Part IV - Chapter 15 - The Bar Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Year 1913 - San Francisco

Pete woke up like Ebenezer Scrooge in the Christmas Carol, patting himself to confirm that he was alive. As he looked around the room, he was able to confirm that he was back in his room in San Francisco, everything just as he had left it. For a moment he felt like dropping to his knees and singing Handel's "Hallelujah" chorus but then realized that it wasn't quite in his repertoire as the only word he knew was, well, "Hallelujah." Come to think of it, that might be the only word needed to sing the chorus but by the time the realization hit him, the fancy had left him.

Pete needed to figure out what the hell to do next, he looked for the paper that Jayne had tossed him but the writing still looked blurred and the back side looked unimportant so Pete tossed it into a desk drawer and forgot about it. Pete quickly changed his clothes to something more familiar but could not remove the bracelet. Pete tried yanking it off, utilizing his lock pick set, and even prying it off with pliers from an old bank job. Nothing worked. Frustrated, Pete walked over to his bed to find his gun, or Pete's piece as he affectionately called it. His piece rested on a silk pillow on his bed where she usually slept at night. In his hurry to pack before being kidnapped, Pete had left her to catch a bit more beauty sleep and had planned to pack her last. Pete held the gun a few inches away from his wrist and shut his eyes. It might be worth the loss of a hand to ensure that he would never have to go back to the lab again. Pete pulled the trigger but instead of the bullet going through the bracelet and wrist, it went ricocheting around the room before embedding itself in a wall.

"Why you spiteful piece of technological wristwear! How do I quit you?" Pete exclaimed in frustration.

With the inability to remove the bracelet and unsure how long it would take for Charles to fix his tablet and bring Pete back to the future, he wanted to leave the room as quickly as possible. He escaped his room and flew downstairs. One of the most attractive features of where Pete lived is that his small apartment was located above his favorite bar. It was night and most of the patrons had left for the day which put Pete more at ease. If he got drunk and accidentally spilled the beans about his trip to the future, he would rather do it with as few of witnesses as possible.

As Pete moved towards his bar stool, he felt a calm start to come over him. There is something to be said about having a place where everyone knows your name, it's enough to make anyone say, "Cheers." Even in this moment of anxiety, at least someone would know that he disappeared if he left in front of his small acquaintance circle. However, even this safe space and copious amounts of alcohol would not be enough to drown out his recent hell. Pete could write it off as a bad dream if not for the bracelet on his arm as living proof of the harrowing nightmare.

Pete passed a bar regular, a large man named Norm, as he took his seat. Pete motioned to Ellie, long time bartender and now proprietor of her own bar, that he would like a drink. Based on the pencil and clipboard, it was clear that she had been taking inventory for the evening before closing up but upon seeing Pete, she moved to the end of the bar and poured him a drink.

"Not to say you aren't welcome but didn't I hear that you were crushed by a hundred pound crab pot while king crab fishing in the Seattle area?"

"Oh that," Pete responded. "I guess that was a recent event for you, for me it feels like years ago. Besides, it simply resulted in adjusting my spine into place which was beneficial for my back alignment after years of equestrian transportation and allegedly acquiescing cargo from trains. I would prescribe the experience to anyone as it was the best feeling in the world afterwards."

"After, they got the crab pot off of you and assuming you live through the experience? Pete, you seem to continually be impervious to injury," Ellie replied amused but her expression studying Pete a bit more closely. It was clear that for all of Pete's humor, he seemed more shaken and his humor hollow. "I have to say, I've never seen you like this before. If I didn't know better, I would say that you look like you've seen a ghost."

"I have yet to see an apparition. Unless you count my Aunt Susie who visited me while I was recovering from water torture."

For a moment Ellie looked surprised but then remembered who she was talking to before chuckling and shrugging her shoulders. She poured a drink and as she passed it to Norm, she called over her shoulder, "You should write a book, Pete."

"'The Life and Times of Pete Hutter?' No thank you. Why would anyone divert energy and time on something so vain?"

"You're not the poster boy for humility, Pete."

"Just as long as you don't call me the 'father of empathicalism.'"

"Pete, I don't associate you with the words 'empathy' or 'father.'"

"Judging my parenting skills?"

"No, I just feel like your life would be the type of story where you would be kidnapped by some evil witch who would imprison you in an enchanted village, forcing your son to raise himself."

"Oddly tragic and specific but I can see what you mean." Pete finished his second drink as Ellie poured him his next.

"Haven't seen you since the funeral for Bowler."

"That also feels like a millennia ago," Pete paused before muttering to himself, "Maybe it was a millennia ago."

"Well, then you look pretty damn good for a man of your age."

