The Time Travel Trip brought Riley 1000 years into the future– 3013AD. The first thing she noticed was that everyone was playing guitar. Little old ladies sitting outside of nursing homes cradled guitars as if they were knitting sweaters. Toddlers at daycare centers were playing guitars– tiny babies in carriages were playing mini- guitars. Construction workers, office workers sales people, business people, traffic cops –all playing guitar. EVERYONE.
Walking down the different streets, Riley was absolutely fascinated by how the guitar ruled every aspect of the populace’s daily affairs. All the names of various establishments had guitar or guitar-themed names. For example, department stores had names like Tars ‘R us, Tarmart, Tarstrums and J. C. Fretboard. Yogurt stores were named Fretopia or Fretplay. Coffee shops were either named Tarbucks or Picks. Similarly fast food restaurants had names like Fretburger, Fretboard King, La Guitarra Loco, Baja Frets, Kentucky Fret Pickin’, Guitar Hut, Papa Frets Pickups and so on.
Television shows were guitar-centric as well; “Two and a Half Guitarists,” “Desperate Guitar Players,” “Wheel of Guitarists.” All movies were guitar themed; “Night of the Living Guitar,” “Lost Guitar,” “Guitar Crazy,” “28 Guitars Later,” “Phone call from a Guitar.”
It was a guitartopia. Riley was starting to wonder why Sonny had been so concerned. As she surveyed this wonderful guitar land she thought, “Rip ’N Time surely must have won the Battle of the Bands.” How could it be otherwise? — all these happy people playing guitar. “Hah,” she thought. “Dr. Tarborg could not destroy the human spirit.”
She also noticed that the people were not speaking in the usual way but seemed to talk by way of their guitars, and it was a language she had never heard before. It sounded like rapidly moving whammy bars on electric guitars connected to wah wah pedals. She could see their mouths moving but the sound seemed to be coming from elsewhere– hidden amplifiers perhaps. Everyone seemed well versed in this language and everyone seemed to understand each other. She started to think of it as Guitarspeak.
Since guitar playing as well as verbal communication were one and the same, it was natural that everyone was highly proficient at playing guitar. Riley thought, “I’ve never heard so many virtuosic and technically advanced guitar players in all my life!” Impressed as she was however, she began to think, “Something seems to be missing in their playing . . . I can’t place it . . . well maybe it’s just this Guitarspeak that’s making me feel . . . .” She tried to dismiss the intruding bad vibe and said to herself, “Oh…just enjoy the moment.”
This Guitarspeak was a bit confusing but Riley was having such a good time that she decided to stop in at a local giggle joint, the Don’t Fret Just Laff bar. The dim lighting of the club emphasized the well- lit stage area. The comedian was a hologram from 500 years ago and the projection screen behind was showing various scenes of Las Vegas. On the lower part of the projection were subtitles. The subtitles were in Guitarspeak. For extra comedic effect the comedian was speaking in the old guttural language of antiquity—English. The comedian, holding a guitar of course, was riffing (what else?) on the ‘lonely guitar shtick’– trying to pedal the old wah wah bit. He was a real guitar nut and the audience was giving him a lot of feedback—really stringing him along—amplifying what he was saying. He returned the favor by tapping into their inner single-coil pickup lines. He seemed to focus on the younger, prettier girls in the crowd with lines like; “Two guitar necks sitting at a bar; first guitar neck asks the other neck; ‘Why so glum? Fret bored?’ Does your guitar neck? Like I always tell my music . . . Stand! Hey baby, ya know why I got a tuning fork? Cause I like to eat tunes!! Speaking of eating, you can tune a guitar but you can’t tuna fish! Hahahahah!”
The entire audience was in a collective fit of apoplectic laughter– except for Riley. The comedian’s references to food only served to make Riley hungry, so she looked for a place to get a snack.
She happened upon a bakery which looked remarkably familiar–yet had a disconcerting feel about it. When she entered she saw that the display counter down the aisle was filled with all kinds of tantalizing sweets and pastries but strangely, there was no aroma. And when the person behind the counter turned around, Riley was taken aback to see Mr. Lee (Akemi’s Dad) who was now holding a guitar. ‘Curiouser and curiouser’ Riley thought. Still she was very hungry, so she pointed to a croissant and at the coffee urn. Mr. Lee nodded and placed the items on top of the counter. The symbols on the cash register indicated that method of payment was in the form of guitar accessories; so Riley gave Mr. Lee two packages of guitar strings and he gave her five picks back in change.
