7.15 – Drunk Angel

It seemed like the whole AfterParty was a Lost Cause, and I just wanted to go find Wings and hit the Road straight back to Ohio.  I went thru the first door I saw, which was the screen door in the kitchen, and I slammed it shut behind me.  But then I was trapped inside the backyard, and there was a high fence around me and no way to get out.

“Dammit,” I said with my scratchy voice.

I wasn’t even in Alone Reality cuz there was someone else out there.  They were trying to hide behind a tree, but you could see their dress waving in the wind.

“Bluebird? is that you?” she said, and when she turned around you could see it was The Goddess of Faith, and she was holding a big bottle of Alcohol Perception.

“Faithfully, what are you doing here?”

Then she stumbled over and tripped and fell on me. Her touch felt like It’s Kinda Weird, Babe.

“Are you drunk?” I asked her.

“Yass, Bluebebby,” she said.  “I swiped this when nobody was looking, and I’ve never been drunk before, and I love it.”

“Gods drink?”

“Yeah, when they wanna be your girlfriend, your human girlfriend, or probably your human wedding wife, and wanna go to fun drunk parties with you, but I can’t, and hate it, and this whiskey is the only thing that can lube up the machine of my broken-hearted sun.”

“Trust me, you don’t really wanna be in there. All that happens in there is you try to save everyone, but you just get your ass kicked, and your Traveler Allies are doomed to get the Vertigo.”

“I know, Bubbabird.  I’ve been watching.”

“If I had only just Rocked Out a little less on The Great Trip.”

“But you hafta Rock Out, you’re the Rockblockbok.”

“But my voice is too important.  It’s the only way I can MeToo anyone ever.”

“But you know songies. Maybe you can still find one everyone can MeToo, even if you can’t sing it.”

“Who’d sing it tho? That MeNotzie Emperor Penguin?”

“I knowww.  I couldn’t believe he’s actually a Reality Traveler, so I looked up his Angel Corps File.”

“And you found out he’s a fraud, didn’t you?  I knew it!”

“No he’s a Real Real, but he’s never actually Traveled outside PhillyDFeely cuz he’s too afraid.”

“So that’s why he hates Springsteen.  He’s never actually hit the Thunder Road, and he’s jealous.”

“Yes, he’s really just a fly-less bird.”

“Yes!”

“No, Blueblueblue, we have to MeToo him somehow. That’s what ReAlrighty Travelers do.”

“I guess you’re right.”

“We hafta make him and Wolf and everyone else in there feel Allllright, Baby!”

“But how?”

“I know how exactly.  I’m gonna just go in there in there with you, and be a Reality Traveler, too, and then we’ll gonna get them all to play “One Love,” which is a song I actually made and gave to Bo-baby Marley, and then we’ll MeToo everybody with a sing-along.”

“Wait, wait, you can’t just go in there.  One false move and we could both be Eliminated, remember?”

“Blah, blah, blahbird, I don’t care anymore.  I hafta help you.  Too in True Love.”

Then she started kissing me all over, and she even slipped her hand below my waist and tried to touch things in there, but I hadta brush it away.

“We can’t do that either now,” I said.  “What if Wolf just called in his Guardian Angel, cuz I didn’t come thru, and they’ll catch us red-down-the-pants-handed.”

“Oh this is so stupid and dumbbb!”

Then I hadta put my arms around her tight.

“I know, Goddess,” I said, “but It’s Alright, and the Perceptionist Professor told me how we can Love together in total secret later.”

Then I explained his idea about The Past World.

“Alright, we hafta do is make it thru tonight,” I said.

“Aww, Bluebird, thats gonna work perfect, I Love your Alright so much.”

Then we just held each other close and wanted to stay like that the rest of the night, but we knew we couldn’t.

“Alright, I’ve gotta go back in now,” I hadta say.

“Yes, Baby, do you know what you’re gonna do?”

“I’ll try to do the sing-along, even tho it might fail.”

“Yay! I’ll give you some It’s Alright, Baby so you’re so strange-strong.”

Then she gave me a kiss on the lips, and it was great and not weird anymore, and it made me feel like was a Bob Marley song myself.

“Alright,” I said, “I’m ready to make everyone get together and feel Alright.”

And then I started to head back in.

“Wait,” she said and stopped me.

Then she went to grab something in the backyard and came back with my tweed Professor-looking Wedding Uniform jacket.

“I love this and you need to wear it again,” she said and gave it to me.

I put it on, and noticed she’d found my Bluebird sticker and stuck it right on the front of the chest.

“I didn’t want you to forget who you are,” she said.

“Thank you,” I said.

“And don’t forget that I Love you more than anyone Loves anyone anywhere.”

