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Are You Scared Yet?

by J J Janicki

Chapter 12

Carlie wasn't speeding or changing lanes erratically or following too close, but as soon as we spotted that Highway Patrolman sitting in the medium, we all had a sinking feeling.

Carlie switched off the CD player and said, "Act normal, all right? He's probably not interested in us, so don't give him any reason to get that way, all right?"

Staring fixedly straight ahead as we passed by might not have been the best way to look innocent, though. That's easy enough to say now, but in any event, are Highway Patrolmen trained to notice things like the fact that the color has just drained from your face? Secret Service guys notice little things like that, but...

We passed by and... my heart really did feel like it was in my throat... but we passed by and at first I was thinking that he probably hadn't noticed us. I've seen a few sixteen-year-olds who didn't look any older than Carlie - not many, but some - so maybe, just maybe...

"He's following us, " announced Carlie in a dull monotone.

About a minute passed, then, still afraid to look, Stephan squeaked, "How far back is he now? Has he turned his lights on?"

Carlie glanced in his side mirror. "About five hundred yards I think. No lights, but he's still following us."

Stephan and I hadn't talked about it much, and whenever we did we mostly joked around, but still, we had to know that things might not work out the way we wanted. There were so many ways it could go wrong. Like for example: being with Carlie when he was finally pulled over for driving something other than a farm vehicle. If you're on the Interstate coming into the second largest city in the state, even if it's only a little over 50, 000, there's always a possibility of that happening.

"So if he pulls us over, what are you going to say?" I finally managed.

"I guess I'll tell him the truth, " he replied, grimly. "We had to rush Abe to the hospital and we're on our way to see how he's doing."

So we didn't really have a good explanation. If we had to rush Abe to the hospital, then why didn't we take him the nearest (in Dickinson) instead of Bismarck? And besides, if he was already in the hospital, then the emergency part was over.

And, needless to say, I also was having some second thoughts about me and Stephan deciding to wait an entire week before getting to any of the really good stuff, because it was starting to look like it wasn't going to happen at all. Carlie might get out of it with a warning, or at worst he might lose his license to operate a farm vehicle or any other kind of vehicle for a year or so, but since we were with him, our I.D.s would be checked as well, and then they'd be getting in touch with our folks. So my mom would probably just tell me not to do anything like that again, but Stephan wasn't supposed to be with me in the first place, and...

"He just turned his lights on, " said Carlie, "so stay cool." Then he added, "And now he is hauling ass."

PHOOMPTH!, he zoomed by us and was soon out of sight. So of course we all heaved a huge sigh of relief.

"Oh my God, " said Stephan, "I could almost see my life flashing by!"

And I was still in the process of trying to breathe normally again, but, "Yeah, well, I could sure see our future going down the drain-"

"Hey, Carlie, " cut in Stephan, "that mall we're coming up on - could you stop there for a bit? Soon as I get my shit back together, I need to try calling my mom again, all right?"

There I'd been trying to drop a meaningful hint, and he's going to...what?"Near as I can tell, this entire state is a dead zone, " I started, "but why... I mean, even if you get out, then what..."

"Oh, don't worry, I'm just supposed to tell her I got to Seattle okay, so that's what I'm going to do, okay?"

And much to my surprise, he could get out after all. The carrier he was with had better coverage than mine. Much better. "Hi mom, it's me."... "Yeah, I got in two hours ago, no problem."... "Yeah, sure, I'm okay. It's nice out here, I think I'm going to like it. So how are you and dad doing?"

And so on up to the part where he'd be calling again in a few days. Well, possibly in about a week, but in the meantime they weren't to worry, because they had enough to worry about already. I'm sure his call could have been triangulated had anyone been inclined to do so, but there wasn't a reason for it.

At least not this time, and even if anyone is so inclined, first things have to be set up. But all at once I was starting to wonder how long we could get away with it. Stephan's sister could accidentally let something slip, for example. Or it could be something as simple as his mom having just watched The Weather Channel and knowing that it had been raining in Seattle for more than a week, only Stephan wouldn't be aware of that and when asked in passing how he was liking the weather, he'd be saying it was fantastic... which could be taken as his being sarcastic, unless he were to add that he was almost wishing it would rain some, because it was dry as a bone...

