Sealed With a Kiss 8

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.

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Sealed With a Kiss 7

The doctor that had told Dillon I was okay to let out of four point restraint turns out to look fortyish.  I guess I really was sick from 18th Century staph.  She’s showing entirely too much cleavage for a professional, and to my annoyance I cant stop my eyes from creeping back there.

You realize, Colonel, what a shock it will be.

Going back?  Why?  I went back centuries and barely got away from a crazy mob.

Because you only had time to react.  That’s why you never got hit with it.  Do you understand?

I’m not sure I do.

I apologize you weren’t mentally prepared for that.  That’s our fault.

All I was going to do was walk around for ten minutes.

This time you are going into that world and it will be like nothing you have done.  When it hits you it will be devastating because you don’t think about it so you don’t expect it.  I understand you collect old movies and like early nineteen sixties music but looking at a movie isn’t the same.  The looks, the sounds, the smells will all hit you at once.

That’s okay.  Last time it was blood and corpses.  How bad can it be in the summer of ’65 in Green Bay?

It’s not bad, just more alien than anything you could imagine.  Your orders are to walk around for no more than an hour and immediately return.  Don’t talk to anyone if you can help it.  If you feel funny and start having a panic attack, just take some Xanax.

She gets a fruit jar of white pills, takes a handful and swallows them, then hands me one pill.

Is that all I get?

It doesn’t matter if I fall asleep here but if you do it could get you killed.  Here, she says.  Take one more if you feel sick.  Here.

So I didn’t have time to absorb it.

No, but this time you’ll probably have a panic attack.  Do you have enough Vicodin?  She says.

Sure.  Of course Vicodin didn’t exist in 1965, but neither did Xanax.

Try to just fit in and not draw attention.  Be good.

Oh, i’m always good, I say, getting up and walking out.  I’m glad to leave.  This woman is giving me the creeps and it’s not because she’s a bigger dope head than I am.

 

So the Marshall is giving me a weapon, finally, I say with fatigue.

Yes, says Sargeant  Lincoln.   Military grade Taser.  You ever use one like this?

More than once. I say, checking the weapon out.  Of course this wouldn’t have helped me the last time.

Sir, don’t let that get into your head.  That was a mob.  You’re going into a nice, quiet, lily white Midwestern town.

Lincoln, What’s your full name?

Washington Jefferson Roosevelt Kennedy Lincoln, Colonel.

I must be insane, I mutter.  This isn’t happening.  I must be insane.

Sir?

Oh, nothing.  The more things change the more they stay the same.

 

The ship looks a little smaller, I notice, as I walk into the hangar.  There’s a big blue circle painted on the floor that no one but Hoggins, Linclon, Marshall Dillon, and I can go into.  The effect this time is greater.  It’s all the people.  This place looks like an old surgical ampitheater with everyone milling around.  Underneath the ship on the next floor is a monstrous man made lake to handle the momentum exchange and absorb the heat when the ship comes back.

Why, I ask myself, do we all hate each other so much?  We hate each other yet the way they’re looking at me is like they want me to save them.  And I could spend hours or days back then but from their standpoint I will only have been gone for about thirty seconds.  If I come back at all.

But my clothes look just like everybody’s on the old Zapruder film.  The girl that did these clothes thought that the pants she gave me had to be flares and I got into a silly ass time wasting argument when I told her flares wouldn’t come out for several years after.  Finally I ended up in a pair of Levi jeans that look medieval and an olive drab t shirt.  Then she told me she had orders to cut my hair since men never wore shoulder length hair in ’65.  We compromised and I end up with an early Beatles haircut and it makes me feel vulnerable and naked.  Out of sheer perversity i insisted she let me have enough hair to cover my ears because they got cold at night.  That’s how it was when i left her.  She was one pissed off little bitch.

The cockpit looks very different and mustve had a complete makeover.  There’s a digital readout that will tell me where and when i am so when i come out of whatever i am going thru to get there and back i’ll  know where/when i am.  Hoggins’ readout must have to correct for all kinds of time dilation effects.

Oh.  One thing the little bitch had refused to compromise on was that i had to wear was the Buddy Holly/Roy Orbison glasses.  I see Hoggins looking at me with contempt and i go over to talk to him.

What’s with the glasses?  He says, scowling.