“And I Love you that much,too.”

And then we kissed one more time before I went back in.

6.13 – The Ceremony

I went back to Wings in the parking lot and took off my jacket.  Old Wolfy was right, it was just way too stuffy, whether I looked like The Professor or not.  It was nice back at the car, a perfect Alone Reality hideout where no one could find me, and I hadta fight the urge to just stay there and not go back to The Wedding. But I knew I still might have a chance at some MeToos when the music part happened.  And I knew The Ceremony was coming up, and I did want see the exact moment when Wolf&Lamb became married.

The hardest part was gonna be how to sit down.  I knew I didn’t wanna sit next to anyone else, and I noticed a lot of empty seats in the back where I might be safe.  Emperor Penguin was in charge of it tho, and it seemed like he was probably going to seat me in some MeNotzie kinda way.

I watched him from a safe distance. He was good at seating.  His motions were smooth and effortless, and he would put his hand gently on a Reality’s shoulder or back and guide them ahead with a clear voice that never um’d or stuttered.  He knew each Reality’s unique needs, whether it was going extra slow for a really old Adult or kneeling down and high-fiving a little kid. Most of the Realities laughed at something he said.  It started to seem like his ‘chaperone’ comment could’ve just been some kind of fluke or misunderstanding, and he was a true Reality Traveler who would be gentle and MeToo with me.

I walked up to him and took a chance.

“Hey,” I said, “Can I just seat myself?”

“No,” he said.

Then he put one hand firmly on my back, while the other one pointed.

“I’ll seat you right here next to these fine people,” he said.  “That way you don’t have to sit alone.”

They were a couple of younger looking Adults.  I couldn’t remember who they were at all.  It was possible they were imposters out to destroy The Wedding for the fun of it.

“But I want to sit alone,” I told Emperor Penguin, but he didn’t listen.

He used his usher hand to force me ahead just like the Planner Ants.

“This is So&So,” he said and pushed me down into the chair.  “So&So, this is Colorado.  He’s got some nice sneakers on, doesn’t he?”

I looked down at So&So’s shoes and theirs were both black and shiny, and then I looked at mine, which were all scuffed up with holes in the sides and the laces unraveling, and I realized I was Sticking Out Like a Sore Big Toe.  Once again Emperor Penguin didn’t even say,“I’m just fucking with you,” and when I looked back up he was gone.

Then So&So tried to start talking to me.

“So,” So(Female) said, “do you know WolforLamb?”

“I’ve never heard of WolforLamb,” I said.  “I only know Wolf&Lamb.”

“Oh…” she said.

“So,” So(Male) said, “you’re The Guy Who Came All The Way From Colorado.”

“No,” I said,  “all the way from Where-ThePlains-Meet-TheMountains.”

So&So looked at me like they wanted me to say more, but I didn’t want to cuz it would’ve taken half a book to explain everything the right way.  Instead I just froze up and stopped talking to them, and eventually they got the picture and left me alone.  I could still feel them right next to me tho.  Sometimes So would accidentally brush me, and I would hafta inch my seat over a little, and I would wonder why they got to sit there instead of BigFoot, or the Iowa Goldfinch, or My Mom, or Kat, or El Puma, or The Goddess of Faith or Nobody.

After everyone was seated, The Ceremony began by playing The Wedding Song.

The Wedding Song is a song about being played at the beginning of every Wedding.  It starts off “Dun-Dun-da-dun, Dun-Dun-da-dun,” and when you hear it you know a Wedding is starting.  It keeps repeating until all the Important Wedding Realities march down an aisle between the Wedding Guest seats and take positions in front.

Wolf&Lamb soon took their positions right next to the Queen Planner Ant who got to be Ceremony Leader.  No one knew her before that day or what her knowledge of The Gods was, but apparently she had the power to legally marry you.  The Queen then made a big speech about Love, but it was all about hard work and hivemind and digging, and there was no talk of SoulMates or Cupids or sparks or crazy magnetic forces in The Other World, and I eventually tuned out.

I started thinking about The Goddess of Faith and wondered if she was watching the whole thing at that moment.  I thought about if we had a Wedding, and how we’d make sure there’d only be our favorite Realities, and no one would be a New Reality for anyone else, and everyone would get to be one of the Important Wedding Realities, and The Ceremony Leader would be The Professor, and The Ceremony would just be a recap of The Story of How We Met, followed by us forming Bluebird’s Alright, Baby!!for everyone.

Then I finally heard Wolf&Lamb talking for themselves.

“I’ll Love you forever no matter what,” Wolf told Lamb.

“I’ll Love you forever no matter what,” Lamb told Wolf.

