The Twenty Second, Conclusion

Chance favors the prepared mind…   Louis Pasteur

I dont have long to wait.  Oswald enters the room furtively and looks around.  He has a case in his hand and i have to assume that there’s not a guitar inside.  I’m ready and step out quietly behind him and break his neck quietly and that is that.

Even though i’m still weak from the cancer treatment i dont have much trouble dragging him behind the book crates.  He doesnt weigh very much.

This is an empirical exercise.  In history after Oswald fires those shots a Secret Service agent will pull out an AR-15 and look up toward this window and when the driver who also hears the shots will floor the accelerator that will force the agent to pull the trigger involuntarily and kill the president.  Whether you believe it really was an accident or a cleverly designed hit is an unknown.  Or it will be for a few more minutes.  Without the shots from this window there will be no need for the accidental shot and no assassination.  Or there will be a shot from a hypothetical shooter from the grassy knoll that will hit Kennedy in the head in front.

There is still plenty of time to see what what will happen, or so i am thinking until i hear someone walk in.  I have to control myself.  It could be just some poor guy coming in here for some privacy to jack off.

It’s not.  It’s Marshall Dillon, head of the Time Police.  I hardly recognize him without his Joe Stalin mustache and in jeans and a t-shirt.  He walks halfway to the window and stops.  Then he says, Colonel Chones, come out.  I know you’re here.  Do you have a weapon aimed at me?

What do you think, Marshall?  I say quietly.

Dillon doesnt jump when he hears my voice.  He is very well trained.  He says, Then either shoot me right now or come out and talk to me.

I emerge from the stack of book crates and he turns and regards me without expression.  Then he says, You have something i want.

You mean the ship, i say.

Goddamn right i mean the ship.

If you try to take it by yourself i’ll destroy it.

You wouldnt dare!  Strand yourself in this horrible time.

Try me, i say coldly.

Dillon walks slowly to the open window and sits down.  There is no screen and i wonder how safe he feels there where the crime of the Twentieth Century is supposed to happen.

You killed Oswald, didnt you?  He says, watching my eyes.

Yeah.  So what?  You said there were no time paradoxes.

Evidently i spoke too soon.  Changing the outcome of a football game prevented WW III.  What will this change, good or bad?  We just dont know.

If i come back you’ll kill me, i say.

Take that chance, Colonel.  Would you rather stay here?

The motorcade is approaching Dealy Plaza right now.

I look at him and he looks at me.  And a golden moment of perception transpires.  I remember a chemistry final at Georgia Tech.  An impossibly complicated problem involving Liter/Mole/Atmosphere/Joules and the Ideal Gas Law.  Then in a flash i saw a path thru that wilderness that i knew could not be wrong.  I cancelled the units and it worked.  All that was left was to do the math.

Louis Pasteur said that chance favors the prepared mind.

And Allah is merciful.  Sometimes.

I see a path thru this whole evil dilemma.

I take two quick steps and push Dillon hard and he tumbles out of the sixth floor window and hits the pavement with a smack and all kinds of things start happening.  People start running and yelling.  I cant risk trying to get back to the ship.  I use the emergency transport to bring it right here.  When i’m inside i use another emergency control to take me to an empty spot ‘way outside town.

 

I am very satisfied when i use the the time portal that looks into the future.  With Dillon down Kennedy’s motorcade never comes near the book depository and when they find Oswald’s stiff they get very nervous.  But at the next campaign stop the same people try again.  But this time a snitch inside the Secret Service rats them out and a lot of people get busted.  John Kennedy never rides in an open limo again.

The rift between JFK and LBJ will continue to widen until Bobby Kennedy gets the vice presidential nomination at the ’64 convention.  That makes it look like a close election but it is not.  The Kennedys win in a landslide.  JFK was so sick he was almost dead even in Dallas, though no one knew.  Less than a month after the inauguration John strokes out and dies and Bobby becomes president.  That means even the trifling American prescence in Viet Nam comes home and there is no Viet Nam war.  Richard Nixon is never elected president.