So we’ll look like twin faggots i guess, i say quietly.  The ship looks better but that could be my wishful thinking.

The ship is different, he says.

What happened last time?  I say sharply.

Depends on what you want to believe, Chones.  Either i sabotaged the ship or a flux capacitor blew up.

A capacitor, huh?  I say.

Yes a capacitor is…

I know what a capacitor is.  A bunch of metal plates to hold and discharge electricity.  Did you every see a 1984 movie called Back to the Future?

Never heard of it, he says.  You don’t believe i tried to kill you, then.

No.  There would have been no future in that.

You ready?

Yes, i say, I’m ready.

As i walk to the ship and think how different the attitudes mustve been when John Glenn went up and came back alive.  Lincoln helps me get in the ship and i ask Hoggins about the canopy.   He tells me it will close whenever i want it to but i still have to sing.

You’re such a jackass, i say to him.  Marshall Dillon walks over and Hoggins steps back.  Dillon’s Sadaam Hussein mustache looks scary and ugly, like a big fat caterpillar ready to turn into a moth that will eat the world.  Dillon looks at me and says calmly, May Allah grant you mercy all your days.

I’m too nervous to share our private joke but i manage to say, God is great in Arabic.  He smiles and steps back.  Hoggins waddles over to the ship and puts a big fat hand on the control that closes the cockpit.  He smirks and the smirk turns into an evil grin.

You gotta sing first, he says.

You didn’t change that?  Goddamn you.  Alright.

Second verse this time, he says.

Snickers run thru the sea of assholes that are watching.  The more they think they need me the more they hate me.

I manage to to struggle thru…

Yes it’s gonna be a cold, lonely summer

But i’ll fill the emptiness.

I’ll send you all my dreams

Every day in a letter

Sealed with a kiss.

Bon voyage, Hoggins says, and hits the control that closes the cockpit.  After he’s clear of the circle i exhale and push the stick forward and myself into yesterday.

 

Sealed With a Kiss 6

I come awake suddenly from an execrable nightmare. The light is seeping from the curtains and i realize i’m in a private room in the infirmary.  I start to get up but find i am in four point restraints.  I yell and cuss until this black boy about 20 looks in the door.  I am enraged and say, Come here, you fucking coon.  Get me out of these fuckin straps.

His face is calm and placid.  I cant do that, sir.  Marshall Dillon’s orders.

Why?

Because he was afraid you might kill Dr. Hoggins, sir.  I cant let you out until a doctor sees you, at least.

Why didnt Hoggins just take a week off?

I suppose that there’s not much of anywhere to go, sir.

You got that right and there’s less of it every day. He’s probly hiding under his desk pissing his pants right now.  I…i’m sorry about what i called you.  I never do that.  And if i was loose and i saw Hoggins i probably would kill him.

I squint in the semi darkness.  I see this kid has a Sargent’s stripes and a black beret and even a name tag like a good little Walmart checkout boy.  He is apparently Sargent Lincoln.

Since when do we wear uniforms, Lincoln?

Enlisted men wear them now.  It was the Marshal’s idea.  I believe he thinks it would be better for morale.  For officers it is optional.

Dillon can be the goddamndest optimist sometimes, i say.

Would the Colonel like for me to get the doctor?

Yes, please.  And i am so, so sorry.  He nods and smiles with the barest upturn of the mouth that says, Fuck you sir.

The pain in my shoulder is indescribable, the cut on my palm stings like a jellyfish got me.  It’s obviously infected and i see they’re giving me Vancomycin along with a saline drip.  They had Staph in the eighteenth century but no resistant Staph because there were no antibiotics for bugs to develop plasmid mediated resistance.   A woman who looks twelve years old finally comes in and i start to tell her my shoulder hurts but she brushes by me and puts something the intravenous drip that makes the pain go away and the world look like a beautiful place.  Whatever’s in there makes Vicodin look like nothing.  It makes sense, since we are all hooked anyway.  I just avoid telling her that i love her.

That feel better, Colonel?

Yes, Doctor, thank you.  Now could you let me out of these restraints.

She says, Well, that depends on you, sir.

She asks me a bunch of questions that sound like pop psychology and i try to give her the answers she needs to hear.  Finally she says, Sir it’s okay with me but the Marshall insists on seeing you first before we let you up.

