to the Past
by Logan Best
All characters depicted in this novel are fictitious. Any resemblance to
real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Table of Contents
Chapter One: The Impossible Dream
Chapter Two: The Opportune Visitation 7
Chapter Three: Through the Deep Tunnel 12
Chapter Four: Along the Cobblestone Sidewalk 17
Chapter Five: Surprising Post-Show
Chapter Six: The Glorious Meeting
Chapter Seven: Stephanie's Transformation 37
The Impossible Dream
The widely renowned history writer seemed unlike himself lately --
distant bordering on aloofness. Three hours ago, he settled
down at his desk, in front of his computer screen to write
following a worldwide speaking tour on the heels of his bestseller,
America's Golden Cultural Era.
Now sitting in his armchair, he began pondering, putting more
pieces of the puzzle together. And these comprised some of those
pieces. After the first airplane lifted off the ground at the turn of the
twentieth century--generally assumed to be impossible--another
"impossible" dream hatched in someone's mind; a humble, illiterate
thirty-nine year-old North Carolinian peasant villager named Elias
Baxter thought of it while peacefully lying on his hammock in his back
yard one summer night, enjoying the pitch blackness
solitude, looking up at the midnight stars and pondering that amazing
aerial feat. In the ensuing weeks the idea gained more and more
substance in Elias' mind, seeming
to take a stronger hold on his
psyche. For some reason, ole' Elias--never prone to flights of fancy,
not to mention obsessive thoughts--ruminated on it nearly constantly.
he bore no interest in anything of a technical or
supernatural nature, which made it all the stranger. He felt like
something, or someone, planted the thought in his head like a seed in
The thought: since the Wright Brothers managed to make
a flying object,
perhaps someone, somewhere, at some
point in the future will invent
something even more specatacular -- a time machine.
Months passed and Elias kept thinking about it. Then, something
else cropped up in his head. Something unseen seemed to be nudging
him to create a lasting oral family tradition about
a time machine to
survive his inevitable passing, lasting long into future the generations.
It took much insistence convincing his fifteen-year-old son, Oliver,
that--as scientific knowledge
gradually advanced--a time machine
could, possibly, be built one day, even it constitued a very faint
possibility. So, they kept the dream alive within themselves, and
pledged--upon the eventuality of growing up and having a family
of his own--to pass the dream down to his children, and instruct them
to pass it on to their children, come time.
Many decades passed, a century rolled over, and the oral tradition
-- surviving like a baton passed down from generation to
generation. However, a split-off occurred. Oliver Baxter sired two
sons, and one of them, George, never discussed the impossible dream
with his children, due to sheer skepticism. The other son, Carl,
vigorously discussed it with his children, and quite often. Carl's second
son, Frank--spurred on by the 'impossible dream'--became a scientist.
Leonard, George's first and only son, now nearing sixty, never even
became aware of the 'impossible dream'... then,
he received a phone call one
Fall morning from cousin Frank, the
Laurel to his Hardy, both personality-wise and size-wise.
"Hello, Leonard. This is Frank. How have you been doing?"
"Aah, Frank! So nice to hear from you! Fine, and yourself?"
Leonard replied in a boisterous voice, in contrast to Frank's meek one.
Even their voices matched their respective natures!
After taking a deep breath, Frank wasted no time
"Well, I'm very excited about a new invention I've been working on for a
long time, and I would
like for you to come by and see it. I think it's
finished. It fits into a secret family tradition that our great-
grandfather, Elias, started, and my dad passed the torch on to me, but
your father kept it from you... and now I'm going to let you in on it."
"Okay, what is it?" Leonard curiously inquired.
invention. Can you come by and see it now, Leonard?"
responded Frank, almost teasingly, but Leonard knew that Frank, ever
the serious one, never played games.
"Okay, I like surprises. I'll be right over," Leonard lightheartedly
With that, Leonard Baxter hopped in his Mercedes Benz and
began driving the fifty-three miles it took to reach his cousin's house
from Maine down to New Hampshire. Frank's mysterous
secret family tradition... hmm, he mused as he drove.
Leonard rang the doorbell, and a few seconds later the front
door opened for him.
"Ah, Leonard, so nice to see you," soft and delicate Frank said as
robustly as possible, looking up at
his cousin with a big smile. Then
Leonard stepped through the threshold, into Frank's luxurious suburban
"Yes, it has been a while," noted Leonard right before the two
engaged in a little
"Well, you should come by more often," urged Frank, followed by
pat on his older cousin's back and a complement on his impeccable
"I know I should, but it's an hour drive, and so often the traffic is
horrendous," Leonard somewhat abashedly said as he reached up and
took his woolen driving cap off his balding fifty-nine year-old head.
"Excuses, excuses, dear man. You're so much like your father; so
full of excuses, and even worse, skepticism," Frank jokingly
"May the old man rest in peace. I wonder what he would have
thought of the world situation in 2019," Leonard dishearteningly
"Well, it's funny you mention that because I think I have found a
way out of it," Frank said earnestly.
"What?!" exclaimed Leonard, furrowing his brow, struggling to
understand the meaning laden within that odd sounding remark.
"Leonard, that is why I called you and asked you to come
here on this fine Saturday morning. I was referring to my invention.
But first, allow me to fill
you in on what your father chose to keep
from you. Please, have a seat." Frank motioned to the guest chair,
and he walked over to the one facing it.
Leonard began growing more and more interested as he took his
seat. What is this all about, he wondered, but didn't say, although his
intense facial expression said it very well.
Frank clearly saw that Leonard hung on his every word, and he
went on. "Listen,
big guy, I know that great-grandpa Elias had a
reputation for being eccentric ... crazy even, I guess. The fact is, he
wasn't crazy, or even eccentric. The man was very stable minded and
conservative, but somehow he became thoroughly obsessed with the
idea that someday someone would build a time machine."
"A what?! Hahaha, Hahaha, Hahaha!!! A time
a load of malarkey!!! Impossible, I tell you!!! Simply impossible!!! No
could ever build a time machine! No way!" Leonard tossed his
head back and resumed his hearty laugh, unobstructed by his own
words after barely being able to speak through them, laughing so hard.
"My Gosh, Leonard, you're so much like Uncle George, it's
unbelievable! I guess
that the saying, Like father, like son really is
Leonard just ignored him and continued on, "Hahaha!!! Oh my,
I'm laughing so hard I'm afraid I'm going to fall over and have a heart
Mild-mannered Frank just sat there looking straight ahead after
saying jerk in his mind, holding his tongue, patiently waiting for his
cousin's laughter to ebb. That took a full fifteen seconds. But
as Leonard quit laughing and wiped his watery eyes, he lightheartedly,
though a little more seriously, said,
"Oh, you don't actually believe
that a time machine is possible, do you?"
"I not only believe it, but I think I have built one," he said in a
matter of fact, and sort of eerie, way.
Leonard's countenance turned dour as his mockery turned to
scorn. "Frank, is this some sort of a sick joke?!?" he said sternly, glaring
at him with sharp eyes.
