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Final Connections

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Wallace Boyer ( Car Salesman): Right now, if you scratched your ear, I’d scratch my ear. If you cocked your head to one side, I’d cock my head—pacing you—selling you with eye contact and proof that I care.
I’d say, “Look here”—another embedded command.
If you said, “Time travel is impossible,” I’d bridge your objection, saying, “Yes, many people claim it’s impossible, but didn’t people use to say the Wright brothers would never get off the ground?”

Echo Lawrence ( Party Crasher): The last time I saw Green Taylor Simms, we were driving a Mattress Night. Green was roping a mattress to the roof of his red Daimler. We were pit-stopping before the window opened, to fill the tank, standing, leaning against the side of the car, parked next to the gas pumps. Green stood in his pinstriped suit, poking the nozzle and holding the trigger. You could smell gasoline and deep-fried chicken.
I hadn’t called Shot about tonight, just so I could ride alone with Green. And, standing there, I told Green Taylor Simms that Rant’s dad, Chester, had come to town.
Watching the numbers spin on the gas pump, money and gallons piling up, Green said, “Tell me, how delusional is the elder Mr. Casey?”
Driving by are Torinos and Vegas and Toronados, all with mattresses roped to their roofs. Faces in those cars all turned to look at us with our mattress. People stand on every street corner you can see, a thumb out for a ride. Some people wave a few bills for gas money.
And I told Green Taylor Simms what Chester Casey had told me.
Green said nothing. Just listened. Watching the other teams watch us.
From DRVR Radio Graphic Traffic: This bulletin just in, and it looks like another repeat redundant case of deja-vu. Three police vehicles are in high-speed pursuit of a burning car, westbound on the Madison Beltway.
This is Tina Something with your Rubberneck Report…
Wallace Boyer: It helps, Chet Casey told me, to start simple. Picture time less like a river than a book. Or a record. Something finished. Like a movie, with a beginning, middle, and end, but already done and complete.
Then picture time travel as nothing more than knocking your half-read book to the floor and losing your place. You pick up the book and open the pages to a scene too early or late, but never exactly where you’d been reading.
Echo Lawrence: And, still listening, Green Taylor Simms left the gas nozzle pumping, walked around the car, and leaned inside the driver’s window. He said, “I’m listening,” and he pushed in the dashboard cigarette lighter.
That’s how old his car was. None of us smoked.
Shot Dunyun ( Party Crasher): Rant said once that you perceive time the way the people in power want you to. Like it’s a speed limit on some freeway. Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. Like time is the Tooth Fairy we’re brought up to believe. As a path or a river that only moves in one direction.
But speed limits change. Santa Claus is fake.
Rant told me that time’s not the way we think. Time wraps. It loops. It stops and starts. And that’s just the little bit he’s found out. Most folks, Rant says, move through time like a flightless bird on land. Rant says that view of time was set up so folks won’t live forever. It’s the planned obsolescence we’ve all agreed to.
Everybody except the folks who don’t die. Historians.
“Nothing says you have to swallow this,” Rant told me. “You can always just die.”
From DRVR Radio Graphic Traffic: Here’s another update on that high-speed police chase. The fire seems to be limited to a burning mattress tied to the car’s roof. The driver is still westbound on the Madison Beltway, approaching the CenterPoint Business Park. With more news as it happens, this is Tina Something with your Rubberneck Report…
Echo Lawrence: At the gas station, inside Green’s Daimler, the cigarette lighter popped out with a “think” sound.
From the Field Notes of Green Taylor Simms ( Historian): Let me, somehow, compress this. The human brain operates at four basic levels of brain frequency. Normally, awake and aroused, you operate in the “beta” level of brain waves, which occur at thirteen to thirty cycles per second. At a resting state, your mind slips to an “alpha” brain-wave level of nine to fourteen cycles per second. As you daydream and feel drowsy, your mind slows to “theta” level, five to eight cycles per second. And as you pass into deep, dreamless sleep, your brain waves slow to a “delta” level of one to four cycles per second.
Wallace Boyer: Nothing says you have to believe this. Nothing says you have to even listen, but consider that plenty of smart, rich, powerful folks in history went to their graves swearing that the sun went around us. Also consider that someday, when you’re dead and rotted, kids with their baby teeth will sit in their time-geography class and laugh about how stupid you were.
