Timely Persuasion - Online Edition - Chapter 11


Won One

My odyssey back to the old apartment took the better part of two days including rest periods.  It really shouldn’t have taken so long, but my sense of direction isn’t very good and I didn’t plan it as well as I could have.  At first I wandered around aimlessly, trying to stay above ground long enough to find a landmark I was familiar with.  Then I tried chasing buses, assuming they’d eventually reach a terminal that connected to the subway or commuter rail and I could just follow the tracks.

    Unfortunately the bus moved faster than I could on foot, and without knowing the routes I’d often get turned around amidst my guesswork.  Other times I’d end up underground at such an angle that I could no longer see the bus I was following.  Eventually I decided to take a clue from the Beatles and follow the sun.  Actually walk away from the sun, to the east until I hit water, then north until I spotted a proper landmark, and finally back home.

    I had garnered a few important learnings on the journey.  First, I got dog tired when walking around.  Not the kind of draining fatigue you get walking on a particularly hot or cold day, as I was immune to temperatures and quite comfortable all the time.  But I still got just as tired as any multiple mile walk/jog/run will get you when you’re a touch out of shape.  Maybe even more tired than usual.

    At least sleep came easily enough when I needed it.  I no longer had the insomnia that often plagued me in the real world when I had too much things on bounce in my head.  The thoughts were still on bounce, but they had slowed to a point where they resembled the pleasant static of a silver dream machine.

    Another oddity was that I felt no need whatsoever to eat or drink.  Not even the slightest twinge of hunger or thirst.  With lots of time to ponder this, I was now leaning even more towards the theory that time travel was a mental exercise.  The body needs nourishment, while the mind needs rest.  I also decided that I wasn’t so far off on my want for a bicycle when walking to my sister’s place earlier (or from my current perspective, later), and made a mental note to try to pick up a skateboard at the very least when I was able to get back to a safe version of the present.

    If and when that would happen was still up in the air by the time I got back to the studio apartment, for once again I wasn’t home.  The computer and desk were back in the corner where they belonged, the sale of the pair still a few months away.  My bed was gone, replaced by the cot that preceded it.  Everything else was more or less indistinguishable from my previous visit, except for slightly less clutter since I had slightly less stuff.  I went over to the cot and collapsed over and through the top of it, effectively landing underneath.  Content that I was hidden from view in the event I got home before I woke up, I settled in for some much needed rest.

    The echo of the front door slamming shut killed my deep slumber.  After stopping for a moment to realize where I was, I listened for sounds of movement in the apartment and took a tentative look around.  Determining I was still alone, I ran to the door, sticking my head out in time to see my younger self walking away.  I had slept through his return.

    I tailed him for a couple of blocks, hoping that he wouldn’t hail a taxi or take the subway.  (I should have known better about the taxi, as I don’t think I’d ever taken one before.)  I also wished I wasn’t such a fast walker, as it pained me to keep up with even my slightly younger self.  Eventually I remembered where we were going and smiled.  We had a date with the cute little redheaded girl.

The dive bar was exactly as I’d remembered it.  A good old-fashioned beer hall with an ample selection of microbrews and eclectic yet rockin’ tunes.  This was certainly my kind of place.  I’ve always found it much better to kick back with a pint or a pitcher while playing bowling or darts or shuffleboard than be bopping around to some ridiculous dance music that all sounds the same while spending ten dollars a pop on fancy watered down liquor drinks that will only make you black out and forget the majority of the evening.  Sound familiar?

    Tonight was our first date with the elusively flirtatious cute little redheaded girl.  We were playing this one for the longer term since we really did like her.  Don’t be confused into thinking the longer term meant we were looking for “the one” to be “in love” with, as that wasn’t the case at all.  Marriage was the farthest thing from my mind.  That being said, I certainly wanted to sleep with her.  But younger me wasn’t here to get laid on this particular evening.  There’d be plenty of time for that later. 

