Bewildering Stories

The Barn Identity

Thomas Lee Joseph Smith

Thursday. Late at night. Ten miles off the coast of a very mysterious un-named landlocked country called, Impossivania, a body floats in the churning sea. Overhead it is very cloudy... with high serious clouds up high... and with many mid-level clouds trying to rise in the organization... clouds staying late at the office... clouds trying to obtain better offices actually... maybe offices with windows... and a view... so they can watch the lower clouds... big low clouds overhead... all clouding up an otherwise standard prologue. A man walks on the deck of a small fishing vessel. He has amnesia too, but he's not the amnesia man with violent tendencies... so his story is of no importance. The amnesia victim we will be following is face down in the water... I guess breathing through his ears because when he is finally pulled from the water he's still alive. Which I don't mind so very much... cause it gives me something to work with.

Aside from some papers cuts and a stubbed toe the man in the wet suit is fine. Fished from the sea... the man is in luck for one of the men on the fishing vessel is a neurosurgeon trying to earn a little extra money by baiting hooks and cutting off fish heads. The neurosurgeon begins by cutting off the man's wet suit. The zipper is hidden by a very clever little flap that hangs over the actual zipper and runs the entire length of the garment... so the neurosurgeon is cutting off the wet suit. The tiny ship has a courageous crew but the storm was un-expected so the tiny ship gets tossed. A big wave hits the boat. The scissors plunge in. "Oops," says the neurosurgeon. He starts cutting some more of the black rubber. "Oops," he says again. Then "Darn." then "Shucks" then, "Well bloody teabag hell... that's his whole catenary system right there." Another of the men from the fishing vessel comes in. "Want some coffee skipper?" he says.

"Thanks little buddy." says the fish head specialist. He reaches out for the coffee but the big porcelain mug gets away from him, and the scalding hot coffee falls on the drowning victims back.

Immediately the man they pulled from the sea is on his feet. He is poised in a deep horse stance and his right hand is held in the tiger strike posture... while he left hand has its fingers straight and rigid... in the classic axe-hand through Krell steel Green Hornet movie maneuver. The doctor moves away. The man who brought the coffee kills himself.

"Who am I..? Where am I..?" the poised man asks.

"We fished you from the sea." comes the answer.

"Have I been stabbed?"

The man with the scissors hides them behind his back. "Yes... apparently... it must have happened when you were on the yacht."

"What yacht?"

"Don't you remember?"

"No."

"Maybe you have amnesia."

"What... does... that... word... mean..?"

"You have it."

"Who am I?"

"When we pulled you out of the water you were carrying these..." Spread on the table are twenty guns, a dozen knives, and six hand grenades. Then the doctor shows him a cloth with the initials DQ on it. It is actually a cloth napkin from an upscale Dairy Queen... but the doctor hasn't recognized it as such. He thinks it may me a monogrammed handkerchief.

"With these to guide us, we believe we have figured out who you are. You are either a public school teacher from the Bronx or Dan Quayle."

***

The bank is very large and the floors are polished and the windows look like the belong to a church or a bank.

"Can I help you?" the lady asks.

"It's may I help you." he answers, starting to remember vaguely a small Chinese restaurant somewhere in the Bronx.

"Do you have a numbered account?" she asks.

"Yes." he says.

"Will you write the number down on this paper?"

He writes the number four and passes it to her. She hands him a key to a safety deposit box.

He carries the box to a private place and opens it. He looks down. The box is crowded. In the box there are three items. How can there be only three items and the box appear crowded..? Think grocery store. Think about the first few checkout lanes. Here is where we find out what an item is. An item can be 12 things... if it is a dozen oranges... that's an item. An item can be a whole box of donuts... dozens of donuts and it's still one item. If Bruce Springstein started going places with Jennifer Aniston... the newspapers would soon swear that they were an item. So that's one way three items can fill up a safety deposit box.

But there is another way. It was a very small safety deposit box.

Inside there was a dozen oranges... a box of donuts... and a paper that said, 'You are an assassin. And you kill people for money. Your union dues are months behind... the name you use is Michael Kane... your actual name is Cuddle-hips McTwinkypenis. He looked at that last name again. "No wonder I kill people," he said.

He climbed out the window and climbed down from the ninth floor. Not because the security guards were after him. Just because elevators in banks are so damn slow.

Outside a woman is standing by a tiny car.

"I'll give you ten thousand dollars to take me downtown," he says.