Echo Lawrence: The gas pump chunked and the numbers stopped turning. The hose jumped and went silent. Green Taylor Simms slipped one hand inside his pinstriped jacket and lifted out his wallet.
“According to Chet Casey,” I told Green, “we met Rant because you recognized him on that street corner…”
Green pinched a twenty-dollar bill, another twenty, a ten, a fifty. He pinched all the paper money out of his wallet.
I said, “Pull up your sleeve.” I said, “Let me see your arms.”
And Green said, “Who do you think invented this little game you enjoy so much?” He said, “Who do you think decides the field and flag and window, then sends the word out?” He said, “What do you suppose would happen to Party Crashing without me?”
Around us, the stink of gasoline.
Green Taylor Simms handed me the cash and said, “Would you be so kind as to buy me some Red Vines licorice?”
From the Field Notes of Green Taylor Simms: Of greatest interest is the idea that an average person easily reaches this mystical meditation state, “theta” brain waves, the state most sought by monks and pilgrims, simply by driving an automobile. Any long drive, anytime you’ve passed time and covered distance with no memory of the process, you’ve been submerged in deep theta-level meditation. Open to visions. Open to your subconscious. Creativity, intuition, and spiritual enlightenment.
Echo Lawrence: I left him with the nozzle still stuck in the side of his car. I went inside and bought Red Vines, paid for the gasoline, and came out. And—no duh—when I came out, the red Daimler was gone.
From the Field Notes of Green Taylor Simms: Of special interest is the theta level of brain activity. It’s at this frequency that mystics report that visions and inspiration are most likely to occur. In those relaxed moments, while bathing or driving or falling asleep, as you lapse into theta brain waves, you typically retrieve deep, distant memories. You make connections and achieve revelations.
In order to stimulate theta brain activity, Tibetan Buddhist chants follow a droning rhythm which matches the slower brain-wave frequency. Among drumming cultures, shamanic drummers trigger theta activity by a steady, constant four beats per second.
Pattie Reynolds ( Bartender): I was at Pump Seven. The man you’re talking about was at Pump Five. I heard splashing and turned to look, and this old man was hosing gasoline all over the mattress tied to the roof of his red car. He wore a dark-blue business suit. Gray hair. Good wingtip shoes. The gasoline soaked into the mattress, except a few drips of it rolled down the sides of the car, the windows. The smell was suffocating.
I remember he climbed into the driver’s seat and started to drive off. He had to turn on the windshield wipers, so much gasoline was running down the windshield.
Wallace Boyer: Like I told you, I didn’t really meet Rant Casey until after he was dead. The remainder of that flight, the time I sat next to Chester Casey, he tried to teach me the impossible. He drank my scotch and told me that time is not a straight line.
Time is not a river. Or a clock or hourglass. It doesn’t only run one way.
You could hire a gaggle of brilliant experts to dissect how it might happen, but some people will still look at the proof and argue that the world is flat. Humans didn’t evolve from something else. And Elvis Presley is still alive.
From DRVR Radio Graphic Traffic: I’m Tina Something with a Graphic Traffic emergency bulletin. All westbound lanes of the Madison Beltway are closed, due to the crash of a burning car at the CenterPoint exit. Emergency crews are on the scene trying to control the fire. Already traffic is backed up to the Market interchange and the 287 Freeway. Traffic on the eastbound Madison is also slowed to stopping…
Shot Dunyun: Shit. I don’t know how flashbacks work. I couldn’t tell you exactly how a lightbulb works, much less make you one from scratch. But I can use one.
You burn out your brain with rabies. Go all theta-trance-y with driving. You hit something and wake up naked in history.
Wallace Boyer: If it helps, consider how people used to think the world was flat. Two-dimensional. They only believed in the part they could see, until somebody invented the ships and somebody brave sailed off to find the rest of the earth. Consider that Rant Casey is the Christopher Columbus of time travel.
From DRVR Radio Graphic Traffic: Traffic on the West Side is at a standstill. A parking lot. Emergency crews report the fire at the CenterPoint interchange is extinguished, and the accident has been moved off the roadway, but the boysin the meat wagon are still waiting for their cargo.
According to the early rumors, the burned Daimler-Benz appears to be empty. Bringing you the gory details, this is DRVR Graphic Traffic…