I  would expect no less from his excellency.  Please tell him i’m ready to see him.

The Marshall comes in five minutes and says to Lincoln, Get him out of those.  Colonel, go to your quarters and shower and shave and eat something.  Then come to my office.

 

How is Hoggins?  I say when i sit down in front of Dillon’s desk.

He’s okay.  His throat’s a little sore..

Good, i say grimly.

Why did you attack him?

Because i believe he intentionally sent me to Paris during the worst part of the reign of terror.  I was chased by a bunch of -Jacobins, i think, and nearly didnt make it back.  I had to sing that fuckin song before the canopy would close.  The flesh and the sword with it should be of some interest to Hoggins and his people.

They have already carbon dated it.  I believe it was 1790 plus or minus ten years.  You are the first human to ever go back in time and return alive.  Congratulations.  Now tell me everything that happened.

I give a very cold blooded, deliberate account of what happened to best of my memory.  When i have told him everything he turns to his side and stares out a window looking out on the swamp and some palm trees.  We are both silent for a long time.  Finally he says, you thought the terrain looked very much the area around the Lombardi house.

It looked enough like it to convince me.  It was the smell that gave it away.  I should have come right back.

No.  You did exactly what you should have done.

Because i’m a good soldier?  I say with irony.

His eyes are piercing as he says, soldier my fat ass.  You’re worthless as a soldier.  You have trouble with authority and do not work well with others.  You’re not a soldier.  You’re an assassin.  The best i’ve ever known.

Have you ever seen me intentionally kill somebody?

I dont have to, Chones.  It’s in your eyes.  They look dead.  Like a stone killer.

You mean the way Charles Bronson’s eyes looked?

Who the fuck is Charles Bronson?  He says irritably.  I had to make you at least a full bird Colonel so youd have the rank and authority of a flag officer to do your job, which is to kill somebody with cold detachment.

Yessir.

Tell me, Chones.  Do you really believe Hoggins intentionally sent you out to be killed?

I considered the possibility.

And.?

I sigh and say, No.  It wouldnt serve any purpose no matter how much he hated me.  I guess i should apologize to him.

He waves off that remark and says, apologize or not.  It will be as Allah wills.

My mouth falls open and he laughs until he coughs.   Ahhh…the look on your face.  I dont pray to any god either.  It’s just that centuries after 9/11 people here still think it’s an obscenity.  It is not.  It’s merely one of the many names of god, one that i find particularly soothing to  speak and hear.  Are you ready to go back?

Back to my quarters?

No, you idiot.  Back to Green Bay in 1965.

Sure.  Why not, i say.

Dillon gets out a half empty bottle of bourbon that look as old as the arm i brought back.  He pours himself a shot glass and offers me some.  I make a face and say, No thank you.

Oh, that’s right.  You dont drink.  Why is that?

Because it makes me sick.  Gives me a headache.

He lights a cigarette and gestures to me that this interview  is done.

They’ll kill you, Marshall.

What’s that?

Those cigarettes, sir.  They’ll kill you.

Sealed With a Kiss 5

Note to readers:  I am writing this fast to keep my mind occupied, so it’s rougher and error prone in a way i’m usually not.  I had to write something or go crazy.  I had a project in mind called Archpriest, set in the 14 th century but that time was so ugly and miserable I just couldn’t.  Besides, idk enough about the fourteenth century history or Roman Catholocism to do it.

So instead of writing about an ugly, miserable time a I write about a terrifying time set in the future.  IDK if that’s better, but at least they didn’t believe the earth was at the center of the universe.

The structure is getting complicated because with as romantic a title as this, I gotta give my readers a great romance.   It wont be like Dana and Erik, but it’ll be  just as good.  I’m trying to write this so all the good guys win, for once but idk if it’ll work.  If somebody doesn’t die in a story with any real romance to it, it seems,well ersatz and schmaltzy.  I guess you need to remember that love and sex don’t exist for our pleasure and edification but to keep making babies so that our species survives.  That’s the nature of evolution.  It doesn’t care what we want or feel like.  It feels as good as it does only to ensure species survival.  But i’m giving away too much.  I love your comments.  They help me keep writing.

 

When I disintegrate it doesn’t really hurt but when I am reassembled it hurt like hell and I will have a headache for days.  I have no subjective sense of the passing of time and am unconscious until I am completely reassembled.  I wonder if when I was vaporized I was dead and came back to life.  A good question to dog Hoggins with, since he’s such a red hot Catholic.