So we'd have to bookmark some Seattle sites so we could know what was going on, but... well, what if his sister and her live-in boyfriend were to get busted for something? According to Stephan, they were partying all the time, so you almost had to figure that they were doing some stuff that wasn't exactly legal, so...

"You worry too much, " said Stephan, "We'll just have to keep our fingers crossed. I mean, that's all we can do, you know?"

So with an attitude like that, I was probably going to be worrying myself sick. Because the thing was, sometimes it seemed like we were damned if we did but possibly just as much so if we didn't. Like for example when I wondered if maybe it would be a good idea for us to leave the car parked at the mall and just walk to the hospital, that's when Carlie mentioned that they almost certainly had security cameras watching us at that very moment. Not that we were doing anything suspicious... (aside from him not looking old enough to park his car there)... but if we were to leave it and just walk off, that could cause whoever wasn't paying us very much attention at that moment to suddenly start wondering if we were ditching a stolen car or something.

Okay, we'd drive to the hospital, then. I did briefly think about letting Carlie drive himself in - we needed a little exercise anyway - but if he got stopped and hauled off, then what? "Hi mom. Just thought I'd let you know, I'm in Seattle now.... Well, I took a bus.... Why?... Well, it's a long story, but anyway, I'm doing all right, but if you could..."

I don't think so. Not really.

Don't get me wrong, not for a moment was I ever thinking about calling it off, I was just wishing that it could be as simple as it probably would have been if we were still in New York. I didn't want this story to be like a movie full of adrenaline-pumping twists and turns: I wanted a nice, boring, conflict-free story with lots of sex. Eventually. If we ever made it that far.

I still couldn't resist though: right after the second City of Bismarck P.D. cruiser passed by, I nudged Stephan in the ribs and said, "So you think we have enough conflict now?"

"Yeah, well... this wasn't really what I had in mind, but I think I've had enough for at least one day.... Week. Maybe even for the rest of the summer."

And I would have settled for that myself, but I guess that would have been like "Stand By Me" without Ace Merrill, without Milo Pressman and Chopper, without the train and without the leeches.

(Although to be honest, I was thankful for those leeches and if they'd gone by the book I would have liked them even more.)

But never mind all that, because the point is, if Stand By Me had been directed by... oh, say, Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, then there would have been no conflict and hardly anyone would have ever bothered watching it in the first place because it would have been one of the most insufferably boringmovies of all time, but...

You should be careful what you wish for. Because sometimes, things just happen.

The rest of the day was uneventful, though, at least in terms of suspicious cops. Since we were at that mall, we decided to pick up a few CDs, because all Carlie had was Green Day and Linkin Park. They're all right, but Stephan and I have broader tastes. Or at least, that's what we like to think, and so...

First, The Fray, (self-titled album) Porcupine Tree (Up The Downstair) and Stanley Clarke (School Days). Even if limited to CDs, the Lexus had a killer sound system, and we intended to give it a workout, wind noise or no wind noise. Since the air conditioner wasn't working, our windows were going to be down, so... wind noise. Simple.

And then we picked up... um... well, quite a few, actually...

But maybe I should limit myself to the ones that actually play a part in this chapter, and to further simplify things, I could also wait until they really do play a part.

So, okay, after loading up with music, we visited Abe. I was uncertain, because after all, I'd only met him once, the day he had his truck towed in and Earl and I ended up getting his boat back. Or at least, we got it to some place else... but it wasn't like I knew him that well, and Stephan had only heard us talking about him, so he was also uncertain, but Carlie assured us once again that Abe had never met a stranger in his life and he'd really appreciate us just saying hi. We didn't have to stay long, we could just pop in for a minute or so.

And so we did and Abe was under cover. I don't want to be a wuss about this, but I was relieved. But he remembered me, I was that city boy. Then he asked if I was still enjoying myself out in the country, and I said I was, and, "Oh by the way, this is my friend Stephan and he'll be visiting for awhile, too."

So Stephan blushed and said, "Hello sir, I'm glad to meet you and I hope you're feeling better soon."

