9.15 – (Witness) The God of The Road

Then The Goddess of Angels got down and The God of The Road took her place on The Stand.  He looked just like my Dad except he was wearing a Jack Kerouac style Road-Uniform of a plain white t-shirt and jeans.

“God of The Road,” The God of Judgment said.  “What do you know about The Bluebird?”

“Honestly,” he said, “I’d never heard of him until just recently.  But I started seeing him on The Road more and more when he began delivering pizzas.  Then he went on The Great Trip driving across most of America with On The Road at his side, and I liked that.”

“Is The Bluebird a Great Driver?”

“I sure as hell didn’t give him a Gift for it or anything.  In fact, he was once terrible and barely able to pass Driver Training.  He’s never learned to drive a stick shift, and he’s still terrified of parallel parking, but he has improved alot. He can deliver a pizza quickly now, he’s got pretty good Road Endurance, and he survived NewYorkCity, which are the toughest Roads I’ve made.  But here’s the craziest thing, he was somehow able to out maneuver The Guardian of The Gates of The UnderWorld.  See for yourselves.”

Then a movie came up that showed me and Wings driving thru the rain in Kansas City. When it got to the part when we had to fly over The Monster to finally break free, the crowd went “ooh!”

“Isn’t this impossible to do in a standard Suburu automobile?” The God of Judgment asked.  “Did you help him?”

“No way,” The God of The Road said, “he did it all by himself as if he were flying a jet plane.  I’ve only seen something like it before from Drivers I’ve Touched.  He may not be as good as them, but he is sometimes somehow able to access The Magic of The Road.”

“Let The Record show The Bluebird is a pretty good driver now, but does this help him MeToo any better?”

“I can say he can at least Travel to almost any Reality in a car, but whether he can MeToo once he’s there, I don’t really know.”

“Does any other God here have more information on how well The Bluebird can MeToo?”

He gave it a minute, but no one came forward.

“Wait,” The God of Judgment said, “The Bluebird is supposed to be a MusicMan Traveler right?  Where is The Goddess of Music?”

9.9 – The Tollbooth

“That hadta be the Peak of The Perception,” I told Wings.

“But what if this is just the beginning of a long descent into Hell?” Wings said.

“Then we hafta say this is only a Perception, and it can’t last forever.”

Soon we came upon a sign telling us to slow down for a tollbooth.

“Man, I hate this kinda Road,” I said and hadta dig into my pocket to grab some money.

“This Tollbooth looks kinda weird,” Wings said.

The car was right.  Instead of several lanes with a TollBooth for each, The Road narrowed down to one lane with a long bearded Old Man just standing in the middle of it.  When we got closer I could see he was so old that his skin was rotting off his bones, and he barely even had eyeballs anymore.

“Toll,” he screeched like his vocal chords were rotting, too.

“Maybe we should just turn around a take a Detour,” Wings said.

“Ugh,” I said, “that would be like the longest thing ever tho.”

Then we hadta pull up right in front of the man.

“How much?” I asked him.

“One dollar,” he screeched.

“Oh, that’s not too bad.”

Then I gave him a single one dollar bill outta my pocket.

“Silver dollar,” he screeched.

“Look, you hallucination,” I said.  “No one’s had those on them for like a hundred years.”

The TollBooth Man responded with a high and powerful and long shriek that hurt my ears.

“Wait,” Wings said, “remember you got one from The Banker earlier.”

“Oh yeah,” I said, “good thinking, Wings.”

And then I dug back into my pocket, found it, and handed the shiny gold Sacagewea to him.  The near-corpse nodded and took it.  Then he put it in his mouth and swallowed it.

“What now?” I asked.

“I take you from here,” he screeched.

Then he tried to open up the door and get in the driver’s seat.

“Do you have to?” I asked.  “You look like you’re not even alive.”

He let out another high and powerful and long shriek.

Then I hadta let The TollBooth man get in, and I moved to the passenger side.  Soon everything around us got even weirder, and I was glad he was behind the wheel. Fog rolled in from everywhere and I couldn’t see anything, not even The Road below us.  The car just kinda floated on it, and I couldn’t tell how fast we were going or if we were even moving forward at all.  The TollBooth Man smelled like a dead body, but at least he seemed to know how to navigate thru it.

“How far are you taking us?” I asked.  “Cuz we wanna stay on Road-70 Kansas all the way to Colorado.”

“No Colorado,” he screeched.  “The UnderWorld.”

“Of course,” I sighed.

“Could we die doing this?” Wings asked.

“Only if you get out, haha” The TollBooth Man screech-laughed, while his jaw looked like it was going to fall off.

As we went along we descended into a big dark tunnel, and the fog on the sides turned into shapes.  They got clearer and clearer until they became heads and arms and legs. They were all reaching out to us, and their mouths were open and moaning.

“Ghosts,” The TollBooth Man screeched.

Some of the ghosts got so clear I actually started to recognize them, like Jack Kerouac, Le Rouge Baron, and my old pet Dogritos. There was even one old man in rags and sunglasses with a nametag that said “THERESA S.”  Most of them were unfamiliar and scary tho, and they started to swarm the car, and we could barely move anymore.

“Yearning for treasures of the living World,” The TollBooth Man screeched.  “Give offering.”

“Like what?” I asked.

“Your blood.”

“What about Dr. Pepper instead?”

“Don’t know Dr. Pepper.”

I decided to try it anyway, and I rolled the window down a crack.  The ghost fingers were trying to get in, but as soon as I poured a little pop out, they immediately dove down to lick it up.  Then I shook it up a little and sprayed it out at them and they lunged at it away from the car.

