Escape 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
Two: The Opportune Visitation
Chapter Three: Through the Deep Tunnel
Chapter Four: Along the Cobblestone Sidewalk
Chapter Five: Surprising Post-Show Encounters
Chapter Six: The Glorious Meeting
Seven: Stephanie's Transformation
The Impossible Dream
Although the renowned history writer didn't quite seem to be himself
lately, he had settled down to write another
book following a
worldwide speaking tour on the heels of his bestseller, America's
Golden Cultural Era.
Sitting in his armchair, he had begun putting the pieces of the
puzzle together. And these were some of the pieces. After the first
airplane was flown at the turn of the twentieth century, which was
generally assumed to be impossible, another "impossible" dream was
hatched in someone's mind. It was an illiterate thirty-nine year-old
North Carolinian peasant villager named Elias Baxter who would
conceive of this 'impossible dream.' One summer night, Elias was lying
on his hammock in his back yard enjoying the
pitch blackness and quiet
solitude, looking up at the midnight stars and pondering that amazing
aerial feat. During this peaceful time, the outlandish idea of his--that
dream'--was born. In the ensuing weeks it gained more and
more substance in his mind, seeming to take a stronger hold on his
psyche. For some reason, ole' Elias couldn't stop thinking about it, and
he had never been prone to flights of fancy--not to mention obsessive
thoughts--like this before. Nor was he ever interested in anything
technical or supernatural nature, which made it all the stranger. It
was almost as if something, or someone, had planted this thought in
his head like a seed in the ground, and
now the thought was beginning
to grow in his fertile mind. That thought--that 'impossible dream'--was
that since the Wright Brothers had managed to make a flying object,
somewhere, at some point in the future would
invent something even more specatacular--a time machine.
This was way back in 1904.
Months went by and Elias couldn't stop 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 that would survive the generations, so the dream wouldn't die
with his inevitable passing. It took much insistence in convincing
fifteen-year-old son, Oliver, that there was at least a faint possibility
that a time machine could, one day, be built. They weren't deluded
enough to think that they
could invent one, nor that it would likely be
built in either of their lifetimes, but what they did was to keep the
dream alive within themselves, and Oliver pledged that--when he grew
up and had
a family of his own--he would 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
succeeded, surviving like a baton being passed down from generation
There was a split-off however, in which one family-line
descendant steadfastedly refused to talk about it, and this is how it
went down. Oliver Baxter had two sons, and one of them, George,
never discussed it with his children when he had them, due to sheer
skepticism. The other one, 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 son, now
nearing sixty, was never even aware of the 'impossible
he received a phone call one Fall morning from cousin Frank.
"Hello, Leonard. This is Frank. How have you been doing?"
"Fine, and yourself?"
"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?"
the invention. Can you come by and see it now, Leonard?"
"Okay, I like surprises. I'll be right over."
With that, Leonard Baxter drove the fifty-three miles it took to
reach his cousin's house from Maine down
to New Hampshire. He was
curious to discover what the invention was, and in conjunction with
that, what in
the world his father had been withholding from him,
which Uncle Carl had revealed to Frank--this secret tradition of which
he just spoke.
Leonard rang the doorbell, and a few seconds later the front
door was opened for him.
"Ah, Leonard, so nice to see you," Frank said robustly as his cousin
stepped through the threshold, into his luxurious suburban house.
"Yes, it has been a while," noted Leonard right before
engaged in a little hug.
"Well, you should come by more often,"
urged Frank, followed by
a pat on his older cousin's back.
"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
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,
understanding what he meant by that odd sounding remark.
that is why I called you and asked you to come over
here. 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
Leonard was 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 he was hanging on his every word, and he
went on. "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 some day someone
would build a time machine."
"A what?! Hahaha, Hahaha, Hahaha!!! A time machine?!?!
a load of malarkey!!! Impossible, I tell you!!! Simply impossible!!! No
one 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, he was laughing
"My Gosh, Leonard, you're so much like Uncle George, it's
unbelievable! I guess that what they say, 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,
patiently waiting for his cousin's laughter to ebb. That took a full fifteen
seconds. But as soon 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 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 and trying to rack his
brain for any past signs that
Frank had deluded or grandiose thinking patterns out of fear he'd gone
off the deep
end, but he couldn't remember ever having even the
slightest indication that his cousin was even partially detached from
reality. On the contrary, Frank was the epitome of rationality. Still, he
couldn't accept even the possibility that his scientist cousin had
actually invented a time machine.
