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The Barkleys on Vacation
By Barb
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Disclaimer: The characters and situations of the TV program "Big Valley" are the creations of Four Star/Republic Pictures and have been used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended. No infringement is intended in any part by the author, however, the ideas expressed within this story are copyrighted to the author.

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The vacation for a family that has everything.

The capsule hit the earth with a thud. Presently, a door was pushed open on the conveyance and six people, four men and two women, climbed out. They were the Barkleys. They had been transported from the year 1878 to the year 1998. They stood in the middle of the southern California desert looking around them.

"Quite a ride, wouldn't everyone agree?" Jarrod Barkley questioned his family.

"Boy howdy, I reckon," Heath Barkley replied, shaking his head in wonder at the trip he'd just been on.

"It was so bumpy there at the last," Audra Barkley complained. "I felt sick."

"You'll get over it, Sis," Nick Barkley growled at his sister. "You've found somethin' wrong with everything so far. It took too long, it was too bumpy, it----"

"Nick, Dear," Victoria Barkley cut in smoothly. "Audra's just unsure of what to expect now that we've hurdled forward in time 120 years. Give her time to adjust."

"Yes, Nick, have some patience," offered Eugene Barkley. "My history professor says that people in this time period will move a lot faster than we do. We'll find out what a virtue patience is."

"Sounds like brother Nick will fit right in," Jarrod said.

"Is that a fact?" Nick bellowed. "Well, I'm for findin' out as soon as possible how we'll fit it.

I wonder where that contraption is we're supposed to use instead of horses."

They all glanced here and there. Heath spoke up. "You don't suppose that funny lookin' think over there is it, do you?"

"Oh my," Victoria said. "I did expect something, oh, shall we say, more like a buckboard, or a buggy. Surely that can't be it."

"Well, Mother, it looks like it does have a seat," Eugene ventured.

"Two of 'em, if my eyes don't deceive," Nick said. "and both of them covered."

"Yes, but how do you get on the seats?" Audra wondered. "and it's such an ugly thing, why I'd be ashamed to be seen riding on--or in it."

"My dear family," Jarrod began. "we will never learn the answers to our many questions unless we venture over to the, uh, what did the gentleman who arranged our trip call it, Nick?"

"The automobile," Nick blurted out in reply. "And you're right, Pappy, we aint learnin' nothin' standin' around in the sun. Let's go."

"I like the sun," Audra whined.

"I like horses," Heath muttered just loud enough to be heard.

All smiles, Eugene began walking. "I agree with Jarrod and Nick. I for one can't wait to ride in an automobile."

Victoria took Audra by the hand. "Come along, Dear, and don't worry. As long as we're all together, we'll be safe."

To top

As a group, the Barkleys reached the automobile which had been left at the capsule landing site for their transportation needs. Heath was the first to comment.

"Boy howdy, I can't see how this thing can take us anywhere."

"It's so ugly," Audra repeated.

"You said that, Dear," Victoria reminded her daughter. "And Heath, I'm sure you and your brothers can figure out how to drive it, or, whatever you do with it."

Jarrod frowned. "I surely hope you are right, Mother."

"Hey, what's wrong with you people!" Nick sharply exclaimed. "How hard can it be! Let's get in, or on, or whatever you do."

"Good idea, Nick," Eugene was enthusiastic. "You get on, or in, first."

Jarrod said, "Yes, brother Nick, since this trip was your idea, we'll rely on you to show us what to do."

Nick scowled. "Fine. I'll lead you, if that's the way you want it. Can't be too much here to learn. Let's see now---"

"Well, if I may say so," Victoria began, "that looks like a door there.

Perhaps that's how

you get to the seat. Perhaps the door opens."

"Door!" Nick growled. "If it's a door, it's a funny lookin' one."

"I don't see a knob," Eugene said.

Heath pointed. "That thing there, Nick. Pull on it, see what happens."

Nick reached out and touched the object his brother had pointed toward.


"Yea," said Heath.

Nick pulled. Nothing happened. Then, he felt a lever underneath the object. Almost by accident, he squeezed it toward the outer object.

"Boy howdy, would you look at that!" Heath marvelled, as the door swung out.

"Well now, family, it seems we have accomplished step one," said Jarrod.

"Shall we take our places on the seats?"

"Wait a minute!" Nick implored. "Before we do that, we've got a big decision to make."

"And what decision might that be, Dear?" asked Victoria.

"Who is it that will be driving this thing, that's what decision!"

To top

Heath grinned. "I can sure tell you who won't be drivin' it."

"Oh?" Jarrod reacted. "And who might that be?"

"Me, that's who," Heath announced.

"Well, I don't see anything to drive," Audra sourly commented. "If you don't hitch a horse or some other animal to it, what do you drive?"

"Dear, I think it's kind of like a train," Victoria tried to be helpful.

"You drive the automobile

itself. Nothing pulls it. Isn't that how you boys understand it?"

"I'm impressed with your knowledge, Dear Mother," Jarrod spoke out.

"And, brother Nick,

I do believe it should be you who drives us on the next step of our journey."

"If it's like a train, where is the track?" Audra mumbled.

"Sis, will you just be quiet and quit complainin'!" Nick ranted.

"She's not complaining, Nick," Eugene told his older brother, "she's only wondering about things. She has a right to do that."

"Of course she does, Gene," Victoria smiled. "Now then, Nick, are you willing to give it a try?"

Nick grinned broadly. "You bet! I see it has another door there at the back and I'm willin' to wager there's two more doors on the other side. I'll open 'em, and then we can all climb aboard."

As he'd promised, Nick opened the other three doors. Victoria then said, "I assume the wheel there in front is to be used to guide the automobile. Audra, you and I will sit on the back seat, Gene can join us, and Jarrod and Heath can sit up front to help Nick."

The Barkleys proceeded to get in the automobile, taking the positions Victoria suggested.

Once they were seated, Jarrod, next to Nick on the front seat, said, "All right, Nick, we're ready to go. The doors are all shut."

