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Mrs. Johnson did an embarrassed shuffle into her house as I turned toward her. I felt heat rush into my head. I’d blown it. If he told Cole they’d call me a ‘lunatic,’ which would close all the doors. “Sorry Trevor,” I said. “We’ll talk about it later.”

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Trevor shook his head. “You want to watch cartoons, Leo?”

“Yeah, sure, kid,” I said, nervous that he’d stopped addressing me as ‘Uncle.’ I grew a little more relaxed as he asked me about my radio. I even took it out of my coat pocket and let him mess with it. He couldn’t get any stations either.

As I watched Trevor watch TV, fear sunk me. Could this family ever believe I’d come from 2010 for help? If it were hard to convince Mini me over there, Cole would never be convinced. The house swallowed me up. I expected Cole to come out yelling, for blood, ready to snap me in two. I’d used up my stupid mind-reading trick. It’d just put me further away from meeting my deadline. These tiny scored pills helped me now, but soon my heart would fail. Talking to Trevor might have murdered my cause; I should have talked to Cole.

Elmer Fudd chased Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck flapped his black feathers inside my head. I dreamed my body was rippled plastic filled with saline. I felt ice flow into my arms, and chest, then freeze my head. My bone-enforced limbs were strong, but my torso bulged toward bursting. A nurse shook my neck as if shaking an IV bag above a hospital bed. I awoke wet and cold, the dream’s meaning eerily clear. I touched the bulge in my jacket – a shiny needled syringe and saline bag. When had I become the type of person who carries such a kit?

I’d traveled to 1961 to steal from the umbilical and saw myself being born. I’d trade that in for the greater wonder of seeing just once my son Jacob. I wanted to provide for him and teach him to stand, walk, and ride. I wanted to be in that stuffy Motor Vehicles Division office as Jacob stepped into manhood. How long would it take Susan to grow me a heart? How many innocents would suffer? I remembered that cop’s wide eyes, haunting. My head pounded. Too late in life, I’d found a soul mate in Susan, a friend.

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“Uncle Leo?”

“What?” A flood of light blinded me. I felt Trevor’s small fingers tugging my nose. “What you want, Trevor?” I said. I heard Sylvia banging pots and pans, and the Peterson’s lawnmower chopping up a yard.

“Sis is hurt,” said Trevor.

“Sis hurt?” I didn’t know whether to believe him. Had I changed the timeline? “O.K., I’m coming.” I stood anemic, tired, and followed Trevor’s insistent tugs through the front door.

“Trevor, don’t bother Uncle Leo,” yelled Sylvia, “he’s sick.”

“I’m not, Mom,” lied Trevor. We stumbled into the late afternoon sun.

“Where’s Angie?” I said, halting near the garage.

Trevor’s hands shook. “It’s big trouble,” he said. “She’s in the field.”

A baptism of memories flooded my brain. “Trevor,” I said, “I know all about it.” I gripped his tiny hand. “You’re not afraid Angie’s hurt. You’re afraid she’s going to be punished by your parents.” I smiled at his surprised eyes.

“Leo, you reading my mind? Sis says I’m ‘gullible.'”

I’d wrapped the quilt around me. “Let me tell you the events, Trevor,” I said. “Then I’ll predict what will happen. I’m telling you the future so you’ll believe my mission.”

Trevor nodded but jerked me to the field. Gravel stung my naked feet, but the dew-soaked grass cooled my toes. “Where is she now?” I said. The swaying yellow field seemed empty. I squinted my eyes, and loosened my neck.

“Sis’s there,” pointed Trevor. I followed his insistent finger to a small dot in the field. “Of course,” I said. “You, Angie, and her boyfriend built a fort. Angie got in it and left you outside, just as some hippies came at you swinging paint cans. You ran away and the hippies spilled red and blue paint all over Angie’s clothes. Then they took off whooping like Indians. And now, Trevor, Angie doesn’t want to come for fear she’ll get spanked.”

“She’s not afraid she’ll get spanked,” said Trevor. “She’s got a sleep-over at Rhonda’s tonight and she knows mom’s not going to let her go now.”

I smiled. “Well, you tell Angie to pack her bags for Rhonda’s, because your parents will know it wasn’t her fault.”

“So sis won’t get in trouble?”

“That’s what I said.” I was curt. I’d lived the day through; I knew.

“I’ll tell her,” said Trevor. “If you’re sure she can go to Rhonda’s.”

“I’m sure,” I said with a smile. Finally, I’d broken through.

Trevor and his blue-faced sister dashed by me, both smiling. A shriek came from the living room. “You’re red and blue, disgusting! Take off your clothes, Angie, you’re grounded, no Rhonda’s tonight! Trevor; go, just go!”