Riley took the items to a nearby table and sat down, taking care not to remove her guitar. Although the pastry looked absolutely delectable, it didn’t seem to smell right and the coffee didn’t seem right either. Nevertheless, being hungry, she took a big bite out of the croissant. To her horror, it tasted liked it smelled—a guitar strap! And she quickly spit it out. She thought she might get the bad taste out of her mouth by gulping some coffee –big mistake— it tasted like 3-In-One oil!
Her initial sense of euphoria in this total world of guitar was quickly giving way to fear, and a nauseating feeling of dizziness and disorientation was starting to overcome her. She thought, “Maybe if I could get something cold to drink…” Riley quickly got herself to the counter and spoke her first words in this futuristic guitar world, “ . . . Um, I was wondering . . . do you have any drinks with ice or any cold drink . . . ice tea or . . . anything . . . like that?”
Mr. Lee’s response was not reassuring at all—in fact his eyes seemed to be filled with fear. Fear of Riley! His voice choked when he said, “Guitarspeak, guitarspeak.”
Now Riley was really getting scared so she exited the store as quickly as she could, trying not to raise any more suspicion than she already had.
Then she saw it. Across the street in the central plaza. The largest statue she had ever seen. Unimaginably huge. Kim Jong Il‘s would have been dwarfed by it—yeah . . . that big. She made her way over to it as fast as she could and standing right in front of the statue now, Riley read the inscription; “DOCTOR TARBORG –OUR CREATOR AND MASTER –WE WORSHIP YOU AND YOU ALONE.” Riley’s fear now was beyond anything she had ever felt before. Almost in shock, she was frozen –her central nervous system seemed incapable of commanding her legs to run. Her mind, however, was racing– she could only think, “Oh no, the Taborgs won the Battle of the Bands at the Twisty Road Café and these aren’t people here in this guitar world –they’re Tarborgs who have evolved to look like people. The only vestige of the original Tarborg is the biologically attached guitar. This isn’t . . . and that’s why Sonny told me, ‘Keep your pick close and your guitar closer’.” Riley said– and in a moment of despair and disconnect, she absent mindedly let her guitar slip out of her hands.
One of the Tarborgs noticed that Riley’s guitar was not connected to her body. The Tarborg pointed its guitar at Riley and squealed. Soon it seemed as if the entire world of the Tarborg was pointing its collective guitar at her. The sound was deafening– it was horrific –feedback of the ugly kind. She thought her ears would burst with pain at any moment. She picked up her guitar without thinking and fumbled around for the toggle switch, while she was eyeing the ever closer approaching mob.
In pure fear, Riley blacked out. When she awoke she found herself in a hospital ward for the criminally insane. Towering over her bed was a gigantic Tarborg draped in a red cape and cowl and he was holding an equally gigantic triple-necked guitar. “Do you know who I am?” he said in perfect English.
“Um . . . Freddy Fretboard? . . . the King of Strings? . . . I dunno, I’m not real good at riddles when I’ve been tied up and drugged,” Riley said. Her fingers tried to find the toggle switch on her guitar.
“Don’t bother. Your relic of a guitar has been confiscated and locked away,” said the Tarborg.
“You’re a smart girl, Riley. You’ve figured things out. You even got the name of our language right– Guitarspeak. So indulge me if you will, and allow me to fill in a few tidbits of history for you,” said the Tarborg.
“Over the centuries, the Tarborgs evolved to look more and more like human beings. Mouths began to appear a couple of centuries after the great Battle— the ability to speak, perhaps a century later. By the year 2500 AD., Tarborgs were fluent in a number of languages– primarily English. Guitarspeak was still the main language but some of the Tarborg Nation believed that everyone should speak Guitarspeak only and thus the ‘Guitarspeak only’ movement was born. It prevailed, and English was used only in certain prescribed situations,” said the Tarborg.
“Well, golly gosh gee that’s just swell, Mr. String King, Fretboard sir and I just love history lessons–especially history that hasn’t even happened yet. So pardon me all over the place, pretty please and fructose you all over, but can I get my guitar back now?” said Riley.
“In time, in due time but first let me tell you something, Riley. We know who you are and we know why you’re here. So here’s a message for Sonny: it’s futile, don’t even try,” said the Tarborg.
With that the Tarborg untied Riley and returned her trusty Explorer. Riley clicked the toggle switch three times and found herself back in Sonny’s presence.