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Sleeping to Forget . . .

Written by:
Cousin Aurora Lenore

. . . Continued

Balki was eating his Raisin Puffs cereal when he saw the machine appear.  He stood up and smiled, but his smile faded as soon as Bianca exited, still in her pajamas and sobbing loudly.

“Oh, Bianca; what’s wrong?  Sit down and tell Balki all your troubles,” he comforted, leading her to the kitchen table.

“He’ll never forgive me!  I ruined his life!  He hates me and I don’t know what to do!” she wailed, her head in her hands.

Balki was rubbing her back gently as Larry came out of his room, looking anything but bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.  He looked as if he’d seen a ghost.  Balki opened his mouth, but Larry spoke first.

“Bianca?” Larry asked, rubbing his eyes.

Within seconds, Bianca shot up from the table and ran to him, still sobbing.  “Larry, I’m so sorry!  I didn’t mean to spill your bag!  I didn’t know your parents would disown you!”

Balki watched as Larry took her in his arms and shushed her, but Balki turned around again before his eyes could meet his cousin’s.  Did Bianca dream the same thing as Balki did again?  Balki was having a beautiful dream about Mypos but it quickly changed to visiting Larry’s parents and things got ugly.  In the dream, Larry’s parents disowned their flesh and blood because of some medicine he was on.  It was terrible, but Balki knew it had only been a dream.

“Bianca, it’s okay.  I don’t blame you for anything.  It was a dream.  It was all just a bad dream.  My parents don’t even know about you,” Larry told her.

Balki winced as Bianca made a shrill cry and bolted for the time machine, leaving before Larry could finish uttering “What did I say?”

“Cousin, I think she just wanted to know that it was all a dream and your parents didn’t shuck you for taking the medicine.  She’s having an after-dream nervous breakdance.”

Larry looked at him, dumb-founded.  “She told you about the dream?”

Balki shook his head.  “No, Cousin.  I had the dream, too.”

Larry reached for his bottle of antacid and took a long gulp.  “Why do we keep having the same dreams, Balki?  And why are none of them good?”

“Your vest is as good as mine, Cousin,” Balki said before rinsing his bowl and spoon in the sink.  “Maybe we need to change the channel.  I don’t think I like watching the same programs as you and Bianca every night.”

*************************

“… and then he said ‘my parents don’t even know about you’!”

Greg listened as Bianca sobbed loudly as they sat on his red leather sofa.  Gently, he placed his hand on her shoulder, but that only triggered louder sobs.  “There, there,” he shushed.  “It was only a dream.  Well, except for that last part.”

Louder sobs.

Greg wanted to kick himself.  What could he possibly say to an inconsolable woman having nightmares about her so-called boyfriend’s parents?  At least they’re not your in-laws?  Just imagine how Larry’s other girlfriend felt meeting them for the first time?  At least you slept well?  Not one thought in Greg’s mind sounded the least bit soothing.  But then again, Greg wasn’t equipped to handle emotional women.  He was equipped to handle gidgets and gadgets, not estrogen-powered females.  For once, he wished Serge was there.  Maybe he could do better, considering he was also somewhat estrogen-laced at times.  And where was Bianca’s doting grandfather?  What happened to his supposed “frequent visits”?

Finally, Greg shot up, an idea coming to him that he knew would either work or get him slapped.  “Look, so you had a bad dream.  And Larry didn’t exactly make it better.  But you love him, right?”

Bianca looked up, her face red and tear-stained.  “Yeah.”

“So are you going to let this stupid dream walk all over you and ruin your day?”

“I guess not,” Bianca sniffed.

“Of course not!  Because that’s all it was; some silly dream.  Your subconscious is trying to fill your mind with doubts.  You can’t let it win, Bianca!  You have to stand up to your subconscious and say ‘I’m not afraid’!” Greg cried out, shocked by his own booming voice.

Suddenly, Bianca stood up.  “You’re right, Greg!  It was just a dream and Larry’s parents – well, his mom – isn’t anything like she was in the dream!  And Larry’s not addicted to some drug that helps ease his mind from the bad thoughts.  He took one, maybe two sleeping pills!  Thanks, Greg!” she exclaimed, hugging him before bounding off happily.

As soon as she was gone, Greg collapsed on the couch.  “I cannot believe my line of BS worked.  Or it could be this exhausting!”

*************************

Balki hummed a tune as he sorted the mail in the basement of the Chicago Chronicle building, but he was too exhausted to concentrate.

“Baby,” Harriet Winslow, the building’s elevator operator began, walking towards him.  “I know you’ve had a hard day, but this isn’t my mail.  This is for Harry Waslow in maintenance.  And this letter is addressed to Heidi Wesley in distributing.  You keep messing up like this and Gorpley is going to have a field day with you.”

Balki looked at her hopefully.  “Will he ask me to run track or throw the Frisbee with him?”

“No, baby,” she corrected.  “I don’t mean that type of field day.  He’s gonna happily point out every mistake you’ve made.  And baby; you’ve made a lot today.”

Balki sighed.  “I’m sorry.  I mean, if it makes Mr. Gorpley happy to point out my mistakes, I’ll let him, but I don’t mean to.  I have been sleeping well but Cousin Larry and I keep having bad dreams that wake us up and make us sad.”

“You boys been watching scary movies again?” Harriet asked.

“No, Cousin learned his lesson after watching all those horrible movies on Halloween, but the dreams involve a friend of ours and she is having the bad dreams, too.”