“Alright,” The Queen said, “you’ll be married now as soon as you kiss each other in front of everyone.”

Then Wolf leaned in and put his mouth on Lamb’s mouth, and I was sortafar away, but I think I did see a fiery little spark or two fly out from their faces, and it gave me The Chills.

2.7 – Track #16 of The Great Trip Mix – Mariah Carey’s “Anytime You Need a Friend”

Whenever someone on The Radio was good enough, Mom would buy their albums so she could play them at the house whenever she wanted.  One time she brought home an especially good one.

“This is Mariah Carey,” Mom told me. “She has the highest, most powerful female voice in all of music.”

I agreed Mariah Carey was much higher and at times as powerful as the mighty Steve Perry, especially on “Any Time You Need a Friend.”

“Any Time You Need a Friend,” is a song about not being lonely. Mariah promises that whenever you’re about to get lonely you can call her, and she’ll come over and hang out with you and be your friend.

At first Mariah Carey’s holding back in the song, using a voice of normal highness and power to gently lure you in. But then at the chorus these gospel-style backup singers come in, and Mariah Carey rises over the top of them with a sudden boom of highness and power. The song rises in intensity until another little holding back part at the bridge, but when the chorus comes back Mariah Carey unleashes her full strength. She sings the “I” of “I will be here,” so high any other singer would crack their voice. And she sings the “Don’t” of “Don’t worry,” with a ferocious animal power-growl. Then she gets on a roll, singing things like “Don’t you ever be lonely,” and “It’s alright,” and “ahhh-ahhh-ahhh” and then out of nowhere she goes up like two octaves higher to belt out a long run in the super high and rare whistle register.  It’s like she’s trying to destroy Alone Reality with nothing but her voice. Even as the song fades out Mariah Carey is still going full power and you wonder if she just kept singing like that for the rest of the day. After listening to the song you’re certain you’ll never be alone again. I had The Chills the whole time I was growing up, cuz Mom played it all the time.

2.6 – Middle-of-Nebraska Gas Station

I was in the Middle-of-Nebraska when a light came on that said Wings was running out of gasoline. I had a lot of momentum and didn’t wanna stop and leave Alone Reality, but I knew if I didn’t the car would eventually stop on its own. So I hadta get off the Road at the next exit and pull into a Middle-of-Nebraska gas station.

It felt strange to get out of the car. It was like me and Wings and The Road had become one thing instead of three things, and when we separated, my body was still vibrating. What made things stranger was looking into the gas station and seeing another Reality working in there. “Oh no,” I thought, “no more Alone Reality.”

The gas station guy was like a deer-in-headlights, even tho Wings’s headlights had been turned off. He was well groomed and stood up straight with antlers to the sky, but he just stared straight at me with perfect stillness instead of greeting me.

“Grgkt,” I said.

I hadn’t interacted with another Reality in hours, and I seemed to have become rusty at speech. The words were far away from my mouth and hadta fight thru miles of throat to get out. The deer continued to just stare at me, and I hadta try again.

“Kahem,” I said, “gas, prepay, number three.”

Then I tried to hand him money. I thought I was starting to get the hang of speech again, but still he just stared at me. I tried to make things more clear.

“Alright, sir, what I’d like to do is exchange this note of currency for gasoline on pump number three, the one by the silver Subaru.”

But still his eyes were locked right on me, and his body didn’t move a muscle.

“What’s the problem, man?” I said.

“Um,” he finally said, “I don’t know how to do the pre-pay.”

I’d never Traveled to such an amateur gas station Reality before and didn’t know what to do. I didn’t feel like MeTooing him. Instead I just wanted to swerve around him and be back in Alone Reality where everyone is an expert on everything.

“But, I only have cash,” I said.

“Um,” he said. “Okay, wait, hold on.”

He seemed very scared and stared at all the buttons in front of him for awhile before finally pushing a couple.

“Um, maybe try now?” he shrugged.

Then I went back out to the pump, but when I put the nozzle into Wings and squeezed nothing happened.

“Dammit,” it made me say.

As I was going back inside another car pulled in. It had a Colorado Future Adult Training School sticker on its back window. I knew CFATS well. It was near The Training School, and that’s where I delivered pizzas. Most of the CFATS students were only Future Adults and not Present Adults and could sometimes almost pass as Reality Travelers. They seemed to have a lot of free time to Get Out There, and meet other Realities, and have adventures in Perception, and travel to some far off and exciting places. But many didn’t know anything about MeTooing and were capable of vicious acts of MeNotzism at any moment.

Three guys got out of the car like a stampede of buffaloes. They rumbled forward, shoving each other’s chests and punching each other’s arms and laughing about it even tho those things hurt. I didn’t like the idea of something so big and reckless being near me, or even worse the poor Deer-in-Headlights. I kept my distance and let them charge inside first.

