Timely Persuasion - Online Edition - Chapter 3


Gimme Three Steps

     I had an awesome dream, but couldn’t for the life of me remember what it was.  Probably nothing important.  Before I knew it I was jerking awake with a start when I felt the couch move.

    It wasn’t just the couch.  Everything was shaking.

    A glass rattled on my kitchen counter.  Books toppled like dominoes on a shelf, knocking a golf ball onto the floor.  A picture fell off the wall. 

    “Earthquake!” I thought aloud as I scrambled towards the doorjamb out of habit and instinct.  The effects of the injection had seemingly run their course.  I was a bit groggy from my nap but scared sober from the adrenaline rush of the quake.  People say I’m crazy, but I actually enjoy the thrill of a good California earthquake as long as nothing breaks and no one gets hurt. 

    When the tremors subsided I tentatively started to put my apartment back together.  Walking over to retrieve the golf ball, I stopped when I saw the signature on it.  Huey Lewis.  I’ve had this ball since 1986, the year of my first concert.  After a year of constantly playing the Back to the Future soundtrack, my uncle took me and my sister to see Huey Lewis and the News.  On the way to the concert we randomly bumped into Huey on the street.  Having nothing autographable with me, my uncle gave me a golf ball that was still in his pocket from his round that morning.  This was fitting, as the tour was in support of their Fore! album.  At least Huey seemed amused by the whole thing, though I’m sure it wasn’t the only golf ball he’d ever autographed.

    The bruise on my neck started to burn.  I rubbed it, and suddenly I wasn’t in my apartment anymore.  I guess technically it was still my apartment, just minus the “my” part.  Definitely the same shape as the apartment I called home, with the same carpeting and floor plan.  But the furniture and decor had instantaneously changed around me. 

    The walls were mostly bare, my feeble attempts at decorating completely eliminated by a light shade of green paint.  The furniture actually matched and was part of a full set rather than the assortment of hand-me-downs, discontinued sale items, and yard sale trophies that made up my place.  My do it yourself fifteen-dollar bookcase was now an ornately handcrafted antique piece.  The wall that was once blocked by my beat up futon was now bare, with a grandma-style couch in the center of the room facing a small TV with rabbit ears on a wheeled cart.  And on that grandma-style couch was a grandma-style old woman.

    I crept up to her slowly, trying not to be seen.  Her eyes were closed.  She must have dozed off watching the late night newscast.  Still holding the golf ball, I tentatively lobbed it towards the opposite end of the couch as an experiment.  It passed right through as if the couch wasn’t even there, continuing through the wall on the other side.

    Still moving slowly, I reached down to touch the couch.  My hand passed through it.  I tried to gently touch the woman on the arm, but my fingers went right through her as well.  Now more comfortable that I wouldn’t be seen, I waved my arm back and forth through the sleeping woman’s head several times.  She didn’t even flinch.

    Was I really in 1986?  Had the ball brought me here?  Tripping was one thing, but this was just surreal.  I ran to the TV and tried to change the channel to find something 1986ish, but like everything else my hand passed through the knob.  I had to get out of here.

    I found the Huey Lewis ball on other side of the wall and picked it up.  As with the bowling ball, I could throw the golf ball at anything and it would just keep traveling through solid objects until it lost all of its momentum.  Likewise, I could still walk through any object as needed in order to retrieve it.

    I decided to work my way up and down the street, peeking into houses until I found some verification of my time travel theory.  After two vacancies and a set of amorous neighbors, I finally found something that met my criteria.

    A family sat in front of another rabbit ear adorned television set engaged in their nightly viewing ritual.  On the screen was a movie trailer for Peggy Sue Got Married.  1986 sounded about right for that.  The commercial ended and an episode of Cheers resumed.  The little boy in the group turned to his father and asked:

    “Will Sam pitch for the Red Sox in the playoffs?”

    That was the clincher.

    The father laughed and started explaining that Sam Malone was a fictional character, but I didn’t need to hear the rest.  I reached back to finger my neck bruise, and was instantly home in front of my own bookcase again.  My watch and my house clock were about ninety minutes out of sync.  It was as if I’d never left, with the time discrepancy being the only evidence of what may have happened.

    Is this real?  It certainly seemed to be.  I wasn’t quite sure what to make of everything yet, but had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to try next.