"Baby, for ten thousand dollars I'll take you WAAYY downtown... and I'll even wear a big fluffy pink angora sweater and call you Mr. DiMaggio."

He looks at her skeptically for a moment. "This isn't your car is it?" he says, "...you're not part of this movie..."

"Oh honey... we can film... we can film..." she purrs.

Suddenly the actress makes her appearance. "Sorry I'm late." she says.

They drive to his apartment.

A man in a uniform shoots at him and then tries to stab him and they fight, exchanging punches and strangle holds. The woman stands nearby, as weapon after weapon falls at her feet. She never picks any of them up. They look so heavy and oily. She never even likes getting gasoline on her hands as she fills her car. She waits for the fight to end. Eventually the struggle is over.

The defeated man in the strange uniform holds the door open.

"He's a very tough doorman." she says.

"Very nearsighted though." he answers.

When they get upstairs there's an even better fight. After this second battle the intruder sent to eliminate Cuddle- hips jumps out the window which makes no sense until you realize he did it to avoid the doorman downstairs.

"Are you starting to remember who you are..?" she asks him.

"No... but I'm beginning to remember why I stayed away a lot."

* * *

He is paging through the phone book. He finds the section marked CIA. He runs his finger down the page, moving past the entry that says, OPERATIONS THAT ARE APPROVED, past the entry that says OPERATIONS THAT ARE SOMEWHAT APPROVED, and he halts his finger next the entry that says UNAPPROVED OPERATIONS BEING HANDLED BY SMUG VILLAINS THAT ARE ANATHEMA TO OUR UNDERSTANDING OF OUR CODE AND DUTIES. He dials the number. The phone rings six times then a recorded message tells him to stay on the line... tells him that his call is important and that it will be answered in the order that it was received... after six Beetles tunes and one song by Pink the phone gets answered.

"Don't try to trace this call..." he says "I won't be on that long."

"Darn..." someone says "...well go ahead anyway... what is it you want?"

"I want to know why you're setting me up."

"Why didn't you kill Mubasso?"

"I went to his house and he was surrounded by children. I couldn't go through with it."

"What about the assignment you had in Marsailles last year the assignment where you killed... let me think... let me remember... oh yeah... now I remember... where you killed those KIDS."

"Oh yeah. I forgot." he said.

"Do you get amnesia after every job?"

"Maybe, how would I know..?"

"We're gonna bring you in."

"How does that work...? What do I do..?"

"You and the CIA chief meet on a bridge for a shoot out."

"And then the winner comes in..? works in an office..?

"No the dead guy keeps his job and the winner gets to advance."

"How can a dead guy keep his job..?"

"Are you sure you work for the government..?"

* * *

We are inside a giant Russian submarine. Liam Neeson was the captain first, but now the captain looks a lot like Harrison Ford. Harrison Ford is speaking, "I want everyone who can run a reactor thrown off this ship."

"We already did that." Liam says.

"Then take us down past crush depth." says Ford.

"Why?" demands Neeson in a British accent that sounds very Russian.

"To prove this is a submarine movie and not a real submarine."

"Okay by me." Neeson shouts, "...but this will surely lead to a mutiny scene later."

"So be it." Ford says in a Russian accent that sounds very British.

Michael Cane walks into the periscope room. "I am reporting for duty." He says.

"Where were you stationed last..?"

"Another movie... one about amnesia."

"Would you like to tour the boat?"

"Da. Pip Pip. Cheerio." he says. He walks forward past leaking pipes, past men in suits putting out fires. He walks past the galley and through missile silos and he passes by a great big pipe organ being played by Walter Pidgeon. And he strolls past men who speak only German and then men who speak only Japanese, and then men who speak only in French subtitles... and then there's Burt Lancaster telling Spencer Tracy he'll lose his command if he disobeys orders. He passes by Sean Connery who steals the picture without saying a word and he comes to a door that doesn't look like the other doors. He enters and he finds the lady who drove him out of earlier danger... way back at the start of the movie. She is in hiding here. She has a small business now. She rents fiberglass swans that float on water and are moved about with foot pedals.

"Didn't think I'd see you here." she says, then starts kissing him.

"I got tired of the identity movie and snuck out of there and into the movie with submarines."

"Me too." she says.

"Why are you here renting these swans..?"

"You'll see..." she says. ".. any minute now... you'll see."



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Copyright 2002 by Thomas Lee Joseph Smith and Bewildering Stories.