They had reached the lab room. Frank, upon
stepping inside of
it, looked around and quickly caught sight of a seven-foot tall structure
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 was a functional reality. Just a big chunk of metal, he
The Opportune Visitation
"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 heartily
Leonard slowly began taking his first steps toward the big
machine, his stunned expression only slightly beginning to diminish,
but his head was starting to shake again. This is just too bizarre, he
Before Leonard stepped inside of the thing, he took a few
seconds to survey the outside of it, feeling its smooth surface and
the various knobs, but not the keypad nor any of the push-
buttons, which Frank warned him not to do. Then, he gripped the door
handle, opened the door... and stepped inside.
"This is incredible," he breathed once inside, but it was more to
himself than an attempt to communicate the thought to his younger
cousin. He was still in a semi-dazed state of mind. It was a 4x4x8
A two-foot long horizontal bar-screen three-fourths right of
center on the front side, seven feet from the floor, displayed a series
of multi-colored flashing lights--green, blue, red, yellow, green, blue,
yellow, green, blue, red, yellow--running left to right repeatedly.
There were other screens, and an assortment of other types of
features, as well, all along the front side, on the right side and on the
left side of the interiror unit. Only the back side, aside from some
vents, was bare. A miniature light bulb on the upper-left
corner of the
ceiling, which was hooked up to motion detection sensors, came on
every time someone entered the enclosure and went off each time
they exited. Following three minutes of wondrous
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
this is the most
ridiculous 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 rang.
"Stay there while I go check the surveillance monitor to see who's
at the door," said Frank, accustomed to Leonard's arrogant,
complaining, commanding 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 with
enthusiasm--went to the front door, while Leonard waited beside the
time machine, wishing that Stephanie hadn't interrupted them, but all
the while being open
to the idea that they could use her as a time
machine guinea pig, if he couldn't talk his little cousin into trying it out
on him first.
As Stephanie entered
the lab, behind Frank's lead, Leonard
beheld that she was 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
which revealed lots of leg, and a tight, white midriff tank top which
some cleavage and accentuated that flat tummy of hers. Her
white socks and white sneakers even looked exceptionally good on
Frank 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 Leonard.
"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 had suddenly
seized his mind.
"Excuse me, Stephanie, may I have a word with my cousin in
it won't take long."
Leonard led Frank into the hallway, far enough away that they
could talk without Stephanie hearing what they were saying.
"Frank, I just had an idea," he said, speaking in a hushed tone to
further ensure that she couldn't overhear them. "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
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 at it, not wanting to
have anything to
do with it... or us, for that matter."
"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.
"Yeah, that's it. A Sci-Fi piece of art work. Would you like to step
inside of it, Steph," Frank warmly asked, as he walked over to the door,
and then opened
it as an inviting gesture for her to enter therein.
"Well, I don't know," Stephanie balked. "It looks
"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
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
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
cage. 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
submitted it in the form of an impassioned plea: "Hey, cuz, I
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
to death 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
along the 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
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 think you'll be
able to figure it out. Just remember
to press 'Enter' and then 'Send'
after you 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 speaker here.
You can hear what I say through the
audio receiver here, but you have to have the voice system set to 'On.'
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
cousin 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
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.
she exclaimed confusedly, shifting her focus to
Leonard, after Frank had hastily shut the door on them.
"Never mind," Leonard simply replied, just happy to be in there,
all 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 were
working on 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
about 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,
in her 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 was
Now the yellow-gold light flickered and, a split second afterward,
the humming noise increased double in volume, giving all indications
change--was about to transpire -- reducing Len's
skepticism, but only minimally. Meanwhile, on the outside, Frank
kept pushing various buttons on the keypad and typing in information
keyboard. Date, time, location and 'transport code' were all
entered, and a few finishing touches were applied, 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 eighty
terrifying seconds... and then... Wham!
They were outside the tunnel.
It was as sudden as a millisecond, without warning, like a jolt,
that Leonard and Stephanie were thrust out of the tunnel. No longer
were they standing in the 'time capsule,' as Stephanie
had called it, no
longer were they being hurled around in the endless array of swirling
circles. Now they were standing on solid, natural ground outside, on a
small mound, under a dimming grey
sky that was in the early stage of
transitioning to night. They had evidently 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 was also extremely shocked, but not quite as
as Stephanie because, although formerly disbelieving this could
actually happen, cousin Frank had kind of prepared him for the
possibility of time travel in the sense of simply letting him in on the
With Stephanie, she didn't know what in the world had just
transpired; she had no clue. At least (Leonard) knew and could
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 was
trembling, her heart was pounding, her hands were shaking, and her
like they were going to buckle as she stood beside Leonard
on the grassy knoll.
"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.