“Oh, Balki, I’m sorry.  I’ll tell you what; I’ll find a way to get Gorpley out of his office, and I’ll see if I can help you sort the rest of the mail.”

“Oh, Harriet, you would do that for Balki?” he asked happily.

“Of course I would, baby; don’t be ridiculous,” she winked before banging on Mr. Gorpley’s door.  Balki tried to hear what Harriet said to him, but he couldn’t make out any other words except ‘ex-wife’ and ‘alimony’ before Mr. Gorpley bolted out of the office.

Balki smiled gratefully at Harriet.  Maybe when he got home, he could ask Larry if he could take one of his sleeping pills.  Maybe that would help him sleep more and dream less.

*************************

Larry had never felt more relieved yet pained in his life.  Yes, his method had been a little callous if not somewhat cruel, but it wasn’t his fault.  How many times had he tried to do it the right way only to be deterred?  He also was choosing to ignore the pain in his chest from what he had done.  It needed to be done, but it still didn’t mean he didn’t feel sad and a little reflective about the situation as he drove Balki home from work.

“Cousin, I cannot believe you finally did it.  Although I wish you hadn’t left a message doing it on the answering machine,” Balki told him.

“Balki, I’m sick and tired of waiting for Jennifer to be available so I can tell her live and over the phone.  I needed to stop stringing her and Bianca along.  I’ll miss Jenn because I truly did love her –-”

“No, you were incarcerated with her,” Balki interrupted.

“That’s infatuated and that’s a bit harsh,” Larry corrected.  “A part of me will always love Jennifer, but after we were imprisoned in the castle by Bianca’s cousin and I thought he was torturing her, something happened.  I was completely blind-sided by my love for her.  That letter from her aunt and what she did to save the same man who tried to hurt her just sealed the deal.”

“I thought you loved her when you had the dream where you two played lip tag in the rain,” Balki teased.

Larry glared at Balki.  “I’m glad you’re having fun and making jokes.  Jennifer is going to be devastated.  I actually broke up with the first woman who told me she loved me without being paid to or drunk.”

“Cousin, if you’re making reservations about breaking up with Jennifer, then maybe you should reconsider.”

“Balki, I’m not having reservations.  I want to be with Bianca.”

“Well, I know one thing: since you have had feelings for Bianca, you haven’t tried to lie or scheme or come up with some plan to try and impress her.  I’m hoping it’s because you finally learned to cut the babasticki and just be yourself,” Balki said.

Larry glared at Balki again, but he knew his cousin was right.  Jennifer was so out of his league that it terrified him everyday that she would leave him for some male underwear model/heir to the throne.  Bianca was much more of a free spirit and while he was still terrified she might find someone better, he knew she wasn’t looking for a model or heir.  She just wanted someone as quirky and mischievous as she.  He smiled as he unlocked the door to their apartment, thinking about all the trouble they could get into – and out of – together.

“Cousin, we have a message,” Balki said, pointing to the blinking light on the answering machine.  “I bet it’s Jennifer crying her eyes out.  I can’t listen.”

“Balki, just push play,” Larry groaned, his heart in his throat.

“Okay, Cousin,” he sniffed, pressing the button.

“Hey, I’m calling you back.  I don’t know who this Jennifer is that you claim to love, but you’re a pretty crappy boyfriend for breaking up with her on voice mail.  Anyway, you dialed the wrong number.  You might check the number again, eh?” an unknown male voice said.

Balki looked at Larry.  “Well, iron my shirt and call me steamy, Cousin; you didn’t even call Jennifer!”

The only response Larry could muster was a strangled cry as he placed his head in his hands.

*************************

“Mmm, these candies are delicious, Miss Bianca; where did you say they were from?”

Bianca looked at Serge and smiled.  “Right here in Chicago, nineteen eighty-seven.”

She laughed aloud as Serge spat them out immediately and gagged.  “No, Serge.  I went to nineteen eighty-seven, got them and brought them right back to today,” she giggled.

“Oh, yes; I knew that,” he retorted, continuing to eat the dark chocolate truffles.  “So, why did you bring me here in your special car?  Not that I’m complaining, but just asking.”

“Because,” she told him, opening a soda from the refrigerator, “Greg is helping my grandfather with something and I need you to help keep my mind off how Larry Appleton is stringing me along.  He says he’s going to tell Jennifer, but does he?  Hell, no.  Normally I would break up with him and not look back, but … I can’t do that.”

“Well, personally, I think he’s making a big mistake in not telling this Jennifer that you are the Apple to his Appleton,” he told her before nibbling on a truffle thoughtfully.  “And I think he don’t deserve either of you.  He deserves to be alone with his thoughts and bad taste in sweaters.”

Bianca giggled again.  “I like his sweaters.  But maybe it’s me.  Maybe I’m bad for Larry.  I mean, after all, all of the dreams so far have been shedding me in the most horrible light.  I ruined his life, I caused his parents to disown him, my hair ate him –-”

“Forgive me,” Serge interrupted, nearly choking.  “Did you just say your hair ate him?”

“Snake dream,” Bianca reminded before spraying a can of cheese in her mouth.

“Ugh,” Serge shuddered.

“Are you ‘ughing’ the snake dream or my cheese fetish?”

“Both,” Serge confessed, raising his eyebrow at her.  “Only two things should come out of a spray can: paint and hair spray.”

“Where’s your sense of adventure?” she teased.