“Pepper blood working,” The TollBooth Man screeched.

Then I took the whole two-liter and threw it out as far as I could behind us, and all the ghosts ran after it, and the path was totally clear.  Then you could see a light at the end of the tunnel ahead of us, and it was made of pure fire.

“We’re here,” The TollBooth Man screeched.

“Where?” I said.  “Hell?”

“The Trial.”

8.13 – Summoning

I left the apartment and went outside just in case the Goddess couldn’t for some reason get thru the Barracks’ defenses. When I got out to the parking lot to Wings she wasn’t there tho.

“Faith,” I said up to the sky, “where are you?”

But still there was no response.  I wondered if maybe I hadn’t made a big enough sacrifice earlier.  After all it was just gin which nobody really liked anyway.  I looked in the car for anything else that I would miss a little more. It seemed like I’d probably have to get into my Traveler Gear to really get her attention.  So I took my deodorant and threw it under the car.

“I’m going to get pretty smelly without that,” I said.  “It’ll make MeTooing that much harder.”

But she didn’t show up, so I figured I’d have to sacrifice even more, and then I took my pillow and stuck it in the middle of a nearby shrub.

“No good sleeping in the car for me anymore,” I said.

But she still didn’t show up.  Then I started to get mad, and I took Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and ripped all the pages out of it, and they fell all around me like book rain.

“C’mon Angel!” I said.  “Isn’t that enough?  Can you finally come now?”

But still she wasn’t there.  And then I got a bad thought.  What if something happened to her?  What if she’d been caught for breaking The Rules?

And then I got an even worse thought.  What if The General&The Admiral and La Renarde and my Dad were all right?  What if Reality Travel wasn’t real?  What if I was just a Creep imagining the whole thing in my head just to feel Special, and all the other Travelers, even Wolf, even The Professor, just hadn’t woke up to the truth yet either?

But I still knew if it was real at all then I needed my Guardian Angel more than ever and not just to help MeToo the MeNotzies inside.  So then I took the item that was most important to me and her, the Professor-style tweed jacket for my Wedding Uniform, which cost a whole week of pizza delivery money to buy.  I balled it up in my hands and tossed it inside the nearest dumpster.

“There!” I said and cried.  “That’s the biggest sacrifice I can make.”

But still there was no Goddess of Faith, the one Reality who was never supposta leave me HighNDry, and I couldn’t help but worry she’d never come, and I’d never feel her It’s Alright, Baby ever again.

Then all I could do was get the deodorant from under the car, pull the pillow out of the shrub and brush the prickers off, and gather up as many pages of On the Road as I could find.

Finally, I tried to climb up the side of the dumpster so I could reach in and grab the jacket, but it was very high and smooth, and I didn’t want to accidentally fall in and not be able to get out.

“Dammit,” I cried a little and hadta just leave it there and go back inside.

1.4 – The Professor

Before I left on The Great Trip I felt like I hadta get some last minute advice from The Professor.

The Professor is a giant. He is probably like nine feet tall and nine hundred pounds, and he is bigger than everyone you’ve ever met, and you would be terrified of him if he weren’t The World’s Greatest Expert on Reality Travel. He sits there in his giant rocking chair and wears a giant dark tweed jacket and looks straight into your eyes, and it makes you hafta listen to everything he says.

“Beware,” he told me after listening to my plans.

“It’s alright, Professor,” I said, “I’m confident in my all strengths right now. My singing voice is at its most high and powerful, and it will help me MeToo with the Great List of Old Songs. Also my driving endurance has never been better. I’ll be able to go very long distances quickly without my butt hurting or my head going crazy with boredom.”

The Professor looked me straight in the eyes.

“So what,” he said.  “What about your weaknesses?”

“They’re alright.”

“What about your fear of New Realities?”

“I’m better at that now.”

“You know you can’t just avoid them because then it won’t be a Great Reality Trip, it will be a Bad one.”

“I know. I won’t.”

“And when you’re on The Road you know you have to take Sidetracks and Detours and go on spontaneous adventures just like Jack Kerouac.”

Jack Kerouac was a WriterMan Traveler who MeToo’d via The Road. He would jam pack his Great Reality Trips with Detours and Sidetracks like Hobos and Jazz Clubs and Mexican Brothel Realities.

“I know,” I said. “I’m bringing his book so I don’t forget.”

“Good, you can’t just Travel to a bunch of easy Past Realities. Have you ever been to the Slums of Detroit?”

“No.”

“Go there.”

“Alright.”

“And when you get to The Wedding pretend like Wolf&Lamb aren’t even there and only talk to strangers, especially the oldest and meanest looking ones.”

“I will.”

“I can tell by the way the life just got sucked out of your face that you don’t want to.”

“I…”

“I know you’re afraid of The MeNotzies, Bluebird, and I hope they kick your ass badly. I hope this whole Trip is a horrible, traumatic experience. I hope all your strengths fail you and all your weaknesses are worse than you ever imagined and you barely survive.”

“But can’t I just rely on The Training?”

“Ha! Now The Real Training begins.”

“What do I do if there’s something I don’t know about yet?”

“You’ll have to figure it out all by yourself.”

“But what if I’m about to die out there?”

“That would be great!”

“Oh.”

“I’ll let you call me once for advice. Consider it a Graduation present. But any more, and there’s no way I will answer.”

“Thanks, Professor.”

“Now it’s time for you to leave. I’ve already advised you too much as it is.”

“Alright.”

“Just one more thing before you go…”

“Yes?”

“Send my regards to Wolf&Lamb!”