Nick, a puzzled expression on his face, said, "Yea, well Pappy, it's one thing to be ready. It's another to make this thing go."

"It's so hot in here!" Audra whined. "I feel sick."

"We're in the desert, Dear," her mother told her. "It's always hot in the desert."

"I'll say it is," Gene added. "but my history professor seems to think that there will be devices with which to cool and devices with which to heat by the time we're now in. I'm anxious to see if that's true."

Heath, without turning in his seat, offered, "Gene, I'm sure they still know how to build fires and they probably still have fans."

"You people never believe in anything!" Eugene complained. "I remember the time you wouldn't believe me about the anthrax vaccination."

"Would you just be quiet so that I can concentrate on how to make this contraption move!"

Nick barked. "There must be somethin' among all these levers and knobs that you turn, twist, or pull."

Victoria leaned over the seat between Nick and Jarrod. "There's a key. Do you see it?"

"Ah yes, Mother, I do see it," said Jarrod. "Are you thinking as I am, that perhaps it, er, unlocks the power, er, allows the automobile to move?"

"Boy howdy," Heath groaned. "If I'd known it would be like this, I would have stayed in my own time."

"Me too," Audra agreed readily. "It's so hot!"

"Wait a minute!" Nick growled impatiently. "I don't see any reason not to try this key. Everybody be ready to jump out in case it causes an explosion or somethin'."

Victoria took Audra's hand. "Hold on to me, Dear. You'll be safe that way."

To top

Nick slowly took hold of the key and then rapidly drew his hand back.

Jarrod inquired as to what the problem might be. "Are you that fearful, brother Nick, that something untoward might occur if you turn the key?"

"No, Pappy," Nick denounced his brother's theory, sarcastic. "I'm fearful I might burn my hand off. That key's hot as blazes!"

"Perhaps you should put a glove on, Dear," Victoria suggested. "You have them with you, don't you?"

"Nick doesn't go anywhere without his gloves," Gene said.

"That's a fact," Nick assured them, pulling from his vest pocket a leather glove for his right hand. He then put it on and once again touched the key. "That's better. Hold on folks!"

The turning of the key yielded an grinding noise and then----

"Jump out!" cried Audra. "We'll all be killed!"

"Be calm, family," Jarrod ordered. "Get out in an orderly fashion."

"What is all that noise?" Gene wanted to know.

"Wait a minute!" Nick roared. "It's probably just the, uh, well, whatever you call it that makes this thing go."

"We're not movin', Nick," Heath observed. "What do you have to do, take the brake off or somethin'?"

"Yea, I reckon, but where the tarnashin is it?" Nick wondered.

Once again, Victoria leaned over the seat between Nick and Jarrod. "That lever there, Dear.

Do you suppose it's the brake release?"

"Mother, whatever would we do without your common sense?" Jarrod turned to smile at the woman behind him.

"Hey, do you feel that cool air?" Gene asked.

"Why there is cool air blowing on us," Audra spoke in obvious wonderment.

"Where's it comin' from, Heath?" Nick asked.

"Boy howdy, why ask me?" Heath questioned. "Let's concentrate on gettin' this thing to rollin'."

Jarrod put his stamp of approval on the suggestion. "Heath has reminded us of our first priority. We'll accept the air as a gift and get on with the business of driving this, uh, conveyance."

"Automobile," Gene offered. "It's an automobile, and didn't I tell you what my history professor said about heating and cooling? He must be correct."

"Fine, college boy, so he's correct," Nick said. "Now, I'm gonna pull this lever to see if it's a brake. Here goes."

To top

As slowly as he'd turned the key, Nick pulled down on the lever. It moved, fell in a notch, and---"We're goin' backwards, Nick," Heath observed.

"Is that a fact!" Nick reacted. "You think I don't know that!"

"Stop this thing!" Audra yelled, panicked. "We'll all be killed!"

"Do be calm, Dear," Victoria said to her daughter. "We're barely moving, and----Oh my!"

Suddenly the automobile began its backward direction in a more rapid fashion. "Brother Nick, perhaps you should be finding someway to halt our reverse movement," Jarrod suggested.

"Boy howdy, we're gonna get stuck out here or hit a ditch and turn over," said Heath.

Victoria leaned over the seat once again. "Nick, Dear, are you pushing on something, a pedal maybe, there on the floor?"

Nick, clinging to the wheel, looked down. Indeed, he was pushing on a pedal. He removed his foot and the vehicle slowed but still bounced along over the mesa.

"That helped, but how do I stop this thing?"

"There's another pedal there, Dear," Victoria said. "Do you see it?"

Nick did. He stepped on it. The automobile ground to a halt. "Whoa! Whoa!" he said after they were stopped.

There was silence inside the vehicle. Finally, Eugene told them, "My history professor claims a time will come when horseless conveyances will be able to go at great speed."

Jarrod stated calmly, "Yes, well, perhaps that time is now."

"I think we should all get out of this thing," Audra proclaimed. "We are fortunate to still be alive, if you ask me."

"Yea, Barkley luck almost ran out that time," added Heath.

Nick disagreed loudly. "Wait a minute! We didn't hit anything! I'm just learnin' how to drive this, this, uh---"

"Automobile, Dear," Victoria provided.

"Automobile," Nick continued. "You can't expect everything to go smooth right off the bat."

Jarrod said, "Perhaps Nick is correct, family. Perhaps we should study what we've learned and then make another attempt at moving from this place to another in this, uh, automobile."

Eugene offered his opinion. "Well, I sure don't want to get out. I'm anxious to take a forward drive. Do you think you can do that now, Nick?"

Nick scowled. "I've learned a thing or two about it. Let's see, the pedal down here makes it go, this pedal makes it stop, the key starts it, and this lever----"

"Makes it go backwards," Heath finished for his brother. "Boy howdy, Nick, you've got to find someway to make it go forward."

"You think I don't know that!" Nick blasted.

"Now, now," came Victoria's voice of reason. "let's behave rationally. Let's take a closer look at the lever."

"Again, Mother, you make good sense," Jarrod complimented the matriarch of the family.

