It was late at night when I finished my evening shift at the barbershop and I decided to stop at an all-night cafeteria for something to eat.
I sat down at a table and ordered a veggie burger.
The waitress asked if I wanted the veggie burger or the vegan burger and I said I didn't know there were two different plant-based burgers and that I had been coming there for quite some time.
The waitress said they had just changed the menu that day and had included a new vegan burger that didn't have any dairy, so I said I would try that one.
Waiting for my burger, I was scrolling through my phone when two men sat down at my table and asked in I minded if they joined me.
One of the men, a lanky Indian fellow, asked if I would be interested in knowing my future, that his companion, who he said was deaf and blind, was able to see into the future and said he was compelled to help me.
Finding the whole thing odd, I wasn't up to having to deal with sideshow freaks at one in the morning and was too exhausted to shoo the men away, so I appeased them and agreed to whatever they were up to.
The blind man came over and sat beside me and began to hum, placing his hand on my shoulder.
After a few minutes he said that "it was done," and I needn't worry about the thing that had been troubling me.
The Indian man asked if I wanted another burger, on him, and I accepted his generous offer and told him to please make it a vegan burger.
As the Indian walked away I turned to the blind man and asked him what the scam was and how much money he wanted for his trouble.
The blind man said it wasn't a ruse and not only did he not expect any money, he, on the other hand, was going to give me money and he proceed to remove a white envelope from his inside jacket pocket and handed it to me. I looked inside the envelope and guessed it must have contained five, perhaps, even ten thousand euros.
The Indian man returned to the table with my vegan burger and set it in front of me and said that he and his friend had to be going. The two men thanked me for my time, wished me well and walked away.
I ate my burger wondering what had just happened, curious to know how I might have been scammed.
I left the cafeteria and started walking towards the train station when I came upon what I thought was an abandoned bicycle. Tired and not really up to walking, I took the bike and began riding toward the station.
When I got to the harbor area, I noticed an odd sight, a submarine was docked in the port and I could swear I saw the Indian and the blind man boarding it.
Intrigued, I cycled over to the submarine and the Indian man saw me. He seemed happy to see me and waved to me shouting out that I should come on board.
I boarded the submarine and the Indian man asked what I was doing at the port and I told him I was on my way home.
When I told him I lived near the Vliet waterway, he said he would be happy to take me there but it would take several hours to navigate all the small canals along the way.
I thanked him and said I would continue on my bike as I had worked a long shift and was eager to get home to bed.
Just then, my mother appeared from below deck and the Indian man and the his companion said that this was the good fortune I was told was coming, that they travelled all the way to Chicago to bring my mother to see me.
My mother and I embraced and the blind man said they would leave the two of us alone to reunite in private.
Before they walked away, the blind man came over to me and whispered in my ear saying the burger his companion bought me back at the cafeteria wasn't the vegan one. I told him that the veggie one was fine and I noticed it was somewhat different than the first burger I had eaten. Then he said it was neither of those, that it was beef. I asked him why he would have done such a cruel thing and he said it was the only way he could be sure that I was righteous and worthy of the "gift" that he would be giving me.
And before I could reply, the two men had disappeared below deck.
I told my mother about what had happened and she told me to get home and get some sleep, that we would see each other in the morning.
I got back on the bike and headed for home.
Just as I was entering the city limits, I noticed dozen of workmen building up what appeared to be a music festival or a carnival of some kind.
Seeing signs that indicated there would be a music festival sponsored by the ministry, I thought it would be a good idea to see if there were any officials from the government around I might be able to interview, perhaps then selling the interview to some new organizations.
I went over to an information booth and asked if I could interview the minister. The woman at the desk asked for my credentials and I gave her my name and told her I represented Aquitania Music Media, a name I basically invented off the top of my head.
The woman picked up the phone and called someone, hung up and told me to walk across the pavilion where I could speak to the minister's secretary.
As I arrived at the other side of the fairgrounds I was surprised to run into a Black woman who immediately recognized me and ran over to greet me.
We had met some time ago and had fallen in love at first sight, but due to whatever circumstances, we had failed to get each other's contact details and never saw each other again until that moment.
She embraced me and asked me why I never called her. I reminded her that she never gave me her number and she insisted she had written it in indelible marker on the sole of my shoe.
Thinking it was ridiculous and that I would have remembered that, I lifted up my shoe and lo and behold, there it was, her name number written on the sole just as she had said.
I apologized and she said it didn't matter, that all was forgiven now that we had met again and could begin anew.
I asked her if she could wait for me while I went to interview the minister and she said she wouldn't let me get away a second time.
I walked over to the minister's office and was greeted by the secretary who asked me to sit down at her desk. She proceeded in asking me a number of questions saying the minister was just about to leave for the day and was very tired, so I needed to make the interview as short as possible.
The woman then escorted me into the minister's office and I sat down at her desk while she was finishing up on a call.
The minister, an attractive, middle-aged woman with brown skin and black eyes and hair was elegantly gaunt and impeccably dressed. I assumed by her physical appearance that she was of Suriname descent.
I thanked the minister for seeing me and assured her I would be brief, that I only had one question.
She asked where my notebook was and I told her I would be recording her comments on my phone's voice recorder which she thought was very clever and professional.
I asked the minister what her ultimate goal was in promoting so many music festivals in the city and she said it was always about generating money for the city, that these festivals are the best way to make money while employing hundreds of people and bringing entertainment to millions.
I thanked the minister for her time and she stood up and shook my hand saying some words in a foreign language I didn't recognize.
I met the Black woman again in the pavilion and she gave me a hug and asked if I wanted to join her for a veggie burger, that there was a vegetarian food truck that made the best plant-based burgers. I looked at her, smiled and said I had actually eaten two veggie burgers not too long ago, but I would be glad to join her.
She took my hand and we walked back across the fairgrounds.
Then I woke up.