When I got back inside, I tried to deal with the gas station guy as quickly as possible before the Future Adults needed to check out.

“Look,” I said, “It didn’t work. You gotta try other buttons.”

But he didn’t respond. His eyes were now fixed on the CFATS Buffaloes. They were running around the store, randomly swearing, and grabbing big handfuls of Cheetos…

Cheetos are a cheesy snack food all about getting orange dust all over you after you eat them.

And Redbulls.

Redbulls are a drink about combining Caffeine, Sugar, and B-Vitamin Perceptions to form one Out-of-Control Super Energy Perception.

Then they started eating and drinking in the store before they’d even paid for them yet.

“C’mon,” I said. “We’ve gotta make this happen before their Red Bull Perception kicks in.”

But there was no getting thru to him. He just quietly handed me back my money as the CFATS buffaloes closed in on us. Suddenly one of them gave another one a really hard shove, and he was pushed backwards right next to us. I flinched back against the counter, and snacks and drinks went flying everywhere. Then the guy yelled “Motherfucker!” and pushed the other guy back even harder right into a rack of sunglasses. They didn’t pick anything up or say they were sorry, they just laughed really hard about it.

My side hurt from hitting the counter, and my arm got a lot of Cheetos dust on it. I knew I had to get out of there immediately even tho I hadn’t got any gas yet.

“What the fuck do you mean you don’t know how to run a credit card?” I heard someone say, but I was already flying toward the car and didn’t look back to see what happened next.

I was spooked and jittery, but Wings and I hadta find another Nebraska gas station right away. We got back out on the Road and got off at the very next exit. There was one place, but it was like a gas station from another era. It had a dirt parking lot and a single hanging lantern for light, and the pumps didn’t have digital numbers on them. Next to it was a log cabin, and thru the window you could see some guy in a cowboy hat sleeping in a chair. The scene was too strange and Wild West-y, and I didn’t know what to do about it. It seemed like if I went in and woke him up he’d definitely have a total MeNotzie freakout.

Then I noticed the antique pump had no sign on it about pre-paying.

“Hmm,” I said.

I put the nozzle in and squeezed, and its gas started coming out. I kept looking inside at the gas station guy. He never woke up. I didn’t feel good about it, but when I was done I just got back in Wings, cranked up The Mix, and drove away without paying.

“Thank Gods, I’m back in Alone Reality!” I shouted.

2.2 – The Professor’s Training Lesson: Alone Reality

“Beware of Alone Reality,” The Professor said. “Alone Reality is when there are no other Realities around but your own. That means there are no potential MeNotzies around to Dominate you, so you will feel great and safe and want to stay there forever. But you can’t because there’s no one to MeToo in Alone Reality. A Reality Traveler should only be in Alone Reality when they absolutely have to and Get Back Out There as soon as possible.”

2.1 – Rocking Out

I left late at night and wasn’t going to sleep til I got to my parents’ Reality in Ohio Industrial City (Rubber) Suburbs. I pointed the car east towards The Plains and soon got on Road-80, which would take me all the way there. By the time I was in Nebraska there were no other cars out there, and it was like my very own Road, so I put on The Mix and Rocked Out.

Rocking Out is about listening to music and letting your body do anything it feels like. This may include singing along really loudly, bobbing head and shoulders, tapping fingers or fists on a nearby surface like it’s a drum, pretending you’re playing an invisible guitar, rolling down all the car windows to let in the hard blowing wind while wildly waving your arms and exclaiming to The Gods, “Yaaah!,” and many other things that give yourself The Chills.

I’d learned Rocking Out is hard to do around other Realities. Many have strict rules about letting your body do anything it feels like, and when they see someone suddenly flailing all their parts around they become nervous MeNotzies. They might give you a look that says, “embarrassing,” and then you won’t want to Rock Out anymore. But all alone on that Nebraska Road there was no other Reality to stop me.

I started with all my main moves, especially screaming with the window down. The night air was chilly, but I was feeling an inner-warmth, and soon I started experimenting with bold new moves like The Kick, The Air Keyboard, and Head-out-of-Window. For Head-out-of-Window I hadta wait for a moment when the Road got really straight and empty. Then I put Wings on cruise control and climbed thru the window so my head and shoulders were totally outside. The wind pushed back hard, but it did not knock me out, and the car did not swerve. I couldn’t even hear the music anymore, but it didn’t matter. I felt powerful like a fighter pilot flying into battle, and it made me scream “Ahhh!” for as long as I could, and it gave me The Chills real bad.

“I love Alone Reality!” I said.