It was a cold, breezy, blindingly bright day, with the kind of deep blue skies you can only get on a winter day when the humidity is low and the pollen is still hibernating. The diner looked quaint enough, we were hungry and didn’t want to eat at a chain restaurant, so the diner it was. We were seated immediately. Everything about the place screamed 1974. Wall to wall wood paneling was covered with acknowledgments and thank you notes from elementary schools, little league teams, basketball teams, and the like. Based on the hairstyles and clothes I’d guess every single kid in those pictures is my age today. Smoking hasn’t been allowed in VA restaurants for about 5 years, however a slight hint of tobacco permeated the air in the diner, and I suspected it always will.
The menu was right out of mom’s kitchen, anything you want as long as it is meat and potatoes comfort food. “Low carb” had not yet been invented when this place last updated the menu. I confidently ordered a sweet tea as I considered my options. There was no way that a place like this didn’t have fresh brewed sweet tea. Michelle ordered unsweetened tea, stressing the unsweetened part as it was very possible a place like this only served iced tea sweet. Then she excused herself to visit the ladies room.
A few minutes later the waitress came by to take our order. I had no idea what Michelle wanted, so I asked her to come back in a minute when my wife returned from the ladies room.
“The ladies room?” she repeated. “Yes,” I replied. She raised her eyebrows and wandered off. I didn’t think anything of it at the time. A few minutes later Michelle had still not reappeared so I headed back toward the restrooms. I found a waitress in the area and asked her to check on Michelle as I was getting concerned that she had gotten sick or maybe fell and hit her head or something.
“She went into the ladies room?” she confirmed. When I replied in the affirmative she got a real weird look on her face. The waitress asked how long she had been in there and when I replied about 10 minutes she looked even more concerned.
“She isn’t coming out.”
“Excuse me?” I replied. “What do you mean, she isn’t coming out?”
The waitress looked real nervous. She took a good look around, like she was looking for somebody eavesdropping on our conversation. She explained that sometimes women just don’t come out of ladies room. “Nobody knows what happens to them. Most women use the ladies room just fine, but every once in a while one just don’t come back out.”
I just stared at her for a long second, trying to process what she was telling me. My response was not one of my finer moments. “What the hell are you talking about?” I yelled way louder than I intended. Luckily I was well below the median age of the customers, so I doubt anyone heard me. “Will you please step into the ladies room and see if my wife is in there?” I pleaded. However before I finished the request I knew there was no way she was crossing the threshold of the ladies room. So I turned, walked forcefully to the door, and promptly smashed my nose on the oak when it didn’t open.
“Look!” I screamed as I turned back to the waitress. “The door is locked. My wife is in there, probably unconscious from low blood sugar. Find somebody to open this door, now!” I was losing control, maybe I had already lost it by this point.
My screaming at the hapless waitress attracted the attention of the manager. She assured me that the exterior door to the ladies room did not lock. However she wasn’t going in either as she completely backed the story that my wife was gone. I tried the door again, and again it would not open for me. I turned away from the door, looked at the waitress and manager again, pulled out my phone, and dialed 911.
The 911 call went about as well as the conversation with employees. They refused to send out an officer once they realized the ladies room was involved. I believe the exact words used were, “It’s pointless. She’s gone. We’ve been out there dozens of times when women don’t return from the ladies room.” Apparently the Hellmouth has moved east from Sunnyvale. The employees and patrons of the restaurant were completely unconcerned about the events of the last few minutes. The police didn’t care either. I was starting to wonder if I was on a reality show, and if so, was it grounds for divorce. However, my wife was still missing, and it was obvious I wasn’t going to get any help in finding her. So I grabbed my coat and headed outside to search the area.
It was surprisingly hot and dark for a bright, cold winter day. I was covered in sweat, my heart was pounding, and it occurred to me that I was not in the parking lot of a diner. I was in bed. I checked the clock. It was about 4 AM. I rolled over and checked my wife. She was there.
I didn’t get any additional sleep that night.
I really did have this dream a few nights ago. I really did wake up at 4 AM covered in sweat with my heart at 150 bps. Feel free to analyze this dream in the comments.