"So, we look at it," Nick agreed. "It's just a lever that pulls down."

Victoria leaned over the seat between Nick and Jarrod. "What do those letters mean?" she asked her sons.

Gene also leaned forward. "Let me see. There's a P, an N, a D, and a 1, 2, and a 3."

"Complicated," Heath mumbled. "No tellin' what they mean."

Jarrod objected to his brother's haste to give up. "Oh, I don't know, Heath. Perhaps if we put our collective mind to it, we could come up with a reasonable theory."

"A reasonable theory!" Nick proclaimed. "Is that a fact! Well, I don't need a reasonable theory, I need to know what the blazes makes this contraption go forward!"

To top

"Boy howdy, I wish I knew where to find a horse right now," Heath moaned.

Audra then complained. "Just one horse, Heath? We need six horses. I suppose you would just ride off and leave the rest of us."

"Audra, Dear," Victoria said, patting her daughter's hand. "if you have nothing useful to say, I'd appreciate it if you kept your mouth shut. Now, let's do look further at those letters. Let's see, when the lever is in the P notch, we're sitting still. We're parked."

Nick grinned broadly. "Parked, huh? Mother, I think you've hit on somethin'."

"Pretty lady," Jarrod expanded upon his brother's praise, "you've come up with a plausible explanation for the P. Now, can anyone do the same for the R?"

"That's easy, Jarrod," Heath said.

"Easy!" Nick exclaimed. "How so?"

"Well, when you put the lever next to the R, we went backwards."

"Backwards starts with a B," Audra told them, smug.

"But, my dear sister," Jarrod smiled, "reverse begins with the letter R. Congratulations, Heath. And now for the N."

"N is for Nick," Gene chuckled.

"Is that a fact!" Nick growled. "Why the blazes---"

"I believe your brother is teasing, Dear," Victoria intervened. "Why not put the lever next to the N and see what happens?"

"Good idea, brother Nick," Jarrod said, jovial. "Experiment a bit."

Nick took the suggestion. "Nothin' happens," he said after doing so.

"Step on the pedal," Heath advised.

Nick did so. "Nothin'."

"Gene was right," Heath grinned. "Nothin' happens, so N is for Nick."

Everyone except Nick laughed. The second Barkley son said, "I'm gonna put it in D now. That's gotta mean drive."

To top

"Well, I'm impressed, Nick. You have no doubt solved our problem," Jarrod said.

"Yes, Nick, we'll all be impressed if D means drive and you can actually coax this ugly thing to take us somewhere." This from Audra.

Heath sounded hopeful. "Boy howdy, I'm ready to move from this spot. If you've figured out how to drive this thing so soon, Nick, I congratulate you."

Nick beamed. "Hang on folks! I'm gonna move the lever on down to D."

"What do you suppose the 1,2, and 3 mean?" Eugene wondered. "It won't matter, Dear, if the D works," Victoria said, then leaned over Nick's shoulder.

"Nick, don't forget to push on the power pedal."

Scowling, Nick reacted to his mother. "Wait a minute! Do you think I don't know that? Now, here goes. Hey!"

The lever in D, the automobile began to roll forward. Nick stepped on the pedal as Victoria had reminded him to do. The automobile gained speed. "Slow down, Nick! We'll all be killed!"

"Audra, Dear,!" Victoria warned, "I will borrow one of your brothers' neckerchieves and tie it around your mouth, if you don't keep still." She then leaned over the seat between Nick and Jarrod. "Nick, Dear, perhaps you should slow down. It seems dangerous to bounce across the desert at this speed."

"Why not head for a road?" Eugene suggested. "Then it will be smoother."

Heath shook his head. "Boy howdy, it looks like you would have thought of that, Nick."

"Is that a fact!" Nick said. "What makes you think I didn't think of it? I just have to find---Hey, wait a minute! Isn't that a road over there?"

The driver of the vehicle took his right hand from the steering wheel to point as he made the inquiry about the road. To a person, his family peered in that direction. It was Heath who spoke. "Head that way, Nick. I think it is a road, even though it's black."

"Black!" Nick reacted. "Whoever heard of a black road?"

Jarrod reasoned, "It could be, brother Nick, they use something as a surface for the roads

now, something other than dirt, that is. It could be they are smoother, making for a more comfortable ride for an automobile."

"My history professor says the roads of this time will be built to accomodate thousands of these automobiles," Eugene advised.

"He seems to be wrong about that one, Dear," Victoria said. "I don't see another automobile, oh, here comes one now and it's on what Heath said looked like a road.

Nick, do drive us over there."

Heeding his mother's advice, Nick steered toward the supposed road. The other vehicle they had noticed was barreling along. "We're gonna come out on the road about the same time that automobile gets to the spot where we'll come out."

"Boy howdy, Nick," Heath said. "All you have to do is slow up a bit to avoid that."

Nick grinned. "Who wants to avoid it?"

"Nick, don't collide with the other automobile!" Audra screamed.


"Audra!" Victoria sharply cut in. "if you say one more time that we'll all be killed, I will definitely find a suitable form of punishment for you."

"My Dear lady," Jarrod began. "you have my sincerest sympathy in dealing with Audra, but, I must say, Mother, it could be she's correct this time."

"Yes," Gene agreed. "My history professor says there will be many catastrophic accidents in this time period, due to the terrific speeds which can be attained."

"Ah, take it east, will ya!" Nick laughed. "I'm not gonna collide with

it. Like Heath says, all I gotta do is slow down, let it pass, then follow it."

"Now, brother Nick, you are being sensible," Jarrod complimented his sibling.

"For a change," Heath muttered.

"You are being very wise, Dear," Victoria added.

Nick stepped on the brake and slowed the automobile only yards from the road. The other vehicle approached, drew even, then---

"What the blazes did he mean by that?" Nick wondered.

"By what, Dear?" asked the Barkley matriarch.

"Boy howdy," Heath uttered, "they must have some strange greetings these days."

Jarrod offered an opinion. "It was almost as though he were signaling us, raising his finger like that."