“Beverly Hills, two thousand thirteen,” he quipped, watching her carefully.  On the outside, Bianca may have seemed fine and happy, but he could tell that on the inside, a completely different story was being told.  She was feeling completely and absolutely miserable and Serge knew that there wasn’t a damn thing he could do about it.

*************************

Greg wiped his brow with his sleeve and exhaled.  He and Henry had been working on at least five inventions: the shrink ray, the edible computer chip, the selective memory eraser, the invisible detector and the coffee machine.  And the last one had been the most difficult.  Thankfully, now it was lunchtime, followed by quitting time.

“How come you don’t let Bianca help you with these?” Greg asked.

Henry took a bite of his salad and grimaced.  “B’s been through a lot.  I told her when things calm down, she will be welcome here to help us anytime.”

“She’s a little hurt that you haven’t been by to see her much.”

“I don’t mean to, but I didn’t want to crowd her, you know?  She’s still dealing with what happened.  We all are.”

Greg nodded as he added more ranch dressing to his salad.  “Yeah.  I still think of Valeena at times.  Her life was cut short so quickly.”

“Yes, it was.  She was a good friend of the family.  Funny, too,” Henry replied.

Greg looked over at the coffee table and noticed something he hadn’t seen before.  “What’s the package?” he asked, nodding towards the brown envelope.

Henry glanced at it and waved it off.  “It’s nothing.  Just some junk mail I need to throw away.”

Greg got up.  “I’ll chunk it,”

“No, leave it alone!” Henry snapped.  “Sit back down and eat.  I’ll do it.”

Greg slowly sat back down.  “O-kay; sorry.”

“I’m sorry, son.  I don’t mean to be snippy but it’s been a long day and this old man is tired,” Henry apologized.  “How is B?”

“She seems okay, but she’s really having a hard time dealing with Larry’s indecision of whom he wants to be with.  He claims it’s her, but his actions are proving otherwise.  Plus, the sleeping pills are helping, but the dreams are getting to be an issue.  Every dream they’ve shared, Bianca ends up being the one hurting Larry and Balki.  She’s wracked with guilt over nightmares she can’t control.  Maybe I should just give them regular sleeping pills.”

“I wouldn’t do that.  They’ve been taking the dream sharing pills so long now, switching them might cause adverse side effects.  It’s complicated.”

Greg laughed.  “In your life, what isn’t complicated?  I bet you have some very technological skeletons in your closet from your youth.”

Henry stopped mid-bite, raising an eyebrow.  “You think so, huh?  Well, maybe, but doesn’t everyone have skeletons – technologically advanced or otherwise?”

*************************

“A-one, a-two, a-three, a-four,” Balki counted as he moved his piece across the board.  “Oh, I helped mow the lawn so I get to go all the way up here.”

Larry sighed.  “Balki, why are we playing a childish game like Snakes and Ladders?  This is silly.”

“Because, Cousin,” Balki countered, “you don’t like to play Scrabble with me since I play Myposian words.  And I don’t want to play Monopoly with you, because you always want to be the banker and you cheat Balki.  You said you wanted to get your mind off all the babasticki in your life, no?  So, we play Snakes and Ladders!”

“Fine,” Larry mumbled, spinning the wheel.  “Six.  One, two, three, four, five, six.”

“Oh, Cousin, you splashed in a mud puddle so you have to go down the slide!” Balki cried.

Larry shot up from the table.  “Balki, I don’t want to play some stupid kid’s game.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go to bed early.”

Balki grabbed his arm, suddenly nervous.  “Cousin, you didn’t take any more of those sleeping pills, did you?  Every time you or I take one, we have the same dreams.  I don’t want to have the same dreams as you.  They make me want to have a nervous breakdance and Bianca is always the one getting the short end of the stick in the mud.  I don’t like them.”

Larry shrugged his arm away from Balki’s grasp.  “You think I do?  I feel terrible and poor Bianca thinks that I somehow blame her for everything, but I don’t.  It couldn’t be further from the truth.  The truth is, I am to blame for not being able to tell Jennifer yet.  And, Balki, you know I’ve tried.  She either isn’t there, she has a bad case of laryngitis or I dial the wrong number.”

Balki couldn’t deny that it seemed as if something was keeping Larry from being able to tell Jennifer the truth.  At first, he thought it was just Larry stringing them both along, but now he knew otherwise.  It was killing his cousin not to be with Bianca, but in between her not wanting to commit to Larry without telling Jenn and these dreams, Balki knew it was hurting Bianca more.

“Goodnight, Balki,” Larry said miserably before going into his bedroom and closing the door.

“Night, Cousin,” he whispered, beginning to pack up the game.  If only there was some way Larry could tell Jennifer in person

Suddenly, Balki looked up, a smile on his face as he realized exactly how that could happen.  He just needed to talk to Bianca first.  “Oh, Balki; you genius of love, you,” he told himself joyfully.  He couldn’t wait to see the surprised look on Larry’s face in the morning when Balki told him the answer to his problems!

*************************

“Balki, that’s brilliant!” Larry cried.  “I can fly to Canada and talk to Jennifer face to face!”

“Aw, go on with you,” Balki replied bashfully.

“And you said the jet was going to be waiting for us in front of the apartment?”

“Well of course it will, don’t be ridiculous.  We just got to wait for the pilot.  The guy who flew the jet in lives here and can’t go to Canada, so he is sending another pilot to do the job!” Balki explained excitedly.