There’s a catch beside my knee that opens the canopy and I pull it and sit there for a few moments.  It’s about the middle of the day, judging by where the sun is in the summer, which it is here.  It’s mild and in the 80s.  I’m by a tree at the bottom of the hollow and it looks like i’m close to Lombardi’s house but I know immediately something’s wrong, bad wrong.  If I weren’t such an ignorant bastard I would have gone right back but I have a job to save the world and I cant get it done by being a pussy.

So I get out, enable the force field and cloaking device and make sure I have Hoggin’s remote switch.  Some kind of module, whatever that is, Hoggins had called it.   Something is horribly wrong.  It’s because of how this place smells.  It’s not like a stinking paper mill or anything associated with the post Industrial revolution.  There’s lot of horse shit in the air but I could have mistakenly landed in somebody’s horse farm.  But it’s like the reeking of dead, rotting flesh, a lot of it.  But what really scares me is the unmistakable metallic smell of blood.  Finally, there’s no petrochemical smell of exhaust and I don’t hear any cars.  Just the singing of birds.  It’s too damned quiet and it stinks.

I climb out of the hollow and what I see could be a Renaissance festival except for the blood.  And the tumbrils, the carts of corpses like Dickens wrote about in A Tale of Two Cities.  Oh, god, the blood everywhere.  I almost soak my pants when I see this jag-off who looks like Errol Flynn playing Robin Hood walking toward me.  I have no idea when I am but it’s a long way from Green Bay.  My clothes would have been acceptable in 1965 but…

Then the jag-off says, Bonjour, Citizen. And that means the worst of all possible worlds.  If he’d said, Bonjour, Monsieur, that wouldnt be as big a deal.  But I know from him calling me Citizen that I have come to the worst part of the French Revolution after the radical Jacobins took over and started murdering everybody.  For all I know i’m talking to Robespierre himself.

Bonjour, Citizen, he says louder and cocks an eyebrow at my attire.

Uh, uh…Bonjour, Citizen.  Comment allez-vous?

Comme ci comme ca, he says with a shrug.  I am almost at the limit of my knowledge of French, which is not my favorite language

Venez avec moi, he says and points to the mob behind him.  He wants me to go with him, and there’s no way I can let that happen.  I know better than to turn my back on these hyenas.  I take a few slow, tentative steps backward, then pivot and haul ass.  Someone knocks me down and is lifting his foot to stop me when I kick him in the balls with my New Balance Cross Trainer, do a shoulder roll and run like hell.  I am going downhill and accelerating but I start giving out.  They are gaining on me but at least they’re still  behind me and I can only run this fast by putting in my head the picture of my hands around the neck of Willem Defoe Hoggins, Ph.D. in physics from the U of T.

The implant saves my life.  I don’t see the ship but sense where it is.  In no time I deactivate the shield and cloaking device and get in but the canopy wont close until I sing that song and I just don’t think I have time.  A big rock hits my shoulder and I feel a swordblade cut my palm and it’ll probably go septic but the canopy finally closes when I am thru singing.  The canopy severs the arm with the sword and it lands in my lap.  I push the stick forward and disintegrate again.

 

The seething migraine i have is bad but i  open the canopy and it looks like everybody in Brunswick is here, not just Hoggins and his people.  Dillon helps me out and asks questions that i ignore while  I get out and walk it off.  My palm is still bleeding.  When I see Hoggins I yell at him , HEY YOU. YES YOU HOGGINS YOU COCKSUCKER.  COME HERE. I GOTTA TALK TO YOU. I stand there and he walks over looking puzzled.  Then I wrap my hands around his throat and we go to the  floor and five gorillas try to separate us.  Then i feel the stick of a needle in my neck and that’s all.

 

Sealed With a Kiss 4

In a hangar-idk what else to call it is Hoggins’ Time ship.  It’s nothing like what I expected.  It looks like a go kart with a big metal hot dog over it, and a tiny, cramped seat inside with confusing controls.

That’s it?  I say in disgust.

What did you expect?  A tank?

Woulda been nice, I say.  I don’t believe it even works.

Let me show you, he says.  He pulls something the size of a remote from his pocket.  Watch, he says.