"I didn't see it, but perhaps it's how people say hello to each other in this time," Victoria speculated.

"Wait a minute!" Nick jumped in. "That fellow didn't look friendly! I'll just bet that finger business meant something nasty!" The driver of the Barkley vehicle then tromped on the gas pedal. "Maybe I should run him down, ask him---"

Audra's voice rang out loud and clear from the rear seat. "Please don't do that, Nick. We--"

"I know, I know," Nick grumbled. "we could all be killed."

Victoria leaned over the seat. "Nick, Dear, let's not look for trouble. After all, the other automobile is going on down the road. It seems he means us no harm. Let's just drive along and enjoy the ride."

"Enjoy the ride!" Audra squalled. "How could ayone enjoy riding in this ugly thing!"

Eugene, ignoring his sister, voiced his approval of their adventure. "This is great. Go ahead and pull out on the road, Nick."

"I'm gonna do just that, college boy," Nick said. "Here goes."

To top

Immediately upon reaching the smooth service, the Barkleys voiced their awe at the difference. "Boy howdy!" Heath started off the round of comments. "Can you believe this? Why, you'd think we were on glass!"

"It is something to behold," Jarrod added. "I, for one, am mightily impressed."

"I'm amazed," Gene said. "But not surprised, because, as I said before---"

"We know, we know," Nick interrupted. "your history professor told you so."

"Let's just enjoy it, shall we?" Victoria said.

"I must say," Audra conceded, "it is much better than before. Nick, what is that mirror up there for?"

"To look at yourself in!" laughed Nick. "What else?"

"Sis, you are showing your denseness," Gene said. "It's for girls like you to see if they're still pretty."

"Audra's a lovely young woman," Jarrod put in. "She doesn't need a mirror to tell her that."

Heath shook his head and frowned. "Boy howdy, you people are somethin'."

"Meaning?" Nick asked in a tone which implied he felt challenged.

"Meaning," explained Heath. "it seems to me anybody could tell that mirror's there for some other purpose."

"And for what purpose, Dear, do you suppose it's there?" asked Victoria.

"I don't know," Heath admitted.

"Hey, wait a minute!" Nick roared. "I know!"

"Do tell us, Dear," Victoria invited.

"To see what you just left behind! And to see other automobiles coming up behind you!"

"And, brother Nick, do you say that because there is another automobile approaching from behind?" Jarrod wondered.

"Pappy, you are a genius," Nick said, eyes twinkling with delight. "And not only can I see it in the mirror in here, I can see it in the one hung on the outside."

Heath grinned. "Boy howdy, Nick, this thing is quite a contraption."

Nick readily agreed. "That's a fact. Hey, wait a minute! That automobile back there is comin' on too fast!"

Victoria reached over to pat Audra's hand. "Don't worry, Dear. I'm sure we'll be safe. Like the driver in the other automobile, this one means us no harm."

Eugene turned to get a view of the oncoming vehicle. "My history professor was right. Look at that!"

"It'll hit us and we'll all be killed!" Audra repeated her oft used warning.

Jarrod spoke calmly. "It would seem to me, brother Nick, all that is needed here is a bit more speed on our part."

Heath chuckled. "Yea, Nick, it looks like you would have thought of that."

"Is that a fact!" Nick bristled. "More speed, huh? I'll give you more speed! I'll show that fellow back there what speed is!"

With that said, Nick tromped down hard on the pedal that he'd learned increased and decreased the power. The automobile picked up speed immediately. A lot of speed. "Slow down!" Audra yelled.

"Oh my," Victoria spoke up. "We are, perhaps, going too fast now, Nick. Do slow down, Dear."

"Slow down!" the driver of the automobile objected to the suggestion.

"Turn around and look.

That other fellow is---Hey, you can't do that!"

"Boy howdy, he's over there beside of us now!" Heath observed.

"Brother Nick, I'd say that fellow intends to pass us," Jarrod reasoned.

"Pass us! Is that a fact!" Nick's voiced boomed through the vehicle.

"He'll have a job doin' that!"

"No, Dear, I don't believe she'll have any problem at all," Victoria then said.

"It's a woman!" Eugene informed.

"You're lettin' a woman pass you, Nick," Heath grinned.

Nick glanced sideways and saw for himself that, indeed, there was a female behind the wheel

of the passing vehicle. He grinned wickedly. "No woman is gonna pass Nick Barkley by!"

Victoria leaned over the front seat between Nick and Jarrod. "Don't be so reckless, Nick. Perhaps it's not so bad in this time for a woman to do that."

"Yea," Eugene piped up. "My history professor says women will be more on equal terms with men in this time."

"Not with me, they won't!" Nick continued to rave. "I'll show---What's that noise?"

"How peculiar," Jarrod said, sniffing his nose as though he could smell a sound. "It's, how would you describe it, sort of like a blaring sound."

"Turn it off, Nick!" Audra demanded. "It's frightening me!"

Nick shot back at his sister. "I can't turn it off, it's comin' from the other fella, er, from the other automobile."

"Boy howdy, it sure is annoying," Heath said. "You reckon this thing'll make a noise like that?"

"I wish I knew how to make it do just that," Nick responded. "Pappy, check all these knobs and levers, see if you can give her back in kind."

"Such a poor attitude you have, Nick," said Audra. "And besides, that sound coming from over there is enough."

"Yea, maybe," Nick agreed reluctantly. "Forget it, Pappy. Watch me, though, I'm gonna lean into this wheel, punch on the pedal--"

"Oh, turn it off!" Audra bellowed, when the annoying sound seemed to have come closer.

"Well, brother Nick," Jarrod smiled, "it seems as though you've managed to locate the wished for effect."

"Yea, but what did I do to make the noise, and how do I stop it?" Nick frowned.

"Boy howdy, Nick, all you gotta do is take your hands off of those two spots, one on each side of the wheel," Heath advised. "It looks like you could see that."

Nick glanced down. He moved his hands. The blaring noise stopped. "Well, what do you know! Hey! She got around! I'm gonna pass her!"

Audra spoke angrily. "Don't be so childish, Nick."