 Maybe the nicest part is that it makes no difference in my own future, probably because it happened so far back in my past.  Our golden age will continue untouched, only without Dillon.  So how could me changing one stupid football game have averted WW III ?  Dont know.  Dont care.

RU ready to go home, Colonel Chones?  The contralto computer voice trills at me.

Yes, i say.  Begin five second countdown.

The day’s not over yet but i think it’s time for me to retire for life.  I shouldnt say Allahu Akbar, but there, i’ve said it.

Be good, boys and girls.

THE END

The Twenty Second

 Here i sit, buns a flexin

I just gave birth

To another Texan

This is the graffiti i saw in the crapper in Brunswick as i was taking a dump just before i left and it seeps into my mind like sewage as the Timeship Fight the Future materializes early in the morning of November 22, 1963, right in the shadow of the Texas School Book Depository.  I am in awe of the place and time, the only one here who has any grasp of the forces at work, of the inertia that is carrying destiny by a hangnail.

And if you dont know me, I am Colonel Jim Chones of the Time Police, on an unauthorized mission in a brand new timeship i stole centuries from now to take a shot in the dark at correcting an evil that will just not die.

There is none of the torture that accompanied transits on the old ships; only a very unsettling moment when i felt like i am somehow turned inside out and back again, then a very gentle settling sensation as the ship seems to pop out of time and back in only much earlier.  There are no surveillance cameras here and all i have to do is step out, make the ship invisible, and walk away.  Or rather into the building and up to the sixth floor window where fate will move its huge hand, hopefully in a different direction.  Right now the Secret Service agents that have caroused all night are waking up with regrets but not as many as they’ll have later if i cant change things.

It will be hours before anything happens.  The shit hit the fan about 12:30 PM which means Oswald or whoever fired two shots at Kennedy comes up here and sets up at this window.  I have terrible doubts.  Nobody actually saw Oswald fire the shots; two witnesses actually placed him in one of the two lounges in this building when the shots were fired.  He couldnt have been there and here at the same time.

Oswald will ride to work in a car with someone who swore he couldnt have had anything with him but a bag lunch, much less a rifle.  Did he hide it in here somewhere?  Why take the risk it would be found?  How did the Dallas Police have a good description of him before anyone knew he was a suspect?  Were they infiltrated?

My fretting mind will not stop until i drop into a deep sleep behind some crates of books where i can see anyone who moves toward the window.  I come awake suddenly and notice it is much later and i can hear the sigh of elevators and dissonance of conversations and muted footsteps in this place.  As far as i can tell no one’s even been up here yet.  But that’s going to change fast.

Sealed With a Kiss 21: Conclusion

A few weeks have passed since i threw Ginnie out.  I’ve not seen her.  Hopefully she left town.  Not my problem now.  October here in Brunswick has the most gorgeous weather you find in this place all year.  Pristine skies and sharp dry shadows dappling sunlight thru the windows and skylights.

I’ve just made an unauthorized entry into the bulding where the time machine was housed in that big, shadowy hangar.  They hardly ever use this place anymore and it is quiet as a mausoleum.  Only a little light drizzles here into the corridors.

I am tense as i move.  My muted footsteps start to sound so loud they get on my last nerve.  When i get to the door i take a step and there is a loud screech and a hiss and the cat jumps up on the stairwell and hisses and glowers at me, emerald eyes in a jet black face.   I hope he’s alright.  Cats are durable.  I knew there was one here but i never saw it before.  I guess somebody comes in and feeds it.

When Dillon debriefed me i made the strongest possible recommendation that the timeship be destroyed and all of the technology that goes with it.  I knew it wouldnt happen that way.  After they used the first nukes in a war there was no way they could destroy what they’d created.  I still hoped that at least the ship would be taken apart and the technology kept as guarded as it could be.

I am so naive.

I manage to get the door to the hangar open and walk in toward the blue circle and stop ten feet away.  In it is the future.  Or eternity, if you like.  The old ship was dismantled but  they built something even better.  And there it is.