"I do try," Pete said with a smirk.

"So, what has you down Pete?"

Pete took off his hat for a moment and ran his hands through his hair before putting his hat back on. "Ellie, if I had any inkling of where to embark on my recent history, as my bartender, you'd be the first to know."

"And why does my profession grant me that level of trust?"

"Best two people in the world is your bartender at night and the coffee maker the next morning. They're the keeper of secrets and the best lookin' people when you're needing spirited libation or treatment for a hangover."

Ellie smirked at him before pulling up a bar stool and sitting across from Pete. She poured herself a drink before beginning again. "Let's start with the basics. Who has you rattled?"

"A scientist devoted to lunacy and envisions me as some type of savior."

"Leaving the savior complex to the side for a moment, what does he want from you?"

"You mean what is his plan for world domination? He's not quite as simple as Bly. Bly kept his thoughts to 150 characters or less so we could all easily comprehend his plan. It was as simple as one rat asking 'What are we doing today?' And our brain Bly would answer, 'Same thing we do every day, try to take over the world.' It almost had a song to it. Meanwhile this mastermind is complicated. His delusions have delusions. There's no simplicity to it. If it was a melody, a songbird would pass out trying to tweet it to the world."

"He must be pure evil for you to hate him so much to compare him to Bly, birds, and rats. In fact, you typically have an angle to win with all individuals. For you to not have an angle is rare."

"Right now, my only goal is to find a way to permanently escape him, his lunacy, and his bizarre expectations. I just want to live my life and to live it for me."

"Regarding manipulative evil genius men and overcoming them, there's only one person that I can think of who could help. In fact, it's the same person that I have seen consistently look to the future and attempt to lasso it for positive use..."

"Professor Wickwire?"

"Brisco County Jr."

Pete looked at Ellie amused before commenting, "I should have guessed. Of course that's who you'd recommend," he paused before changing subjects. "Of all the women that I have met, you seemed to pair the best with him."

"Not Dixie?"

"Great singer and easy on the eyes but not the right partner, at least that's my opinion."

"Well, I'm not going to spend my life waiting on a man who never saw what he had in front of him."

Pete smiled into his glass as he finished his drink. When he set the glass down, Ellie was waving goodnight to Norm which enabled Pete to turn his thoughts to the man of conversation. As he mulled over what Ellie had suggested, Pete absentmindedly said "Brisco County Jr." aloud. At that, the familiar bright light and noise enveloped Pete.

When Ellie turned around, she noticed the bar was empty and assumed that Pete had simply returned to bed. While the exit seemed a bit rude, Ellie let the feeling go as Pete seemed a bit more tired and shaken then normal. She locked the door hoping that Pete would wake up in a better mood tomorrow.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -


Pete found himself in the middle of a Hollywood set as Brisco brushed past Pete. Pete looked around, surprised to find himself transported to not only a different part of the state but also to the following afternoon. Pete looked down at the bracelet on his arm, knowing it was somehow responsible. Suddenly, Pete was pushed by a figure running into him. Pete caught his balance and looked up to see a shocked Socrates. Socrates did a double take before rushing after Brisco.

As Pete watched Socrates and Brisco exit, he heard a female voice behind him, "Pete Hutter?"

Pete turned to see Lenore standing behind him. "Lenore Lonefeather," he responded in a shock. At that Lenore's eyes filled with tears as she fell into Pete's arms. Awkward and unsure how to comfort his former employer's grieving widow, especially as she seemed much more in control of herself at the funeral. All Pete could think to do was awkwardly pat her shoulder and awkwardly offer, "There, there."

Socrates slowly walked back and upon seeing Lenore crying, assumed Pete had caused the rush of tears. As he got close, Socrates demanded, "What did you do now Pete?"

"Lately, I have been the subject of a mad scientist's interpretation of an H.G. Wells' novel. But instead of having children of light and people living underground, he has the world trapped in boxes made of dreams and a single child of light," Pete answered truthfully.

Socrates gave Pete a puzzled expression before rolling his eyes and snorting, "Pete, you are drunk, partaking in opium, or you have finally become the craziest individual that I have ever met!"

Lack of sleep, recent trauma, escape from a dystopian society, and now Socrates' unwelcome condemnation, caused an anger to rise up in Pete. "Acting holier than thou might have been acceptable treatment years ago," he hissed, "But I was appointed a deputy and become a mostly law-abiding citizen over the years. Not to mention, I helped Brisco escape when you stood by to watch him die by firing squad, Poole."

At Pete's words, Socrates began to turn red with anger but before he could respond, Lenore took his arm in an effort to separate the two men's egos. "Where did Brisco go?"