Larry smiled.  “This is great.  Finally I can be honest with Jennifer and Bianca and I can start our lives together.”

As the two of them walked out of the apartment, Larry whistled at the size of the jet.  He couldn’t believe it was able to land perfectly in front of the apartments without flooding into the street.  Larry jumped as the door of the jet opened and he and Balki walked up the steps and into the aircraft.  “Oh my Lord!” Larry gasped.

Balki grabbed Larry’s arm.  “Isn’t this amazing?  We get this whole space to ourselves!”  Balki instantly grabbed the small microphone that the flight attendants used.  “Attention K-Mart shoppers; do we have a blue light special for you!” he announced in a strangely clear American accent.

Larry grabbed the small mic from Balki and glared at him.  “Will you stop goofing off and sit down?”

“Cousin, I can’t; I forgot what my seat number is!” Balki gasped.

“Balki,” Larry seethed.  “It doesn’t matter what your seat number is because we’re the only two people aboard!”

“Oh, yeah,” Balki remembered, sitting down on the front row beside Larry.

Suddenly, a familiar figure stepped onboard the jet, dressed in full pilot attire.

“Bianca?” Larry and Balki gaped in unison.

“You were expecting someone else?” she winked before taking a seat in the cockpit.  “Please fasten your seat belts.  Uh, Larry?  Could you come up here to the front with me?”

Larry shrugged and made his way into the co-pilot seat, smiling.  Even in a boring navy pilot uniform and hat, she looked beautiful.  “You know where we’re going, right?” he asked, grabbing her hand.

Bianca smiled back at him.  “You’re going to tell Jennifer that it’s me you want to be with,” she replied, tears in her eyes.

Larry nodded as she started up the jet and began take-off.  He leaned back in his seat and closed his eyes.  This was fantastic.  Nothing could go wrong.  “Bianca, I didn’t know you could fly,” he said.

“Yeah, Larry; about that.  I, uh, I can’t.”

Larry continued to smile with his eyes closed for a few seconds before it registered what she had said.  Shooting straight up in his seat, he looked at her, eyes wide.  “What do you mean you can’t?”

“I can’t fly!  I don’t know how!” she squealed.  Instantly, Larry felt déjà vu from when she confessed in his dream she couldn’t drive.

“We are how many feet in the air and now you’re going to admit you don’t know how to fly?”

Bianca began to cry.  “I know, I know; I’m sorry.  I just wanted you to get to Canada so we could be together.  So when the pilot asked me if I could take you, I couldn’t say no.”

“Well, guess what?  We are going to be together all right.  Especially when we crash and die!  How could you wait until now and then spring that on me?”

Bianca was sobbing now.  “Don’t yell at me!”

Larry was in full panic / anger mode.  “Don’t yell at you?  Don’t yell at you?  You’re only going to kill us all and I’m not supposed to yell at you?”

Suddenly, the plane started making a loud beeping noise and Larry grabbed the microphone for the radio.  “Mayday, mayday; I repeat mayday!  We’re on a plane with a woman who is an imposter and I am too young to die!”

“Cousin, I don’t feel so good,” Balki said wearily as he made his way into the cockpit.

“That’s because we’re losing cabin pressure and Bianca doesn’t know how to fly!” Larry shouted before daring himself to look out of the front of the plane.  Seeing that they were making a definite nosedive into the ocean, Larry did the only rational thing he knew how to do: he covered his face with his hands and screamed.

*************************

“Grandfather?”

As Bianca unlocked the door, she couldn’t help but wonder how such an intelligent inventor still thought keeping his spare key under the welcome mat was a good idea.  Although she missed her grandfather like crazy, she had to admit that she was relieved he wasn’t at home.  She really didn’t feel like explaining to him why she had come.  She didn’t feel like explaining it to anyone, for that matter.  This was something she needed to do alone.  Quickly, she pressed the code on the keypad for the high-tech security system’s laser beams.  Once she saw the green light on the keypad alert her it was safe, she pressed on.  “Now, where would it be?  In his bedroom or in the closet?” she asked aloud, feeling like a thief as she carefully and cautiously roamed from room to room, looking for the thing she needed.

Suddenly, she saw it lying on a chair in the corner of his den.  She picked it up gingerly, feeling a bead of sweat form on her brow.  “No, don’t you dare wimp out.  You have to do this,” she scolded herself, stuffing it inside a duffel bag she brought with her.

“But I guess I can leave Grandfather a note saying I was here to say ‘hi’,” she muttered, going back toward the kitchen through the living room.  She jumped, however, when she heard a loud thump coming from somewhere inside the house.  As she jumped, her right arm hit her grandfather’s high bookcase and a small brown mailer fell from the top shelf.

“What’s this?” she asked, bending down to pick it up.  Her eyes grew wide when she noticed the package was addressed to her specifically!  Why was her grandfather keeping something in a mailer with her name?  Not only that, but it had been opened.  Sitting down on the sofa, she reached inside and pulled out a DVD simply marked “The Truth: Watch Alone”.

“O-kay,” she said slowly, sticking it and the mailer in her duffel bag, her curiosity piqued.  She was sure it was nothing, but now she wanted to watch to see what the DVD was about.  After all, it had her name on it.

Standing up, she took a deep breath and turned the security system back on before leaving.  “I’ll call him later and tell him I stopped by.  And that he apparently has mice,” she murmured before a wave of sadness and dread washed over her.

*************************

“What are you doing?”