The old ship looked like a giant hot dog on wheels.  This really looks like a ship.  Streamlined and teardrop shaped, with subtle, symmetrical bulges aft.  I guess you could call them nacelles.  They obviously generate the field that makes time travel possible.  There are other improvements, the most important being a time portal that can look into the past, just not very far back.  And they even fixed the flaw that made travelling in it such physical agony.

So how do i know all this?  Well.  I have my snitches too.  Without them i couldnt even have gotten in the building, much less this hangar.

The ship even has a name.  It’s Fight the Future,  whatever that means. The generation that fought WWII mustve felt this kind of awe when they saw the first jet aircraft.

As far as i know i dont trip any alarms when i walk into the blue circle and open the canopy.  I get into the ship and see that there have been such improvements IDK if i can pilot it.  The big joystick that was the main control of the older one is smaller and folded away and marked manual control only.  The actual controls are mainly in a keyboard right in front of me.

And i wont ever have to sing Sealed With a Kiss again just to open and close the canopy.  I will always hate that song.

As soon as i am in there is a muted whisper and the keyboard lights up.  The screen asks me for my destination.  I hesitate before i type Dallas, TX Dealy Plaza, 7:00 am November 22, 1963.  I go on to specify a place next to the book depository where i can land this thing and its force field and cloaking device will keep it safe.

Oswald’s movements that day are pretty well known.  All i have to do is lay for him behind a stack of crates.  When he passes by i’ll just step out behind him and break his neck.  He’ll never know what hit him.  That’s the easy part.  The real problem is the second shooter.  Nothing is known about him except that there had to be one.  I’m going to try to use the time viewer to scan for a plume of smoke from a rifle.  Start with the grassy knoll and scan everywhere until i see it.  Then i’ll have to figure out how to kill him before he can fire.  That may require multiple incursions in time and that makes me nervous.  I dont care how smug Dillon is about temporal paradoxes being a myth.

The screen chimes and asks me if this is where i want to go.  I hit Y and i am prompted to submit to the ID verification.  It’s just a retinal and fingerprint scan and it says i may proceed.  I dont know what to do next until i have to hit Y again.  When i do a voice comes out over a hidden speaker and i nearly jump up and hit my head.

It’s a woman’s voice, of course.  Some comedian programmed in a woman’s voice in a deep, thrilling contralto that some men think is so sexy.  I never liked that.  I always thought a woman who talked that way needed more estrogen or something.

RU ready, Colonel Chones?  The voice asks me.

Yes, i say irritably.

Waiting for final command, it says.

Engage, i say in a tired and cranky voice.

Beginning five second countdown, it says and starts counting.

What will happen?  I havent the faintest.  I’ll tell you about it when i get back.

If i get back.

In the meantime…

May Allah’s grace be with you all.  Amen.

 

THE END

Sealed With a Kiss 20

When i see this in my hotel room i freeze and so do Ginnie and the bellhop that had been humping her.  I dont think any of us quite believes what we’re seeing.  A wave of dizziness hits me and i stumble and almost fall but steady myself.  As we all stare at each other i see mortal fear in the bellhop’s eyes.  Years ago i would have beaten him within an inch of his life but i am weary. I move so that i am not blocking the path to the door.

YOU!  I yell at him.  Pull up your pants and get back to work before i change my mind and kill you.

I never wouldve believed anyone could get their pants up that fast but he does.  And he he looks at me all the time he is moving toward the door.  I closed it when i came in and he almost runs right into it.  He flings the door open and flees.  I go over and close the door and sit down across from Ginnie, who is still naked.  My real business is with her.

Get some clothes on and pack up your things i say, my voice shaking. Then come back and sit down on the bed.

I move my chair so that it blocks egress from the room.  It seems like an hour but she’s packed in less than five minutes.  She seems terrified.

When she sits down i look at her and say, I knew you’d do this sooner or later.  But why the minute my back is turned?