"To a nearby bar that he frequents in search of 'the perfect drink'" sighed an exasperated Socrates. He looked at Lenore and seemed to decide that a change of subject was necessary for her sake so Socrates curtly asked, "Didn't I hear that you were back East working at some kind of tool and dye factory?"

"It got too boring for me."

"I have heard that machine work can be meticulous and monotonous," Lenore responded in an attempt to be supportive.

"No, I meant literally boring. I was the safety officer which meant that I was often the victim of metal fragments boring into my skin. I left after there was an increase in union riots and bombs at the factories I inspected."

Pete's response managed to silence Socrates for a moment which enabled Pete to ask, "What's the name of the bar?"

"O'Malley's on 14th," responded Socrates while still glaring at Pete. For a moment he turned to Lenore and tried to force a smile before continuing, "If you wait a moment, I should be able to hire a cab and we can catch up with Brisco together." It was clear that he did not want Pete to join the two which was actually preferable for Pete. He wanted to talk with Brisco without Socrates and his judgmental personality in earshot.

"I'll find my own way," responded Pete. He tipped his hat at Lenore in sincere respect before winking at Socrates mischievously. Pete went around behind a nearby building. Maybe all he had to do was think of a building or person and he could appear at that location. Pete closed his eyes and thought O'Malley's on 14th. Nothing happened. Pete rolled his eyes and then looked at his bracelet. "What is it going to take in order to get me to the bar?" Pete muttered in frustration.

A moment later, Pete appeared at the nearest bar on set. Pete took a look around and marveled at the speed of the transport. He turned his wrist over before saying, "Maybe you prefer me to audibly communicate to you in order to transverse across a geographic area?"

"Talk to who?" queried a nearby manicured man with perfect teeth in a 10 gallon hat who had clearly never seen a hard day's work in his life.

Pete looked up with irritation before saying, "Does it look like I am talking to you?"

The confused man looked at Pete with surprise before taking a step back but not so far as to stop staring at Pete.

Pete sighed before saying aloud, "O'Malley's bar on 14th." A moment later, he was outside said bar. Pete shook the feeling of awe and surprise off before walking inside. Sure enough, Brisco was sitting at the bar, drink in hand. Pete slowly moved to the bar and sat beside Brisco but he did not look up. It was clear that Brisco was lost in his thoughts.

Finally, after being ignored or unseen, Pete decided to see if he could get his attention. "Brisco County Jr." he said as melodically as he could muster.

Without looking up, Brisco responded with a resigned, "Hello Pete."

"You wouldn't still be searching for 'the coming thing?'" began Pete.

At Pete's question, Brisco flinched. As his shoulders relaxed he finished his whiskey and motioned for the bartender to start pouring the next. "Nope. I got out of that business years ago."

Pete was somewhat deflated as this was not the answer that he was looking for. It is not like he could share his experience with anyone on the street and it is not like he could travel back and ask the inventor to explain what was going on. How could Pete control this power? Beyond that, how could he ensure that he never went back to the awful doctor's lab?

Pete decided to start again, "I have something unique that I stumbled on-"

An easily angered Brisco cut Pete off, "While I would love to listen to another one of your rambling monologues about the universe or your odd opinions about art before having you screw me over for your personal interest or somehow leave me in the lurch, I'm not interested. Not now. Not anymore. I've been the hero, I've been the champion of the people, and what has it got me? Nothing. So, either sit here and drink or get the hell out of here!"

Pete opened his mouth to say something but instead looked down at his feet. It was clear that Brisco was more broken by the loss of Bowler than he was willing to admit. Brisco would clearly not be of any help; Pete was on his own. He thought about leaving right away but instead decided to stay for just one drink. Bowler was an exceptional individual; despite their professions as outlaw and bounty hunter, Bowler had given Pete a chance to be a deputy. Of course, both of the men knew it was because of Lenore's influence saying the Bowler owed Pete after helping to save Bowler's life. Pete was no saint but he did not cross the line of the law during that time and when Pete moved on, there was no animosity between the two.

"I was sorry to hear about Lord Bowler," before nodding to the bartender to pour three more whiskeys. To honor his former boss and Brisco's old friend, Pete lifted his glass.

"To lost friends," Pete said as the two clinked glasses, toasted the third glass, and downed the shots of whiskey. At that Pete left cash on the bar to pay for the drinks, tipped his hat, and left the bar. Pete left the building and had just enough time to duck out of sight before Poole arrived by hired car and quickly walked inside the bar. After watching Poole enter the bar, Pete took a moment to determine his next step and realized that his only option was to go back to where it all began.

He lifted his wrist and commanded the bracelet, "Take me back to Dr. Charles Sheppard."

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