It was a big city, possibly New York, Leonard speculated. Street
lamps were already lit, although there was still enough daylight
remaining to not need them quite yet. A lot of hand-painted
came into view. A bevy of people were walking about, mostly along
the cobblestone sidewalks on either side of the street while Leonard
and Stephanie remained on the hilly stretch
of Earth-floor, which was
rare in that concrete dominated urban location.
Horses and buggies were everywhere transporting the people.
men were dressed in classical nineteenth century attire, many
wearing suits and old-style top hats too, while the women had
antiquated hats, themselves, or old-fashioned hairdos atop their heads
down below, long--uniformally ankle-length--nineteenth century
style dresses. There were many shops, stores and buildings. 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
A big building, which looked like an old-fashioned theater, was
about two-hundred feet off in the distance. People were shuffling into
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 were
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 what year it was without
to ask what would have sounded like a stupid, and probably
even suspicious, question.
Leonard came to a stop, standing right in front of him with
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
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
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 1893,"
Leonard after they distanced themselves from him far enough
that they were well out of his hearing range.
"Oh wow! 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
dress 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
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
cobblestone 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-
twenty-six years ago. Leonard would occasionally flash 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
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 think Stephanie did because she didn't react to
she did, 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
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?"
"Um, 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 pretty
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 thugs
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 to
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. From there, they went inside of the
grand opera house. Then, they took their seats on the upper balcony,
that they could steal a viewing without tickets, and no one
would approach them and say they were taking their seats and had to
Settling down in their seats
high up and gazing toward the stage,
Leonard, remembering The Comm that Frank had given him, reached
into his pants pocket to get it. He wanted to inform him that they had
made it to the
nineteenth century safely and were doing okay. 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 was going quite smoothly once they
were there: they were about to see a cultural icon performing onstage,
and Leonard was able to communicate with his brilliant time machine
inventing cousin fine and dandy, just like they would be doing
had cell phones, but it was a comm, not a cell phone, which Leonard
possessed, and it was much more technologically advanced than cell
phones since they were capable of spanning not only space,
After watching Leonard communicate both ways--via fingers and
via mouth--with Frank, Stephanie asked him if there was a video
feature 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
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 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
look, people are beginning to take the stage!" Leonard
excitedly announced to Stephanie.
Leonard and Stephanie were all settled down in their seats high
on the balcony, and the play was about to start. The lights were
dimmed, with 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 subsided. The performers were all dressed in very
extravagant, old-fashioned apparel, which seemed to be significant
an even earlier century. Len's curiosity was piqued to the point he felt
compelled to inquire about the show.
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 briefly tell me what it's about."
gentleman neared his head toward Len to avoid
disturbing anyone and replied in a whisper of his own, "It's called 1492
Up to Present, and it's about Christopher Columbus' voyage to the New
and everything that has happened from then up until now."
Then, the gentleman resumed his concentrated gaze upon center
stage, and Leonard turned his head to focus on it too, but not before
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
-- people were so lost and enthralled in the play. Indelible memories
had been created in everyone's
mind. People had begun getting out of
their seats. The place was filled with many indistinguishable
voices, all mixed in together with each other, and the aggregate
sound--although no particular
words or sentences could be made out--
was of a cheerful and satisfactory tone, making for an upbeat, joyful
atmosphere of emotion. Surely, they were all pleased and saying how
much they enjoyed
the play and what a remarkable experience it was,
Len presumed as he looked around and took a deep breath
of fresh nineteenth century air. Aah, it feels so good being here at
moment in this point in time, he thought. Stephanie felt the
same way, and she had gained a new appreciation for America and its
Surprising Post-Show Encounters
People were beginning to shuffle out of the building and so were
Leonard and Stephanie. 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 theater.
"You took our seats," the man said, angrily, to Len while his
female companion darted her pair of light blue, mean eyes from Len to
Stephanie, back to Len, then to Stephanie--continuously, as if she
zero trust in them and was prepared for the worst. Len and Steph
feared violence from them, as well... and with good reason: they were
acting 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 they'd be arrested
on suspicion of being foreign spies since
they wouldn't be able to prove their citizenship; American citizens they
were, but natural-born nineteenth century American citizens they
and continuous probing could certainly reveal that fact.
Leonard was facing interrogation right there on the spot. Unless he
could come up with an awfully good excuse for their attire, they were
doomed! Saying they were a part of the play wouldn't work with them,
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
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,
she'd contradict Stephanie's claim. Len didn't know
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 risky!!
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.
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
her face, as well.
"I'm sorry to have bothered you two," the man said softly,
sheepishly looking down. Then, he went straight for the exit, with his
wife trailing behind him.