Greg jumped and spun around to face Bianca, feeling guiltier than he needed to.  “I had sent the time machine back to Larry and Balki’s apartment.  Balki begged me to let him use it to show Larry something on Mypos, I think.  So I told them they could use it, but only for an hour.  Now I’m back with the machine.”

He waited for Bianca to ask him if he needed to be put on crazy meds, but instead she just sighed heavily and nodded.  Greg had noticed that Bianca was becoming even more depressed in the past twenty-four hours.  She hid it well at first, but now, she wasn’t even trying to mask her inner pain.

“Bianca, why don’t you get something to eat?” Greg suggested with a smile.

“I’m not hungry,” she muttered before turning around and walking away.

As soon as she was gone, Greg quickly entered her other time machine and traveled to the only other person who night know what to do.

“Oh, hello.  To what do I owe this pleasure?” Serge drawled as Greg walked up to the front desk at his art gallery.

“It’s Bianca.  Why else do you think I would be coming here?” Greg quipped, giving him his best ‘duh’ face.

“Is she okay?  She’s not done anything crazy, has she?” Serge queried, immediately entering concerned mode.  “You know, when I left, she seemed very upset.”

“She’s extraordinarily upset. Increasingly so.  It’s not just a one-man job to help her anymore.  I need back-up.  Any chance you can claim to go on sabbatical from this place for awhile and help me help Bianca?” Greg spouted, not believing his ears as he said the next words aloud.  “I need you.”

“Normally, I would say ‘harrumph’ to your idea, but since it’s for Miss Bianca, I can only say ‘hello sabbatical’ and ‘goodbye beloved art galleria’,” Serge replied, scribbling a note and tearing it off the pad.  “Let’s go!”

Greg watched as he taped the note to the door, posted the “Closed” sign and entered Bianca’s time machine.

“Oh, we have to stop by my penthouse first; I need to pack for my Miss Bianca sabbatical,” Serge added.

“Oh, brother,” Greg mumbled.  Already he was beginning to wish he had never used the term ‘sabbatical’.  A ‘short stay’ would have worked much better.

*************************

Balki watched as Larry tipped the Maalox bottle to his lips and gulped it as if it were water.

“Balki, when is Bianca coming back?  She hasn’t been here in days and I need to see her,” Larry said, desperation and anxiety in his voice.  “We had the machine and Greg said she wasn’t feeling well, but he was lying; I could feel it!”

“Cousin, it is cold and flu season, even in the future.  Maybe she caught a germ,” he replied, saying the last word slowly, knowing how freaked out Larry was about the tiny creatures.  “She will come and when she does, we will sit down and have a long talk.  Everything will be okay, Cousin.  Balki can see the light at the end of the turtle.”

“That’s tunnel; light at the end of the tunnel, Balki,” Larry growled through gritted teeth.  “And how can you be so sure?  Balki, all these dreams – no scratch that – nightmares we have been having are driving me crazy.  If Bianca is having them too, she must think I hate her!  No wonder she hasn’t come back; I wouldn’t come back!”

Balki grabbed the Maalox out of Larry’s hands just as he was about to take another swig.  “Oh, po po.  If there’s one thing I know about Bianca, it’s that she isn’t scared of no bad dreams.  She survived her aunt making her life miserable, she invents machines that blow my mind, she was kidnapped by her crazy half-cousin and his hunchbacks Quinn and Alek, watched her friend get shot and she is still okay.  Bianca Pierson is one tough cookie cutter.  She not going to let silly dreams keep her from what she loves, which is you.  You are the Moolinki to her Loaf.  The slop to her trough.  The bibbi to her bobka …”

“Okay, Okay!  I got it!  But I still need to see her and I need to tell her face-to-face that … it’s over.”

*************************

“Guess who’s going to be staying here for a few days while I’m on sabbatical?” Serge asked giddily as he jumped into the living room to surprise Bianca.

Bianca just looked up at him from her position on the sofa.  “You’re on sabbatical because of me,” she told him, her voice sounding like that of a robot.

Serge recoiled but quickly regained his composure.  “Don’t be stupid; I’m not on sabbatical because of you; I’m two-tenths Roman Catholic and one-eighth Buddhist.  It’s my spiritual right!  So, how are you?” he asked, bouncing down on the sofa beside her.

“Considering the man I love won’t tell his girlfriend the truth because these dreams we’re having makes him hate me, I’m peachy,” she retorted.  “Look, can you just leave me alone for a while?  I really don’t feel like talking about this or anything else right now.”

“Ouch!  You really know how to twist a knife in my heart, you know it?” He started to get up, but saw she was looking at a small package on the coffee table with her name written on it.  “What’s that?”

“I found it at Grandfather’s.  Why he had a package hidden in his house with my name, I don’t know.  There’s a DVD inside.”

Now Serge was curious.  “What movie is it?  Maybe it’s old embarrassing home movies.  I could make up some popped corn and we could watch it together.”

Bianca shook her head.  “I don’t know that I want to watch it.  The DVD says,  ‘The Truth: Watch Alone’.  Sounds a little hokey and cryptic to me.”

Serge gulped.  Maybe Bianca was right.  Maybe it was best that she didn’t watch the DVD.  Which only meant one thing: he needed to watch it for her.  After all, that’s what friends on sabbatical were for, right?