"I believe our little sister has a point," ventured Jarrod. "Why not stay behind? I believe I will try out some of these knobs. I'm curious to know what else this conveyance has to offer."

"Do be careful, Dear," Victoria offered her opinion to Jarrod. "That blaring noise was bad enough. One of those knobs might set off something even worse."

Audra pouted. "I don't see how. That scared me out of my wits."

Nick laughed. "And what wits would that be, Sis?"

"Now, now, brother Nick," Jarrod warned, "we're on vacation. Let's not resort to nastiness."

"Sorry, Sis," Nick said, still grinning.

"Well, Jarrod, go ahead and turn a knob," suggested Eugene. "I'm anxious to see what everything does."

"Let me see now," Jarrod contemplated. "This one here rather stands out, doesn't it? Let's try it."

Heath teased. "Be careful, Jarrod. A little man might jump out at you."

"Now that's ridiculous, Heath!" Nick snarled. "This contraption may have a lot of things, but it doesn't have somebody hid away ready to jump out at us."

Victoria leaned over the seat. "Why not try the knob now, Jarrod? We're all anxious to see what it does."

"Your request is my command, pretty lady," said Victoria's eldest child.

Reaching for the knob, Jarrod gave it a quick twist. A strange voice said, "And now for the latest headlines. President Clinton waits along with the rest of the world to see if Saddam Hussein will allow weapon inspectors to return to their work in Iraq. If not, missiles are aimed and ready---"

Audra screamed and buried her head in her mother's shoulder. Heath began looking around the automobile. Gene did likewise. Victoria leaned over the seat. "Who was that speaking?"

Jarrod, who had switched the knob back to its original position, said, "Dear lady, I haven't the faintest idea."

Nick roared with laughter. "Wait a minute! You people can't really be fooled that easily, can you?"

"And how is it that we're fooled, brother Nick?" inquired Jarrod.

"Don't you know that was Heath talkin'?" Nick continued to chuckle.

"That was the little man he said might jump out at us."

Audra lifted her head. "You mean it was a joke!"

"Boy howdy," proclaimed Heath. "I'd be on stage if I could do that. That wasn't me."

"Not you! Of course it was you!" Nick insisted, stubborn.

"Dear, I don't believe Heath is capable of sounding so much like someone else," Victoria stated. "Perhaps it was someone else."

"Oh dear!" Audra yelled. "Stop this thing, Nick! I want to get off, or out, or whatever you do."

Eugene took his turn at chuckling. "Audra, you are a big baby. I, for one, want to hear that voice again. Turn the knob, Jarrod."

Jarrod raised himself in the seat and spoke as if he was in the courtroom. "Family, are we all in agreement to try Gene's request?"

"No!" Audra shouted.

"No one got hurt," Heath rationalized. "I say try it again."

"Yea, give Heath another shot at throwin' his voice," Nick said, grouchy.

"I vote yes," Victoria concluded the round of opinions.

"All right, here goes," Jarrod told them, and once again twisted the knob. "Tomorrow, Ken Starr goes before the House Judiciary Committee to testify about his report on whether or not President Clinton has committed impeachable offenses. Of course, as you know, President Clinton has already admitted to having a sexual relationship off the oval office with intern Monica Lewinsky. The question before the judiciary committee is whether Mr. Clinton did, indeed, lie under oath in the Paula Jones case and, later, to a Washington grand jury. As the country prepares for possible war, Mr. Starr's appearance just adds more drama----"

Jarrod turned the knob once again. A prolonged silence was observed in the automobile.

Then, the Barkleys gave voice to their concerns.

"Oh my," Victoria began the round of opinions this time.

"What he said was, so, so, disgusting," said Audra, her nose turned up in the air.

Heath then took his turn. "Boy howdy, they sure do talk different these days."

"I dare say," offered Jarrod. "that was, indeed, startling, and I must say, a bit disgraceful."

Gene joined in. "My history professor says folks in this time will be a lot freer in their speech."

Nick spoke last. "Wait a minute! Never mind what he said! Who the hell and where the hell is the fella?"

"Well, he's not in there!" Heath proclaimed, pointing to the place where the sound seemed to be coming from. Jarrod nodded. "I agree, Heath."

"Is that a fact!" Nick roared. "You tellin' me that a man's voice is comin' out of that panel

there, and there's no man in there to talk?"

"I believe, Dear," said Victoria. "that is exactly the way of it."

Eugene's next words were quite predictable. "My history professor believes there will be many more ways to communicate in this time."

"Well, I don't like it," Audra announced. "Don't turn the knob again, Jarrod."

Jarrod waxed practical. "It just could be, young lady, that we should listen. Possibly, the man could and will be very informative about where we're going and what we'll find when we get there."

"Boy howdy, Jarrod, that's a stretch, don't you think?" Heath frowned.

"How would a fella who must be somewhere else completely, know where we're goin'?"

"There's only one way to find out. Pappy, turn the knob." This from Nick.

"The temperature in downtown L.A. is 84 degrees at this hour. And now for the traffic report.

All freeways in the area report moderate to heavy traffic. There's an accident---"

"Now, why'd you turn it off again?" Nick asked Jarrod. "The fella was about to tell us where there's been an accident."

"What sort of accident do you suppose he meant?" asked Audra. "And what's a freeway?"

"And where is this L.A. he speaks of?" Victoria added to the questioning.

Jarrod then spoke. "I turned it off because we are growing very confused, dear family, and I feel we'll do better without that confusion."

"Hey, here comes another automobile behind us!" Nick told them.

"And there's one up ahead!" Gene added, excited.

"There are two up ahead, I believe," Victoria said.

"Boy howdy, there must be a lot of these contraptions," Heath offered. "and they all must be on this road at the same time."

"Look, there's a sign alongside the road ahead of us," Gene informed. "What does it say?"

"You mean that green board way up there?" asked Nick.

Jarrod joined in. "I believe Gene is correct. The board has writing on it. When we get close we'll be able to read it."

"Hey, Nick, another one of these automobiles is goin' around us!" Heath yelled.