A pale luminous blue glow starts mid ship and spreads fore and aft until the ship is covered.

This can stand the force of a tactical nuke from ten feet away, he says proudly.

Force field?  I say.

Watch this, he says.  He pushes a button and the entire ship disappears.  I go to touch it but it isn’t even there.

Now i’m impressed.  A Romulan cloaking device.

A what?  He says.

You just made it go away.  What if I need it quick?

I designed it so that it slips into sidestream to protect it.

But what if I need it fast?

Give me your hand, he says with annoyance, he says, and sticks a needle into my thumb.

What was that for?

You cant lose the ship.  It’ll come back when you’re ten yards away.

He presses another button and I feel a slight breeze as if something passed by.

It came back to me?

Yes, he says.  I wanted to make it so that you could make it materialize instantly if you got in trouble far away and you needed it somewhere else but there wasn’t time.   If you put a finger into the ship’s orifice there you’ll deactivate the cloaking device.

And where on an invisible ship can I find an orifice?

It’ll find you, he says.  Put your finger anywhere.

I jam my forefinger in the direction of where the ship should be and the cloaking device peels away leaving the blue glow.  Instinctively I put my finger where it was and the blue glow disappears.

That’s some impressive technology, Hoggins, I say.  But why not have one finger thrust deactivate both?

I thought…never mind.

You mean you didn’t think until I just now made you?

Yes, Chones.  The controls are easy enough.  If there’s any doubt the default settings will just bring it back here where and when it just left from our standpoint.

Controls?  I say, sticking my head under where a steering wheel should be.

You can set them for a different time and place but you shouldn’t have to.  Defaults all go back here.  There’s a joy stick you push forward and press a button on top of it and you’re in Green Bay Wisconsin in 1965.

That’s all?

Your retina will be scanned automatically as soon as you get in.  And you have to sing.

Sing?  Sing what?

Sealed with a kiss.

You son of a bitch.

Relax, Colonel.  Only the first verse.  If anybody else tries it, it will explode and flatten a city block.  You don’t have to sing the whole song and you don’t have to be on key.   But it has to be your voice and it has to be the right words.

I never realized before that he is a sadist and a sociopath.

Dillon insisted, Hoggins says.

I don’t believe you.  Only a silly bastard like you would do something like this.  Did you ever have a history of errors or human factors course, Hoggins?

Only a degree in Physics from Tennessee.  He says.  Where did you…

Georgia Tech, I say.

Yellow Jackets?

And to hell with the University of Georgia.  Where did you get the power for this…

There’s a small fission reactor in an old brick building at the edge of the swamp.  If you try to get in without the right key you’ll be electrocuted.  There’s enough power for the whole city for two hundred years but Dillon’s such a pussy he wont use it.  At least this way it can do something besides destroy.

You mean there’s fissionable Plutonium in that thing?  I say.

Don’t  worry.  It’s more than adequately shielded.

IDC.  If this is life who needs it?  How about a quick trip Green Bay in the summer of ’65 and back.  I’ll walk around a little bit and see how the target area looks ?  There and back in ten.

Hoggins twists his mouth and says, sure.  Your documents are in a sheath under the dash.

Do i need documents?   65 Style documents?

If you do anything more than kill him.

No weapons?

Absolutely not.  I know if you have one you’ll just kill him now.

You’re right.  I probably would.  You know, Hoggins, you always look so much like Isaac Asimov I cant get over it.

Who’s that?

The greatest scyfy writer of all time.

Hoggins smirks and says, I guess if he were here he’d know how to clean up the radiation.

No, Hoggins.  He wouldn’t have to.  If he’d been at the switch the day it happened it never would have happened.

Hoggins laughs condescendingly and says, You admire this Asimov.  There’s a side of you I’ve never seen.  You have heroes.  I thought your only hero was yourself.

That’s you you’re describing Hoggins.  Not me.

I get in the thing and it automatically powers up.  Hoggins grins an evil grin and says, Let’s hear it!

I don’t want to say goodbye for the summer

But darling I promise you this

I’ll send all my love every day in a letter

And seal it with a kiss

A canopy appears and when  I  push the stick forward I feel every particle in me disintegrate.