Then i lose it and stand over her and shout, WHY, YOU TREACHEROUS SLUT?  WHY NOW?  DIDNT YOU…

And i stop.  Something about the terror in her eyes.  And then it dawns on me.  This one’s been abused.  Sexually and physically.  It explains her pointless promiscuity perfectly.  I was slow putting it together because i’ve never been abused and never knew anyone who had, but it’s right there.  The look of an animal that’s been abused.  And i stop  being angry.  There’s no point.

Listen to me, i say.  Do what i tell you.  Go back and tell Dillon i said to get you your own room immediately. Get your stuff out of mine.  Dont be there when i get back.  And i’d rather not see you again.

She still looks like she’s swallowed Drano.  She hasnt moved.  I say, Well?  What RU waiting for?

She picks up her bags and moves very slowly and deliberately to the door and i bury my head in my hands.  When she gets to the door she pauses and looks at me.

What RU waiting for?  I say.  Go and sin no more.

I will not see her again.

Sealed With a Kiss 19

I wake with a start, my heart pounding.  I nodded off for a few minutes and didnt know where i was.  I’m still in the library of course, where ive been running the same video over and over.  I lost track of time and can see the shadows of late afternoon are going blue.  Time to get back to the hotel.

This part of the beach is relatively deserted and the people still here are at the part of the shore that are right in front of the ugly high rises.    An autumn chill that has lain hidden under the September heat has taken over as the sun is setting.  I am cold as hell and wish i had a jacket but it’s not that far.

Lyndon Johnson, one of the most hated presidents in his time because of a fuckin war.  But what concerns me was his signing of the Civil Rights Act. Whether to do something or not, even if it causes more suffering.  He is supposed to have said as he signed it that he just lost the south for the Democratic Party for generations.  And that’s what happened.  He knew that but he signed it anyway because, i guess, he was trying to right a wrong that was so wrong it had to be fixed no matter what happened. That’s my dilemma.  I am going to have to risk every bit of this golden age where they can cure any kind of cancer just to make something else right because i have to.

When i get to the part of the beach that is in front of hotel i have to stop and sit down.  Fatigue and depression from the cancer treatment.  The sight of big bodies of water give me the creeps and right now that ocean looks bigger and scarier than ever.

A couple of girls that have to be underage walk by and stop ten feet away and talk to each other to see if i will pay them any attention and when i dont they move on down the beach.  And i wish they’d put some damn clothes on.

I struggle up the stairs and, ignoring the do not disturb sign, put my keycard in the door and walk in on the damndest sight.  Ginnie is on her back with legs spread and a man in a hotel uniform is humping her with his naked ass in the air.

Sealed With a Kiss 18

Post coital conversations are like nothing else.  Things get said that will never be anywhere else.  But it’s not like this with Ginnie.  WTF does someone like me say to a girl like Virginia, anyway?

Getting cured of cancer was not fun at all, but that’s what i expected.  It’s gone now and that’s what matters.  Ginnie and i have been drinking champagne and eating from room service trays and we have been naked for the last two weeks.  And she has fucked me enough times that my sex drive is about down to normal.  Time for some rational thoughts, at least from me.  I’m still not sure what i feel about all this.  We have just made love and she has crawled next to me and i have pulled the covers over both of us as we hold each other.  In 30 seconds she’ll be asleep.  I wish i could sleep like that.

This is arguably the best hotel on Cumberland Island.  In the late TwenCen this island had no bridge from the mainland, just a ferry.  To book just a day to backpack and camp here you had to get on a waiting list and it could be months and there were strict rules about your behavior and what was allowed here.  There was great pressure from economic interests to build a bridge and open the island for development but the locals fought valiantly for decades and successfully kept them out.  I’ve seen pictures and home movies of this place from that time and i can understand why they fought.  It didnt work but they tried.  Now the beach would look like Waikiki except that it is so flat.