Audra, panicked again, turned to look out the back window, then looked out the side, then looked to the front. "Oh, we're surrounded by them! We'll all be killed!"

"Don't worry, Dear," Victoria soothed her daughter. "Nick has become quite proficient at driving. We'll be fine. We're nearly upon that sign now. Let's see, it says Los Angeles, 50."

"Los Angeles!" Nick shouted. "Why that's way down south of home!"

Gene had a question. "I wonder what the 50 means?"

Victoria leaned over the seat so those in the front could hear her. "I believe it means we have 50 miles to go before we arrive there."

"50 miles! Oh my!" This from Audra. "That will take a long time."

"Not at the speed we're goin', it won't," Heath gave them his opinion. "Just how fast are we goin', Nick?"

Nick puffed up. "Now how you reckon I'd know that, Heath?"

"It would stand to reason, brother Nick," Jarrod reflected, "that there would be some indicator."

"I'd sure like to know," Gene said.

"I wouldn't," Audra pouted. "It's too fast, that's for certain."

Victoria leaned over the front seat and pointed her finger at a panel just behind the steering wheel. "I've noticed that little arrow, or pointer, or whatever you might call it, keeps moving over those numbers. You don't suppose that is the speed indicator, do you?"

All five members of Victoria's family followed her pointing digit. They then gave various reactions to her theory, beginning with Heath. "Boy howdy, Mother, you know that just could be."

"My dear lady," Jarrod then said, "you have shown us your genius once again."

"If it's true what Mother says, then we're going 60 miles an hour." This from Eugene.

"Wait a minute!" Nick finally got a word in. "No contraption is built to go that fast!"

"There is a way to prove whether we're on the right track," Heath advised.

"Oh yea, how's that?" Nick wanted to know.

"Why, that is so easy, Dear," came Victoria's voice from the back seat.

"Just push on that pedal. If the little arrow or mark or whatever it is goes to a higher number, then it will indicate we've speeded up. If it---"

"Yea, yea," Nick growled, "I got ya, Mother. I'll let up and see what happens."

"Would you look at that?" Eugene's enthusiasm peeked again. "Mother, you were right! That arrow is falling back to the smaller numbers. Now, we're only going 40 miles an hour."

"Aint that somethin'?" Heath matched Gene's excited tone. "Hit that pedal, Nick! Take it back up to sixty, then see if it'll go faster."

Nick reacted typically. "Faster! Who'd want to go any faster?"

"I believe Gene and Heath would, brother Nick," Jarrod patiently explained. "And, I must admit, I, too, am somewhat interested in how fast this thing will go."

"Is that a fact?" Nick grinned. "You all want to go faster? Fine, we'll go faster!"

Stepping down with more force on the pedal that he had previously, Nick observed the guage which registered the speed move to higher and higher numbers. "Would you look at that!" the driver exclaimed with glee.

"Uh, Nick," Jarrod began, "perhaps, uh, now that you've demonstrated---"

"One hundred ten! We're goin' one hundred ten miles per hour! Boy howdy, now that's travelin'!" Heath announced.

Audra moaned, but no words from her were heard. Victoria wasn't so intimidated as to keep her counsel. She leaned over the seat. "Nick, Dear, your sister is near to fainting. Slow down, please."

"Ah, Mother!" Gene groused. "Audra will be all right. Keep going, Nick! You're catching up to all those automobiles that passed us."

"Gene's right, Nick," Heath agreed. "See if you can--what's that noise?"

Nick quickly let up on the pedal. "I hear it, Heath. I thought maybe it was comin' from this contraption, thought maybe it was complainin' about goin' so fast."

"It isn't a horse, Dear, it's an automobile," Victoria told Nick. "It can't complain."

"Anyway, family," Jarrod took up the conversaton. "The noise hasn't abetted."

"And it's not coming from this conveyance," said Gene.

"What is it, then?" Audra whined. "It's annoying. It has such a high pitch."

"Wait a minute!" Nick's voice boomed. "Wait a minute!"

"What is it, Dear?" asked Victoria.

"What's up, Nick?" questioned Heath.

"There's another automobile on our tail," Nick conveyed. "And it has a light on the top of it, a flashin' light, and I'd swear the noise is comin' from it!"

The entire Barkley family turned their heads to get a glimpse of what Nick was talking about. Comments were immediately plentiful.

"What do you suppose makes the color on that thing? And what makes it flash?" Eugene began the barrage of verbal wonder.

"Oh, it's beautiful!" Audra enthused. "But I hate that noise! Surely something so pretty couldn't be making it."

Victoria sounded in awe. "It is lovely. Maybe it's something new the driver has and only wants to show it off."

"You could be correct, pretty lady, but the automobile seems to be following us too closely. I'm wondering if that person sees a problem of some sort with this automobile, and that noise is a warning to us." This from Jarrod.

"Boy howdy, Nick, I'd be takin' off like a big bird if I were you,"

Heath advised. "I'd be scared to let a thing like that catch me."

"Is that a fact!" Nick reacted, loud. "Well, Heath, I agree with you. Hold on folks!"

With those words of advice, Nick pushed down on the pedal once again, and once again the vehicle responded. "Whoopie! If that crazy fella with his pretty light and his annoying whinny sound thinks he can catch me---"

"Brother Nick," Jarrod's calm yet stern voice cut in, "perhaps it would be wise to not go so fast. I dread to contemplate what might occur if you lost control of this, uh, automobile."

Heath, still looking back at the vehicle behind them, said, "Boy howdy, Nick, you've not pulled away from him a bit. He's stayin' right with you, maybe even gainin' ground."

Victoria leaned over the seat between Nick and Jarrod. "Nick, Dear, I must ask you to stop."

Nick took immediate exception to his mother's suggestion. "Stop! Why would I want to do that!"

"We can't escape that flashing colored thing and that noise by stoppin', Mother," Heath added his two cents worth.