*************************

Larry knew he needed to go to sleep, but he was afraid to for fear of what he might dream.  “I know what will help: if I watch a movie.  One preferably without guns or violence.”  While Larry might not have liked Greg completely, he had been pleased when Greg gave them a VCR last week as a gift.  As he sat on the couch, he leaned down and opened one of the cabinets in the coffee table and looked at the various VHS tapes, also provided by Greg.  “No, no, no, no,” he repeated, scanning the titles one-by-one.  “Well, there’s nothing here,” he sighed, standing up and realizing his fate.  Whether he wanted to or not, he had to go to sleep, which meant probably dreaming some other terrible dream.

“Hey, Cousin,” Balki said as they met in the small hallway between their bedrooms and bathroom.  “Going to bed?”

“I guess, but the cable is out, so if you’re going to watch TV, you’ll have to watch a VHS tape.  Goodnight, Balki,” he answered sadly.

“Goodnight, Cousin,” Balki replied.

As soon as Larry was gone, Balki walked over to the mail that lay on the bar and found the package addressed to both he and Larry.  Balki had wanted to tell Larry that they had gotten a new movie in the mail, but he knew his cousin had other things on his mind.  Taking the movie out of the package, he smiled at the title: “Bianca’s Truth”.

“A movie with another girl named Bianca!” he exclaimed excitedly before jumping over the sofa and putting the movie in the VCR.  “I know this movie is gonna be good!”

Suddenly, a familiar face appeared on the screen, but it wasn’t a famous actor or actress.  This was someone Balki knew personally, and he was sitting in a chair inside a room filled with books.  And he was talking about Bianca Pierson!

Balki listened carefully to what the man was saying, but it didn’t make very much sense to him.  The only thing that did make sense was the man on the video was saying bad things that couldn‘t be true.  “Cousin!” he yelled, but Larry didn’t answer.  “He must be asleep already.  I guess I can tell him about this tomorrow and he can make heads or snails about it.”

And with that, Balki ejected the tape, put it back in the case and got ready to go to bed, leaving it on the coffee table.

*************************

Bianca limped as fast as she could behind Larry, watching in horror as the scene played out in front of them.

“Blood pressure and heart rate are dropping …. we need to get him stabilized; he’s lost a lot of blood …. possible lung puncture and internal bleeding … I need room here, people!”

Bianca looked down to see that she, too, was bleeding from her shoulder and her leg, but she didn’t care about her injuries.  She only cared about the two people she loved dearly in front of her.  She gingerly placed her hand on Larry’s shoulder, tears pouring down both of their faces as they watched four or five doctors and nurses hover over the man in the bed.  The kindest, most loving and selfless man she’d ever known, Balki Bartokomous was fighting for his life in front of them and there wasn’t a damn thing they could do.

“Wait, where are you taking him?” Larry asked as they raced down the hall with him.

“To be prepped for surgery.  He has internal bleeding and there is some swelling on the brain.  I’m sorry, but you have to wait here,” one of the doctors said before running to catch up.

Bianca sat down in the seat nearest to her and sobbed.  Why Balki?  Why was it always the good guys who had to struggle the most?

Larry ran his hands through his hair and pulled.  “How can this be happening?  My cousin is in there, about to have life-altering surgery and I have to wait out here?

“I know it’s unfair, but Balki is strong.  He’ll pull through.  He’s Myposian and they are known fighters, right?” Bianca heard herself say, but she barely recognized her voice.

Larry said nothing, but looked down the long hallway every thirty seconds or so.

Bianca looked up at Larry’s forehead.  “Larry, you’re bleeding,” she said, jumping up to a nearby room to grab some peroxide, cotton and a bandage.

Larry shooed her away as she tried to nurse him.  “I don’t want you to take care of me; I want Balki to be alright!” he barked.

“I want that, too,” she said rather defensively.  “I hate sitting and waiting, but we can’t do anything else!”

Finally, Larry sat down beside her.  “I can still see Balki hitting that rock and going underwater.  I can hear me screaming for him and desperately searching.  I can’t even count how many times I went back under …”

“Stop it.  Don’t torture yourself like this.  You saved his life after our plane went down.  You risked yours to save him.  Balki would be so thankful.”

“I saved his life?” Larry scoffed, looking at her, tears running down his cheeks.  “Did you not just hear the doctor?  He has swelling on his brain, a punctured lung, internal bleeding and he’s going for surgery that could kill him!  What kind of a life do you call that?”

“A pretty darned good one considering he is still fighting.  Larry, you have to have hope and faith that he will pull through.  After everything we’ve been through …”

Larry laughed bitterly.  “After everything we’ve been through.  You know, a couple of years ago, Balki and I had a pretty good life.  We got into a lot of crazy mishaps together, but that’s all they were: crazy mishaps.  Then Balki went grocery shopping and just had to go running after some lady who left her magazine and everything changed.  Now our crazy mishaps have turned into intensifying horrible events.  We’ve uncovered revenge plots, been kidnapped, nearly killed, witnessed murders, been blackballed by family and now this.  When does it end, Bianca?”

Bianca recoiled, feeling as if he had literally slapped her.  Surely he wasn’t going to say –

“I can honestly say that I wish Balki and I had never met you.  Breaking up with Jennifer was a huge mistake.  You were never good for me.  I thought you were, but you have been nothing but poison since your stupid time machine showed up.”

Bianca stood up, tears pouring and heart breaking.  The truth had finally been said.  Larry Appleton and Balki Bartokomous would be better off without her.  “Larry, I – ” she began, but her voice couldn’t break free from the emotional grip.