It’s mid morning and time for my walk.  I shower and shave and put on swimming trunks and an open button shirt and training shoes.  I go down the stairs and out the back way past palmetto and scrub palm and pine out to the beach.  It’s September and tourist season is over.  There’s no amount of money you could give so i’d swim in that water.  You see, this beach sucks.  It sucks all the way down and past Jacksonville.

Now it’s low tide and you can see the sand bar that runs from the the edge of the water out about fifty yards.  If you know it you can walk out that far and stand in the middle of all that water.  Kids do it all the time but to me it’s suicide, even if you have a watch and know when the tide changes.

Some years back a couple of the little bastards walked out there and got trapped when the tide came in early.  They would have drowned if the lifeguard hadnt seen them.  The currents here are monstrous and on that day were so strong the lifeguard couldnt get them right back to the beach.  He had to take them back at an angle and ended up miles down the coast on the beach of a private island.  But they survived.

This is the back way to the library.  I’ve been coming here for an hour or so most days but today i’m ready for serious and detailed study.  In particular films of times in the 1960s.  Events in that decade sprouted more timelines that i would have thought possible.  The outcome of a football game is nothing in the scheme of things yet changing the outcome of one made the difference between the extinction  of the human race from a nuclear war and the apparent golden age that i and everyone else is enjoying right now.

You’d have to be insane to want to change anything in the past now, yet…sometimes there is a moral imperative that makes doing the right thing more important even than survival.  As i think these thoughts that make no sense i wonder if i have already lost my mind.  But i at least have to know some things.  I button my shirt and go inside to look at old videos.  One of Lyndon Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act, another of something a few years before.  I guess i’m trying to persuade myself to do something i’ve already made up my mind to do.

 

Sealed With a Kiss 12

Tempus Fugit.  Time passes.  If I didn’t have a watch I wouldn’t have any idea wherewhen I was.  How can that be?  I think surely I would have taken off a watch when I went back or the magnetic fields would’ve fried it.  But how else would I have know the time when I got there?

They’re making no effort to do anything but keep me hydrated and let the massive internal damage heal.  What else can you do with radiation poisoning?  I try to sit out of bed for longer periods, and they don’t like that.  Even when I get up to go to the crapper.  A nurse who looks twelve years old keeps looking in on me and frowning when i’m out of bed but if I don’t get up and move around i’ll be too weak to sit up.

Finally they take away my watch and everything deteriorates.  Someone is being wheeled in here on a gurney, screaming in the middle of the cloud that stinks of blood and xrays.  This must be an acute care facility.  There’s nothing like the despair you see in the chronic ones where you go to die.

In this mental place I go to when there is no other I get words like anisotrophic and orthogonal.  Something about a fighter craft that goes 4000 mph.  That’s nothing on a relativistic scale but apparently it’s just enough to have measurable flattening of local spacetime that the mind cant handle it so it has to be hologramed into a form the mind can grasp.  Then the image of splitting of wood along predetermined lines.  The electron density in pi bonds on a Benzene ring.  That’s anisotrophy.  The hologram must be orthogonal.  Empty words from undergraduate school.

I come to with a start when I see Sadaam Hussein looking down at me.  It’s Dillon of course.

They couldn’t find any cancer, he says and seems on the verge of a giggle.  I told them just wait.  Your white cell count is almost nothing.  So to protect you from infection they give you five antibiotics so you’ll get more resistant Staph.  Your bloodwork looks funny.  What do you expect?

I think I have to do the hit or we’ll lose it altogether, I say.

That’s what I thought, he says.  We’re the only two people here who can even shoot a gun and I have to stay here and run things or i’d go myself.

No you wouldn’t, I say.

No, he says with a tired shake of the head.  I wouldn’t.  Can you be ready in a few days?  He says.

I’d go right now but i’m too weak, I say.  We’ve been tip toeing around a problem when it needs to be hit with an axe.  The shoot needs to changed a little.

Spend the rest of the day  getting up and moving around, he says.  When we get the details right you’ll leave in an hour.  He leans out the door and says, Nurse!

Could you get my watch back?  I say.  I don’t even know what month it is.