Trevor slumped into the front yard. “You were wrong Uncle Leo.”

“Sorry kid,” I said, wincing. I didn’t bother explaining to him the unpredictable aspects of time travel; that I’d done something here to change Sylvia’s reaction to the hippie attack. When Trevor said “Don’t worry about it, Uncle Leo,” it just made me feel worse. Finally, I said, “Trevor, I goofed up. This stuff is complicated.” The sun irritated my face. The hope of witnessing my son’s birth dwindled. I had to talk to Cole.

Could I convince Cole? The facial birthmark that matched little Trevor’s had already been termed a funny coincidence.’ What about technology? The radio Susan gave me as a backup device didn’t even so much as spit out static. I knew Cole’s speedway race results, who’d win the World Series, and Super Bowl, a few stocks to buy, who’d be President after the next few elections. That was all future-proof. I needed results now. There was one thing – if I could remember it right. Uncle Hank hadn’t come to little Trevor’s birthday party. Yeah, he’d make up for that tonight.

When I was little Trevor, I loved being around Cole. I hated church. Sometimes on Sunday night, I’d get lucky and Mom would leave me with Cole who’d smelled of the clean shower and Old Spice. We’d watch The Wild Kingdom, and then, instead of sitting in a pew listening to a sermon I couldn’t understand, I got to watch The Wonderful World of Disney. Cole sat in his easy chair. I kneeled on the hardwood floor close to the TV. Tinker Bell would emerge from a tiny dot to almost as big as the screen, then turn and sprinkle flashes of fiery fairy lights on a castle to bless it’s wonderful gates.wp-admin

I could see why Sylvia was Cole’s pride. Her brown eyes reflected solemn church pews. I’ve heard her moist lips speak truth from richness deep within and that she thought her body was a temple, and I knew these things weren’t fantasy. She discerned me. Her smooth face had chiseled features; her softness had rigid supports.

“Takes a woman strong to be a woman sweet,” Cole always said.

Sylvia was as tall as Cole, but always looked up at him. Most people I’d heard talk about Cole said they first saw Cole as a small man, but they’d been corrected on that quickly. Cole chose his battles carefully, but get in his face once too often and he’d make you see he didn’t like to be condescended to. I worshiped Cole. I remember once being dressed for Easter. I had black slacks and a pretty sailor shirt of white and light blue and a gay sailor’s hat. But I didn’t want to go to Easter Service. I wanted to rebuild the Harley in Dad’s garage, us in our ripped blue jeans and crew neck t-shirts, spitting on the gravel while we surveyed some patched-together engine parts.

Cole was a reasonable man, but I don’t think things like time travel and double selves fell in his realm of possibility. To convince him would take a mighty good argument, but he was like the big wall in front of me; knock him down, and all resistance would collapse. Still, Cole was a hard-nosed racer, mechanical-minded, and no-nonsense here and now, not really the ‘Trekkie’ my Aunt Tanya was becoming in this era across town.

I saw my chance out of the blue one day while watching Star Trek. Little Trevor, excited by the show, said, “Uncle Leo can tell the future sometimes!”

Cole folded his Paradise News in the middle and gazed at me. “He can, can he?”

I expected Trevor to talk some more about our conversations, but he rested his chin between his tiny hands and returned his focus to the star-ship Enterprise. Cole’s stare didn’t relent though, so I figured Trevor had already spilled the beans to him. He seemed to want a confrontation. I suppose Cole and me approached each other equally unprepared for a conversation on the unknown. He worked with gear ratios, and pistons, happy with the smell of leaded gasoline and the feel of cold unrelenting metal. I liked Science fiction, late-night radio, and rock and roll.

“What about it, Leo,” said Cole, “are you psychic?”

I winced. “Sort of, Cole,” I said. “What do you want to know?”

Cole smiled. “How are things going to end in Vietnam?” He said.

“We lose.”

Cole’s face reddened. “That’s easy for you to say now,” He said.

“I answered your question.”

“OK, Leo,” admitted Cole.

“Ask him what you did at Bob’s Market,” said Trevor.

“Bob’s Market?” Cole screwed up his eyes at me.

“Yeah,” said Trevor. “He told me everything I knew about DC comics and Hostess berry pies and Snicker bars and everything at Bob’s Market.”

“O.K., Leo.” Cole settled into his chair with a grin. “Talk, make me a believer, if you can.”

“Oh, I can,” I said, my heart pounding. “But will you accept it?”

He smiled. “I’ve always been reasonable, Leo,” he said.

So it was on.

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Kate Johnson is a content writer, who has worked for various websites. She is also a college graduate who has a B.A in Journalism.

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