Rant Revisited

From DRVR Radio Graphic Traffic: You don’t have to look up at the sky to tell it’s a full moon tonight. We already have reports of a fender bender at Milepost 14 of the 217 Freeway, where two bridal parties appear to be throwing handfuls of wedding cake at each other. With the Rubberneck Report every ten minutes, this is Tina Something for Graphic Traffic…

Neddy Nelson ( Party Crasher): Doesn’t everybody know, people still Party Crash? To attain that road-trip trance where you come up with ideas? Or maybe people get off on the chase? You know, to meet people and spend time together?
Echo Lawrence ( Party Crasher): Relax. If Shot Dunyun manages to transplant himself into the past, the rest of us will wake to the new reality that he’s become the father of boosted-peak technology. Shot will finally use his education, to become the Thomas Edison of neural transcripts. That’s if he remembers enough about the actual science. It’s one thing to be an auteur, but it’s another to birth the entire fucking art form.
No, the instant he goes back and tweaks history, the rest of us might wake up, tomorrow, to a world without neural-transcript boosts. We’ll still be watching movies and reading books. But his little pug dog, Sandy, will still be alive.
Shot Dunyun ( Party Crasher): Maybe Rant wasn’t so…ballsy or big as we remember him. Maybe this is how any religious figure gets created—his friends brag him up, huger and huger, so they can get laid. You can picture St. Peter in a bar telling some pretty girl, “Yeah, I hung with Jesus Christ. We were best buds…”
Maybe people don’t travel back in time. Maybe it’s lies like that, anything that smells better than the idea of death—black, inky, forever death—it’s those kind of sexy lies that set up world religions. Maybe Rant is just dead.
Echo Lawrence: Consider the source. Maybe Shot Dunyun just wants to slip back in time without any competition.
Shot Dunyun: Bullshit. You know, if Echo jumps back in time, she’d be around today, but with both regular arms and legs. Normal. And with living, alive parents. Not whittling and staining sex toys. Echo would be the same age as Rant or Chester, or whatever he calls himself now. They’d be just two regular, boring middle-aged people.
Echo Lawrence: If Neddy manages to go back, there’ll be no Infrastructure Effective and Efficient Use Act. People will live the way the cavemen did, everyone indoors or out, anytime they choose. No curfews. One colossal traffic jam, the way the world used to be.
Shot Dunyun: You could argue that we constantly change the past, whether or not we actually go back. I close my eyes, and the Rant Casey I picture isn’t the real person. The Rant I tell you about is filtered and colored and distorted through me. Like any boosted peak.
And all these ways I change the past—I don’t even know I’m doing most of them. You could say I constantly fuck up the past, the present, and the future.
Echo Lawrence: If Rant ever gets it right—if he ever gets back in time to save his mother from…becoming his mother—chances are you’ll never have heard the name Rant Casey. He and Green might both be Historians, without beginning or end.
Shot Dunyun: How weird is that? Instead of a biography, this story will become fiction. A factual historical artifact documenting a past that never happened.
Like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, another obsolete truth.
Bodie Carlyle ( Childhood Friend): My head’s working overtime to swallow the mess of this. Folks say Rant’s skipped back in time, crazy folks, and maybe he’ll do something so none of this won’t never be. Or maybe just so only he won’t be.
Gossip says a secret dog pack of folks run the world. Folks who can’t never die, so they keep the rest of us stirred up for laughs. Depends on how they monkey with history, but tomorrow could be I won’t be no more real than Superman or King Arthur.
It don’t take a brain surgeon to tell, that talk’s got to be made-up lies.
Neddy Nelson: Ask yourself: What did I eat for breakfast today? What did I eat for dinner last night?
You see how fast reality fades away?
Tina Something ( Party Crasher): What would I change? The next Party Crash night, anytime any gaddamn Maserati or Rolls-Royce pulls up to the curb, I’m climbing inside.
The rest of you gaddamn losers—enjoy your death.


Hudson Baker ( Student) is currently working toward her undergraduate degree in criminal justice.
Brannan Benworth, D.M.D. ( Dentist) remains isolated in government infectious-disease quarantine for an indefinite period.
Dr. Christopher Bing, Ph.D. ( Anthropologist) is currently overseas studying the culture of Noh drama in Japan.
Allan Blayne ( Firefighter) remains isolated in government infectious-disease quarantine for an indefinite period.

