And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actress: Frances McDormand as Mildred in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Best Actor: Peter Sellers as Dr. Strangelove, Captain Mandrake and President Muffley in Dr. Strangelove.
Best Actress: “You were never there for me were you mother? You expected Mike and Carol Brady to raise me! I’m the bastard son of Claire Huxtable! I am a Lost Cunningham! I learned the facts of life from watching The Facts of Life! Oh God!” — Jim Carrey as Chip Douglas in The Cable Guy.
When Chester hung a right approaching a garage door at the foot of a high rise apartment building, Brody had a feeling the door would rise up for him. It did. He wasn’t sure if Chester had done that or Anita, but that was unimportant. His fears were threatening to crawl up his spine and do a cannonball into his gut again, but his sixth sense kept telling him that he was going to be ok.
The Tribute crept inside and down the sloping concrete of the parking garage, then the door descended behind them. “I think this place is perfect,” said Chester taking the car around a corner, then came to a stop at the head of an aisle. On either side were bumpers lined up like soldiers guarding the concrete walls on the other side. In the middle, just a sloped smooth pad of grey about 150 yards long, occasional yellow arrows pointing the way.
“Yes it is. Good job Chester,” said Anita. “Brody, you might want to close your eyes.”
Brody’s lips mouthed “wha…” but nothing came from his voice box.
Chester straightened his legs hard and fast, dropping the gas pedal to the floor as if his foot was a cinder block. Brody straightened his body in terror driving his own feet to the floor, as if that would help anything in such a situation.
“Hit the power!” yelled Chester. Anita’s hand when up and all interior lighting in the parking garage went out. Only seeing what headlights would reveal in an underground parking garage was the stuff nightmares and horror movies were made of. But it got worse: the wall at the end of the corridor was coming at them fast. It was as if the wall was running threateningly towards them, like a psychotic game of chicken.
“Ok, kill the motor!” yelled Chester throwing the gear shift into neutral. Immediately the engine stopped, but one would hardly notice considering the headlights went out. Flying towards a concrete wall and then being unable to see anything at all is what caused Brody’s throat to finally open up and let out a blood curdling scream.
It lasted but a second and the headlights shot back on. But now it was pavement they saw before them. Instead of bumpers whizzing by on either side it was trees. Chester decelerated until he gently brought the Tribute to a stop.
Brody thought he was going to cry. “Are you ok Brody?” Anita offered. Chester fired up the engine of the Tribute again.
“This is your place right?” He pulled directly into Brody’s mobile home driveway. “I’m sorry Brode, but there was no way we could have done this with you unless we just went ahead and did it. Like ripping off a bandaid.”
“Brody we jumped through a space-time portal. I know it looked scary but you’re going to be ok. Time is so precious right now and we can waste none of it.”
Is this really happening? Am I being punked?
“We can talk more about this, but let’s first get to your bathroom,” said Chester handing Brody his car keys and walking straight for the mobile home front steps.
It was an odd picture. Chester sat on the closed seat of the toilet, Anita leaned against the sink vanity, and Brody held the bathroom door open with his back, still looking like he’d just seen a ghost. Oh, if I’d only just seen a ghost, he thought. Hot water shot through the shower head throwing steam in the air like a fog machine. But Brody didn’t mind the awkwardness. Better than terror, he told himself.
“Ok, so tell me how you did that with my car.”
“Ah, there’s no point in that,” dismissed Chester. Brody looked to Anita for help, which she tried to oblige.
“You ever heard of people who can bend spoons with their mind? There are people out there who can do it, but how would you ever be able to explain it, right?” Brody kept listening. “Well, there are a lot of things humans are capable of. As we evolve on this planet we discover more and more the things we can do. And, it just so happens that after death you discover all of those things.”
“It’s all discover-able. You know, with science and everything. But trying to teach you all that now? Pfft!” Chester seemed mildly amused. “It’d take fer-evuh.”
They proceeded to inform Brody of life in the afterworld. How the absence of fear accelerates and magnifies love, happiness, and adventure. How time travel isn’t a machine but a simple manipulation of time, space, and dimensions. He started to enjoy himself when they’d told him stories of their own time travel adventures. Anita was there to see The Ramones play at the Rainbow Theatre in London on Christmas Eve 1977. Brody didn’t peg her for a Ramones fan, but it turned out she was quite the rock enthusiast, especially when it came to “rock history,” a term she used often and with affection. She’d also taken in most of the 1985 Live Aid concert. She shared a few other band names but didn’t dwell on them when she realized Brody had either not heard of them, or perhaps didn’t have the same excitement as she did about them. But the event she enjoyed the most was hearing Terry Fox address a crowd of ten thousand at Nathan Philips Square in Toronto back in the summer of 1980.
Chester celebrated in the streets of Reims, France on May 7, 1945 when Germany signed their surrender to the Allies. He also attended both of his parents’ funerals, and watched King Kong debut at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City in 1933. The three talked like pre-teens at a slumber party about these adventures, and Brody soaked in every story.
“Um, not really. I liked it when I was a kid.”
“Who was your favourite?” Anita seemed very interested, though he suspected it was strictly for practical reasons.
“Well… I liked a lot of them. I remember liking Undertaker a lot.
“Perfect. Got a favourite match?”
“Really Anita? You don’t seem the type…”
“I know the perfect one. Wrestlemania 25 against Shawn Michaels. Am I right?” Chester’s eyes lit up like he was proud for coming up with this one.
“Oh yeah, that one was pretty great.”
“Ok, we’re going there.”
“Wait, what? We’re…”
“Brody, you know now that we know how to time jump. Trust us with this and I promise you it will not be anywhere near as scary as the parking garage.”
He liked the sound of that.
“I think there’s enough steam goin’ now ‘Nita. We need to hurry up and find Cable. C’mon, everyone in the tub,” and Chester stepped into Brody’s bathtub with the assertiveness of a commuter stepping on a bus not wanting to be late. “Ooh, I like the grips you got on the floor of your tub. Good work fine fellow!”
He moved to the back of the tub as Anita stepped in. They stood there looking like they were waiting their turn in line at the bank.
“Brody, you’ll need to go first. Trust me, it’s better that way.”
By now he was used to following their crazy instructions and not only getting desirable results, but also being completely unharmed. This time he was to think about the Undertaker. About the crowd in Houston that roared as he made a smoke-filled entrance. Then he was to step forward into the shower stream. He’d need to close his eyes as the water would be shooting directly into his face. “Keep walking,” they’d told him. To his surprise, taking that extra step to the other side of the shower stream didn’t result in bumping into the shower wall. Instead, it was like he stepped into a pool. Down he went, completely submerged.
When his head popped up above the surface he saw rocks and grass. Then he saw his companions on either side. “Swim to the bank there. We’re getting out,” said Anita. Chester was already stepping onto the grass.
As they stood on the bank of a small river wiping the water from their hair and faces, Brody noticed how hot the air was, and how how crunchy the grass was. “Welcome to 2009,” said Chester. “And welcome to Houston.”
Anita felt the need to subtly remind the other two there was work to be done. “We’re near the airport. Let’s go get a car.”
Brody knew what that meant, but by now he was getting a rush from all the adventure. What he didn’t know, and what Anita and Chester didn’t realize, was that someone was watching them.