Timely Persuasion - Online Edition - Chapter 16


Christine Sixteen

    He caught me up on what had happened since I last left him.  His local performances kept packing them in.  Scores of A&R guys were turning up every night, setting up a bidding war that eventually got him his album deal and a national tour.  He bought a new house for his parents and hit the road with Nelson’s Mom.  Today was his homecoming show.

    He often wondered where I had gone to and if I’d ever forgive him for stealing her away, although she still claimed to have no idea who I was.  But that troubled water was all under the bridge for him now that I was back.  They had an open relationship, and he said we could share the girl if I wanted to (a bit more literally than the traditional Betty and Veronica sharing of Archie).  He was also excited for me to help work out some songs for the new album he was being hounded to record but kept putting off due to his chronic writer’s block.  He had enough left in our vault for a single record, but his label wanted a double set.

    Happy to stop talking about sharing Nelson’s Mom with my father, I latched on to the change of subject even though I suspected Dad wasn’t going to like it.

    “About those songs,” started my confession, “we sort of…borrowed them.”

    He didn’t take the news well, and actually made me dictate a list of the artists we had pilfered from for him to write down.  I reluctantly complied with his request, simultaneously ashamed of myself and proud of my father.  Though he did like his women, he was still a man of honor and didn’t like to lie, cheat, and steal his way through anything.  Even the multiple sex partner thing was consensual and out in the open, though I wished he hadn’t told me about that.

    “Why are you so appalled by my sex life?  Are things that much different where you come from?”

    Although AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases led to historians proclaiming the death of the free love era, I never thought that it had completely died out.  People may have fewer simultaneous partners, but sex was still a major part of any dating relationship.  Casual sex was not only accepted but practically canonized and woven into the plots of movies, television shows, and even songs.  The concept of being like a virgin on a wedding night was an extremely rare exception in my time, especially in a world where the “normal” chain of courtship included cohabiting well before the wedding.

    “It’s not so much a difference in my generation as it is an old traditional principle.  You don’t want to know about your parents’ sex life.”

    He looked dumbfounded.  “We’re your parents?”

    “Not quite.  You’re my father, but she isn’t my mother.”

    “But you set us up!  I’ve read enough about time travel to know that you shouldn’t go messing around with your own conception for crissakes.  Who are you really?”

    I assured him that I really was his son, and shared my theory that I would likely continue to exist up to the point of my conception.  Since that was three years away I still had time, but I needed to get him back on the path to Mom before it was too late.  As for Nelson’s Mom, I lied and said she was a girl he had a pre-Mom fling with later in life that I decided to accelerate to get him into my confidence and down the path to musical stardom.  When it went on longer than it should have I had to make excuses so he would end it, but he wouldn’t budge.  Finally I decided to jump ahead a bit and hope that the relationship had faltered under its own weight.  When it hadn’t, it was time to resort to the truth.

    “You mean I never taught you to always be truthful?” he asked with a hurt look.  “And I just got caught fooling around and smoking dope by my own kid.  Some father I am.”  I couldn’t tell if he actually believed me or was just humoring me.

    “What was I supposed to say?  Hey, I’m your future son, let’s make you a rock and roll star to help pay for college?”

    “Okay, Future Boy.  If you really are my son, who am I supposed to marry?”

    Finally I had a chance to convince him.  I told him about my mother, but he had no idea who she was since he wouldn’t even meet her for a few more years.  I also told him that he’d have a son and a daughter, when we were born and, more importantly, approximately when we were conceived.

    “Presuming this is true, you basically want me to find this woman, get married on this date, and start having children on these dates.  If my life is already planned for me, what am I supposed to do in the meantime?”

    “Whatever you would normally do.”

    “But what’s the point if I have to follow this plan?  If everything is already written?”

    I thought this over for a moment, then realized that he wouldn’t necessarily have to follow the plan to a T.  He needed to get together with Mom, and he had to keep the conception dates of my sister and myself relatively the same.  Just the same menstrual cycle ought to do the trick, giving him a reasonably large window of opportunity.  Also, I could care less if he had twelve kids this time around, so long as two of them were the same.

    As for meeting my Mom, would accelerating the timetable really matter?  It was possible, but this could be a special circumstance.  Mom did say they met and married in the same year, and with Dad so gifted in the art of seduction I was fairly certain he could pull it off.  Parents are the same no matter time nor place.  Even though I doubted it both logically and experientially, part of me still looked to find a reason to believe that fate had a hand in some aspects of life.  Maybe once the course was resumed things would work out relatively close to how they did initially with the exception of a little bit of foreknowledge.  He might follow the right path whether I told him to or not.

    I explained all of this to Dad.  Although he was taking it with a shaker of salt, I felt that I was getting to him. 

    “I want to believe you, really I do.  But I don’t see what’s in it for me.  Hendrix just died today, and they’re already calling him a legend.  What if I think that’s more important than settling down?”

    I bit the inside of my lip.  Though it pained me to have to debate in favor of settling down and lie to my father again, it had to be done.

    “That’s not what you want.  All the rock stars die at twenty-seven.  First Hendrix, then Joplin, then Jim Morrison.  The music world is changing, and it’s not a club you want to be a part of for the long haul.”

    I hoped that would put him over the edge.  If nothing else he might check in on the name I gave him for his future wife out of curiosity once my predicted dominos started falling.  If fate were still in play, I could theoretically be home free from there.  I was starting to sound like my older self more and more.  We were just a smile, a nod, and a few decades apart.

    Our conversation ended with me channeling my older self by providing a warning.

    “Don’t tell anyone about this, not even me after I’m born.  We don’t want to alter my life so much that this chat never happens.  I’ll bring it up to you when I get back if the time is right.”

    That type of implication really seemed to sink in.  Hell, what did he have to lose?  I may have actually scared him into following through on it.  I wondered once more if I really had already been through this before in my version of real life.  It seemed to explain why he stopped womanizing for Mom, why he stuck with her no matter what, and why he often seemed to be holding something back in any conversation he had with me.  Maybe I wasn’t too far off in thinking that fate had a plan for everyone to follow.

    Satisfied that I had done all I could, I bid him farewell and blinked out in plain sight, hoping to leave him with a lasting impression to think about for the next few years.