"Oh, I've felt worse, " said Abe, "like when I was in Normandy and got shot in my hind end... I just happened to turn and it sounded like a wasp and the next thing I knew... well, I'll tell you what, that surely was some day."

And just like that, Stephan was all ears. "You mean... you were in D-Day?"

So about three hours later...and in spite of some puzzling detours, we left feeling grateful. In no time at all, Abe had put us completely at ease.

But as for how he was, well, once he finally let them take another x-ray, they discovered something else, the probable cause of the clot in the first place. He had no idea when it could have happened, but somehow he'd fractured his leg. A small hair-line fracture, but still painful. Earl said later that it probably happened when he was either crawling into or out of the dumpster behind the restaurant, just for some cardboard which wasn't even worth the gas it took to haul it off to the recycling place in Dickinson in the first place - not any more, it wasn't - but whatever, he was going to be in the hospital for at least a week.

But because the clot was in a minor vein, the orthopedic surgeon didn't think there was any danger of it rushing off to someplace he didn't want it rushing off to, and he planned on doing the surgery first thing the following day.

So that's how we ended up spending another night in a motel, this time at the Ramada Inn, not far from the State Capital Building, Carlie just called home and explained the situation. Earl wanted to stay until his grandpa was out of surgery, so since we were already there (and a good hundred miles from home), John said okay, he'd call the Ramada and arrange for a room. Just one night, though.

We decided that fate had been tempted enough that day and we left the car in the hospital parking lot. But while Carlie and Earl were with Abe a little longer, Stephan and I were out in the car listening to Dire Straits, ("Sultans Of Swing: The Very Best of Dire Straits"), and that's how I discovered our song. I'd probably heard it before, but I'd never paid any attention, but when "Brothers In Arms" came on, I was like, "That's our song!" It had nothing to do with the words, but I thought it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever heard. There have probably been close to a hundred "most beautiful ever"s in my life, but at that moment... OMG. We played it again, and it almost made me cry.

Our night at The Ramada was also uneventful. Carlie and Earl were in one queen-sized bed, Stephan and I in the other, but even though they'd just recently reenacted some really good stuff for my benefit, they weren't inclined to do it again that night. Although they did disappear under their cover and they stayed out of sight for several minutes, so we could imagine and we liked doing that, no matter how tempting it was for us to follow suit.

But our room had a large shower, and since there was no danger of running out of hot water, we all took a shower together. We did that night, and again the following morning and mutual wanking was perfectly acceptable.

And tag-team wrestling was also okay, or at least it was until somebody in the room below us started banging on the ceiling.

But aside from that we just watched TV some and because they had Internet in all the rooms, we also spent a good deal of time on YouTube looking for music, and before long we had three more killer CDs. We liked them immensely, so it didn't matter what anyone else thought about it. We could care less what anyone else might think.

Unless maybe...

Here's how it started. They wheeled Abe out for surgery a little before eight and while Earl was determined to wait there, the rest of us decided we could just as easily wait out in the car for awhile, because it would probably be past noon before he was out of recovery. So we were listening to Dire Straits again. We had the volume turned down to an acceptable level, but that was part of the problem, we wanted to give that Nakamichi sound system a good work out. So we decided to drive around some and we were about to pull out of the parking lot when this guy who looked to be somewhere between eighteen and twenty waved us down, and he appeared to be a bit anxious as well. So Carlie stopped and: "Hey man, would you by any chance be going west? Because if you are, I'd really appreciate it if you could give me a lift. Just out of town, that would be great, if you could do that much for me, because I need to be getting back to New Salem quick as I can. So what do you say? Could you help me out that much? Out of town on the Interstate or even close, hell, I can walk a little if I have to, but if it wouldn't be too much trouble..."

"Sure, " said Carlie, "hop in, 'cause we're just killing a little time anyway."

And so this guy got into the front seat. He glanced back at me and Stephan sitting side by side in back, but he didn't seem to be too concerned about it.

And Stephan didn't seem to be worried either, because he leaned forward and asked, "So you're from New Salem, huh? That's where that big cow is, right?"