"Leonard, I want you to take a look at what I have made." Frank
got up out of his chair, and Leonard got out of his, shaking his head,
hardly believing what he was hearing. He followed his cousin through
the long hallway, in route to his laboratory. All the way, he kept
shaking his head, trying to rack his brain
for any past signs that
Frank displayed deluded or grandiose thinking patterns out of fear he'd
gone off the deep
end, though unable to remember the slightest
indication. On the contrary, he considered Frank the epitome of
felt unable to accept
even the possibility that his scientist cousin
actually invented a time machine.
They reached the lab room. Frank, upon stepping inside of
it, looked around and quickly caught sight of a seven-foot tall structure
completely covered by a purple sheet.
Little cousin, Frank, reached up, took a hold of a piece of the
cloth, and pulled it off with one quick, clean swoop of the arm like a
magician, revealing the thing he claimed was a time machine.
Leonard just stood stock-still like a stone statue, staring at it
with a shocked,
trance-like expression -- totally flabbergasted, but still
doubting that it represented a functional reality. Just a big chunk of
metal, he thought.
"Well, are you gonna just stand there looking like you've seen a ghost,
or are you gonna step inside of my marvelous invention," Frank
Leonard slowly took his first steps toward the big machine, his
stunned expression only slightly beginning to diminish, but his head
started to shake again. This
is just too bizarre, he thought.
Before Leonard stepped inside of the thing, he took a few
seconds to survey the outside of it, feeling its smooth, silver surface
and touching the various knobs, but not the keypad nor any of the
push-buttons, which Frank warned him against. Then, he gripped the
door handle, opened the door... and stepped inside.
Still in a semi-dazed state of mind, once inside the 4x4x8
enclosure he breathed, "This is incredible,"
more to himself than an
attempt to communicate the thought to his younger cousin. A long,
rectangular screen--shaped like a giant-sized barcode--covered a large
portion of the wall on the right side
of the door, several inches below
the ceiling, and it displayed a series of multi-colored flashing lights--
green, blue, red, yellow, green, blue, red, yellow, green, blue, red,
left to right repeatedly. Smaller screens and an
assortment of other types of features, as well, occupied the front, the
right side and the left side of the interiror unit walls, only the back
bare. A miniature light bulb on the upper-left corner of the
ceiling--hooked up to motion detection sensors--came on every time
someone entered the enclosure and went off each time
they exited it. Following three minutes of wondrous observation,
Leonard had seen enough.
"Great-grandpa Elias telepathically guided me in the making of it
from the other side, I believe," commented Frank with a little
triumphant smile after Leonard finally came out of it.
"Now you're really talking crazy, Frank," said Leonard, harshly,
with anger flaring in his eyes again, again casting them on Frank.
"This whole thing is crazy. I'm amazed that you actually tried to invent
a time machine, but I don't believe it works," he carried on
vehemently. "I won't be convinced until you send me to another
period. Why don't you try to prove me wrong. Go ahead, give it a try;
beam me away, Scottie, or whatever Star Trek wizard you think you
are," he mockingly challenged.
"I was thinking that we could get someone else--a human guinea
pig, so to speak--just to test it out beforehand, in case something goes
wrong," advised Frank, concerned for
his big cousin's safety and
unfazed by his taunts.
"No, I want to try it out now!" Leonard stubbornly and
emphatically protested, about to go back inside. "I'm not scared in the
least!" he boastfully declared. "I know that nothing will happen,
except you feeling embarrassed and stupid and me proving myself right
and you wrong. I love you, cuz, but I've got to tell you that
utterly ridiculous, the most asinine thing you've ever concocted; it's a
total waste of time!" Right after Leonard finished that sentence, and
before he stepped back in, the doorbell
"Stay there while I go check the surveillance monitor to see who's
at the door," said Frank, accustomed to Leonard's arrogant,
and critical ways. A few seconds later, he
returned to the lab and, looking inside the time machine at Leonard,
he excitedly proclaimed, "It's my neighbor, Stephanie Hansen. Maybe
she can be my little guinea pig." With that, Frank--brimming
enthusiasm--went to the front door, while Leonard waited beside the
time machine, annyoed at the interuption, but open to the idea of
using Stephanie as a time machine guinea pig.
As Stephanie entered the lab, behind Frank's lead, Leonard
beheld a beautiful, tall, lean, long-legged, buxom, blue-eyed blonde
with a small waistline, big eyes and delicate
features, and he liked
that... all of that! (Not to mention her tantalizingly skimpy attire
consisting of really short and tight cut-off blue denim shorts--'Daisy
Dukes'--which revealed lots of leg,
and a tight, white midriff tank top
that exposed some cleavage and accentuated her flat tummy.) She also
wore white socks and white sneakers.
jovially introduced the two of them: "Stephanie, this is
Leonard. Leonard, this is Stephanie."
"Hello, Leonard. It's nice to meet you," she said in a foreign
while shaking his hand and smiling. Must be from a Nordic
country, he thought, smiling back.
"Stephanie is in college studying art. She dropped by to return a
book I let her borrow last week," Frank--staying upbeat--informed
"Well, Stephanie, I'll have you know that I wrote a book," Leonard
said in a braggadocious tone, obviously trying to impress her.
"Wow, what's the
name of it?" she sprightly inquired.
"The name of it is America's Golden Cultural Era and it's about..."
Leonard stopped himself in mid-sentence because an idea suddenly
seized his mind.
"Excuse me, Stephanie, may I have a word with my cousin in
private; it won't take long."
Leonard led Frank into the hallway, far enough away that
could talk without Stephanie hearing them.
"Frank, I just had an idea," he said, speaking in a hushed tone to
further enable her from overhearing their clandestine dialogue.
"How about trying to send that chick back to the nineteenth century. I
know that time period like the back of my hand--it's what I write and
lecture about--and I'll know, based on what she describes,
if she really
went there or not. (I'm still ninety-nine-point-ninety-nine--if not
more--percent sure it won't work.) Also, maybe you should tell her
that your time machine is a piece of art
work so she'll be more likely to
step inside of it. Like 'abstract art' or whatever they call it. I mean, if
we level with her, it'll probably either freak her out or she'll just laugh
it, not wanting to have anything to do with it... or us, for that
"Those are both good ideas! Good thinking, cuz," complimented
The conspiring cousins optimistically strolled back into the lab.
"What's this thing," asked Stephanie as soon as they rejoined her, while
"Ah, I'm glad you asked, Steph," said Frank. "This is an abstract
piece of art," he fibbed. "I bought it from an art dealer the other day.
I just had them put it in my lab until I decide where in the house I
want it to go. So many choices, you know."
"What's it supposed to be? It looks sort of Sci-Fi'ish," she curiously
inquired in a high-pitched, excited tone, her bubbly personality
becoming more and more apparent to Leonard,
who always harbored
quite a fondness for ditzy, unassuming beauties.
"Yeah, that's it. A Sci-Fi piece of art work. Would you like to step
of it, Steph," Frank warmly asked, as he walked over to the door,
and then opened it in an inviting gesture for her to enter therein.
"Well, I don't know," Stephanie balked. "It looks kinda scary."
"Oh, there's nothing to fear. That's part of the artistry of it --
stepping inside." Frank, even as he talked, was smiling broadly, trying
to appear as friendly and harmless
as possible, hoping the pretty young
thing would take the bait.
