Timely Persuasion - Online Edition - Chapter 5


Five Seconds To Hold You

Further research on the week proved fruitless.  I stole a few newspapers worth of record reviews, bought a map of the state, and printed a Bob Dylan concert chronology to keep me amused while waiting around (and to fuel my internal Mr. Fusion), but that was about it.  I did accidentally discover the name of a city 76.7 miles east of Seattle on Interstate 90 via the map, but aside from stoking my unforgettable fire it wasn’t all that relevant to our story.

    Most importantly, my abilities to blink back with an appropriate event in mind went off without a hitch.  In addition to April Fools Day, I was also able to reach the sixth based on the term paper memory and the fourth based on the birthday of an ex-girlfriend.  

    Time of day was still a curious missing link.  Though I had figured out jumping back to a specific day, I always returned to the exact same clock time I left from and never changed locations.  As much as I concentrated on being there for the start of the concert and the birthday party, I still couldn’t break the time barrier. (Well, obviously I could, but you know what I’m trying to say.)

    My plan of attack (finalized on the second leg of the drive, from Eugene to Seattle) was to blink back to late at night on the sixth, allowing me to sneak into the seventh first thing by crossing midnight as the days changed.  If I needed to go back further, I could then jump to the early morning of the sixth.  If I hadn’t solved the mystery by this point, I still had the fourth to fall back on.  And if all else failed I’d jump all the way to the first and camp out until I had my answer.

    In the back seat I had a small cooler with a loaf of bread, some cold cuts, and two gallons of water.  Nothing fancy, just enough to sustain me if needed.  I also had a red rubber ball I bought from a machine outside the grocery store, just in case.

    It was nearly midnight when I pulled onto Lake Washington Boulevard.  I parked the car outside of Viretta Park, ignoring the sign saying it was closed from 11:30pm to 4am.  After placing the cooler on my lap and synchronizing my watch to the clock in the car I felt ready to blink, but remembering Glitzy decided to get out of the car first.  Ideally I’d want to take the car with me, but I didn’t want to risk leaving it back in time.  Or even worse having something weird happen where I only take the steering column with me, leaving my getaway car inoperable.  I pocketed the newspaper clippings and made my way down the steep stone staircase into the park proper.  At the bottom of the stairs I stopped and focused on the genesis of the old Chunnel project. 


    I tried again, remembering how the professor had been a dirty old man who hit on all of the girls in the class. 

    Still nothing.  (I should have figured, since that could have been any day.) 

    What was wrong?  I had no problem blinking back from the library, and I was using the same memory.  Making matters worse, I was in danger of missing my easy window into April 7 if the clock slipped past midnight, which was now less than a minute away.

    Trying not to panic, I retrieved my newspaper headlines for a different approach. 

    Justice Blackmun resigns! 

    Earthquake in LA!

    Beer kegs in Maryland! 

    Biosphere!  African Presidents!

    Not even a tingle.  Maybe I really did need a ball.

    Now desperate, I squeezed the superball and turned to the page of music reviews for new and upcoming albums.

    Smash by The Offspring!

    Rusty by Rodan!

    This was no good.  I didn’t care about either of those bands.  Scanning down further I found something that struck a nerve but was worth a try:  Live Through This by Courtney’s band Hole.

    Nope.  The other reviews in my stack didn’t seem to be worth the effort, as Mellow Gold came out way too early and Parklife was born too late.

    Dejected, I plopped down on a graffiti covered bench and read the entire paper from April 7 cover to cover, never feeling close to blinking back at any point.  Worse still, it was now 1:15am, which meant that my plan to backdoor the seventh was out unless I wanted to wait an entire day.  I couldn’t even get back to the April Fools Day concert, and that was one of the most vivid memories of my life.  In some twisted way it felt like my historic bad concert karma was haunting me once again.

    Bad concert karma is Murphy’s Law applied to rock and roll.  Tickets sell out early, a secret show occurs without your knowledge, a set time gets changed, an opening act doesn’t show up, or someone breaks an arm in the mosh pit forcing a trip to the hospital mid-set.  You name it, it’s happened to me.  The Reverend Horton Heat/Butthole Surfers show sells out inexplicably, leaving me to listen to the opening song from the sidewalk through the door of the club.  All of the toilets overflow an hour before the Mighty Mighty Bosstones are set to take the stage and everyone is sent home.  A bouncer throws a stagediver towards an exit at a 311 show, knocking over a friend’s chair and breaking her knee.  Black Grape can’t get into the country to play the Enit Festival.  I can’t figure out how to travel back in time to one of the greatest shows of Bob Dylan’s later career until I’m back in my motel room.

    One of the fringe benefits of being a music critic was my guest list access and insider connections, which I had thought would eliminate the bad karma and give me a one up on the competition.  I was wrong.  Carter USM canceled the one date on their American tour that I had a press pass for, and two weeks later they call it quits.  I hear on the radio that Nirvana won’t be headlining Lollapalooza as they were originally scheduled to, and I’m so mad I punch a wall and break my hand, which is a bit harsh considering that Kurt turned up dead the next day...

    The next day!  I punched the wall on April 7th!  The cancellation had been announced earlier than this, but in the days before Internet ubiquity it was the first I had heard of it.