Timely Persuasion - Online Edition - Chapter 9


Drivin’ On 9

Waiting for myself was beginning to feel like waiting for Godot.  Apparently I did not come home for lunch on this day, or if I had it wasn’t at an hour that would be deemed lunchtime by a reasonable person.  By 3:15 I was becoming impatient and once again found myself cursing the inability to select the times of my arrivals.  It would be far more effective if I could just fast forward through the boring bits and get this party started.  In the midst of making a mental note to prioritize this feature when I either met or became the man who invented time travel, I heard someone fumble their keys and throw the latch.

    I dove into one of the walls and cautiously peered through.  With only my cheekbone and left eye exposed, I witnessed the arrival of slightly younger me, circa 2001.  He shut and locked the door, dropped the mail on the couch, put a Soul Coughing disc on the stereo, closed the blinds, double-checked that the door was locked, and walked into the kitchen.

    He/I emerged seconds later with a leftover meatball sub in one hand and a bag of weed in the other.  Apparently this wasn’t just a lunch break, as I never went to work under the influence.  (Well, almost never.  And never on purpose.  But those brownies are a completely different story for another time.)  After a bite from the sandwich, he painstakingly packed the small blue bong our sister had given us for our birthday.  He took a hit, smiled, and noticed the answering machine.  He got up to retrieve the messages, checked the lock on the door a third time, and was already back on the couch for another hit from both sub and water pipe before the first message had started to play.

    “Hey man.  We’re going to the bowling alley for happy hour.  And it’s guys night, so don’t bring the girlfriend,” was the typically short and to the point message left by one of my drinking buddies.  The second message caught me off guard.

    “It’s me.  Just saying hi.  Thanks for the note earlier.  I love it when you speak in lyrics like that.  It’s so poetic.  Anyways, enjoy your night out with the boys.  I’m sure you’ll give me a drink and dial later.”

    It was her. 

    I hadn’t heard her voice in a long time.  I wondered if she’d changed at all.  Even though she wasn’t really my type, the cute little redheaded girl and I had a promising fling that had been going on for longer than most, but it all went for naught after my sister...

    I snapped myself out of the memory.  Plenty of time to go back and change that later, but right now I was busy making other plans.  Younger me had left his vices on the floor and was hunkering down for a nap on the couch, lying on his side and embracing a throw pillow as if it were his absent bedmate. 

    A part of me almost missed that simple life.  Easily amused with food, tunes, dope, and the mental image of a pretend girlfriend as he floated his way upstream through dreamy dream land.  Why wouldn’t you want to live in this world?  I smiled as I remembered all of the naps I used to take on that couch, even after getting my first proper bed that now sat unused in the corner.

    Watching myself drift off to sleep, I decided it was time to act.  Crouching down on all fours, I crept over until I was literally beside myself.  I was close enough to whisper in my own ear, but what would I say? 

    “I don’t wanna go and party.  Maybe I’ll call my sister and play cards.”

    In my moment of hesitation I must have practiced my lines a little too loud.

    “Hmmm...” grunted stoned sleeping me.  “That’s not a bad idea.  But she’ll say no.  We haven’t spoken in a while.  And it’s guys night.”  Upon completing his thought, he sighed and gently kissed the pillow he was snuggling with.

    Subliminal persuasion was not my initial plan, but if it worked this could go far better than I had hoped.  In my half asleep, half altered mind I didn’t even seem to realize that I was talking aloud to myself.  Did I always do that?  Did I think I was talking to her?

    I tried to brace myself on the couch to stand up from kneeling, but my hand dissolved in the armrest and I keeled over, head-butting my sleeping self in the chest.  Stoned and startled, he immediately sat bolt upright.  We stared at each other with the same shocked expression, my second encounter with the living mirror.  Launching into Plan A, I jumped onto the couch, pinning myself down while awkwardly putting a hand over my younger mouth to silence myself.

    “Don’t panic.”

    The look in my eyes seemed to agree as young me tried to nod, so I eased up with my hand.

    “Who are you?  You look like me.”

    “I’m from the future.  I have a message for you.  Don’t go to the bar tonight.  Stick to your sister like glue for the next twenty-four hours.  I can’t tell you much more.”

    Young me smiled.  “What the hell, I’m only dreaming.  I’ll play along.  You came here in a time machine I invented, and need my help to get you back to the year 1985.”

    “No!  This is the real deal.  Just keep our sister company until this time tomorrow, okay?”

    “Do I have to hang out with her boring loser husband too?”

    I had raised a good point.  “No.  Take her away.  Maybe go to the Cape house for the night.”

    “But it’s Monday.  Nobody goes to the Cape during the week.  Plus, we really haven’t been hanging out since Nelson came along.  But you should know that, being me and all.”

    “This is a matter of life and death.  It’s time to reconcile.  Take a couple days off, have her do the same.  Hell, quit your job if need be.  I know you hate it.  Start writing again.  Get away, and all will be well.”

    Surprised that I knew of his not so perfect employment situation, he started “I haven’t written since...” before trailing off.

    “Since the objection you never read.  Don’t worry about that now.  There’s still time.”

    “All right, future me.  I don’t usually believe in premonitions, but when I wake up I’ll call my friend in New York and we’ll drive down tonight and spend the day there tomorrow.”

    I stood up and was about to agree with his plan, then immediately realized my error.  Shit.  This wasn’t right. 

    “Not New York.  Anywhere but New York.”

    “Why not New York?  Are aliens going to invade?”

    I had previously decided not to reveal the horrific news as to what would happen on that day, thinking that a more subtle saving of one life would be less likely to upset the stream of time than attempting to save many.  I know that sounds evil and selfish, but that was how I felt at the time.  Now that the opportunity had arisen, I decided I might as well roll the dice and go for it.  Do something for the greater good and let the karma police reward me later.

    “Tomorrow is nine eleven.  New York is the last place you want to be.”

    “Nine eleven?” asked younger me.  “Wouldn’t nine-one-one make more sense?  Nobody says nine eleven.”

    Again he was right.  Up until now the numbers 9-1-1 were always synonymous with calling the police, and even seeing them in other formats elicited the same single digit version when read aloud.

    911, 9/11, 9:11, etc.

    But as of tomorrow, nine-one-one would be nine eleven forever more.

    “Listen to me.  They are going to fly a plane...”

    “Into the Chrysler Building?” young me asked, quoting the artist currently playing on the stereo.

    “Be serious.  This is not Chicago.  Terrorists will hijack four planes and fly two into the World Trade Center and another into the Pentagon.  Two of the planes will depart from Boston originally.”

    “What can I do about it?”

    “Call the airport.  Warn them to be on the lookout.  And then get your sister away from here.  Your primary duty is to stick to your sister until tomorrow night.  Am I clear?”

    “Yes,” he said, turning onto his side and rehugging the pillow.  “Warn the airlines about terrorists and don’t let my sister go to New York.  Got it.”

    “Don’t let her out of your sight.”

    “Fine.  Can I finish this nap without dreams?  I’m always tired after I wake from dreaming.”

    “Do what you want, but you’d better heed my warning.  This isn’t a dream.”

    With that, he rolled over once more to continue his nap in peace.  I walked through the wall and onto the street, leaving younger me to his dreams and his thoughts.