"Well... if you're not going to slam the door shut and lock me
inside," Stephanie said a little
nervously, still hesitant and reluctant,
though trying to make up her mind.
"Hahaha, why would I do that?! It's just a piece of art work, not a
Besides, do you see a lock on this thing?! Even if we were that
sinister, we'd have to stand on the outside, pressing our bodies up
against the door just to keep you inside, and we couldn't do that but
for so long without tiring out. And besides, what would be the point of
keeping you captive?!"
"Well, okay," Stephanie agreed with newfound confidence, finally
swayed by her neighbor's soothing words. She stepped up and walked
Through the Deep Tunnel
Suddenly, Leonard had another--what he considered to be--'bright
idea.' Right after
Frank closed the door, and before he could start
punching the buttons for the numeric keypad combination to begin the
process of transporting Stephanie to the nineteenth century, he
in the form of an impassioned plea: "Hey, cuz, I know we
have our little guinea pig, but think about something: if you're actually
able to zap her back to the nineteenth century, wouldn't she be scared
being there all alone with no one to guide her or comfort
her?! If this time travel thing was to actually work, wouldn't it be
better for her to have me accompany her, protect her and guide her
way?!" The truth of the matter was that Leonard just
wanted to step inside to be close to Stephanie, still feeling nearly
one-hundred-percent sure that it wasn't going to work.
"Okay, Leonard, you win," Frank relented, yet knowing--because
he knew Leonard--it wasn't a matter
of true altruism. "But
first..." ... he stepped over to a nearby table to pick up something...
"here, take this." Frank handed him a device that looked like a
combination of a cell phone and a TV
remote control. "You can
communicate with me on this thing. I call it The Comm. I have one,
too. There's no time for detailed instructions on how to use it, but I
you'll be able to figure it out. Here is where you type text
messages. Just remember to press Enter and then Send
type a message to me, and then look for my return message on the
screen. If you want to talk to me, just push this button and then speak
into the audio transmitter here. You can hear
what I say through the
audio receiver here, but keep in mind that you have to have the
speaker set to 'On.' Those
are the basics for the voice activation
Leonard just chuckled as he held the thing, looking at it, thinking
it was all so silly and absurd.
"Okay, thanks for the walkie-talkie, pal.
Roger out," he sarcastically replied.
Frank opened the door and announced, "Umm, Stephanie, my
would like to join you inside."
"Okay," she said half attentively, still eyeing the interior, followed
by, "Hey, I kinda like it in here, actually. It seems like some sort of a
time capsule or something," spoken cheerfully.
"You don't know how right you are, young
lady; you don't know
how right you are!" Leonard said after he eagerly stepped inside next
to her curvy body, feeling like wrapping his arm around her back and
caressing her bare, tanned shoulder, and
running his fingers through
her long, straight, light blonde hair... but he figured he'd just have to
settle for smelling her perfume.
"What?!" she exclaimed
confusedly, shifting her focus to
Leonard, after Frank hastily shut the door on them.
"Never mind," Leonard simply replied, just happy to be in there,
alone with her, if only for a short amount of time -- expecting it
wouldn't take Frank's time travel attempt beyond four or five minutes
to fail, but hoping that the inevitable failure would last a whole lot
"So, where are you from, Stephanie? Sweden?"
"Bavaria, actually, but that's a good guess."
All the while they were chatting, Frank's busy fingers worked the
keypad in the preparatory stages: He pressed one button and a yellow-
golden glow instantly filled the small room; he pressed another one
and a slight humming sound emerged, as well. Both were signs to Len
and Steph that something was going on, possibly
to happen, but Leonard maintained his skepticism while
Stephanie regarded those manifestations all as part and parcel of the
piece of art -- an unorthodox, Disneyland type of artistic experience,
estimation. She wasn't worried, just enjoying it, as Leonard
initiated more small talk with her, though she was barely paying
attention to what he said.
the yellow-gold light flickered and, a split second afterward,
the humming noise increased double in volume, giving all indications
that something--some change--was about to transpire -- reducing Len's
but only minimally. Meanwhile, on the outside, Frank
kept pushing various buttons on the keypad and typing in information
on the keyboard: Date, time, location and 'transport code.' He
some more data and applied a few finishing touches, last of
which was the impending push of the Send button... Now that was
done. At that point, Leonard and Stephanie felt like they were being
whooshed away like carpet dust being sucked into a vacuum cleaner,
and then they experienced the sensation of traveling through a long,
black and white rotating spiral tunnel full of a seemingly infinity of
circles within circles... this lasted for ten terrifying seconds... and
then... Wham! They found themselves outside
Amazing!!! It happened so fast, as sudden as
without warning, like a jolt -- Leonard and Stephanie being thrust out
of the tunnel, no longer standing in the 'time capsule,' as Stephanie
had called it, no longer being hurled
around in the endless array of
swirling circles. Now they stood on solid, natural ground outside, on a
small mound, under a dimming grey sky in the early stage of
transitioning to night.
Evidently, they arrived there--wherever "there"
was--during evening hours.
"What the heck happened??? Where are we???" Stephanie shouted,
shocked beyond words, feeling utterly disoriented, confused and
traumatized. Leonard felt extremely shocked, but not quite as
Stephanie because, although formerly disbelieving, cousin
Frank kind of prepared him for the possibility of time travel in the
sense of simply letting him in on the plan. As for Stephanie, she didn't
know what in the world just transpired; she had no clue. At least
(Leonard) knew and, therefore, he quickly began to mentally process
the change of scenery.
"Oh, Geez!!! My little cousin actually did it," Leonard softly said
to himself, in a state of utter shock and awe, while looking around as if
in a daze.
what," Stephanie questioned loudly and frantically, unable to
gather her senses.
"This is a time capsule! We lied to you about what it was in order
to get you inside of it because we wanted to use you as a test subject,"
Leonard unabashedly explained. "We're in another time.
sure it's in the past, and I think it is, indeed, the nineteenth century,
like we planned. Judging from that building's architecture," he
continued, pointing, "I would have to
come to that conclusion. Oh,
and look there -- there's a horse and buggy," he further observerd, as it
traveled along a side street.
"This can't be happening
to me! This is unbelievable! How in the
heck did my neighbor invent a time machine?!" Stephanie's voice
trembled as she spoke, her heart pounded, her hands shook, and she
her knees might buckle as she stood beside Leonard on the
"I don't know, Stephanie. I really don't know. But he did mention
that he has a way of returning us to present time, so I don't think
there's any need to panic."
"No need to panic?!?!?!" Stephanie shrieked, clearly annoyed by
that remark. Leonard completely ignored her sarcastically frantic cry,
either due to being so consumed in his observations of his
or insensitivity to her distress, or a little of both.
It looked like a big city, possibly New York, he speculated. Street
lamps lit the air, although there was still enough daylight remaining to
not need them quite yet. A lot of hand-painted signs also came into
view. A bevy of people walked about, mostly along the cobblestone
sidewalks on either side of the street while Leonard and Stephanie
remained on the hilly stretch of Earth-floor -- rare in that urban
Many trotting horses pulling buggies transported the people. The
aggregate sound of those hooves trotting on the tar streets marked the
first thing they heard in that big city. The men dressed in classical
nineteenth century attire, many wore suits and old-style
top hats too,
while the women brandished antiquated hats, themselves, or old-
fashioned hairdos atop their heads and, down below, long--uniformally
ankle-length--nineteenth century style dresses. Shops,
buildings abounded. Turning around and redirectioning their gaze,
they saw another horse and buggy carrying people along the main
street... then another, and then another one trailing
behind it as the
count mounted, forming a long horse trotting line, making for what
amounted to 'heavy traffic' of that era.
