"Now then, Mr. Bojanglevich ..."


"We'll replace the headlight switch on your car free of charge for the safety recall. But according to the routine maintenance schedule, you're due for an oil filter change, tire rotation and these 13 other services. Would you like to take care of that today, Mr. Bolankojima?"

The service clerk observes as I lift my forearm to look at my watch. "No, thanks, I think I already took care of most of that stuff recently. Just the headlight is fine."

"Are you sure? An unauthorized mechanic might have missed something. We could put you on our convenient payment plan, and - "

I push the secret sequence of concealed buttons on my watch and see the man's perplexed and disgruntled face as the activated teleportation device takes hold of my body, systematically and rapidly converting my corporeal tissue into invisible packets of energy to be whisked away and projected, beamed, and reassembled almost instantly in an altogether different location.

ZZZzzzhhhwwAAAaaahhmmmmm, crackle crackle tink.

Ah. That's better. I'm sitting in a booth at a Pig 'N' Pancake. I can still feel the tingling in my fingers and toes. I imagine that even for the most practiced of teleportationists, the reassembly stage proves a bit discombobulating. I'm still quite new at this, so my selection of translocation coordinates is a bit, well, uncoordinated.

Why did I wind up here, of all places? The setting is not even the one I've usually visited in the past, although the menus and much of the decor are the same. I take comfort in the familiarity.

I'm not sure how I got the teleprojector in the first place. Manipulate time and location and you can get a little confused, I guess. I remember something about headlights, and beams ...

"Hey there, hon," a waitress says. "Didn't see you come in. Coffee?"

I nod before I realize what I really want is hot chocolate. Coffee will not exactly help my jangling nerves.

"Mrs. Rutledge," the waitress says, welcomingly, to the woman with gray hair in the booth to my right. "What'll it be?"

"I'm not going to get too crazy today," Mrs. Rutledge says. "I've got an appointment."

She turns to me. "Excuse me. Do you have the time?"

"Sure," I say, touching my watch. "It's - "

ZZZzzzhhhwwAAAaaahhmmmmm, crackle crackle blip.

Whoa. I didn't mean to dine and dash.

At least I'm outside, now. Looks like a nice day. I see some friends in the distance, across an expanse of grass. I recognize this place ... I'm on the right side of the first hole at the neighborhood golf course, and, of course, I'm in the rough.

They're waiting for me. I'm not sure how I got here with my clubs and all, but what the heck? I take a swing.

Right away, we can all see the ball is rocketing not directly for the pin but far to the right, off the course, straight toward one of those brand new houses with the big plate glass windows. "Holy crikey," says one of my friends.

Cringing, just before the inevitable shatter, I pretend to tug at my golf glove and my fingers brush against my watch.

ZZZzzzhhhwwAAAaaahhmmmmm, crackle crackle ssss.

Oh no. No way. I was aiming for a chair in a movie theater, someplace dark and inconspicuous and comfortable. I got a chair all right.

"You know, you really shouldn't brush with so much force," the dental hygienist says, not unkindly.

"Ayegh knulff," I say, through apparatus in my mouth.

The dentist, holding the drill, nods sympathetically, too. "Can you open just a little wider?"

ZZZzzzhhhwwAAAaaahhmmmmm, crackle crackle plunk.

Why am I not going to other cities, like, say, London? Why not another planet? Do I need a mother ship?

Somehow, I've made my way back to the repair shop. I'm looking at my watch.

"You all right there, Mr. Blowtuna?"

"Yeah, I'm OK. Thanks," I say. "I just lost track of myself for a second."

The service clerk nods. "We'll just tackle that headlight, then."

While waiting, I think maybe I'll head to that restaurant - by foot this time. It's not the one I've usually visited in the past, although the menus and much of the decor are the same. I take comfort in the familiarity. By the time I have my hot chocolate, I know, headlight switches and location glitches aside, I will be beaming.

Whenever rhapsodizing about the challenges of teleportation, Brad Bolchunos tries to remember the most important part is the final stage of reassembly. Therefore, he often can be found muttering, "come on now, pull yourself together."


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