"Audra has fainted," Victoria advised. "We must revive her. Now Nick,

I'm asking you to stop. If you don't---"

"I believe you shouldn't wait for Mother to tell you what she has in mind to do if you choose not to stop," Jarrod began a small speech directed at Nick.

"Pappy, you talk too much!" Nick growled. "I'm stoppin'."

Heath frowned. "Boy howdy, I knew Audra was nervous, but I didn't think she would faint."

"She's terribly pale," Gene said.

"Of course she's pale, Dear," Victoria told her youngest. "She's fainted."

Nick slowed the automobile. "I'll pull off the road, park alongside of it, let that maniac with the

light and the noise pass. Hey, wait a minute! He's stoppin' right behind us!"

"Well, at least it's a relief not to hear that dreadful noise any longer," Jarrod said.

"That's a fact," Nick agreed. "But what does he want?"

Victoria offered a possibility. "Perhaps he wants to help us with Audra."

"How would he know Audra's fainted?" Heath wondered.

"We'll soon find out," said Eugene, turned in his seat to observe the scene behind them. "The man is getting out, or off, of his automobile."

Nick, looking in the rearview mirror, said, "Hey, the fella's wearin' a badge!"

"Oh, how nice," Victoria spoke again, "the sheriff cn help us with Audra, in case we need to find a doctor."

"I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, family," said Jarrod, "but I doubt if the lawman is stopping to help us."

"Boy howdy, Jarrod," Heath frowned, "I think you're right. The man is coming toward us like a raging bull."

"Raging bull, huh!" Nick raved. "I've dealt with many a raging bull and I've dealt with many a sheriff. If the fella takes me on----"

Victoria leaned over the seat between Nick and Jarrod. "Nick, Dear, I believe the sheriff wants you to get off, or out, of the automobile. I believe he wants to speak to you. Be sure to tell him your sister has fainted dead away across my lap."

Gene peered at the man who had walked up and was now standing alongside the automobile next to Nick's door. "That is one tall man. I wouldn't give him any trouble if I were you, Nick."

"I believe, brother Nick, that our baby brother has offered good advice," Jarrod said.

"Is that a fact! Well, let me tell you people somethin'!" Nick growled. "I'm not afraid of him. Just stay put. I'll take care of it. Now, how do I open the door from this side?"

Suddenly, Audra set straight up on the back seat. "You pull that lever there," she began,

leaning over the seat now and pointing. "Pull it toward you, Nick, the door will open."

Despite the presense of the man wearing a badge, the Barkley family took their time dealing with him.

Each one stared at the recovered Audra. "My dear Sister," began Jarrod, "i'm so glad you are well."

"Boy howdy, Sis," offered Heath, "You gave us quite a scare."

"Scare!" Nick hooted. "I wasn't scared! I knew you'd be all right, Sis."

"I wasn't so sure," Gene said, serious. "You did look awfully pale."

Victoria was jubilant. "No matter. Do you feel all right now, Dear?"

"Yes, I'm fine," Audra answered, "but I do wish someone would talk to that mean man out there. Please, Nick, follow my instructions and open the door."

Without further discussion, Nick reached for the lever and pulled it.

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The door opened.

Swinging one of his long legs out, he set his left foot on the ground. Having kept his eyes downward while doing this, Nick was unaware of what his family could see so well.

"He's drawing on you, Nick!" Eugene yelled.

"Brother Nick, I do believe the man has been angered," said Jarrod. "Perhaps you should get back inside."

"Boy howdy, Nick, it looks like you could see he doesn't want you to get out," Heath announced.

"Perhaps I should speak to the man," Victoria added.

"He looks so mean!" Audra gave her opinion. "He's going to kill us all."

"Is that a fact!" Nick proclaimed. "We'll see about---"

"Get back in that car, Mister!" the tall man with the badge ordered. "I didn't ask you to get out!"

"What is a car?" Audra wondered.

"I don't know, Dear," Victoria replied. "Perhaps it's another name for an automobile."

Gene spoke up to explain. "My history professor says the people of this time will have all sorts of shortened names for things."

"Excuse me, family," Jarrod intervened, "but I really wonder if this isn't a very poor time to worry about that."

Using all of the charm he could muster, Nick smiled at the lawman.

"Sorry, Sheriff. I didn't realize you didn't want me to get out of this, uh, car did you call it?"

The man favored Nick with a sneer. "I'm not the sheriff, and yes, I want you back inside. Roll down your window, please."

The family Barkley stared. The man had offered up two startling and puzzling statements.

Nick, quickly returning to his seat behind the steering wheel, glanced at Jarrod as he did so.

"Pappy, what in tarnashin is that fella talkin' about?"

Jarrod shook his head. "Well, of course I don't know for certain, brother Nick, but it seems to me there is a logical explanation for his first statement."

"You mean, Jarrod, that a man can wear a badge now and not be the sheriff?" Heath asked.

"I know what you mean, Jarrod," came Gene's voice from the back seat. "He might well be just a deputy."

"That must be it," smiled Victoria. "He's a deputy."

Nick grinned, then scowled. "But how do you roll down the window?"

"Boy howdy, I haven't got the foggiest notion," offered Heath.

"I offer a possibility for your consideration," Jarrod said.

"What!" Nick growled impatiently.

Jarrod replied rapidly. "Ask the deputy."

"Is that a fact! Just show our ignorance to the fella, is that what you're suggestin', Pappy?" Nick groaned.

Victoria leaned over the seat between Nick and Jarrod. "And quite a good suggestion it is, Dear."

"Don't be so proud, Nick," Audra chimed in.

Heath waxed practical. "Don't have much to do with pride, I'd say. It has more to do with savin' our necks."

"Heath, I believe you are correct," Jarrod agreed. "Ask him, Nick."

Nick made a show of exasperation and turned to the man outside of the automobile. "We just got this contraption. To tell you the truth, deputy, we don't know how to open the window."

The lawman's eyes opened wide. The pistol in his hand raised to point directly at Nick.

"Mister, you are very close to arrest," said the man. "Now, roll down that window!"

"Oh my," Victoria said. "What a difficult man."