A big building, which looked
like an old-fashioned theater, looked
about two-hundred feet off in the distance. People shuffled into
it. They quickly decided to go inside the theater themselves, and
started walking toward
it under the greying twilight sky, amidst the
hustle and bustle of the big city.
Along the Cobblestone Sidewalk
As the time traveling duo made their way toward the building along a
cobblestone sidewalk--about one-third
of the way there--they came
upon a man sitting on a bench who was reading a newspaper which he
held up in front of his face, concealing it. This posed the perfect
opportunity for Leonard to find out
the year they were in without
having to ask a stupid--and probably even suspicious--sounding
Leonard came to a stop, standing right in front of him
Stephanie right by his side. "Excuse me, sir," he began, making the guy
aware of his presence, "I hate to interrupt your reading, but may I
borrow your paper for just one second," he politely
asked. He lowered
the opened newspaper below his face, revealing a friendly
countenance and a kind smile, and handed it to the passerby.
The top right
read May 15, 1893. Leonard also glanced at the
headline, Theresa Vaughn Performing on Broadway at Palmer's
Theater, in addition to noticing that the name of the paper was The
New York Times.
"Thank you, sir," Leonard said, and quickly handed it back to the
gentleman. Then, he and Stephanie continued walking, while the
man's eyes locked on those cheeky, skin-tight, extra-short shorts--not
back on the newspaper's print--as she strolled on along the cobblestone
sidewalk toward the opera house, farther and farther from his lustful
view with each passing step.
"Well, Steph, we have landed in New York City in the year
informed Leonard after they distanced themselves from him far enough
that they were well out of his hearing range.
This is so weird or awesome, or whatever you want to
call it," exclaimed Stephanie. "I'm still trying to take it all in and
mentally process everything," she noted.
"It looks like some people are staring at us, Len. I guess it's
because our clothes don't match this time frame," speculated
Stephanie. "I'm pretty casually dressed and even though you have on
pants and a dress shirt it's not anything like the dress clothes
these men are wearing, so I would suppose that they're noticing how
different our clothes look," she stressed.
"Yeah, that's probably it," agreed Leonard. "We can always say
we're part of the play and the clothes are too," he added. Len knew
that, in that midriff tank top, which stretched out and bulged in the
chest area, and those hip-level, thigh-exposing shorts, Stephanie would
be considered practically naked, and he worried that she'd get arrested
for indecent exposure and he would be suspected of being her pimp.
But, apparently, Stephanie was unaware of how scantily clad she was
for the time she was in. "So, just remember
to give that line to anyone
that might inquire -- that we're decked out in costume," he iterated.
"That's a good idea," said Stephanie as she kept strolling along the
sidewalk, sticking close to Leonard due to feelings of
insecurity and unfamiliarity of her surroundings, continuing to look
around and take in the scenery and people of one-hundred-and-
ago. Leonard occasionally flashed a timid smile and a
nod as he glanced up, barely making eye-contact with pedestrians
when they walked past him, dreading each and every appraching
passerby out of
fear that one of them might alert the police. One
woman, walking with her husband, gasped, "Gosh, she's half naked" to
him right after they passed them. Len heard the remark, but he didn't
Stephanie heard it because she didn't react to it, but, in fact, she
heard it, as well.
"An article in that paper the guy was reading was about Theresa
Vaughn performing on Broadway. That may be what's on schedule in
the theater we're headed toward. I hope it is.
I had a whole chapter
devoted to Theresa Vaughn in my book, America's Golden Cultural Era.
You remember me mentioning my book to you a little while ago?"
"Uh, yeah... a little while ago... when we were in a future
century! This is just so bizarre!" opined Stephanie as her long legs
moved forward, keeping in stride with Leonard's gate.
"Theresa Vaughn was a splendid musician and a cultural icon,"
Leonard stated, trying to give Stephanie a brief history lesson.
"If Theresa Vaughn was so great, then why haven't I ever heard of
her," Stephanie casually asked.
"Because evil forces infiltrated the establishment and
much erased her name and legacy from the annals of history," Leonard
"What?!?" spouted Stephanie, not quite comprehending what
Leonard was saying.
"To put it simply, the bad guys won out. The bad guys won out,"
he ruefully reiterated.
Stephanie gave it some thought, then, seeking clarification,
asked, "Does this have anything to do with, like, in college when we're
all taught how the Founding Fathers were nothing but a bunch of
and the Constitution sucks and early America was horrible and all that
sort of stuff?"
"Now you're starting to understand, Steph. Now you're starting
understand," he repeated, as he was prone to do when trying to
emphasize a point.
They kept walking together and soon came upon the steps leading
to the building's main entrance after they saw its big, bold name--
Palmer's Theater--overhead. Then, they walked up the steps and
house. They slipped past the ticket collector and then
they ascended the staircase and took their seats on the upper balcony,
hoping to steal a viewing without tickets with no one approaching
them and saying
they were taking their seats and had to move.
Settling down in their seats high up and gazing down toward the
stage, Leonard, remembering The Comm that Frank gave him, reached
into his pants pocket to get it. He wanted to inform him that they
made it to the nineteenth century safely. So, first
he typed a short
message and received a short reply right back. Then, he tried the
audio, speaking to Frank, and Frank's voice came in loud and clear.
Other than the shocking transport
and landing in the nineteenth
century, everything seemed to be going quite smoothly now: about to
see a cultural icon performing onstage, and Leonard being able to
communicate with his brilliant time machine
inventing cousin fine and
dandy, as if they had cell phones. But Leonard possessed a comm, not
a cell phone -- much more technologically advanced than cell phones
since they carried the capability of spanning
not only space, but time
After watching Leonard communicate both ways--via fingers and
via mouth--with Frank, Stephanie asked him if a video feature came
equipped on The Comm.
"Let's see... hmm... Oh wow! It sure is!!!" he exclaimed in a tone
of surprise and delight after looking for, and finding, it.
"You should film the play when it starts," Stephanie proposed.
"Oh no I shouldn't!" Len disagreed. "For one thing, don't you think
century people would wonder what in the world I was
holding up; our clothes look suspicious enough, and I don't want to
draw any more attention to ourselves. And for another thing, I just
want to enjoy the play and not worry about trying to film it. I just
wanna take a break from the twenty-first century, not fall back into
the same ole habits of what I'm trying to escape," he explained.
"Well, okay, that makes
sense, I guess," Stephanie acquiesced.
"It's just that I'm used to taking selfies and videos of everything," she
"Oh, look, people are beginning
to take the stage!" Leonard
excitedly announced to Stephanie.
With Leonard and Stephanie all settled down in their seats high
up on the balcony,
the play was about to start. The lights dimmed,
spotlight shinning down on the stage and its cast. As if on cue from
the lighting change, the audience's collective murmurs ebbed and then
All perforemers wore very extravagant, old-fashioned
apparel, which seemed to be significant of an even earlier century.