"Oh my Gosh, Stephanie, you're a lifesaver!!!" exclaimed Leonard,
and 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,"
Stephanie said. "I definitely think it would be a good idea for us to go
shopping for some appropriate clothes for this
century," she reasonably
"But 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 said.
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, 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 what she had 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 was pounding.
"Yes, send them right in, Beverly," she called back out. Len's
heart began pounding even faster. It felt like fireworks were starting
to go off in his head in anticipation of the meeting like the build-up to
a New Year's Eve celebration when the clock is about to strike
With that, Beverly opened the door with a bright smile and
for them to enter therein.
Before Len and Steph's eyes was Theresa Vaughn, standing there,
looking right at them. Leonard could hardly believe what he was
seeing! She looked even better--more beautiful, more lovely and more
glorious--than she did in the old black and white pictures he
of her when he lived in the twenty-first century. Theresa wore a fluffy
white dress with pink and blue trim and her face was radiant and
sweet, reflecting the abundant amount of love
that dwelt in her
heart. Her soft brown eyes looked interested in her visitors as she
gazed at them near the farthest wall from the door as they walked
forward, coming inside, 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. It was the same priceless smile
that Leonard had observed in some
of the old, grainy pictures, and
those eyes... Oh, those eyes!!! Just by looking at those old pictures,
Len could tell that she had a pure soul, and seeing her in person was
validation of that
belief. Theresa Vaughn was not only in a class of her
own, not only in a league of her own; she was in a universe of her own!
Beverly closed the door and walked away, leaving Leonard and
Stephanie all alone with Theresa Vaughn in her dressing room. All
alone 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 was
floating on air with his feet three feet off the floor. It was a mystical,
experience for him, and he hadn't even spoken the first
word to Theresa, nor had she addressed him.
Theresa just stood staring at the man, trying to figure him out,
he was, obviously, awestruck. Her big, soft, brown eyes--
normally innocent looking and tender--narrowed and became intense
and concentrated as her mind got perplexed. Who are these people,
what do they want with me, she thought as suspicion creept in.
She looked over at Stephanie, having already picked up on their
... ... ... No one was saying anything. Stephanie glanced over at
Len; that stunned expression was 'frozen' on his face, she observed.
That, coupled with the mounting seconds of silence that were 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."
let out a little chuckle at her own joke while looking back
over at Leonard. The apparent spell that Theresa's presence had cast
on him, as evidenced on his face, hadn't diminished even a
But Stephanie had faith that he would snap out of it...
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 was falling in love with
At last, Leonard managed to vocalize his first words: "Theresa, oh
Theresa, it is such an immense honor and pleasure to meet you! You
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 were a bit odd.
"Yes, Miss Vaughn, 2019 -- that is where we are from," he blurted
out, so mesmerized by Theresa that he wasn't even able to think
straight, wasn't capable of even keeping a big secret like that.
Stephanie squeezed her eyes shut, immediately becoming aware
of the severity of the huge verbal blunder. Meanwhile, Theresa was
looking at Leonard with a shocked expression of her own. But then, it
clicked with her: their clothing coupled with Leonard's claim lent a
certain level of credence to the idea of them being from another
century. What he said was, perhaps, not beyond the realm of
possibility, she thought. Her eyes narrowed again. They looked over
at Stephanie, then back to Len, and then they shifted back over
Stephanie again, as if she was expecting 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,
then she forced a smile, looking every bit as nervous as she sounded.
what I meant," echoed Len, trying desperately to
cover for himself upon becoming painfully aware of his blunder, feeling
like he was making a complete fool of himself and letting the cat slip
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 have already
been done. Now Theresa will probably kick us out of her dressing
room on the grounds that we're lunatics,
he inwardly speculated.
But Theresa was too savvy, and far too nice, to just kick them out
right there on the spot. Like the officer before her, she was set to
conduct her own interrogation proceedings... and they weren't going to
be able to fast-talk their way out of this one.
But first, she was going
to keenly observe both of them so she'd know exactly what to ask.
Turning to Stephanie, she said, "Tell me, young lady, are those
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."
"What type of model? A fashion
"No, I'm an Instagram model." Immediately after saying that,
Stephanie knew that, now, she had goofed.
"An 'Instant-what'??" Theresa said, scrunching up her face--being
quite familiar with the nineteenth century world of modeling, but
having never heard of 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 had just said: 'Internet.'
Theresa's next question was, not surprisingly, "What's an Internet?"
"The Internet is like a super highway
or network on the computer that connects..."
