To say that Johnny was distracted and bothered would have been a drastic understatement.
It wasn't the overcrowded Sydney International Airport or the constant jostling and bumping of the crowd that was bothering Johnny Smith. It also wasn't the sudden flashes and overwhelming visions – images of the past, of the present, of the future, private snapshots from the lives of others and things that he shouldn't be privy to – that was bothering him either. The latter wasn't bothering him because there were no flashes of visions or psychic knowledge and it was precisely that lack of extra-sensory perception that had Johnny in his current state of agitation.
Normally, Johnny was relieved for a respite from the visions. He took it in stride and accepted it as a welcome vacation from the everyday burden that he carried, but today the lack of visions was more of a burden than the visions themselves ever had been.
The most disturbing part of all was that they had simply stopped right in the middle of a vision. One moment, he'd brushed up against a flight attendant and was suddenly submerged in the midst of what could only be a plane crash – and then there was nothing. The vision cut off as abruptly as it had started, and the only thing Johnny had done was get security called on him by his pursuit and "assault" on the attendant.
"I swear man, you have got to find a better way of going about these things," Bruce Lewis, Johnny's former physical therapist and currently best friend, shook his head. The words were soft, the look that accompanied them a little bit more than annoyed.
"I know what I saw, Bruce." Johnny gestured with his hand, pushing it forward to make the point, still unused to not having a cane to thump against the floor for emphasis. "There's going to be a plane –"
"Don't, Johnny. Don't." Bruce stopped and held up a hand in warning. He leaned in close, his voice and words carrying an edge warning, "Don't you get it? In this day and age, you don't want to say anything aloud about any planes unless you can back it up and prove that you aren't behind it."
"You don't believe me." It wasn't really a question as much as it was a challenge. The pause was too long and it was answer enough. Johnny cut off his friend's response with a disgusted jerk of his head. "You know, you're supposed to back me up on this. You're supposed to be the one always ready to encourage people to believe me."
"That's at home, John, man. When in we're back in our little corner of New England, happy as can be and everybody knows that when Johnny Smith sees something you damn well better take it seriously. But we're not home, we're nowhere near home, and these cops down under aren't playing games."
Bruce paused and took a breath, his features softening into the understanding and consideration that Johnny was more accustomed to seeing. "But, if you really did see something, why can't you see it anymore? Why can't you focus in on it? Why is it gone?"
Johnny shoved his hands in his pockets, unnecessarily flinching as a group of people chatting animatedly brushed past him. In their wake, they left nothing. No visions and no impressions. He stared helplessly after them, his unsettled feeling growing stronger.
". . . All I'm saying is that maybe you're just a little nervous about this flight and you're channeling it into something else."
Johnny abruptly returned his attention to Bruce, feeling guilty for having drifted off and missing half of the other man's words. "I didn't imagine it."
"But you didn't see it again. You made that flight attendant think you were some kind of freak stalker, but you didn't see anything else no matter how much you – touched her."
"If you had let me tell them about what I saw –"
"Uh uh. I was not going to let you go on about some," Bruce lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper, "crash that you only saw once, that you can't get a fix on and that we can't prove. You're just lucky that we got out of there because they were too worried about that Middle Eastern guy."
"And you told them that I had a severe paranoia regarding flying and that I hadn't had my sedative yet," Johnny pointed out.
"Whatever works, John, whatever works."
"I know what I saw, Bruce."
"All right. Fine. Give me a flight number, give me an airline, give me a description of the passengers. Give me anything that will prove you right or wrong and save lives and I'll even spend the night in lockup with you. You know that."
For a moment the two men stared at one another over the distance of a couple of feet, but Johnny felt like there was a chasm between them.
"What if I told you that I don't sense anything? I'm not getting any visions. Not since I touched that flight attendant. The last time something like this happened . . ." Johnny trailed off letting the rest remain unsaid. He hoped that Bruce would read between the lines.
Bruce sighed, and did not disappoint. "One time you passed out. One time you freaked out a whole plane of passengers and a couple of flight attendants. I hate to be devil's advocate, John, but maybe you did see what you think you saw. And maybe the reason that you can't see it – or anything else anymore – is because you can't change it. You know that some things just aren't meant to be changed. Even with your dead zone."
"I was afraid you were going to say that." Johnny closed his eyes and rocked on his heels. He tried desperately one last time to call up the vision from the flight attendant so that he could freeze it in his mind and examine it, but it was like grasping at air. The vision was a phantom that he could not capture again. He opened his eyes and focused on his friend again, "I just wish –"
"Johnny, you can't save the whole world. You're not meant to, remember?" Bruce swung his shoulder bag to his other shoulder. "Come on, Gate 23 is right up there. I for one can't wait to get in the air and get back home again. And I swear to God, John, man, if you ever drag me to one of these brain power psychic convention things halfway around the world –"
Despite the heaviness he felt, Johnny actually gave a half laugh. "Yeah, that was pretty much a bust. They didn't like me very much, did they?"
"Maybe that was because you showed them all what big frauds they were. You know you could have held back a little."
Johnny felt his smile widen as he fell into step beside Bruce. "What fun would that have been?"
John Smith moved through the crowd, the flow and ebb of people around him never calling forth a single vision. He wondered if what Bruce said was true, if maybe he wasn't meant to stop whatever was going to happen.
He wondered if it would make a difference if he could have at least tried.
- End -