"You mean Sue?... Yeah, last time I checked, she was guarding things pretty well for us."

So I wasn't sure if he considered New Salem Sue to a source of civic pride or embarrassment, but since it sounded like he wasn't exactly thrilled about it, I said, "Yeah, I guess it can be a little surreal at times."

"Not sure what you just said, but you might be right, " said he, then as I was mentally kicking myself again, he glanced back up front and asked, "What's that you got on the radio?"

"Dire Straits, " answered Stephan, "You like it?"

"Can't say that I do. Sounds like a lot of googly gook to me, you got anything else?"

Googly gook? Oh, he means gobbledygook. "Romeo and Juliet" is gobbledygook? My second most favorite song on that album is gobbledy-"

"That's all it sounds like to me, just a lot of googly gook, " he repeated.

Well, googly gook then. And he'd probably think the same about our song!

I could feel the color coming to my face. So even though I have no idea where I was going with this, I started, "Oh? So... exactly what kind of googly gook to you-"

Only Carlie cut in with, "Well, let's see what else we got, " and he switched to the next disk. But soon as the first track started...

It was an involuntary reaction I suppose, but Carlie looked horrified. And Stephan and I were hoping that Googly Gook didn't know too much about music as well.

See, to play CDs in the Lexus, you insert them into a cartridge. The player is in the trunk, and each cartridge can hold six disks. To switch disks, you simply push the first button on the control panel, but as fate would have it the next one happened to be The Pet Shop Boys ("PopArt: Pet Shop Boys - The Hits") and track one was "Go West". So that could have easily been our song as well. It's really magnificent, but apparently Googly Gook knew a thing or two after all. It was like he'd been shocked. He shot a baleful stare our way, then at Carlie. So it seemed as though our secret was out in the open. And while our initial reactions had nothing to do with being ashamed of who we were, it did have a lot to do with self-preservation. None of us had any Bruce Lee-like powers, so discretion was the better part of valor.

Only Carlie needs a little more work on that. Like for starters, you shouldn't pick up someone who looks like a Neanderthal, but if you already have and he knows you've got Pet Shop Boys on your CD changer, turning the volume up a few more notches isn't likely to help much. But apparently, he'd given up on common sense by then, so he did turn the volume up. He was almost nonchalant.

Googly Gook 's face started turning crimson, and he sputtered, "You... you're... That's fag music! Let me out of this fucking car right now!"

And so we did.

"Well!" said Stephan as we pulled away.

Abe's surgery went well and that evening Earl decided to go back home for awhile.

Thursday morning, he got a call from his aunt. The one who'd been staying with them up until she'd had more than she could take, but the thing was, she's a licensed practical nurse, and she'd reconsidered and was willing to let Abe stay at her place until it was safe to leave him by himself. Some of the time, anyway, but for at least a month and probably for closer to the rest of the summer, someone who knew what she was doing needed to be with him around the clock and she could also help with his physical therapy.

So Earl's first reaction was that she could go straight to hell. Someone who knew what she was doing, his ass, and not only that, he also had a feeling she was just wanting to be on Abe's good side because of a possible inheritance that might or might not have been of any real value - nobody was sure about that - but when she added that she wasn't keeping him any longer than necessary and she was hoping that Earl could keep things halfway in order back in Oxmar until then, that's when some wheels started turning. Could he help as much with therapy as his aunt? He had to admit that he couldn't. And as for keeping things in order, they already had enough stuff out of previous gardens canned in the cellar to last them three or four years at least, so.. road trip! Yes!

Only that wasn't the really interesting part, because first there were some practical considerations. Earl wanted to go to Banff, and so did I. And so did Stephan and Carlie, for that matter, we really did, but even Carlie realized that it wouldn't be a good idea for him to be driving in Canada. "Shit, " said he, "we'd never even get through customs. There is no way!"

That's when I discovered that of all of us, Stephan was the most impractical. More so than Earl in his bunny suit, because after all, that served the purpose of his being suspended from school, certainly more so than Carlie who at least seemed to know a few of his limitations and even more so than me. Because even though Carlie didn't want to think about driving in another country, Stephan was advising both Earl and Carlie to apply for their passports at the post office, just in case. It was simple, he said, and it is, but still, there was the unanswered question of why they were supposed to bother in the first place. Were we going to walk to Banff?