"Boy howdy," Heath shook his head, "I knew we should never have come here. This fella don't want to listen to reason at all. I'll just bet everybody nowadays is like him."

"Oh, I hope not," Audra whined.

"Now, now, family," Jarrod took over. "Let's not get too worked up. Allow me to take over, brother Nick. I'll talk to the fellow as a lawyer and get this problem sorted out."

"Is that a fact!" Nick reacted to his older brother. "All he wants is for me to roll down a window. Do you know how to do that, Pappy?"

Jarrod frowned. "No, but if you'll just allow me to get off, or out, I can try to explain to the man our dilemma."

"I'll open the door on this side, Jarrod," said Heath. "I'll let you get off, or out."

"No, Heath!" Audra screamed. "You'll be shot!"

Victoria leaned over the seat between Nick and Jarrod. "Nick, Dear, tell the man I would like to speak to him."

His manly pride offended, Nick turned to glare at his mother. "I can take care of this," he told her. "You stay in here. All of you stay in here."

"Nick, better let Mother handle it," Heath warned.

"Yes, Nick," Gene added, "maybe he'll have some respect for a lady."

Nick fumed, making it obvious he didn't like what he was about to do. "Oh, all right," he grumbled, then yelled at the lawman through the closed window. "My mother wants to talk to you, deputy!"

Upon hearing those words, the lawman jerked the door of the Barkley automobile open. "Get out! All of you! Slow and easy now! I'll shoot if any of you try anything!"

"Oh, he's going to kill us all!" Audra repeated her often stated warning. Victoria patted her daughter on the arm. "He just will find it easier to talk to us that way, Dear. Don't worry. Now, let's do as he says."

"Boy howdy, I wish---"

"We know, we know!" Nick bellowed. "You wish you hadn't come. Audra thinks we'll all be killed. Gene thinks his history professor is a genius, and--"

"And, brother Nick, I believe we should do as the gentleman says immediately," Jarrod interrupted his brother's tirade.

"Yea, yea, all right. Everybody out," Nick then agreed. "Slow and easy, like the fella said."

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And so the six Barkleys climbed out of the automobile. The lawman waited, gun in hand.

Glaring at them in an odd manner as they assembled in front of him, the fellow said, "Now, I don't know what you folks have been smokin', but I intend to find out.

First, you there, the driver, let me see your driver's license. Then I'll need to see the registration for the car, and then, I want the trunk opened."

Nick scowled and arched his brows, "Deputy---"

"I'm not a deputy, Mister. I'm a California state trooper, and you darn well know it. Now, your license please."

Audra turned to Victoria. "Mother, what are we going to do?"

Victoria patted the young woman's arm. "Don't worry, Dear, it will all work out. Perhaps Jarrod should be the one to speak for us, since he's a lawyer."

"Yea, Pappy," Nick muttered, "speak for us. Find out what this license is he wants."

The trooper looked about ready to explode. He spoke gruffly to Jarrod. "Are you really a lawyer, Mister? If you are, you should be ashamed of yourself."

"Ashamed!" Nick blared. "Jarrod doesn't have a thing to be ashamed of! He's one of the finest attorneys California has. Why, he's defended Senator Sparks---"

"Who?" the trooper interrupted.

"Senator Sparks!" Nick repeated the name. "Surely you've---oh---"

"Oh, indeed, brother Nick," Jarrod said. "This man wouldn't have heard of Sparks."

"Of course not," Audra offered sweetly. "That was a hundred and twenty years ago. He wouldn't know about Sparks."

Gene joined in. "My history professor says more names carry down through history in one way or another than we realize."

"Okay, folks, stop babbling!" the lawman ordered loudly, then looked directly at Nick. "Your driver's license, Sir!"

Victoria stepped forward. "May I say a word, uh, Trooper, is it?"

The man stared at the Barkley matriarch. "Make it snappy, Ma'am."

Nick moved quickly. "Don't be speakin' to my mother that way! Snappy, is it? Sounds dirty to me!"

"Boy howdy, Nick, take it easy," Heath warned his volatile brother. "I think he only wants Mother to hurry up with what she has to say."

The trooper's expression was one of total astonishment. "Uh, yea, that's what I meant. What is it you wanted to say, Ma'am?"

Victoria smiled. "Well, you see, Trooper, we are from a different time. We don't understand about opening windows and driver's licenses. Nick had never attempted to drive an automobile before today, none of us had ever seen one. You see, our time capsule just landed a little while ago and----"

The trooper gulped, stared, looked down at the gun in his hand, gulped again, stared some more, then said, "I shouldn't pay any attention to this nonsense, it can't be so, but---"

"But what, Trooper?" Jarrod probed. "Surely, you can tell that my mother is an honest woman, that she's telling the truth."

"Uh, yea, well, I saw that, or what looked like a capsule back there in the desert."

"Well then!" Nick enthused, "you know it's a fact what Mother said."

"Yea, well, if, uh, you'll go back, get in the capsule, and, uh----"

"We will, Trooper!" Victoria proclaimed. "We've surely enjoyed our visit, but I don't believe we want to live here. Do we, family?"

Jarrod agreed readily. "No, I believe we would be more comfortable in our own time."

Heath grinned broadly. "Boy howdy, I can't wait. It will be so good to see a horse again."

"And we'll be much safer," Audra added.

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Eugene frowned and appeared to be about to weep. "Well, you know I care about all of you, but I'd really like to stay here a while longer."

"Wait a minute, college boy!" Nick's booming voice resounded across the desert, as car after car zipped passed them now. "You mean to tell me you want to stay here and get caught up in this crazy world of 1998?"

Gene smiled. "Yes, Nick. You all have each other, and, well, I never have really fit in, so--"

Victoria stepped over to pat her youngest son on the arm. "We understand, Dear. Have a nice life."

"I'll, uh, give the boy a ride to L.A.," offered the trooper unexpectedly. "You folks go on back."

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And so it came to pass that the Barkleys returned to the capsule with the intent to travel back to 1878. All except Eugene, who embarked on a life in modern day California, becoming a history professor in Fullerton.

The End.

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