Timely Persuasion - Online Edition - Chapter 8


Eight Days A Week

    The dog was barking uncontrollably as he often did when he had company.  I stepped through the wall of the tree house and looked down at him from my hovering position.  He immediately calmed down and sat quietly.  Could he see me?  I guess that made sense, since animals and small children could see Al the hologram on Quantum Leap.  I ran a short spiral above my dead dog’s head, wanting to check his eyes for yellow matter custard if I could get close enough.  He remained still and didn’t even look up at me.  I yelled his name in an attempt to attract his attention, but still he held his ground.  Guess he couldn’t see me after all.  Even though there isn’t much science to my time travel theories, I decided I should probably try to keep them separate from movie and TV logic.

    Blinking back from the tree house was a calculated move, as it would allow me access to the upstairs of the raised ranch house. (Too bad I hadn’t thought of this in Seattle.)  The floor of the tree house was almost exactly in line with the backyard porch.  When I was younger I had ambitions of building a bridge between the two structures, but my Dad knew it would be an eyesore and rightfully disallowed it.  Leaving the dog behind, I walked across the invisible bridge to the kitchen window.

    Taking care to be discreet so my high school self wouldn’t see me, I felt like a bit of a peeping tom as I voyeured inside.  My sister and I were at the kitchen table playing cribbage.  The game was played more or less on autopilot, while the primary focus was her grilling me on the events of the evening. 

    “So, who was that girl with you in the tree house?”

    Younger me blushed as he tossed two cards into the crib.  “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

    My sister had just turned fifteen and was trying to learn the ropes of teendom from me, not quite realizing that I wasn’t the best teacher from an “are you experienced” standpoint.

    “You just had a smoke by yourself?  That’s the sign of a true junkie.”

    I laughed at the lesser of two evils entrapment game she often played.  Even at this young age she could casually manipulate without arising suspicion.  It must have worked wonders in her teaching career, effortlessly convincing kids they were taking the high road in revealing one secret while protecting another.  My high school incarnation foolishly thought he could play along.

    “I don’t know what you mean.  I don’t smoke.”

    “You don’t smoke cigarettes,” was her immediate reply.  “But I’ve heard about some other things.  You should let me join you.  That is, if you really were alone up there...”

    I watched myself redden as he tried to hide behind his cards.  Though I wasn’t recalling this exact conversation, I did remember the general scenario.  Sis wanted me to be her doorman to the world of underage drinking and drugs.  I wanted to set a good, know when to say when, functional alcoholism, recreational in small doses from time to time type of example that kept the stoner that I was under wraps.  But she had friends among the high school gossip circles of other sibling pairs, and thus knew a lot more than she was letting on.  She was playing this one perfectly, knowing that dragging me down one path would force me to retreat down the other when I changed the subject.

    “Fine.  I was with a friend out there, but her name is not of your concern.  Lesson number one, which I’m sure you’ll learn the hard way one day, is that a gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell.”

    She laughed.  “If you think you’re a gentleman, your advice should be a gentleman doesn’t kiss, unless he wants the girl to cuss at him and run away.”

    I pushed the cribbage board away, effectively ending the game as the argument escalated.

    “You were spying on me!”

    Mom walked in at that moment, looking younger than I could ever remember.  “Kids!  Do you know what time it is?  What’s going on?”

    My sister and young me exchanged a brief glance, trying to telepathically get on the same page for a cover story.  I couldn’t very well tell our mother: “She was watching me try to seduce a girl with a joint,” as I’d be in trouble for the drugs, in trouble for telling my sister that I did drugs, and on top of that get the third degree about the girl, eventually revealing her name and falling victim to Mom’s jinx.  Any way you look at it you lose.

    Sis started.  “He’s pegging extra holes and trying to cheat.”

    Young me took her lead and responded perfectly, throwing down his cards.  “Whatever.  I’m not playing anymore.”

    Mom bought the ruse.  “Remember:  the name of the game is fun.” 

    Outside the window, I smiled at another of Mom’s catch phrases. 

    “The name of the game is fun.” 

    “The past is still the past.” 

    “Because I’m the mother.” 

    Remembering all of these in succession kicked off a fit of laughter, at which point high school me looked towards the sounds and made eye contact with modern me. 

    “Hey!” he yelled, tripping over his chair as he ran for the back door.

    Stunned, I left the porch and sprinted through the air towards the woods behind the house.  Behind me I could hear the anarchy play out.  My father had joined the group when he heard the commotion, and the dog resumed barking upon seeing the gathering outside.

    Mom:  “What is it?  A robber?”

    Me:“There was a man watching us.  He jumped off the deck and ran that way.”

    Sis:  “I didn’t see anything.”

    Dad:  “I see him, he’s in the tree house.  You better run, motherfucker!”


    Catching my breath as I turned back, I saw my father descend the stairs and charge in my direction.  He was holding his guitar as if it were a club and seemed fully prepared to utilize his weapon of choice.  He looked angry.  Very angry.

    “Be careful!” I heard my mother yell as Dad gained ground.

    Realizing that running wasn’t the best option here, I did what I should have done from the start.  I fingered the neck bruise and instantaneously returned to the modern day tree house.