"He was going into this bar and-"
"And, wide awake."
"You're awake now."
"Yeah...but I was already awake."
"I mean awake from trance."
"I wasn't in trance, and I was fully awake."
"You mean you are now."
"No. No, we were talking, normally, about Brad and then you did that thing."
"The trance wake-up thing."
"Yeah, that's what I do when I want you to wake up from trance."
"But I wasn't in trance."
"You keep saying that."
"Because it's true."
"If it's true, why did you need to be woken up?"
"Wha...it's kind of scary how good you are at convincing your mind of how normal things are in the tranced/awake transition, like it never happened."
"It. Never. Happened."
"Never? Who brought up Brad in the first place?"
"Like I'd know that? He always manages to pop up somehow, like some weird anti-Where's Waldo."
"Funny, and true. But reasoning would suggest that it would have to be me, because you'd be incapable of thinking of him or anything else I didn't mention, for obvious reasons."
"You probably did, just not for the reason you think."
"Like you were doing any thinking a few moments ago, or was it just one moment ago?"
"Now who's being funny? The trance stuff comes up for you just like the Brad stuff."
"So why do you doubt that it just happened?"
"Because I was...what'd you call it, consciously aware."
"Or it's because...what did I call it...you 'think' you were consciously aware..."
"Can you prove to me that I wasn't?"
"Can you prove to me that you were-wait, yes, I can prove that to you. I can prove anything I want to that head, so that doesn't help. I can prove to you that up is down and that left is right."
"As you fail to do so with waving that finger in front of me to make me think that down is up and up is down and left is right and right is left."
"So which way is up and which way right?"
"You said up is down and right is left and down is up and left is right? So which way is left and which way is down?"
"......it...just shut up and keep your eyes on the road."
"You shut up and you keep you're eyes on the road. And thank god I'm driving. Oh, wait. Maybe you shouldn't keep your eyes on the road."
"You didn't hear about how people can get so tired watching the road for long periods of time that those lines in the road become constant to the point of banal to the point of mind-numbing to the point I'm trying to make about the road being so easy to look at. You know, the thing I once hypnotized you about so you could stay keep your focus sharp and safe for your sake. But that's when you were behind the wheel, unlike today where it must be twice as hard to not look away from those lines in the road, especially those white ones with the breaks between them, coming at you like ticks, like the ticks of a metronome that-"
"H-hey hey, don't."
"Talk about that when you're the one driving; you could get yourself-"
"I've got the steering column in-front of me and mirrors to check every ten seconds or so. What do you have in front of you? Nothing, just a boring dashboard and repetitious lines in front of you ticking. And you can try to look away, to look at the view like you are now, but I could bet you easy money how that view is just going to get blurry, and blurrier, and blurrier. Was that the same tree we just passed by twenty minutes ago, or was it twelve? Do you know how many cornfields we've passed by now, or it is all just one big blur of one? Just endless rows of corn that get blurry, and blurrier, and blurrier, and blurrier, and blurrier the longer your eyes try to stay open to watching it. I bet you don't even know which direction we're going."
"You're really just a nodding-off passenger here. You can't drive, and you certainly can't navigate for me. Is north really south, or south really north, or is east really west if we make a turn, or how will we know that west isn't east depending on the turn? It's like I point to it, and you don't know if that is west, or that is south. Don't look at me, look again. Is where you just looked north, or is it east? Does it matter at this point? Not really, since you're not the driver here. I know where we're going, what we're going to do when we get there, and wide awake."
"Wide aw-no. Not this again."
"I know what I was!"
"Not awake, that's for sure."
"YES! I! WAS!"
"Screaming it at your window isn't really helping your case. Even if it was open, no one out there to hear you but the field mice and crickets."
"Let me guess, will they hypnotize me too?"
"Crickets surely, they're like anti-roosters. Roosters tell you when to wake, crickets tell you when the world's about to get dark, and you have all the reason to close those heavy eyes."
"And the field mice?"
