I know the ship is different because when I come back this time I am in agony. I feel like a rubber band that is being stretched and stretched over and over just to the point of breaking and then coming back and being stretched again that I seem to coalesce into Quarks and atoms and molecules and in so being am caught in a wind that blows inward. Something in me must be a closet entropy lover because I feel myself resisting even though the more I resist the more it hurts. It doesn’t matter because the next thing I know I am sitting in the ship breathing like i’d just run five miles. I am really tired this time and just sit there, semi comatose. The dash says that I am in Green Bay Wisconsin on July 15, 1965 about eleven in the morning and that I am over a quarter mile from 667 Sunset Circle, Lombardi’s address, the second house on the right if you turn off Riverside drive There’s even a tree just overhead. But there’s a problem. I’m not nearly as invisible as i thought.
The landing in France in 1790 had me in a swale that hid me from the street but there’s nothing like that here. Green Bay is right on the lake, and like Cleveland or Erie it is flat. The tree is the only cover there would be, and in winter there will be no leaves. There’d better be a lot of snow or theyd better have me in really effective camouflage clothing.
The thing is they are making this up as they go and making a lot of mistakes. If they’d had the time they would’ve developed the ship carefully and trained me carefully along with it, but there’s just not time and i am expendable once the job is done. Why not send two people and put them in a bigger ship?
But that’s immaterial.
When i open the cockpit there’s no mistaking that i am somewhere post industrial revolution, Mid TwenCen by the sound of traffic, but there’s an exciting difference. There are more people and more of everything. For some reason i’m aware that one death diminishes us all and i wonder why that never occurred to me in Brunswick, which is an utterly pathological place. It occurs to me to wonder about things i dont see in Brunswick that i should because of how fucked up it is. Things that should be conspicuous by their absence. You should see more alcoholism, suicide, domestic homicides, riots and demonstrations. I credit Dillon for that. He’s simply perfect for his job. And he was smart enough to let us have all the pills we want. Otherwise we would have torn each other to pieces long ago. We’d all be drunks. He seems to have a knack for raising morale, even to the silly ass idea of making the enlisted men wear uniforms.
He lets us be dopers like a pimp keeping his girls just good enough or numb enough they can work, but not zonked out of their heads. Called keeping them sweet. What do you think of gentlemen wearing mink? No, that song by Boz Scaggs wont come out for fifteen years. I am in a simpler, nicer time than that.
I chew and swallow some Vicodin and wait for them to work. When i look at the clock i see an hour has passed. It’s lunch time. I should have looked around for an hour, no more, and then come straight back. Fuck that. I open the canopy and get out and make the ship invisible. I know Lombardi is at work at Lambeau field and doesnt come home till midnight. I’ve heard his wife drank. Maybe that was the reason. I walk the half mile to the street and feel the lazy heat from the sun on my neck. In Brunswick at this time it would be over a hundred degrees.
I’d done enough research to know which bus to take downtown. Nobody pays any attention to me except a couple of guys in a car call me a faggot and keep going and it starts to hit me a little when i get off the bus and walk around that i am a stranger from another world in a dangerous time and might never get home. I can feel my eyes rolling up in my head and want to scream because i think i am dying, dying, losing my mind losing my mind and with a shock come out of it i am sitting on the sidewalk feeling like i’d just been hit in the head really hard. A few people just walk by until a guy with a big gut stops and shakes me and says Hey. Hey Buddy, what happened? RU alright?
Yeah, yeah, i say, my voice sounding very strange. I shake my head to clear it and say, It’s okay. Just got over the flu. I’m just a little dizzy.
You sure? He says, frowning.
Yeah, thanks for stopping, though.
I give him no opportunity to get more nosy. I just thank him again and get up and walk away. He does not follow. I eat half the Xanax the doctor had given me and keep walking. Finally the panic gives way to a kind of awe. This time in history. All these people are centuries dead in my time, but just look at them. Somebody has a thing called a transistor radio holding it up to his ear. It’s Gary Lewis and the Playboys singing Save Your Heart for Me, a big hit this summer. I love the song. Yes, he was Jerry Lewis’ son. The song was written by Gary Geld and Peter Udell and produced by Snuff Garret, who was behind a lot of hit singles. IDK if he did snuff or not or anything else about him. A lot of people have these things up to their ears. I hear Hold me Thrill Me Kiss Me by Mel Carter. God, the ambience of this place, the music, the attitude. Satisfaction came out this summer, a song i never liked, or the Rolling Stones either. Everybody seems so normal. And naturally i want so much to just stay here and let the world do what it will. I wonder why they didnt tell me to expect that either. The Time Police are not persnickety because they dont think it’s a big deal to tell somebody their future or leave behind artifacts that didnt exist then. One reason is they dont think it really matters much, but mainly because this has to done very soon or we’ll all be dead and fuck everything we gotta do this.
I walk into a drugstore that has a soda fountain and get a caffeine fix and look around. There’s a display of transistor radios and they’re cheap, thanks to the discovery of semiconductors in the fifties.
May i help you sir? Some old bag says and i wave her off. There are two controls, an off/on that controls a potentiometer and another that scans the AM band. FM wont be a big deal for years.
I turn to old bag and say, This one doesnt work.
She looks at me with pity and says, You need to buy some batteries for it.
Batteries, right, i say. Of course. To be sure.
I pay for it and put in the batteries and leave the store. It’s only about the size of a pack of cigarettes. A lot of people are smoking and it stinks. Smoking was still socially acceptable then. I walk and walk and take buses randomly and I notice it’s three o’clock and I am on Riverside Drive where the paper mill is. Lombardi used to pass this way on the way home from work about midnight and look over at the paper mill. Before I know it I have left the street and am walking into bracken on one of the few hills in Green Bay, down thru sedge and brush until I come to a bank just overlooking the river. When I get to this clearing I sit down and take off my shoes and socks and twiddle my toes and think, I don’t want to go back. Why didn’t they take that into account and warn me?
Maybe they didn’t want to put that idea in my head. Besides, Dillon knows me well enough that I will do a job and come back. And then comes a staggering contradiction. If I kill Lombardi like I am supposed to and if they are right about him being the key to whatever started the war none of this will have happened because there never will be a war or a time ship to come back. If that happens what will happen to me? Will I just materialize in South Georgia with no memory of any of this?
After staring at the mill I get sleepy until I hear something moving in the bracken. Squirrels, prob’ly. But it sounds too loud and too big to be a squirrel. Maybe somebody’s dog wandered off, and if that’s so somebody may come looking for it. I realize I may be trespassing and arm the taser Lincoln gave me. Suddenly i’m terrified. My heart is slamming in my chest and it’s all I can do to keep my hand from shaking. I aim the taser in the direction of the sound and a moment later I see human feet and somebody steps out of the bracken and sees me and makes a dead stop ten feet from me.