“I never want to see you again.  Please, just go.  I want to forget.  I just want to forget everything…”

Bianca choked on a fresh wave of sobs as she fled the hospital and out into the street.  I just want to die…..

Larry started to chase after her, but when he turned around, they were no longer in the hospital.  Larry was standing in the living room of the apartment and Balki was well and standing beside him.  In front of them stood a very emotional Bianca, holding something behind her back.  “Bianca, I didn’t mean it.  It was just part of a dream.  You have to believe me,” Larry stated, walking towards her.

Bianca then revealed the object she was hiding and Larry audibly gasped.  It was a gun of some sort.  He gasped again as she aimed it straight at them.

“Bianca,” Balki tried.  “What that is?  You don’t have to be upset.  It was only a bad part of the dream.  See?  Balki is fit as a Fiddle Faddle.”

“I’m so sorry, guys, but I don’t see any other way,” Bianca sobbed, still aiming the gun at them.  “The dreams are right.  You were both better off without me.  Now I can do something about it.  I can make you forget.  Forget you ever met me.  You won’t have your post-traumatic stress disorder and Balki won’t be worried about you or me anymore.”

“Bianca, I’m trying to tell you that the dream couldn’t be farther from the truth, but I need you to listen.  There is something very important I need to tell you,” Larry argued, trying not to panic and stare at the gun barrel.  How on Earth could he tell her anything in this terrible dream?

“Oh, Bianca, I need to tell you something important, too.  I meant to tell Cousin, but we were in the nightmare and I had a punctuation lung,” Balki realized, causing Larry to look at him, eyebrow raised.

“No, I’m sorry.  I have to do this.  It won’t hurt but for just a second, I promise,” Bianca rattled on, crying so hard, Larry wondered how she could see at all.  “I’m so terribly sorry for all the pain I’ve caused.  You shouldn’t have had to try and make a decision on who to be with.  And Balki, you shouldn’t have had to lie about the time machine and see the terrible things you had to see.  Goodbye.”

“No, wait!” Larry cried out, sweat and tears mixing on his face.  “This is just a dream, right?  We can wake up!  WAKE UP, LARRY!” he yelled, total panic setting in.

“Ow!  Cousin, I don’t think this is a dream,” Balki muttered.

Larry looked at him.  “How do you know?”

“Because I pinched myself and it hurt.”

Larry turned back to Bianca, eyes wide.  “This is for real?  You’re really going to shoot us with that-that thing?  Bianca, what are you doing?

“I’m saying goodbye and doing what’s best.  I love you both, but I love you enough to let you go!” she wailed as she pointed the gun at Balki and fired.

“Balki!” Larry cried as a small dart went into Balki’s neck and he fell on the floor with a thud.  He then looked to her, hands up in protest.  “Bianca, please; please don’t do this!”

“I love you, Larry.  I’m so – ”

He never heard her finish, however as she fired again, hitting him in the neck and everything went black.

*************************

Both Serge and Greg turned around to see the time machine appear and a very distraught Bianca stagger out.  She was crying so hard, Greg swore he heard her gag.

“Miss Bianca!  What on Earth is wrong?” Serge began, but Greg saw what Bianca had with her inside the time machine and he spun her around to face him.  “Bianca, what did you do?” he asked sternly, placing both hands on her shoulders and shaking her.

“I did what I had to!  I did nothing but make their lives miserable … they had to forget!” she wailed, barely able to stand.

Greg glanced back at the gun and sure enough, it was the Selective Memory Eraser gun he and Henry had fixed.  “Oh my God; you used it on Larry and Balki to make them forget – ”

“Me and everything to do with me,” she finished, latching onto Serge, who was crying with her.  “Oh, Larry, Balki; why?  Why?”

Greg ran a hand through his hair and tried to calm himself down.  What could have possessed her to use the gun on Larry and Balki?  The dreams were just that; dreams, but for some reason, they had meant much more to Bianca.  Piece by piece, dream by dream, a bit of her was unraveling at the seams, but Greg had waited too late to notice.  Now Bianca had done something so drastic … so life-changing …

“Don’t you realize there is no undo button?  No way to reverse this?  What you’ve done – making them forget – you can’t take it back!” Greg finally exploded.  “What were you thinking?”

“Don’t you speak to her like that, Greg!  Miss Bianca is traumatized and although I have no idea what she did, she is too upset to have you yelling at her!” Serge barked.

Greg bristled.  “You listen here, you artsy-fartsy … person.  You see this gun?  It makes people forget!  She used the gun on Larry and Balki to make them forget her.  Not just for a little while, but for forever!  And now look at her; she already regrets it!”

“No, I don’t regret it!  I don’t regret it at all!  They’re better off and I just have to accept it!” Bianca screamed before bolting from the living room and into her room, slamming the door behind her.

“Well, now you’ve gone and done it, Mister.  I hope you’re happy,” Serge glowered before he, too, retreated to the guest room and slammed the door.

Greg stood there, mouth open, not sure what to do or say.  So he decided to do the only thing he could think of after a minute: he retreated to his room and slammed the door.

*************************

“Miss Bianca?” Serge rapped on her door a few minutes later.  He could hear her loud wails of despair all the way in his room and it broke his heart.  He rarely allowed himself to get that close to someone, but she had not only chipped those protective walls down, she had busted through.  “Miss Bianca, may I come in?”

When she didn’t respond, he gently opened the door to find her lying face down on the bed, her head on her arms.  Sitting on the edge of the bed, he cautiously placed a hand on her shoulder.  “Miss Bianca, I am so, so sorry.”