"What about them? They creep me the hell out."
"Oh, I needed that."
"And, wide awake. Now stop. Before you fly off the handle talking about thinking that you were just awake, and so there was no need for what I said, you feel like you were feeling really good a moment ago, right?"
"And whatever I said is what made you feel good, right?"
"Just like usually what I say makes you feel good, right?"
"Yeah, just a pleasant response to a voice you trust, and words that make you smile without thinking. That's one of the best compliments I've ever gotten from anybody, how the smiling from things I say just happens. The friend and hypnotist in me never has to tell you to, and the subject and friend in you never feels like you have to, it just happens. A wonderful little byproduct of our little talks, just makes me want to talk more and more, and you listen more and more, which is the next thing that just happens, a natural progression of something we both love, so why stop doing what we love? Doesn't it make you smile knowing that it won't stop, that the words will continue, and you'll smile and feel good?"
"And don't you love how you don't even have to say 'yeah' or anything else? Your smile is a 'yeah,' the best 'yeah' there is." Go on and listen to the words and say 'yeah' without saying it."
"There you go, nothing better than this. Everything around you and everything that's happening just furthers the 'yeah,' the smiling, taking it all deeper. The vibrations in the seat you're reclining in like a massage chair, taking you deeper. The balmy temp outside, or the cool air from the AC inside, either or both of them stimulating your skin, taking you deeper. Looking out the window to see the settings, the elements, the interpretive bearings, anything I've mentioned before, taking you deeper. Or just resting your head in my direction, keen attention on lips forming the words that get you to focus on things that become all you can think of, taking you deeper. You know, I bet the next sign post on the road you see, for the direction we're headed on just has 'deeper' on it. No other explanation, how far, other places, nothing else. Just 'deeper,' and that's where we're going."
"In fact, I like that. I like that a lot. That would make you smile like a madman, or a really sleepy, happy man, or whatever. And we've got all the time in the world to play with that one."
"And, wide awake."
"You're awake now.
"I...I was already awake."
"Are you sure?"
"You don't look sure, you look sleepy."
"Not sleepy, just thinking about something."
"Something stupid Brad did?"
"You sure that's why you're smiling and not because you're still waking f-"
"Don't say it."
"The 't' word you keep trying to push."
"And what 't' word might that be?"
"The one you want one of us to say so you can do your thing again?"
"Thing? Oh, the thing I already did to you?"
"Yeah, keep dreaming."
"No, that's your job; I'm the one driving."
"Driving me insane is what you're doing."
"Said the man smiling like a fool who needed a ride cross country from a friend."
"Hey, I'm paying for all the expenses; food, gas, AND your next oil change. And all my other friends were busy; the sneaky hypnotist was my only option."
"Isn't that convenient and all too true for you? The hypnotist is your only option..."
"Why did I ever agree to be subjected to this?"
"Because you're a great subject, who blushes and tries hiding a smile he can't every time I pay him that compliment."
"You know, since you're an annoyingly charming friend, I hope you take this the wrong way when I say 'I can't wait for this ride to be over.'"
"Well, even though this road seems like it'll go on forever, and ever, and ever...."
"Don't even try it, 'friend'."
"Fine, fun-killer. Let the sign post tell you how long this'll last. That one coming up."
"So....? What did the sign post say? Something about you staring off into space? Something about you leaning back into that seat or grinning like a happy idiot? Is that supposed to signify the trip is almost over, or that you wish it never ends? Maybe that's it. And, wide awake by the way."
"You know what."
"No...no, absolutely not."
"'Absolutely not' what?"
"YOU know what."
"You're hilarious like that, you know? Convinced that I'm just interrupting you from a thought or a conversation when I say that phrase, on the outside. On the inside, you feel those effects, you know what you just came out of, your body barely hiding what your mouth is trying to convince me of. Like candy, obstinate on the outside, sweet and submissive on the inside."