"We could ride bikes, " said Stephan.

"Yeah!" said Earl.

"Well, maybe, " said Carlie.

So I asked if any of them had the slightest idea of how far it was to Banff.

"Not off hand, " replied Stephan, "do you?"

"Well, it's a lot further than I want to ride a damn bike."

Then all three of them cut me off with, "Chicken!"

So I fired back, "No, I'm not, I'm a candy-ass, but there's lots of places we can go in this country, you know?"

"Cluck cluck!" (All three of them again.)

So I shrugged and said, "Well, maybe. But first, they have to apply for their passports." You have to have them now, even if you're only going to be visiting for a day. And I realize it seems like I was giving in to that idea, but I wasn't, I was just playing them along, because if it came to bikes, I was sure we'd be giving up long before reaching the border.

And besides, after applying it would still probably take almost two weeks, so until they actually hadtheir passports I wouldn't be saying anything more about it.

And I definitely wasn't going to be saying anything more about it that day, because our agreed upon waiting period ended at midnight. Of course Stephan might then complain that a week still wouldn't have passed - that it wouldn't until at least 9:30 A.M. - but I wanted it to be a surprise and I doubted that he'd object for long. If our positions were reversed, then I wouldn't mind...

So I suppose at around ten Thursday night when I was having trouble just keeping my eyes open, maybe...

Well, let's forget maybe and go with probably or even almost certainly then. Although it's true that for more than a week I hadn't been getting enough sleep. So I was sleep-deprived, but Stephan was too. That was my plan, that he'd be so sleepy, he'd be dead to the world as soon as his head hit the pillow that night, but the only way I could keep him awake up until then was to stay awake myself.

We were at Earl's watching Mission Impossible II. I hate that movie. Even overlooking holes in the plot big enough to drive a truck through, there are all those slow motion special effects that bug me to no end, so there I was on a couch with my head in Stephan's lap and I shut my eyes for just a few seconds. It was a nice feeling. Earl and Carlie had excused themselves for the night twenty minutes before, so it was just the two of us in our over-sized tee shirts and we had all night long and...

So you know how dreams can be sometimes. We were on our way to Banff in a stage coach. Only apparently Carlie and Earl were up top with the reins, so it was just me and Stephan inside. But we weren't being bounced all over the place, this coach had a smooth ride. So the scenery was floating by and it was awesome. It was so breathtakingly beautiful, I started feeling it between my legs!

Only before much longer, it occurred to me that there was some sort of a suction device attached to my penis and it really felt good, so I was paying less and less attention to the scenery. In fact, it wasn't too long until I wasn't even noticing it, I was just hoping that there was some way of regulating that device so the conclusion wouldn't be reached too soon. Maybe it wouldn't be, because it was nothing more than a moist tickle. Only insistently so.

And then even more insistently so.

Only then reality started eating away at my dream world. But the thing was, my dreams had always been better than reality.

Up until then. That's almost as good as it can get, waking up to discover that reality is beyond your wildest dreams. Stephan was sucking my dick! So I muttered something. I have no idea what it was, but he glanced up, paused, then slowly let it slide out.

He grinned tentatively and asked, "All right so far?"

"Um... yeah!"

"So you don't want me to stop then.... Even if I jumped the gun a little?"

"Well... it is Friday, you... know, and... oh my god."

So I said quite a few more things and was occasionally loud about it, but for the life of me I still can't recall what I said.

Then it was over and I sighed and... well, I was catching my breath, actually, but finally I managed, "So... do you think... it was... worth it?"

Only his face was clouding over, so brightly I added, "But you want to try something else?"

"Well... yeah."


..."I should be... but right now... no."

"Well, I should be, too. But since you woke me up..." and with that, I scooted down and without saying anything else, I swallowed him. Once again, I caught that whiff, and coming from Stephan, it almost blew my mind.

