jim’s House of Everything You’ve Ever Dreamed of Stuffed in Pig Entrails and Burned for Half an Hour will be a surefire success.
With relative ease, Jim locates the blueprints for Daddy’s Machine of Dreams, which ironically have the patent information written on them, and sets to work. It proves to be a daunting task, as Jim takes seventeen days and nights to look up the word blueprint in a dictionary, and another seventeen to decipher the meaning of the prints. Fifteen days are taken locating wood for the project, a step that proves to be futile, as no wood is needed for the project, seventy-five days to find the material actually needed for the project, and another thirty days on top of that to finish building. He takes a step back and looks at his marvelous creation. True, the original prototype wasn’t hot pink with magenta polka dots, but Jim thinks this adds character to an otherwise dull, bright green machine. Anything in the world would soon be at his fingertips with just a few words. And to think of all the hot dogs! Those plump little dogs begin to make Jim salivate in anticipation, although the small bell that begins to ring at the exact same moment from an undisclosed area may have something to do with it, and his stomach begins to rumble. He cannot wait any longer, and he approaches the Day-Glo colored machine. With a pause for dramatic effect, which means nothing since he is the only one in the room, Jim sticks out his finger and presses the ON button…
What a moron.