"Your mouth is the one trying, and failing, to convince me of something. What is this now 0 for....some number of you trying to put one over on me and winning. Trust me, never let me be in one of your showcases for proving hypnosis to people."
"The more you talk, the sweeter this gets; I hope you realize that. Do you even remember what you were supposedly talking or thinking about before derailed your train of thought?"
"Uh...something about the road. Something-sign posts! Yeah, sign posts."
"Okay. Sign post. What's that one say?"
"It says 'yeah...'? That's it? Nothing about where you're going, how far it is to get there? Just an affirmative to a state of being unmasking how you really feel about all my words, especially those key ones that bring you to the 'yeah....' And wide awake."
"Confused, are we?"
"Is this the silent treatment now?"
"Classic. And adorably weak."
"Glare at me all you want; we both you know you wouldn't be silent like this if I wasn't having the desired effect on you. Better friend says 'what?'"
"Your hypnotist friend is the better friend, confirmed. It's so fun to watch you try to say nothing when your face is saying everything. 'Man, this trip is long.' 'Man, she loves to talk.' 'Man, this hypnosis stuff is great, and I want more.'"
"Man, thou doth protest too much."
"And back to silence? Fine, just leaves me more room to play. No voice from you means no objections, means I can drone on and on and you just have to listen. You can try to drown out the words on the outside with the words on the inside, but your still not safe there. Maybe you get by with an inner monologue, maybe you'll try to just count something out there, like the distance on the sign posts, or just count sign post after sign post till the trip is over..."
"Yeah, huh? Well that tactic might work. But then again. As deep as you go under by now, do you even see the numbers? I bet the sign posts might as well be symbolic of hypnosis in-general. Maybe inside the borders of those rectangular shapes is a series of words that come from me, or what it's like when I pull up a spiral on my phone and make you stare at it, or both. You see one out in the distance, you notice the black and white swirling bands, then you notice how fast they spin, then you see words behind them, then it might as well be in your face as you pass by it, making you blink as the spiral and that message fills your brain for a little bit, like a mini-trance you just ride the wave of. And if every sign post is like that, how happy would that make you?"
"Yeah, a big number. And wide awake."
"....why are you such a total, domineering brat?"
"Because it's fun, and because it passes the time, which is what you asked for for this boring trip, in case you've forgotten. Check the time."
"What the-we're already more than half way done?"
"See? Time flies when you're having fun you won't admit to. And let it never be stated that your hypnotist friend isn't a generous one."
"Still a risk-taking one, for doing all this while driving. Didn't you once say hypnotists go into a sort of trance too? Doesn't that make you a little hypocr-no, hypnocritical?"
"Remind me to steal that line from you and convince you gave it to me later, after you take stock of our 'mode of transportation.'"
"Am I still a hypnocrite?"
"...maybe. Is this why I've been talking so low but am only now aware of it? And a picture of the highway on the back of the bus seat in front of me?"
"Ingenious, no? Proper public volume, including screaming in light whispers, and the simplest printed prop making for a great show."
"Have you been tranc-trying to trance me this whole time into thinking we've been driving this whole time?"
"Now who's being bratty? But no, the driving suggestion has been going on for hours, at least as long as the bus has been nearly empty."
"Explains why we're all the way in the back."
"Yeah, no one else needs to hear this, least of all the bus driver. We may have to stop when it gets fuller though."
"Would that really stop you?"
"You know me so well."
"Now I see why you were so insistent on bus tickets. 'Because it's cheaper than gas' my foot."
"Ask for a long-hypnosis session and ye shall receive. And no better way to make a long ride not insanely boring. Driving and hypno is an absolute no-no though, unless it's just you thinking you are, and even then I take special pains so that suggestion doesn't get anywhere near reality. But when it's a wide-open brain like yours, that won't be so hard."
"My brain is not wide open."
"The door just ajar?"
"Just a little."
"Mmmhmmm. Is it that same door Brad has with the bad handle?"
"Hah! Remember that time when it broke on him when he was desperate to-
"And, wide awake."