Len's curiosity was piqued to the point he felt compelled to inquire
Turning his head to his neighbor on his right, he swiftly
whispered, "Excuse me, sir, could you please inform me what the name
of this play is and
tell me what it's about?"
The distinguished gentleman neared his head toward Len to avoid
disturbing anyone and replied in a whisper of his own, "It's called 1492
to Present, and it's about Christopher Columbus' voyage to the New
World and everything that has happened from then up until now."
Then, the gentleman resumed his concentrated gaze upon center
and Leonard turned his head to focus on it too, but not before
issuing a polite "Thank you."
... ... ... Two-and-a-half hours later: The show had ended. What
lasted two and one-half hours seemed like it only began a second ago
due to people being
so lost and enthralled in the play. It created
in everyone's mind. People
began getting out of their seats. The place
filled with many indistinguishable voices, all mixed in together with
each other, and the aggregate sound--although no particular words or
could be made out--made for a cheerful and satisfactory
tone, making for an upbeat, joyful atmosphere of emotion. Surely, all
found much pleasure in the play, saying how much they enjoyed it and
the remarkable experience it gave them, Len presumed as he
stood up, looked around and took a deep breath of fresh nineteenth
century air. Aah, it feels so good being here at this moment in this
in time, he thought. Stephanie felt the same way, and she
gained a new appreciation for America and its beginnings.
Surprising Post-Show Encounters
"Theresa was outstanding, wasn't she," Len breathtakingly
exclaimed as they descended the theater's staircase along with others.
certainly was!" Stephanie wholeheartedly agreed. "What
was the name of that lovely song she played on the banjo," she
"Little Annie Rooney,"
he told her.
Now they walked on the first level, heading for the exit. People
ahead of them shuffled out of the building, which Leonard and
preparing to do... Just then, as they were approaching
the front door, a middle-aged couple rapidly came upon them in an
aggressive manner, blocking their path so they couldn't exit the
"You took our seats," the man said, angrily, to Len while his
female companion darted her pair of mean, light blue eyes from Len to
Stephanie, back to Len, then to Stephanie--continuously,
as if she bore
zero trust in them, in preparation for the worst. Len and Steph feared
violence from them, as well... and with good reason: they acted very
hostile and paranoid.
"I'm sorry," cried Len, taken aback. "Why didn't you just tell us?
We would have simply gotten up and moved," he added, apologetically.
"Because... they way ya'll are dressed, especially the lady -- it
caught our attention. I planned to wait until the show ended so I could
ask you some questions, and get some answers. I'm a military
policeman, so you'd better not lie to me! First question: Are both of
you American citizens?" He spoke loudly, in a harsh tone,
just like an
officer. He looked like one, as well!
Leonard gulped, and managed to offer up a feeble sounding 'Yes,'
now fearing arrest on suspicion of being foreign spies, unable to prove
their citizenship; American citizens they were, but natural-born
century American citizens they were not -- a fact subject to
revealation by continuous probing. Leonard faced interrogation right
there on the spot. Unless he managed to come up with an awfully
good excuse for their attire, they appeared doomed! Saying they were
a part of the play wouldn't work with them, he thought.
Just then, out of the blue, Steph spoke up: "We know Theresa
Vaughn," she said forcefully.
Len couldn't believe
she'd just said that! In his mind, that was
about the worst thing possible to say because, now, all they had to do
was to check with Theresa for verification purposes... and, of course,
contradict Stephanie's claim. Len didn't know what Stephanie
was thinking. They were set to be fried, he thought.
"If you keep harassing us, we'll tell Theresa and you'll be in a lot
of trouble," Steph threatened, exuding confidence and authority in the
face of danger.
Now Len knew where she was going with this. It sounded like an
idea that just might work, he thought, impressed by Stephanie's ability
to think on her feet. But it was very
The boldness on the man's face instantly waned; now he looked
intimidated and unsure of himself, for he knew that Theresa Vaughn
pretty much owned the
city and had a ton of influence. He glanced
over at the lady, seeming not to know what to say or do next. She
looked at him as he looked at her, with newly formed nervousness on
"I'm sorry we bothered you two," the man said softly, sheepishly
looking down. Then, he headed straight for the exit, with his wife
"Oh my Gosh, Stephanie, you're a lifesaver!!!" exclaimed Leonard,
then he let out a big sigh of relief. "I thought we were caught!" he
"Yeah, that was a pretty scary moment, I'll have to admit,"
said. "I definitely think it would be a good idea for us to go
shopping for some appropriate clothes for this century," she reasonably
we don't have any money," Len whined.
"I don't care; we're going to get ourselves some nineteenth
century clothes whether we have money or not," Stephanie declared
with unwavering resolve, her strong will becoming apparent to Len.
His perception of her as a ditzy blonde was beginning to change.
admired both her quick-thinking skills and her ability to take charge
and be dominant when necessity demanded, although he found the
latter attribute a bit intimidating, as well.
They began to exit themselves... but just then they heard a voice
emanating from behind them. "Excuse me, I couldn't help overhearing
you say you need money to buy some
clothes," it uttered.
Len and Steph stopped in their tracks and turned around to view
the origin of the kind sounding voice. It was a woman who looked as
as she sounded. The lady had brown hair in a bun, brown eyes,
appeared to be in her fifties, and she was smiling broadly.
"My name is Beverly. I'm Theresa's friend and personal assistant.
Perhaps she can help the two of you out. Theresa is a very charitable
person. She ardently strives
to help the poor and she is known far and
wide for her philanthropic work. Follow me; I'll introduce you two to
her backstage. I'm sure she can help you folks find some suitable
and get back on your feet."
Len couldn't believe his luck!!! He was about to actually meet
the famed Theresa Vaughn!!! Stephanie was excited too, but not
nearly as much as Len because--by never having been exposed to the
cultural icon that is Theresa in school--it was hard for her to
appreciate Theresa fully, merely based only on the things she recently
heard of her from Len and seen of her on stage,
though amazing it
was. Len, on the other hand, very well knew how much the
incomparable Theresa Vaughn deserved admiration! There was none
other like Theresa in any century, in any age,
as far as he was
concerned. Theresa Vaughn, in Len's opinion, was simply the best!
The Glorious Meeting
The nice lady gladly led Leonard and Stephanie to the door of Theresa
Vaughn's dressing room, where she stopped in
front of it, gave it three
raps and called out, "Miss Vaughn, I met a couple of people who need
to talk to you. Do you have a moment?" Len's heart pounded.
"Yes, send them right in, Beverly," she called back out. Len's
heart began pounding even faster. It felt like fireworks started going
off in his head in anticipation of the meeting like the build-up to a New
Year's Eve celebration in which the clock is about to strike midnight.
With that, Beverly opened
the door with a bright smile and
motioned for them to enter therein.