Honestly, though, that night was full of mind-blowing experiences. Being awakened by him doing me, returning the favor, feeling his spike jerking in my mouth, (and I could go all the way down on him), thinking that we'd be doing lots more times, thinking about what else we might soon be doing... but in a way, the best might have been going back to sleep with our arms around each other.

I'd let Earl and Carlie borrow my Nikon and at around eight Earl added another picture for my "this is me" folder. I was almost on top of Stephan, but we were both sound asleep and we looked like angels. Fallen angels, I guess, because with our shirts up past our middles, it looked way erotic...

I have a cute ass, there's just no denying it.

No, really, I do!

But then...

Well, let me put it this way: Have you watched a movie, then afterwards you're scratching your head, saying things like, "But why... no, wait a minute. Now if he... no, that can't be it, because in that case, she would have had to... except about halfway though, they completely forgotthat part anyway..." or in other words, have you ever watched a movie based on a string of implausible events which added together become almost exponentially implausible? Well, there are times when I'm still scratching my head trying to figure out exactly how three days later, A led to B which then led to C and then on to D who just happened to be at C about the same time E showed up which in the long run... well, we sure didn't want to repeat B again, but...

It's still a puzzlement. And there are probably still some more letters to go. But improbable or not, here we go.

A: Sunday night, Earl heard from the hospital again, and the news was they would be releasing Abe the following afternoon. So once again Carlie got permission to drive the Lexus so Earl could drop off some extra clothes and things of that nature Monday morning. All of us decided to go, Stephan and I because we liked Abe, but also because we wanted to shop some more. Carlie drove responsibly all the way in and we saw no Highway Patrolmen. Once at the hospital, we said our goodbyes, then after shopping for a few hours, we started back home. Only this time, we were going on Highway 6 south from Mandan, then on Highway 21 west until we reached Highway 85, only a few miles north of the mannequin sitting in her police car. Stephan knew there was a bogus cop somewhere because he'd read about her in my second chapter, but he had no idea where it was. So if everything went as planned, he'd be introduced the same way I'd been. Until you're right up on her, it looks very real.

Mandan is just west of Bismarck, on the other side of the Missouri, and with a population of around 16, 000, it's large enough for several stop lights. Earl was still a bit down, and even though it was understandable, it also was effecting Carlie, so Stephan and I were trying to cheer them up. We were lip syncing and boogying to "Barbie Girl", one of the tracks we'd ripped off YouTube. When Stephan first added it, I was wondering why, but now it was clear enough: it was so we could cheer everybody up. I was Barbie and Stephan was Ken. And it really did seem to be working, because it wasn't long until Earl was doing his thing up front and Carlie was keeping time by banging on the steering wheel, but..

We pulled up to a stop light, glanced over to our right, and there, sitting right beside us in a shiny red Dodge Ram pickup was Googly Gook again! He was seated in the front passenger side, glaring away, so I guess if there was ever any doubt in his mind, "Barbie Girl" clinched it for him, not to mention the driver, the redneck squeezed in between them, two more squeezed into that little back seat, and two more riding in the back. Seven Neanderthal-types between... oh, sixteen and twenty-something and everyone of them thinking not too well of us.

But still, aside from glaring and looking incredulous, nothing came of it before the light turned green and Carlie screeched off and so did they. They could burn rubber too. Big time. Only, there really wasn't much point in all that screeching because a block down, another red light. Drat!

When we burned our CD, we were nothing if not eclectic, and the next track happened to be some death metal. Cradle Of Filth- "No Time To Cry" - in case you want to follow the program notes - only, they weren't the least bit intimidated and they also weren't impressed. (Track Three was Ozric Tentacles - "Fractal Eternal Wheel", which probably would have impressed them even less, but they might have at least appreciated the track after that which was Leon Russell's version of "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry".)

Well, no, they probably wouldn't have been impressed by that either, it's more likely that they would have been incensed. Although you have to admit that when I say eclectic, I mean it. But by then we could have been playing something like Conway Twitty and the Twitty Birds and I don't think they would have been impressed, even if that's the kind of music they appreciated. Apparently it was something like that, and they were now trying to drown us out, so it's a wonder we all didn't get arrested for disturbing the peace. Because in case it's been forgotten, we had a killer sound system, and Cradle Of Filth was just kicking The Twitty Birds' asses.