What Bianca did next surprised even Serge.  In one quick move, she shot up from her position, throwing her arms around him and weeping into his white faux silk shirt.

“Shh, everything is going to be alright.  Serge is here,” he whispered, holding her and gently stroking her hair.  He allowed her to do this for a few minutes before he pulled her away from him and looked into her swollen puffy eyes.  “You know what would make you feel better?”

Bianca just stared at him, waiting.

“You need to come with me and get some fresh air.  Go change, brush up your hair and make-up and we can go get milkshakes and do all sorts of fun things!” he told her excitedly.

“I don’t want to go anywhere or do anything.  I just want to put on my sweatpants and be alone.  I just lost the man I loved and one of my best friends because I was bad for them.  I just need to stay away from people before I become bad for them, too,” she told him, trying hard not to cry again.

“Oh, pish-posh,” Serge waved her off.  “If you’re bad, then I am Audrey Hepburn.  Although I wouldn’t mind having her magnificent bone structure,” he added.

“Serge, please.  Just go and do whatever.  If you want to go back to Beverly Hills, I’ll understand.”

“You know what I think?  I think that not everything is lost.  If you and your friends from the past truly mean as much to each other as I think, they will never be able to truly forget you.  Somewhere, I know there has to be a flicker of a memory of a Miss Bianca inside of them.”

Bianca looked at him as he stood up from the bed and walked out.  The last words he heard her say were, “But as much as I may want that, that is the last thing that can happen.”

*************************

“This is Alek Remmler for the third time.  Look, something is wrong and I need to know what it is.  Call me back,” Alek angrily said into his cell phone before hanging up.  He had been sitting in his truck for the past fifteen minutes, wondering what to do.  He couldn’t get in touch with Henry for days and that wasn’t like him.  Or at least it wasn’t before Jacob’s will reading.  Jacob had given Bianca a DVD in his will and Henry had intercepted it on her behalf.  Henry was supposed to give it to Bianca for her to watch, with instructions to contact Alek afterward.  But the will reading had been a week ago and Alek had heard nothing.  He had been given a copy of the DVD, as well, so he knew what was on it.  It had stunned even Alek, who was for the most part, unflappable.  So that’s when he decided to also make a VHS copy for Balki and Larry to see, just in case the DVD never made it to Bianca.  It hadn’t been easy sneaking into Henry’s house and using his time machine to go back to nineteen eighty seven to mail it, but he did.  At least Bianca would have had to discover the truth now.  But sadly, things kept getting stranger.  Bianca still had not contacted him and when Alek went back to nineteen eighty seven, what he found stunned him.  The tape had been watched, for it was on Balki and Larry’s coffee table in the living room, but the men themselves were unconscious, tiny darts sticking out of their necks.  Thankfully, they weren’t dead, but they were in a deep sleep.  Someone definitely did not want Bianca to see – or hear – about what was on the DVD.  But just what lengths were they willing to go to?  Was Henry himself that desperate to keep the past a secret?  Either way, he had to find out what was going on before Bianca herself ended up in grave danger.

“Hang on, Bianca; I’m coming to tell you everything and to make sure you know the truth,” he said as he started the engine.  After all, the truth would possibly set her free.

Suddenly, he smelled a foul odor coming from his car.  It smelled like a cross between turpentine and kerosene.  Alek’s eyes grew wide and he reached for the door handle to open the door …. but it was too late.

The man across the street adjusted the hood of his sweatshirt and watched as the truck exploded into flames before turning around and walking away. “One down, so many more to go,” he said with a grin.

*************************

Epilogue

 Two weeks later…

Bianca numbly sipped her hot cocoa and curled up on the sofa with her laptop.  It had taken a week and a half, but at least Greg and Serge had stopped hovering.  It still pained her to look at her time machine, knowing that she could never return to her favorite place.  Larry and Balki’s apartment was no longer a welcome abode of love and happiness, but a restriction.  They now had no recollection of her and that was how it had to be.  At least they could go on and live their lives with Jennifer and Mary Anne and she could go on with whatever.

Suddenly, her laptop chimed to let her know that she had left a DVD inside.  “Greg, what have you been watching on my laptop?” she asked aloud, ejecting it.  When she saw it, she grimaced.  It was the DVD she had found at her grandfather’s house.  The DVD package addressed to her.  “Guess there’s no time like the present,” she muttered, closing the DVD drive again and waiting for the pop-up to suggest it was ready for play.

Knock knock.

“R.O.B.!  Someone is at the door!” she called out, her finger moving the mouse to click ‘Play’.

When R.O.B., Greg nor Serge came down to answer it, she groaned and set her laptop on the coffee table.  “Fine.  I’ll get it.”

The person on the other side knocked again.  “Yeah, yeah, I’m coming,” Bianca barked before opening the door.  When she saw the familiar face on the other side, her jaw nearly hit the floor.  It couldn’t be –

“Bianca!  Bet you thought I had forgotten all about you!” he said, grabbing her and hugging her tightly.

“Oh my God!  Bryan Ogden!  How could I forget an old friend of the family?” she cried out happily, returning the hug.  It had literally been years since she had last seen him and now here he was in front of her.  She couldn’t wait to catch up with him for hours, even days.  Finally, she thought, someone to get my mind off of my disastrous life.  Hopefully, this will be a turn in a new direction for me.  A new chapter without Larry Appleton and Balki Bartokomous.

THE END