Before Len and Steph's eyes, looking right at them, stood Theresa
could hardly believe it! She looked even better--
more beautiful, more lovely and more glorious--than she did in the old
black and white pictures he saw of her when he lived in the
Out of her stage clothes, she now wore a long,
white dress with pink and blue trim; straight, beyond-shoulder-length,
light brown hair, capped off by a radiant and sweet face which
abundant amount of love that dwelt in her heart. Her
big, soft, blue eyes looked interested in her visitors as she gazed at
them near the farthest wall from the door as they walked forward,
and her closed-mouth grin was one of curiosity mixed
with warmth, not as wide as Beverly's opened-mouth grin, but every
bit as meaningful nonetheless -- the same priceless smile that
Leonard had observed
in some of the old, grainy pictures, and those
those eyes!!! Looking at those old pictures
alone, Len perceived a
pure soul, and seeing her in person was validation of that belief.
Theresa Vaughn--not only in a class of her own, not only in a league of
her own--in a universe
of her own!
Beverly walked out and closed the door, leaving Leonard and
Stephanie all alone with Theresa Vaughn in her dressing room. All
with Theresa Vaughn in her dressing room! Leonard now felt like
a million fireworks were going off in his head and it was as if he
floated on air with his feet three feet off the floor. It was a mystical,
transcendental experience, even before he spoke the first word to
Theresa, and before she addressed him.
Theresa just stood staring at the man, trying to figure him out,
realizing he was, obviously, awestruck. Her eyes--normally innocent
looking and tender--narrowed and became intense and
her mind got perplexed. Who are these people, and what do they
want with me, she thought as suspicion creept in. She looked over at
picking up on their clothing.
... ... ... No one said anything, still. Stephanie glanced over at
Len; that stunned expression stuck, frozen on his face, she observed.
That, coupled with the mounting seconds of silence in the process of
elapsing, prompted her to speak the first words.
"Miss Vaughn, we--speaking on behalf of my companion--are
delighted and honored to make your acquaintance. And... as I'm sure
you can tell... Leonard is perhaps
a little too delighted and honored."
Stephanie let out a little chuckle at her own joke while looking back
over at Leonard. The apparent spell that Theresa's presence cast on
as evidenced on his face, remained, not in the least diminished.
But Stephanie hoped Leonard snapped out of it... eventually.
Theresa laughed a little--it was a cute, sweet little laugh--and
replied, "Yes, I see. Well, it's nice to know that I have such an admiring
fan, but, I must admit, his behavior is making me a bit
uncomfortable." She laughed again. Leonard started falling in love
with her laughter, as well.
At last, Leonard managed to vocalize his first words: "Theresa, oh
Theresa, it is such an immense honor and pleasure to meet you! You
are so great and wonderful to me and
to so many in this time period."
"Thank you so much, dear sir. Are you holding this time period up
in comparison to another time period perhaps," Theresa inquired,
thinking the last two choice of words in his sentence a bit odd.
"Yes, Miss Vaughn, 2019 -- that is
where we are from," he blurted
out, so mesmerized by Theresa -- unable to even think straight,
incapable of keeping a big secret like that.
Stephanie squeezed her
eyes shut, immediately becoming aware
of the severity of his huge verbal blunder. Meanwhile, Theresa looked
at Leonard with a shocked expression of her own. But then, it clicked
in her mind:
their clothing coupled with Leonard's claim lent a certain
level of credence to the idea; could they actually hail from another
century?!? What he said was, perhaps, not beyond the realm of
she thought. Her eyes narrowed again. They looked over
at Stephanie, then back to Len, and then they shifted back over to
Stephanie again, as if she expected her to explain Len's bizarre
"What Len means is... umm... umm... we feel like we are from
the year 2019; yeah, that's what he means," said Stephanie nervously,
forced a smile, looking every bit as nervous as she sounded.
"Yeah, that's what I meant," echoed Len, trying
cover for himself upon becoming painfully aware of his blunder, feeling
like he made a complete fool of himself and let the cat slip
out of the bag. How could I have actually
said that?! he thought to
himself -- only now, at this point, coming out of his awestruck daze...
But it may be too late, he thought.
The damage may already be
done. Now Theresa will probably kick us out of her dressing room on
the grounds that we're lunatics, he inwardly speculated.
But Theresa--too savvy and far too nice to just kick them out
right there on the spot--set out, like the officer before her, to conduct
her own interrogation proceedings. Could they fast-talk their way out
of this one?? But first, she keenly observed both of them so she'd know
exactly what to ask.
Turning to Stephanie, she began, "Tell me, young lady, are those
clothes you're wearing part of a stage act, like a burlesque show?"
"No, not really.
It's just my casual attire."
"Are you a performer?"
"No, I'm a model."
type of model? A fashion model?"
"No, I'm an Instagram model." Immediately after saying that,
Stephanie knew that, now, she goofed.
"An 'Instant-what'??" Theresa said, scrunching up her face -- quite
familiar with the nineteenth century world of modeling, but totally
unfamiliar with that twenty-first century word.
"Not 'instant,' 'Instagram.' It's a type of social media platform in
"Social media?" Theresa cut in.
"Wait, back up. An Instagram model models on the Internet."
Stephanie rolled her eyes at what she just said: 'Internet.' Another
Theresa's next question came as no surprise: "What's an Internet?"
"The Internet is like a super highway or
network on the computer
"What's a computer?" interrupted Theresa.
"A computer is..." Stephanie
stopped herself, dropped her head
and said "Oh, my Gosh" under her breath, feeling totally verbally
defeated, like giving up on account of being in such deep water
following question after question.
Theresa, obviously seeing her state of distress, didn't want to
badger her any further, so she laid off of her and picked the other
source of interrogation available in the
room: Len. Directing her
attention to the infatuated man, she began: "Sir, it looks like you
have something in your pants pocket. Would you mind telling me what
it is?" Now
she searched for physical evidence of their true identities.
"Oh, that's just a device," Leonard said nervously,
hoping it ended
at that point, but fearing Theresa's persistence.
"What type of device?" came her follow-up question.
"Oh, just a communication device. Something my cousin gave
me. It's not really important," he said uneasily--struggling with his
words--trying to downplay it.
"May I see it," she pressed, still looking down at the bulge and the
black top part of it which stuck out of his pocket. Her eyes seemed to
be locked on it, staring in anticipation of the pending revelation.
"Oh, like I said, it's not important, nothing worth seeing," he
resisted, but weakly.
"Still, I'd like to see it if you don't mind," she firmly insisted, still
visually fixated on it and showing absolutely no signs of giving up and
letting the subject
With that, upon feeling little hope of winning the battle of wills,
or wits, with her, he finally relented. After he pulled it out, she took
from his outstretched hand and visually scanned the futuristic device
"Gosh, this looks pretty complex," she observed. Will you please
tell me what it is and show me how it works," she asked, her voice
teeming with interest.
At that point, Len decided to give up his charade. "Miss Vaughn, I
feel I must confess. We are, indeed, from the future. We came here
by way of a time machine.
And this is called 'The Comm.' My cousin
invented it in 2019 -- the year we were in less than four hours ago."
Theresa raised her hand to her cheek and gasped, "Oh, my Gosh,"
her eyes looking like a pair of saucers, feeling flabbergasted beyond
words. It took a few seconds for her to mentally digest
Then, she exclaimed, "You know what, I actually think I believe you."
"Would you like to chat with cousin Frank," he asked in an inviting
"Oh, wow, yes! Without a doubt! Converse with someone from
the future?!?! You betcha!!!"
