Timely Persuasion - Online Edition - Chapter 11


Won One

    Outside, the redheaded girl was insisting she did not need an escort while drunk me pleaded his case that she did.  Eventually he caved and made a move towards her for a hug and a kiss goodbye.  I let the hug play out, but forcibly twisted his head to the side of hers during the lean in to at least prevent part of the disaster.  Surprised at the unexpected chivalry, the girl dropped her guard and once again said goodnight.  My counterpart reached out to grab her arm, but I intercepted it with my free hand to prevent him from causing any more trouble.  After about twenty hurried paces the girl took a nervous peek behind her, but her bad date was still firmly planted, politely waving goodbye with a little help from his older and wiser self with a hand inside the puppet head.

    Once our girl was out of sight (though not quite out of mind), I let myself go.  He promptly spun around and threw a punch, hitting me square in the jaw and knocking me backwards into a nearby dumpster.  Although dazed, I had hoped that his seeing me vanish through solid metal like that would shock some sense back into him.  Instead it had the opposite effect.

    “I must be drunk, and I need to get drunker,” he said aloud, pivoting on the heel of his Doc Marten boot.  He caught his breath, then marched back into the bar to share in a drink they call loneliness.

    Emerging from the garbage, I looked down the street towards the girl and then back to the bar.  Should I stay or should I go?  The decision should have been a simple one.  Right now was my opportunity to convince myself to help.  Following the girl wouldn’t accomplish much of anything aside from stirring up old memories.  I was unsure if I was ready for that just yet, but decided it wouldn’t be a bad idea to make sure she made it home safely while I gave my other self some time to cool off before confronting him again.  Unfortunately this plan was short lived, as she had barely gone two blocks before hailing a cab.

    On the walk back, I once again tried to figure out why the scene in the bar was so drastically different from what I remembered.  I hadn’t been able to alter events based solely on my presence on previous trips, only the time when I interacted with myself.  Is a glance an interaction?  Everything with the redheaded girl was going as it had until my memories jumped ahead, at which point...

    Suddenly it hit me.  What if he was picking up on my thoughts of the redheaded girl?  Did my foreknowledge become his foreknowledge, thus boosting our collective confidence level and changing what was happening in his present?  And if so, why?  We were the same person, but it wasn’t like we were sharing a brain.  Or were we?  If anything, I should be the one picking up on his thoughts since I had already thunk them.  Is thunk even a real word?

    Thunk rhymes with drunk, and that’s what I was when I returned to the bar.  He was in rare form, zigging and zagging in the general direction of the jukebox.  Apparently I had done some shots even though I can’t handle them.   They always lead to a blackout.  A thunk was also the type of sound my younger head made as it veered left and hit the doorjamb en route to the bathroom.  I rushed through the dwindling crowd, hoping to take care of myself before one of the bouncers intervened.

    My younger version saw me in the mirror as soon as I entered the restroom.  This caught me off guard as I didn’t expect to have a reflection.  At first he just stared at the emblem stitched onto the chest of my hospital shirt.  Then a look of panic drained the color from his face.

    “They found me.  I don’t know how, but they found me!”

    He whirled and threw a balled up paper towel towards (and through) me while simultaneously charging forward in bullfight mode with his head down.  In his inebriated state he couldn’t quite coordinate the attack and was easily sidestepped.  I caught him from behind and tried to pose him in a normal position before somebody came in to investigate the commotion.

    “I think we’ll go for a walk outside now.  Don’t draw any attention to us and you’ll be fine.”  I moved to his right side and interlocked our arms.  His pained expression was getting worse.

    “How did you know I was here?  It’s not really a change when you think about it.  I was just speeding up the inevitable.”

    Confused, I looked him over in search of context but found none.  “I have no idea what you’re talking about.  Let’s go outside.”

    His face kept the deer in headlights quality, but he managed to stop babbling and walk a relatively straight line to the exit.  I was surprised that he wasn’t acting more incoherently.  Either I had scared him sober, or we were a better drunk then I had given us credit for.

    Once outside, I sat him on the sidewalk and tried to continue our conversation.  Before I could speak, he beat me to it.

    “What did they tell you to do to me?”

    “They who?”

    “You know who they are.  You obviously work for them.”

    He touched the logo emblazoned on my hospital shirt as he said this, running his fingers around the hairpin turn within the loops before tracing over the “LBDG” lettering across the bottom.  My eyes followed his movements, examining the design closely for the first time. 

    “I assure you that you’re in no danger.  It’s your sister.  You can’t let her marry Nelson.”

    His look of panic melted into one of confusion, then to realization before finally landing on annoyance.

    “So it worked?  It worked!” 

    Annoyance briefly flashed to joy before slipping into defiance.

    “I refuse to undo what I’ve already done.  And you can’t make me if I’m not there.”

    That said, he passed out on the curb.