Timely Persuasion - Online Edition - Chapter 17


Wounded Kite At :17

    We had a lengthy conversation regarding the years I had missed.  A few days after the Barnstormer show he began recording sessions for a second album of our leftovers with the working title of Coverville.  He still had no true originals, causing me to wonder if Izzy Stradlin was from the future, as Guns N’ Roses never recorded another original song after his departure, just covers.  Dad had mostly written off all that I had said and thought it was just a drug-induced dream.  That is, until Janis Joplin died.

    Work on the new album was scrapped and Local Boy went into seclusion, with the live album released by the label in time for the holidays to fill the gap.  Mrs. Nelson continued to be his groupie gal pal and fan club president for a little while, but things were tense between them now that he was trying to be a regular guy.  After a few months she convinced him to embark on a short acoustic tour to build on the buzz of his second coming.  The tour seemed to revitalize him.   He returned to the studio in late June of 1971 to finish up work on Coverville, intending to discretely thank the original artists in the acknowledgements using the list I had given him—just in case.

    And then Jim Morrison died.

    That was it.  He confirmed that the future mother of his children actually existed, gave Nelson’s Mom the Heisman, renamed the album Quits, played one final show, and abruptly left the music business behind to seek out his density—I mean destiny—with my real mother.  In the end he couldn’t stand the guilt of potentially killing his child through his own ignorance.

    Nelson’s parents reconciled and became a rebound couple, eventually marrying on schedule.  And since Nelson’s old-fashioned father had saved himself for marriage, everything went exactly as it had the first time around, at least from a genetic standpoint.  I smiled a bit that my reproduction theory seemed on target, then frowned when I realized I was smiling while thinking of Nelson and his origins, flashing back to the scene in the trailer.  That in turn led to an image of my brother in the tree house, which begged the next question I asked my father.

    “You do know that your other son’s lover is your former lover’s son, don’t you?”

    Dad looked at me sternly for a moment.  “Yes, I’m aware.”

    “But...that’s incest.”

    “Technically no, since she and I were never married.  And just calling her my former lover doesn’t really do the story justice...”

    I had a grim inkling as to where this was heading, but I let him continue in sequence.  He went on to say how he and Mom hit it off pretty well.  She resisted him due to his prior reputation, but eventually gave in and they also wed on schedule.  He was careful to use extra birth control up until the times I told him his children were to be conceived.  Everything was fine until my brother came along.

    “What did that change?”  I asked.

    “It made me think you were just a vision, and I had thrown it all away for nothing.  I had invented you as a reason to settle down, but reality was setting in.  Or maybe it was denial.  A couple of messed up rockers died, but in hindsight anyone could have predicted that.  For five years I believed in you, but now I had doubts.  And once the nagging doubts come to you...” he trailed off and looked at the ceiling.

    Since I had told Dad he’d have a child of each gender, when the second child was another male my credibility was shot.  I explained my reproduction theory and he seemed to accept it, but it didn’t really make him any happier.  All of this was proof that no one should know too much about his or her own future.  Had I not told him of how his life was supposed to turn out, he wouldn’t have pegged me as a liar when things didn’t happen as predicted.  Then again, if I hadn’t told him anything at all he just as likely could have stayed with Nelson’s Mom and negated my existence altogether.  Would you have done it differently?  I can’t win for losing.

    He kept going, recounting how he met up with Nelson’s Mom again a few years later and they resumed their affair, eventually leading to the two of them leaving their respective spouses.  He couldn’t bear to tell Mom to her face, and instead left a note on the kitchen table.  She got custody of both me and the house.  Dad got my brother, and they both moved in with Nelson and his mom.  She wanted Dad to record a third album, but he didn’t have enough material.  He tried to appease her by resurrecting the abandoned Coverville moniker for a set entitled:  Coverville:  A Collection of Other People’s Songs by Local Boy, but the lack of new material caused another rift between them.  Eventually she left, taking both boys with her.  That was nineteen years ago.  He later re-entered Mom’s life for the sake of us kids, but they never truly reconciled.

    His story didn’t really explain the Local Boy museum in Mom’s basement (unless that was my creation), but I figured it was a better question for her than for him.  Instead I asked about the brotherly love.

    “Living together as brothers, they developed a fondness for each other.  That fondness led to experimentation, and the rest...”  Again he trailed off before finishing.  “I presume that wasn’t the way it was supposed to be?  Is this better or worse?”

    Supposed to be was a relative term, though the answer was the same from both perspectives.  If he meant how it was supposed to go the first time I lived it, this wasn’t even close.  If he meant did it go as I had intended when I set out to change things, again it was no.  And as to which result was better?  Take your pick.  At least there hadn’t been a suicide the second time around.  But a broken marriage, a musical career cut short, a me that wasn’t me, my sibling still dating a Nelson who now had my father as a guardian, and a partridge in a pear tree wasn’t much to write home about either. 

    I declined getting into specifics.  “That’s not how it used to be.  Back to the drawing board I guess.”

    It was time for a different approach and a clean slate.  I tried to blink back to before I created this alternate bizarro world by thinking of Woodstock, but nothing happened. 

    I tried again, still nothing.

    Hendrix plays the Star Spangled Banner.


    They put a man on the moon.

    (blink blink)

    My father just stared at me as I squinted in deep concentration.  “What on earth are you doing?”

    “Trying to make everything right again.  Tell me something that happened before October 12, 1969.”

    He remained silent.

     “C’mon, anything at all.”

    “Ok, um...the birth of Christ.”

    I laughed.  “A bit too far away for my liking.  It has to be something in your lifetime.  And something known to have really happened.”

    “You don’t believe in Christ?”

    “Do we really have to talk about this now?”

    “How about Woodstock?”

    “Already tried, no luck.”

    He smiled.  “You already tried to get me to play at Woodstock?”

    “No, no.  I already tried to go back to Woodstock to stop you from playing anything at all.  Give me something else.”

    I closed my eyes and concentrated, rubbing my temples to stay focused.

    “Richard Nixon’s inauguration.”


    “Sirhan Sirhan confesses to killing RFK.”


    “Vietnam.  The Apollo space program.”  Dad was really chucking the history at me.  For what it was worth, I was quite impressed.

    “Too vague.  It needs to be tied to a specific date.”

    “Who the hell came up with these rules?  You?”

    “Maybe.  I’m not sure.  Most of them I just figured out on my own.  It’s somewhat inconsistent, but this is what works best.”

    Dad continued “Charles Manson.  Midnight Cowboy.  Tiny Tim gets married.  Eisenhower dies.”

    I started chanting to myself, “Lawrence of Arabia, British Beatlemania, Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson.”

    Dad smiled.  “That would make a great song.”

    “It is a song.”

    He gave me a doubtful look.  “From the future?”

    “I’m not from the future,” I explained again.  “I’m from the present, just not this present.  It’s a Billy Joel song.”

    “The Cap’n Jack guy?”

    “Exactly,” I answered impatiently despite Dad’s confusion.  “Can we talk about this later too?”

    We kept trying to find the right memory, but nothing would do the trick.  Panic started to set in.  Although I failed to use it once I got the hang of things, I decided it was worth a try to rub a finger across my neck bruise. 

    But it wasn’t there.  It must have healed.


    “Fuck!!!!” I yelled when I came to the ultimate realization.

    “What?  What?” asked Dad, ignoring my language as he felt it was justified by my frustration.

    “This body never got injected to begin with.  I can’t time travel.  I might be stuck here forever.”