Sealed With a Kiss 3

Hoggins and I shuffle out of the conference room, both in foul moods.  I was in a good one until this idiocy started.  And I am so glad we don’t have to wear uniforms.  We only have a Velcro pocket to reveal a badge that says, Police.  Ours are bigger and dark gold.  People don’t know the difference except we’re the only cops that matter.

They sure do hate us whiteys, don’t they?  Hoggins says in the gloomy hall light.

Can you blame them?  I say.  He says nothing until we walk down to his cluttered office at the asshole end of this building.  We sit down and he offers me Vicodin.  I chew a couple and swallow.  We’re all on it, every single one of us, because there’s no reason not to.  Without it we’d have gone insane long ago.

Hoggins says, i’m supposed to brief you, wringing his hands.

OK, I say.  Pretty soon i’ll be high and wishing I was home listening to Gregorian chants.

I apologize for calling you a Neanderthal back there.  You’re the only one that has any conception of science.  It’s just a high school physics level, but that helps a little.

A screen comes on that expands into a three dimensional hologram.  A blue line appears and snakes into purely random movement until it turns red and bursts into violent, chaotic, turbulent mess.

May you live in interesting times, I say.

Hoggins looks surprised.  I say, mathists call it a pathological curve.  We’re looking at events since just before the beginning of the war?

Yes, he says.  There are others in history.

Like when Guttenburg set his presses going so Luther could finally break the choke hold the Roman Church had on Europe?

Yes, Jim, and thanks for remembering i’m Catholic.

Fuck you, I say.  Get on with this.

He touches something on his desk and something similar to what had been there appeared.  Not identical, but it obviously represented something very like it.

What’s this, I say lazily, smiling and stretching like a dope fiend.

This, he says, is where it started right at the end of the red line.  It’s the 1960s.

Ha!  There’s just something about that time.

Everyone from that time, of course, has been dead for centuries, but it never loses its appeal.  The music, the fashions.  And at its heart is something that destroyed almost everything.

Why Lombardi?  I say.  What’d he do?

IDK, he says.

I am losing my temper.

According to Hugh Everett’s physics, the universe is constantly splitting off.  Kennedy gets shot here, in that other one he doesn’t, I say.

Yeah but he’s not the center of this shitstorm, Hoggins says.  It’s Lombardi.

How can you know that?  Heisenberg’s Uncertainty principle…

There’s a way around that.

Just assuming I believe you, does it matter when I hit Lombardi?

Yes.  It has to be the morning of the game before he leaves home.

You’re making all this shit up, I say angrily.  Because you’re pissed off and you’re scared and you don’t want to die anymore than anybody else.

No.  I’m taking a lot for granted but…

What are the odds?  About the same as me hitting a home run at Yankee Stadium?

Close, he says.

Well, I say.  That’s been done before.

 

Sealed With A Kiss 2

I am uneasy as I realize i’m the only white man in the room and that they believed we started the war to kill them and that we believed a crazy nigger in the control room fell asleep.  And I cannot stop laughing.

Hey Marshall, I say.  While you’re at it why not go back and stop Kennedy’s murder?

They would’ve gotten him next stop.  Besides, we don’t know who the other shooter was.

Flood the area with agents that look like old women.  Vaporize anyone that even looks funny.

That’s the trouble with this, Chones.  It would start a cascade that couldn’t be…

Hoisted on your own Picard, Marshall, I say.  It wont  work, I say quietly.  Not with what we have now.

The Marshall stands up and says, If we wait any longer there wont be anything to save.  That radiation could be here in as little as a hundred years.

IDC, I say.

Because you don’t have children, you son of a bitch?

Because it’s going to find a way to kill us anyway, I say respectfully.

Marshall Dillon of the Time Police gets on an archaic microphone and calls a mathist named Hoggins into the room.  He starts talking fifth order integrals until Dillon shuts him up.

Explain it to me, Hoggins, I say.  As he looks at me thru his Roy Orbison Glasses he gives a fair qualitative description that sounds plausible.

Hoggins, do we have any more certainty of success than the Dallas 63 scenario?  I ask.

He looks down and says, no, Colonel.  In fact there’s less.

Why this, then?  Why now?

Because as I have been trying to explain to you Neanderthals that it’s the last decent chance we have.  In a hundred years we’ll all be dead. We have to try.

That makes everything else immaterial.  Thank you Hoggins, I say.