4 - We're Not in Kansas Anymore, Are We?

Barry gazed ahead sleepily. It was like he was just coming to his senses, like a person who just woke up from a deep sleep. Except, this felt very different! He performed a quick scan of himself but could not make out any specific bodily feature. Not really. Strangely, he had this feeling of weightlessness, like he might be in outer space or something - except this wasn't outer space. It was "like" a dream, but not like a dream. Everything was VERY REAL! 

He realized he was in the back of a police cruiser. That didn't seem strange since he had been in plenty of police cruisers in his 35 years on this earth. Barry was the "black sheep" of his family. His parents, John and Edna, were well-known throughout western Arizona. John Jankins was the Bagdad Copper Mine superintendent, which boasts one of the largest copper reserves in the United States, perhaps even the world. Fred had considerable political influence in the region, and it seemed he was always bailing Barry out of some jam. John was not happy about Barry's many "quirks." John would often verbally abuse Barry for days, sometimes even weeks, after Barry would commit what many would consider some minor indiscretion that most people would consider just part of the growing up process. This almost weekly admonishing had a devastating effect on Barry's psyche. 

This time, sitting in this cruiser, it was different. For one thing, faint voices were coming from somewhere, everywhere. It sounded like some kind of argument, but Barry couldn't quite make out what they were saying. Looking out through the front windshield of the cruiser, he saw the back end of what he thought might be his truck. He could see the license plate, and sure enough, it was his plate. He could clearly make out his AZZKIKR vanity plate. The truck was totally wrecked! 

Just then, his train of thought was interrupted by a person opening the driver's side door and getting into the driver's seat. It was an Arizona Highway patrolman. He recognized the Smokey Bear hat as the man removed the cap and placed it on the front seat. Barry thought to himself, "what the fuck is going on here?" And then those voices in his head again! They kept getting louder as he realized they were talking to him. One voice was quite a bit more booming than the other. "Yeah, mAn! I'v,e biN watin fir y.u... Let' s goo have some ... fun!..... Now, w.e.. Kan reaLlly kik some ass!" The other voice was much softer, encouraging, and calm, but Barry couldn't tell what this voice was saying. 

As the cop started making a call on his cell phone, Barry looked out through the front window again, and this time he noticed a yellow sheet covering something on the road next to his mangled truck. He could see the bottom half of a pair of cowboy boots protruding ever so slightly from the edge of the plastic blanket. "Stetson boots! Those are Stetson boots!" he thought. Then, like a massive gush of wind rushing through his whole being, he realized those were HIS boots!! This wasn't a dream, was it? This was something else, and it was not good. Not good at all! Barry thought to himself, "We're not in Kansas anymore, are we, Toto?" 

The activity in the front seat distracted him once again. The Smokey Bear had just finished making his phone call, and he was looking something up on his laptop computer, attached to a stand protruding from the dashboard. The cop punched in some keys and up popped an image of Barry's Arizona Driver License. He never did like the mugshot on that id. His precious Eileen had just cut his hair while practicing for her beautician class. "Oh my god, another thing she started but never finished!" he grumbled to himself as he stared ponderously at the image of his mangled 'do on the cop's laptop. Then, the cop opened his door and exited the vehicle. As he did, Barry could hear him mumbling something under his breath, "The poor guy never knew what hit him!" 

Then, anger started to build helter-skelter in Barry, fueled by this constant chatter in his head. The louder voice was really on him now. "Hey mAn, fucå tHat pig! Th_s is the bÈst thing that eVer hap--ned to yÒu buudy. I'll shW yu' shit you never dreÃmed you cAuld d0!" "Ok! Ok! Just shut the fuck up!" Barry shouted out as he leaned forward and over the front seat in an angry lurch. As he did, he passed straight through the protective shield between the front and back seats and punched the steering wheel of the cruiser. Just then, the cruiser's horn blared out, which made Smokey Bear and his cop buddy, both standing in front of the vehicle, jump a little and stare back into the cruiser as if to say – who did that? Barry sat back and cracked a smile, realizing he had just passed through a solid barrier without giving it a second thought and gave those cops a nice scare. The loud, cranky voice inside him said one more thing, "I t0ld ya So!" 

Barry could still hear that quiet voice, though. It sounded like it was trying, unsuccessfully at first, to get his attention. It softly said, "Barry! Barry! choose... choose..." When Barry looked up from the cruiser's floor, he gazed briefly at the screen on the cop's laptop. The image of his driver's license was gone, and the laptop's screen saver had activated. It was pulsing two words alternately, back and forth, back and forth. It seemed like his eyes were covered in some kind of filming substance, so he squinted hard to read the words. Suddenly, they flashed brightly on the screen. First, the word Choose, then the word Wisely. Choose Wisely! What did that mean? Barry thought about those two words as his surroundings seemed to dissolve around him - like one of those special effects in the movies when the scene changes. Then poof! Darkness... 

To be continued...

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