Timely Persuasion - Online Edition - Chapter 4


Four Hours In Washington

God bless the library.  I always thought that the Internet would be the death of the public library system.  It still may be in the far future, but as the Internet becomes more and more pay per view and the library stays free, you just can’t go wrong.  Not wanting to become a paid member of various newspaper websites or pay three bucks per article, I signed up for a free library card that earned me unlimited access to their extensive archives.  Moments later I was at a computer, sipping my morning coffee and viewing the full text of articles circa April of 1994 while awaiting the actual paper copies from the librarian.  The power of the newspaper from the night before had given me an idea.  I just needed to find an event that would be memorable enough to get the focus right. 

    Cobain’s body was found the morning of April 8.  That should be the easiest, as the event itself was etched into my soul from the moment I heard the news that my idol was gone.  I didn’t believe it at first, thinking that my source was still confusing the Rome coma with this new incident.  That was pretty illogical since the occurrences were a month apart, but the irrational mind isn’t too keen on logic in times of emotional upheaval.

    The coroner placed the approximate date of death on April 5, so I focused my data quest on the fifth through the seventh.  It didn’t take long to dig up the full newspapers from the days in question.  My only idiotic snag was not remembering until after I had the papers in front of me that the newspaper of April 7 is telling the events of April 6.  Blame the Internet for spoiling me with instant gratification.

    April 7:  Shannon Doherty files for divorce from Ashley Hamilton.  I had a bit of a celebrity crush on her at the time and seem to recall smiling at this turn of events, but I don’t think it had a profound enough effect to get me to where I needed to go.

    April 6:  A plane carrying African presidents from Burundi and Rwanda is shot down.  We probably discussed it in my only college history class, but I seldom paid attention.

    B-1B Lancers break 11 world speed records.  I remembered this one, as it was in part the impetus for a term paper.  We had to take a pair of existing technologies from today and combine them to form a somewhat reasonable practical application for tomorrow.  My lab partner and I paired the English Channel “Chunnel” tunnel with supersonic travel to predict a tunnel from New York City to London.  Our professor called it ridiculous and lectured us over not taking the project seriously, but we finished third in a national science contest.  He had to publicly apologize and change our F grade to an A+.  That one just might work.

    April 5:  Talk about a slow news day.  From what I can determine, nothing important happened.  Scientists report that the Milky Way is in the process of eating a lesser galaxy it had collided with.  The governor of Maine signs a bill repealing a state ban on juice boxes. (Juice boxes?  What’s wrong with juice boxes?)  American Airlines employees are given a four percent stake in the company.  A judge blocks the purchase of McGraw Cellular by AT&T.  Crayons are recalled for lead content.  Aerosmith wins big at the Boston Music Awards.  Pink Floyd releases The Division Bell.  Right here and now, unbeknownst to the world, the most important musician of the current generation possibly lies dead while Aerosmith and Pink Floyd continue to milk out glory that has long since passed.  Isn’t it ironic?

    What could I do for a backup plan?  April 1, 1994 was a red-letter date in my personal history:  The WBRU April Fools Day Low Dough Show at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel featuring Carter USM, Possum Dixon and more for the low low price of one dollar.  That night was my introduction to both bands, and they instantly ranked among my favorites.  Especially Carter.  They just blew everyone else off the stage.  Between my best friend and myself we bought all of their albums the next day.  Funny that less than ten years later neither band was still together.  Pearl Jam was the closest thing my generation had to an Aerosmith or a Pink Floyd.  (Including the similar shades of mediocrity post “Vs.”...)

    If all else failed, I supposed I could go back to April 1 and stay there for a week.  It was just a shame I wouldn’t get to relive the show since I was three thousand miles away.

    Could I stay back in time for a week?  I hadn’t yet tried, but I didn’t see why not.  I could hang out, show myself around.  There was no reason why I couldn’t sleep while back in time aside from my usual insomnia.  I’d have my choice of places to stay since nobody could see me.  Food and water may be a problem, but I should be able to bring supplies with me since I had already inadvertently carried the bowling, golf, and tennis balls back with me.  I might not even need food or sleep, since as far as my real body was concerned I wasn’t actually gone at all.

    Better still, if I hung around all day on the first and into the second, I’d now have memories of the second.  Considering what I had already learned, that could be enough to allow me a free pass back there whenever I wanted.  Unless my memories of the second were filed with my memories of the day I left in the present, which would lead me back to the bring some food plan.

    Tired of speculation, I decided I wouldn’t need any of these plans if I could find some more memorable news from the week in question.  Needing two hands to dive back into the computer archive, I accidentally dropped my coffee while placing it on the desk next to the monitor.  Looking around to make sure I wouldn’t be caught making a mess in violation of the “no food or drink” policy, I noticed something was wrong.  Not wrong, but different.  The flat panel Dell I had been standing at was gone, replaced by an older green-screened terminal with the library logo in ASCII characters.  I tried to type on the keyboard but my fingers went right through it.

    I spotted a calendar on the librarian’s desk.  April 1, 1994.  My reminiscence of the concert was so strong that I had blinked back without even realizing it.  I had also done so without the aid of a ball, ruling out that ridiculous theory.  This would bode well, as I had confirmed that I had the power to reach the first of April.  I fingered my neck bruise and was immediately in front of the properly modern computer.  I was sans coffee, but ready to track down more articles and verify my ability to reach other dates in the vicinity.