But the most important thing was that now those Neanderthals were saying some bad things about us. You could read their lips easy. But the light turned green again, and away we all screeched again, with Carlie getting the jump on them, which turned out to be an unfortunate thing, because that gave him time to not only switch to disk four (Ian Hunter's "You're Never Alone With a Schizophrenic", discovered in a cut-out bin) but it also allowed him to find the track he wanted them to hear, and they did at the next light. "Bastard" has a nice rolling beat, but I guess Ian wanted to vent when he penned that number, because the word bastard is repeated quite often, and if you pull up to a stop light and you hear a very loud "You bastard!" coming from the car next to you, you could think that it was being directed at you.

And it was, so B: the chase was on. Fortunately, we were at the edge of town when it started, else logically we would have been joined by at least five police cruisers, but illogically - and unfortunately - the highway was almost empty. Just when you need the Highway Patrol, they're somewhere else, and so there we were heading south at one-hundred-and-thirty plus with that Dodge pickup right behind us. Why anyone would need a pickup capable such a speed is beyond me, but that's beside the point. Although at this point details are going to be a little sketchy anyway, because I had my eyes closed most of the time. And so did Stephan and Earl, but fortunately, Carlie kept his eyes open.

Or at least I assume that he did.

But first, one more interesting musical note. I'm going to steer clear of the word surreal from here on out, because it always seems to be getting me into some sort of trouble, but it was sure was bizarre. Since apparently "Bastard" was responsible for us being chased at a high rate of speed, Earl decided to switch to something else, so he started frantically pushing the button until... well, until he reached "Barbie Girl" again and at that point he just gave up. So there we were, flying down the highway with that in our ears. And remember, thatwas to be followed by Cradle Of Filth, then Ozric Tentacles and then "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" so never mind bizarre, this had the potential of becoming absolutely phantasmagoric, so I yelled, "Damn it, cut that off!" Only instead of turning it off, he turned the radio on, and we were suddenly in the middle of "The Funeral Chapel Of The Air".I am not making this up. It even scared Carlie, because he quickly cut it off. Very quickly.

Then everybody but Carlie shut their eyes and offered prayers to their respective deities or at least tried to think positive, life-affirming thoughts, until...

Earl yelled, "Oh shit! Watch it Carlie, oh my God..." that's when my eyes popped open, because I thought we'd just bought the farm.

"We're going backwards!" I thought, and somehow that didn't seem right. Actually, though, Carlie was in the middle of a high speed U-turn. It's a wonder we didn't flip over.

But we didn't. Only now we were headed right for that pickup!

So that's why Earl and I thought we were about to die. We'd never even know what hit us. Carlie was playing chicken with them!

Fortunately, though, he had more sense than to really play chicken with a truckload of Ace Merrill wannabes, so at the very last instant, he swerved to the shoulder, which fortunately was a wide one and paved, except - and this is interesting as well - I never heard anything, it was completely silent. It was like I was in a vacuum and that pickup flashed by us almost in slow motion, so I guess that was my near-death experience. My brain was telling me that I was dead. It's an interesting experiment. You ought to try it some time.

And I'm kidding of course. But the chase wasn't over. I looked back and noticed that they were U-turning in a more sensible manner - had they tried duplicating Carlie's turn, they would have been minus the two in back - but even though they were now further behind, they were still after us and we didn't seem to be putting any additional distance between them and us. So this was starting to look serious. And then...

Well, this is also interesting, because first I saw a rifle and I was thinking: "You cannot be serious", but I heard a shot, so then I was in the process of thinking: "Oh, come on! You aren't really shooting at... us"... well, I did go ahead and think that, but it was pointless, because the bullet went through the top of our rear window and into our roof lining before I even got past "Oh". So now it was: "They're shooting at us!"

And Carlie was aware of that as well, so...

He saw a dirt road off to the right and slid into it. So that's really great, I'm thinking because now all they had to do was just shoot at the dust cloud.

But not long afterwards, Carlie did a power slide through a sharp curve and the pickup kept going into a wheat field. We topped a hill about a hundred yards further on down, and I could see them piling out.