Wallace Boyer ( Car Salesman) is available to lecture extensively about his short-lived in-flight relationship with Rant Casey.
Vivica Brawley ( Dancer) remains isolated in government infectious-disease quarantine for an indefinite period.
Sheriff Bacon Carlyle ( Childhood Enemy) faces charges of wrongful arrest stemming from allegedly harassing visitors to the Middleton Tooth Museum.
Basin Carlyle ( Childhood Neighbor) remains active in family, church, and community life.
Bodie Carlyle ( Childhood Friend) operates and curates the newly opened Middleton Tooth Museum.
Chester Casey ( Farmer ) disappeared in connection with a single-vehicle accident soon after the disappearance of Green Taylor Simms.
Irene Casey ( Rant’s Mother) is now a wealthy philanthropist, and chief financial backer and docent of the Middleton Tooth Museum.
Lynn Coffey ( Journalist) authored the nonfiction account Nail and Bail: A History of Party Crashing.
Gregg Denney ( Student) is deceased. He was shot by police under suspicion of being rabid.
Shot Dunyun ( Party Crasher), formerly known as Christopher Dunyun, has been missing since the vehicle he was driving left the roadway and fell from the edge of a three-hundred-foot cliff.
Cammy Elliot ( Childhood Friend) remains active in family, church, and community life.
Logan Elliot ( Childhood Friend) remains active in family, church, and community life.
Ruby Elliot ( Childhood Neighbor) remains active in family, church, and community life.
Reverend Curtis Dean Fields ( Minister, Middleton Christian Fellowship) altered Communion practices after an outbreak of rabies was traced to a chalice of grape juice shared by his six-hundred-member congregation.
Denise Gardner ( Real Estate Agent) was named a Millionaire-Bonus-Plus Seller in the regional midlevel single-family-home market.
Sean Gardner ( Contractor), with his wife, operates the GothStop telephone hotline, an intervention-and-treatment program for parents of adolescent children trapped in the goth lifestyle.
Ina Gebert, M.A. ( Theologist) is an asset at any party.
Mary Cane Harvey ( Teacher) dreams of her upcoming retirement to “any place but Middleton.”
Glenda Hendersen ( Childhood Neighbor) remains active in family, church, and community life.
Silas Hendersen ( Childhood Friend) remains active in family, church, and community life.
Brenda Jordan ( Childhood Friend) remains active in family, church, and community life.
Leif Jordan ( Childhood Friend) remains active in family, church, and community life.
Allfred Lynch ( Exterminator) remains isolated in government infectious-disease quarantine for an indefinite period.
Canada Mercer ( Software Engineer) recently celebrated the first birthday of his Irish setter, Lulu.
Sarah Mercer ( Marketing Director) expects to give birth to her first child in September of this year.
Jayne Merris ( Musician) continues to perform live punk rock as her accounting career allows.
Officer Romie Mills ( Homicide Detective) was recently promoted to chief administrator of the federal Rabies Containment Program, overseeing the apprehension and quarantine of any and all infected individuals.
Jarrell Moore ( Private Investigator) remains isolated in government infectious-disease quarantine for an indefinite period.
Neddy Nelson ( Party Crasher) was last seen riding as a passenger in the car in which Chester Casey disappeared.
Galton Nye ( City Councilman) successful lobbied for a program to keep quarantined rabies suspects confined until the current public-health threat is resolved.
Danny Perry ( Childhood Friend) remains active in family, church, and community life.
Edna Perry ( Childhood Neighbor) remains active in family, church, and community life.
LouAnn Perry ( Childhood Friend) remains active in family, church, and community life.
Polk Perry ( Childhood Neighbor) remains active in family, church, and community life.
Jeff Pleat ( Human Resources Director) now works as a successful swimwear model.
Symon Praeger ( Painter) continues to paint portraits as his law practice allows.
Hartley Reed ( Proprietor of the Trackside Grocery) pleaded innocent to charges of reckless endangerment after witnesses testified to seeing him lick apples later offered for sale to the public.
Pattie Reynolds ( Bartender) continues to tend bar as her drug habit allows.
Lowell Richards ( Teacher) recently celebrated six months of continuous sobriety.
Livia Rochelle ( Teacher) recently celebrated six weeks of continuous sobriety.
Todd Rutz ( Coin Dealer) retired to a private island in the Mediterranean.
Dr. David Schmidt ( Middleton Physician) closed his medical practice in order to accept the position of regional quarantine warden, under the Emergency Health Powers Act.
Dr. Erin Shea, Ph.D. ( Theologist) remains isolated in government infectious-disease quarantine for an indefinite period.
Green Taylor Simms ( Historian) continues to be a Person of Interest sought by the police in connection with the disappearance of Buster L. Casey.
Tina Something ( Party Crasher) was last seen entering a Dodge Viper which later crashed, exploding, against the side of a freight train. Emergency responders found no one, alive or dead, at the scene.
Edith Steele ( Human Resources Director) remains isolated in government infectious-disease quarantine for an indefinite period.
Lew Terry ( Property Manager) is currently serving a twenty-five-year prison sentence for felony child sexual abuse.
Carlo Tiengo ( Nightclub Manager) remains isolated in government infectious-disease quarantine for an indefinite period.
Luella Tommy ( Childhood Neighbor) remains active in family, church, and community life.
Phoebe Truffeau, Ph.D. ( Epidemiologist) was appointed the federal Rabies Tsar, to coordinate the expanding duties of law-enforcement officers under the Emergency Health Powers Act.
Victor Turner ( Anthropologist), an international authority on ritual and metalanguages, dreamed of operating a samba school in Brazil. He died in 1983.
Toni Wiedlin ( Party Crasher) continues to participate in Party Crash events but denies all rumors that she’s assumed the role of game organizer.


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