    And would there ever be.  She played the part of the good girl very well in public, but in about one week’s time I’d learn how insatiable she really was in private.  Erotic city, can’t you see?  Younger me was on the verge of the greatest sexual affair of his life, and current me had a front row seat into how it all started.

    “Garbage Man” by G. Love & Special Sauce grooved out of the old school jukebox in the back between the his and her restrooms, ironically foreshadowing how I would indeed move, bruise, love, and lose.  I just didn’t expect that it would all happen in the next few hours.

    As the weight of the lyrics set in I watched myself hug our ladyfriend hello, guide her to a darkened table in the corner with just the right angle for people watching, and finally head to the bar for round one of many.  If I remembered correctly, we tied one on until closing, said our goodbyes, and that was that.  Tomorrow she’d call late in the evening (of the day) to console me out of the funk I was in after skipping the wedding.  We’d come to this same bar again to drink and talk and laugh, then make out a bit in the street after getting kicked out.  I walked her home, tried unsuccessfully to finagle an invitation in, and then we kissed a little more before departing.  Four days later we’d have another date that would end in a heavy petting sleepover.  And two days after that the games would begin in earnest.  We were extremely compatible in bed, and didn’t explore too much of the out of bed part after this first week.

    But I’m getting ahead of myself.  From my position at the jukebox I watched me return with the beers.  He had a schooner of something dark; she a smaller, fancier glass of something Belgian.  Normally I’d be happy with any old watery domestic swill, but since this was a date it was appropriate to up the ante.

    Younger me set down the beverages and gazed towards the jukebox.  Not wanting to see me staring right back at me, I reached up to shield my face and looked down at my feet.  Upon feeling my shaved head I figured I wouldn’t be recognized and just waved while turning away slightly, still watching the scene play out in my peripheral vision.  She laughed after I presumably said something either funny or stupid or both.  Or maybe because I was waving to a nonexistent person at the jukebox.  After a couple of sips and a few moments of conversation, I slid my hand across the table and awkwardly took her hand.

    Wait.  What the hell was I doing?

    A sense of foreboding started to creep over me as a different memory took hold. 

    I come on too strong and try to kiss her at the table.  She politely dodges and says not on the first date.  Unfazed, I try again anyways and get a drink dumped on my lap.  And we never speak again.

    Which version was right?  What about the sex?  I’m sure I remember all of the sex.  Most of those memories couldn’t be made up, as I wouldn’t have possibly thought of them on my own.

    It dawns on me that this might be my fault.  My mere presence in the room with myself could be having an effect on events of the past.  But all I did was make eye contact and wave.  Could that be enough to change history so dramatically?

    Apparently so.  I’m watching myself caress her hand and even from twenty feet away I can see the uncomfortable look on her face.  She quickly finishes her beer and retreats to the restroom.  I’m still uncertain as to whether or not I had anything to do with screwing this up, but I know for damn sure that I’m going to have a hand in getting it back on track.  I walked to the table and tapped myself on the shoulder.

    “Take this one slow, pal.  You’ll thank me later.”

    Younger me pretended not to hear, but his body language betrayed him.  I hammered the point home.

    “I’m serious.  You can’t hurry love.  All in due time.”

    With that I walked back to the jukebox to observe.  Younger me returned to the bar for two fresh drinks.  Racking my brain to recall any differences was useless.  I still had both ends of the memory spectrum in my head at more or less equivalent strengths. 

    The nightmare continued to play out before my eyes when the girl returned from powdering her nose.  They talked a little more, with me glancing back every so often to get a better look at the mysterious dude at the jukebox watching my every move.  At one point I seemed to ask my companion who I was, and twice pointed right at me while she just shook her head and shrugged.

    After the second drink she picked up her purse and seemed ready to escape the young Casanova.  He made his move, and just as I had predicted/remembered received a wet lap in a manner quite different than he was hoping for.  As she walked out of the bar in a huff, younger me wouldn’t leave well enough alone and followed her.  I couldn’t leave well enough alone either and followed them both.