Carlie asked grimly, "You think we should go back and help 'em?"

"No, they still got their gun, " I said hurriedly.

So that took care of that, only we couldn't go back to the highway because of them being armed, so we had to keep going on that road, only we had no idea where it went, although after several twists and turns, it seemed as though we were headed north again. So for all we knew, we could end up in Canada after all.

Except if went that far, we'd be walking most of the way, because the gas needle was on empty! Quite a few adrenaline-pumping twists and turns, right?

Yeah, right. So we kept on going, trying to put all the distance we could between us and them back in that field. Although by then, they could have somehow gotten out, even though it looked like they were buried up to their bumpers, but...

About ten miles on down the road, we ran into C, which was a dead end. A cul-de-sac, in fact. Yeah, that works a little better in an alliterative sense, but...

I once had a bad experience with alliterations, and it seemed to be even worse for the Sisters, so...

I think I'll forget about that and get back to our movie. So where were we?

It turned out to be an abandoned fertilizer plant, but since we almost had to be out of gas and because we still weren't turning around and going back, after hiding the car as best we could in a small patch of woods, that's where we decided to spend the night. There was a big five story building out in the middle, so, if we could get to the top, we guessed we could see anyone who might be approaching.

Although, as Stephan pointed out, in a movie, you never go into a place like that. Once a group of young people enter a place like that... for the rest of the night...

Stephan was balking. In spite of everything that had happened, he didn't want to go into that building, no way! And for that matter, neither did Earl and I had a bad feeling about it myself, but still, Googly Gook and company could follow that road just as well as we could...

Trying my best to sound resolute, I said, "Oh, come on! You've watched one too many Nightmares On Elm Street, Stephan! I mean, in real life, things like that just don't-"

"Yeah, well, in real life I don't get shot at, either, " shot back Stephan.

In reality, people get shot at all the time in real life. Either that, or they just happen to be in the way when someone else is being shot at. None of us had ever been shot at before, but you hear about it on the news often enough.

But still, since our options were limited, up we climbed.

In real-life, the solution would still be simple enough, though. We'd just remember that we had a cell-phone... and I know, we could have remembered that earlier, but when you're being shot at, you do tend to forget things...

But anyway, in real -life, you just call out on your cell phone. Carlie could have, you know... "Uh, hell- hello dad? You're probably not ever going to believe this, but..."

But then in a movie, especially in one of those movies, your cell phone isn't going to work anyway.

"Huh, " said Stephan trying to sound brave or at least matter-of-fact, "I guess they don't cover the whole state after all."

It was going to be an interesting night.

Posthumous or not, you aren't required to read this postscript, but in case you're the least bit interested in some of our other killer tracks - and yes, that really does put a new meaning to it - but...

Sigur Rós-- Actually, it's untitled, but it's from their Heima DVD. On YouTube, look for Heima Reykjavik finale.

Cold Play-- "Fix You" Radiohead wannabes or not, it's not bad.

Diablo Swing Orchestra-- "Porcelain Judus" Maybe.

Frightened Rabbit-- "Heads Roll Off"

Garbage-- "1 Crush" It's wicked.

Luna Sea-- "Face To Face" A bit wicked as well.

Massive Attack-- "Safe From Harm" It could have come in handy.

The Scabs-- "Nothing On My Radio" Right.

The Wallflowers-- "One Headlight"

Okkervil River-- "Our Life Is Not a Movie Or Maybe" That's what I kept trying to point out.

Silversun Pickups-- "Lazy Eye"

Frank Zappa-- "The Muffin Man" Just because, that's why.

Stabbing Westward-- "Shame" Fly, Carlie, fly!!

Kashmir-- "Surfing The Warm Industry"

Matt Mays-- "When The Angels Make Contact" Faster Carlie, faster!

Jimmy Eat World-- "Big Casino" I said faster , damn it!

Yeasayer-- "Tightrope"

Vanessa Mae-- "Contradanza"

Handsome Furs-- "Dumb Animals" Somehow, it just seems fitting.

More later.

Or at least, I hope so.

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