Len was very pleased that Theresa believed him and also that she
eagerly accepted his invitation to use The Comm.
"Please get me connected with him," she shrieked, brimming with
excitement as she reached her arm out to hand it back to him.
"Okay, Miss Vaughn, just
let me punch in some numbers."
"Would you please call me Theresa," she sweetly adjured. "And
that goes for you, too, young lady," she added. "Excuse me, I don't
believe I caught your name."
"Stephanie. Stephanie Hansen. And my companion's name
Leonard Baxter. He usually just goes by Len," she informed Theresa
while he was looking down at The Comm, pressing digits.
"It's an honor and
a privilege to be allowed to address you
formally, Theresa," said Leonard amid his concentration, still pushing
digits ... then he lifted his head up and handed her The Comm.
"Hello, is this Len?" asked Frank fervently after picking up.
"No, this is Theresa Vaughn," she replied
in a most pleasant tone,
speaking into the mouthpiece -- quickly finding it on her own, without
Len's guidance. "Is this Len's cousin, the inventor?" she then inquired,
just as pleasantly.
"Yes, it is, Miss Vaughn. Oh, 'Theresa Vaughn'... that rings a bell.
I read all about you in Len's book, America's Golden Cultural Era."
"Yes, and not only did Len write about you, he talked about you...
talked about you all the time, as a matter of fact."
"Oh, really?!" Theresa said in a surprised sounding tone while
raising an eyebrow and glancing over at Len, shooting him a quick look
of disapproval; she was, even back in her day, a stalker-wary celebrity.
He accurately read her expression and worried that they talked about
him. Right, he was.
"Is your cousin as good of a writer as you are an inventor," she
asked, more teasingly than curiously, while looking back over at Len
with a devilish smile and expression on her normally angelic
he knew they were talking about him, and he turned his head and
grimaced, which satisfied Theresa's sudden desire to torment him a
little bit. It was about as mean as
she could possibly be.
"I wouldn't go that far," Frank humorously replied. Theresa
laughed delicately and sweetly, like music to Len's ears.
"Your time machine and The Comm are spectacular creations. I
am tremendously impressed!"
"Thank you, Miss Vaughn. It took many years, didn't happen
"That doesn't detract from the magnitude of what you
"Thanks again, Miss Vaughn. Your admiration means a lot to me!"
Frank, I must say, you are a fabulous inventor! Even better
than Edison and Tesla... combined."
"Thank you for that kind compliment, Miss Vaughn. And from
I understand, you are a great entertainer."
"Thank you, sir. I just can't seem to grasp
this -- what's going on
right now! I mean, this conversation--me talking to someone from the
future--you--and you talking to someone from the past--me--is really
"I agree! It's 'far-out' and 'mind-blowing,' as they say in the
"Well, for now I think I need to be getting
back with my guests,
but may I contact you again sometime on The Comm in order to check
in on future events?" Theresa asked.
"Oh, by all means! It
would be my pleasure! Please feel free to
call me anytime, Miss Vaughn!"
"Okay, goodbye, Frank."
"Wow, what a thrill that was -- getting to speak with a person
from the future," proclaimed Theresa while reaching forward to hand
Comm back to Len. "Aside from this marvelous comm and the
time machine, what other technological wonders has the twentieth
and twenty-first centuries produced?" she curiously inquired.
Len started filling her in: "Televisions, computers, cell phones,
airplanes... all sorts of things, which I'll describe to you as best I can.
The airplane--a steel object that lifts off the ground and flies through
the air like a bird--will be invented ten years from now, in December of
1903, by Orville and Wilbur Wright in Kittyhawk, North Carolina,"
detailed. "... ... ... Perhaps the best invention of all is Pepsi Cola," Len
joked, noting that "it, too, was concocted in North Carolina--Newbern,
to be specific--and it was, in fact,
invented this very year--1893--under
the moniker 'Brad's Drink,' so, technically, it's actually a nineteenth
invention," he set straight, "which is fitting," he added. "So,
North Carolina, not New York, brought us flight and the very best soft
drink on the planet," Len concluded, followed by a chuckle. Then, he
wisely pointed out, "Discounting the great drink--unless you count
sugar and caffeine--these, and more, so-called 'marvels' have just
added up to make a more complicated, confusing and stressful world,
all combining to increase the depth of the swamp, so, on the larger
scale, they have served a negative end-result and agenda. It's
lot better here in the nineteenth century where things are far less
materialistic and much more innocent, simple, peaceful and free. In
the twentieth and twenty-first centuries people are
harder and distant, partially as a result of all the machinery and
technology, and also on account of other factors, like social
engineering, for one. Natural affection is much
more intact and
prevalent among people here in the nineteenth century. On top of the
culture, the simple lifestyle, tranquility, liberty and warmer hearts are
why I'm so glad I'm here," he said
Theresa smiled and commented, "Well, I guess I am, too!"
"Oh, and automobiles have really taken off with all sorts of makes
and models and they're being mass produced: there are all types and
shapes and sizes and they're everywhere you turn," he added.
"Interesting," sighed Theresa. "Tell me something," she went on,
measuring her words, "Speaking of the twenty-first century," she began
carefully, "am I posthumously
famous in it," she asked shyly, feeling the
question carried the attachment of making her seem vain.
"Unfortunately not," Len said bluntly. "As I was telling Stephanie
a little while ago after we arrived in this century, powers of darkness
have infiltrated virtually everything that was established in culture
government and erased a lot of good, decent and wholesome
influences and trends, replacing them with negative
ones, including virtually blotting out your name from the annals of
history. Sadly, hardly anyone in 2019 even knows who you are... or
'were,' I guess I should say, since I'm
referring to a time far ahead of
"Oh, no, I'm not concerned about my own legacy, but it's really
tragic how those 'powers of darkness,' as you say, have done so much
damage and destruction to your future society!"
"Yes, it is, isn't it?!" Leonard concurred, shaking his head and
looking down at the floor, grimly.
Theresa, on an optimistic note, said, "Well, at least you can enjoy
in this time period for a little while since you've made it here via
your cousin's time machine."
"Yes, yes! I surely can," exclaimed Len, lifting his head up and
it, his voice now sounding hopeful and his face brightening.
"Planning to stay long?" she asked.
"I wish that being here with you in this moment could be frozen in
time" was his heartfelt reply, romanticism oozing through in every word
Theresa smiled, rolled her eyes down, and started to blush.
... ... ... By now, over five hours passed since the time traveling duo
entered Theresa Ott Vaughn's dressing room. Stephanie was
still in it
with Theresa, but not Leonard; Theresa sent him out to hang out with
Beverly. This was hardly due to any underlying trepidation she
harbored of him being a potential stalker; it
was because, seeing that
Stephanie needed personal assistance, she wanted to help her one-on-
one in a private setting. She point-blank told her that she thought her
mental, emotional and spiritual
survival hinged on transforming from a
twenty-first century 'trendy' gal into a refined, classy nineteenth
century young lady, but on the bigger scale, for the purpose of
restoring her very soul.
And, so, to accomplish this end, she began
guiding her in some mental-healing and psycho/spiritual rejuvenation
techniques. If someone barged in on them and witnessed it--though
Theresa assigned her bodyguard to stand guard
outside at her dressing room door on orders not to let anyone inside,
unless in case of an emergency--it would have been a most strange and
sight: guided, closed-eyed meditation, mantras repeated over
and over again, the laying on of hands, swaying back and forth,
occasional gyrations, and things of that of that nature -- all solely
in alternative American health and wellness tradition, Theresa
being an expert in the practice.
... ... ... The spiritual revival ritual finally concluded. Theresa
removed her hand from atop Stephanie's head and told her she could
open her eyes. They were very wide, bright and gleaming, reflecting
how great she felt. A huge smile swept across her face.
"Oh my, I feel like a completely new person inside," she exclaimed
in a state of frenzied excitement, very light-headed and elated. She
was beyond overjoyed. It was pure ecstasy! "I feel totally cleansed
and I didn't even realize how impure and blemished I was. What a
catharsis!!! I can't believe I listened to that type of music.
believe I looked up to those types of people. I can't believe I followed
those folks and believed all the lies they fed me. I can't believe how
immersed I was in that awful,
horrible, rotten, degenerate, swampy
culture! I feel as though now I am the person I was from the very
beginning, the person I was meant to be. It's so clear how they robbed
that inborn essence from me ... and now, you, Theresa, have given it
back to me. You gave me back to myself. I cannot thank you
I have returned to my own, original nature. It's like my mind, heart
and soul belonged to them ... and now they belong to me! This is truly
As Stephanie spoke, Theresa looked at her with loving eyes
and smiled that warm, sweet smile.
Theresa excused herself to go out of the room and fetch Beverly
Leonard so they, too, may witness Stephanie's amazing
transformation. Much rejoicing by all--including Theresa's
bodyguard who had been stationed outside at the door--occurred after
Tears of joy streamed down Stephanie's cheeks as she
hugged each one of them. Beverly, especially animated, kept hopping
up and down like a bunny and squealing like a pig.
Following the lengthy celebration, Theresa picked up her banjo,
which she always had on hand, and played Little Annie Rooney for her
four-member audience, singing beautifully as she strummed. Then,
she played many more songs for them, thus making it a little private
concert right there in her dressing room. All of it felt very
Stephanie awoke in a log cabin and stepped outside to
forest of pine trees and a golden dawn that reminded her of the light
that came on in the time machine
right before they got transported.
Now she harbored a new zest on life. Even the air seemed fresher.
The cabin, Theresa's gift to Stephanie, signified her kindness, and she
Len one, as well. They both expressed a great amount of
appreciation to her for her generosity, and thanked her profusely. Len
and Steph not only began adjusting to the nineteenth century lifestyle,
they also made great strides in becoming nineteenth century people in
heart, mind and soul. For example, they loved riding in horse
carriages and didn't even miss their cell phones, not even Steph who
had been really addicted to her iPhone. Stephanie, after acquiring a
new musical taste, learned to play banjo on a Buckbee
Theresa gave as a gift, and she loved listening to Appalachian folk
music. Furthermore, they planned to frequent Palmer's Theater and
see more Broadway shows. That's
something they really looked
forward to! A fun and exciting time for them, they felt very pleased
and content living in America in that era, enthusiastically, quickly and
to the rich culture inherent in it.
Len and Steph regarded staying in the nineteenth century a 'no-
brainer.' Only four days into it, Len told Frank his intentions over The
Comm and Frank wished them the best, adding that he moved their
cars, which were in his driveway, to a discreet location
in order to
avoid prosecution, since they, now, officially constituted 'missing
Days turned into weeks
which became months, and months
stretched into years. Eleven years passed in a flash for Leonard and
Stephanie because living in the nineteenth century provided such a
Now, at the start of the twentieth century, the
Wright Brothers lifted the airplane they built off the ground. When
news of it hit the press, it came as no
surprise [to them].
One sunny afternoon in late August of 1904 Leonard struck up a
conversation with a middle-aged
man about the Wright Brothers'
successful flight. Leonard immediately thought the fellow looked
familiar and soon recognized him as none other than the first person
he met upon arriving
in the nineteenth century, while walking along
the cobblestone sidewalk toward Palmer's Theater--the newspaper
reader--the same man, only a decade-and-one-year older. And during
the course of their conversation--the first time he didn't speak; he just
handed Leonard the paper and smiled warmly--the intriguing
gentleman casually alluded to a prospective time machine.
"What's your name," Leonard curiously inquired.
Baxter" came his reply.
Stephanie Hansen walked over to eighty-four year-old Leonard
Baxter, who was sitting in his armchair in the living room of his cousin's
house, and rubbed
his shoulder. But Leonard failed to turn his head in
acknowledgement and seemed completely unaware of her presence.
Leonard rarely moved a muscle. He lived in his own little
world, twenty-five years younger, continuously staring blankly into
Frank Baxter, engineer and
amateur inventor, returned to the
room and handed Stephanie a glass of Pepsi Cola. An in-home health
care aide called out to Frank from the hallway, saying she wanted to
take her thirty-minute
break early, if he didn't mind.
"No problem, Beverly," he called back out. Then, turning to
Stephanie, he said, "Thanks so much for being here with my cousin
before he dies," in a much lower and softer tone.
"I know how hard it has been on you and your family
since he got
dementia," Steph said, walking over to the couch to take a seat on it,
while Frank prepared to settle down in his own armchair, facing both
Stephanie, to his right, and his cousin,
who was to the left of him.
"Yes, it has been, and I appreciate your support so much -- flying
in from Bavaria just to be with him after developing a friendship with
him on the Internet. How many Instagram models would do something
like that?!" he asked rhetorically. Reinforcing his deep sense
gratitude, he said, "You kept him going when he was well. You're so
amazing, Stephanie," he gushed.
"Well, I read his book, America's Golden Cultural
Era, five times.
And before he lost his mind, I got really immersed in his nineteenth
century Renaissance project. Funny how he was always telling me I
needed to change my ways, 'transform'
in his words. I actually think
that some of it got through to me because now I really enjoy listening
to nineteenth century music, and I even dress more conservatively."
She giggled a little.
"Anyway, the project was so fun and interesting,"
Stephanie pointed out. "Like an escape to the past for me, as well as
for him," she explained, then sipped some
"He had begun writing another book, but he declined too quickly
to be able to complete it," Frank informed Stephanie.
"That's too bad," she said.
"Cousin still talks at times... or rather mumbles, I should say.
Beverly jotted down some things he said the other day which she was
able to make out." Frank walked over to the drawer, opened it, and
pulled out a sheet of paper. "Here's what it was." He read:
I just met great-granddad
Elias. Putting the final pieces of the
puzzle together: Civil War soldier died. Became a ghost. Ghost was
with Theresa from birth to death. Jumped into Elias then. Inspired
the time machine. Frank interjected, "In the early stage of his
illness when he was talking a lot, he was always
urging me to try to
invent a time machine so he could travel back in time and meet the
only one true love of his life, Theresa Vaughn." He chuckled and, then,
concluded reading. I
can imagine Elias lying on a hammock at night,
looking up at the stars, thinking about it.
"Sounds like--in his head--he managed to totally escape to the
past," Stephanie said.
Frank nodded and smiled. "I wish we all could," he added.