"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, seeing she was obviously distressed, 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
to the infatuated man, she began with, "Sir, it looks like you
have something in your pants pocket. Would you mind telling me what
it is?" Now she was searching for physical evidence of their true
"Oh, that's just a device," Leonard said nervously, hoping it would
end there, but fearing it wouldn't.
"What type of device?" came her follow-up question.
"Oh, just a communication device. Something my cousin
me. It's not really important," he said, trying to downplay it.
"May I see it," she pressed, still looking down at the bulge and the
black top part
of it which was sticking out of his pocket. Her eyes
seemed to be locked on it, staring in anticipation of what would soon
"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 rest.
With that, upon seeing he couldn't win the battle of wills, or wits,
with her, he finally
relented. After he pulled it out, she took it 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
on 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 what he'd just
Then, she exclaimed, "You know what, I actually think I believe
"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--knowing where it was without Len
having to tell her after taking it from his hand. "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
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 what they were
talking about was him, perhaps. 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 face. Now
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 have
"Thanks again, Miss Vaughn. Your admiration means a lot to me!"
"Well, 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
what 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 man from
the future," proclaimed Theresa while reaching forward to hand The
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: "TVs, computers, cell phones,
airplanes... all sorts of things, which I'll describe to you in detail. 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," he
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 century
invention," he set straight, "which is fitting," he added. "So, North
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
and more, so-called 'wonders' 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
a negative end-result and agenda. It's a whole lot better here
in the nineteenth century where things are far less materialistic and
much more simple and peaceful. In the twentieth and twenty-first
centuries people are much colder, 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,
warmer hearts are why I'm so glad I'm here," he said cheerfully.
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 and
government and erased a lot of good,
decent and wholesome
influences and trends, replacing them with negative and unhealthy
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 had passed since the
duo entered Theresa Ott Vaughn's dressing room. Stephanie was still in
there with Theresa, but Leonard was not; Theresa had sent him out to
converse with Beverly. This wasn't
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 it would be to her mental, emotional and spiritual advantage
to transform from a twenty-first century 'trendy' gal into a refined,
nineteenth century young lady, but on the bigger scale, for the
purpose of restoring her very soul. And, so, to accomplish this end,
she had been guiding her in some mental-healing and psycho/spiritual
rejuvenation techniques. If someone barged in on them and witnessed
what they were doing--which wouldn't happen because Theresa had
assigned her bodyguard to stand guard outside at her dressing room
door on orders not to let anyone in, unless in case of an emergency--it
would have been a most strange and startling sight: guided,
eyed meditation, chanting, mantras repeated over and over again. But
none of it was 'Eastern' at all. It was all very much steeped in
alternative American and European health and
Theresa being an expert in the practice.
... ... ... The ritual had finally concluded. Stephanie opened her
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
even though I didn't realize how impure and blemished I was. What a
catharsis!!! I can't believe I listened to that type of music. I can't
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
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 enough.
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
a miracle." Theresa had been looking at Stephanie with loving eyes
smiling that warm, sweet smile of hers as she spoke.
Theresa excused herself to go out of the room and fetch
and Leonard so they, too, could witness Stephanie's amazing
transformation. There was much rejoicing by all, including Theresa's
bodyguard who had been stationed outside at the door,
Stephanie awoke in a log cabin and stepped outside to a thick
forest of pine trees
and a golden dawn that reminded her of the light
that came on in the time machine right before they were transported.
Now she had a new zest on life. Even the air was fresher. The cabin
Theresa's gift and she'd given Len one, as well. They were both
very appreciative to her for her generosity, and thanked her profusely.
Len and Steph were not only adjusting to the nineteenth century
lifestyle, they were also making great strides in becoming nineteenth
century people in heart, mind and soul. For example, they loved
riding in horse drawn carriages and didn't even miss their cell phones,
not even Steph who had been really addicted to her iPhone. They
planned to frequent Palmer's Theater and see more
That was something they were really looking forward to! It was a fun
and exciting time for them. Indeed, they were very pleased and
content living in America in that era,
enthusiastically, quickly and
easily assimilating to the rich culture inherent in it.
Staying in the nineteenth century had been a 'no-brainer' for both
and Steph. 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 were, now, officially 'missing persons.'
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 was such a
Now they were in the start of the twentieth
century, and the Wright Brothers had just managed to lift the airplane
they built off the ground. Everyone had doubted that they could do it,
when news of it hit the press, they weren't surprised in the least
because they had already had prior knowledge of it, being from the
So it was one sunny afternoon in late August of 1904 when
Leonard happened to strike up a conversation with a middle-aged man
about the Wright Brothers' successful flight. Leonard immediately
the fellow looked familiar and soon recognized him as being
none other than the first person he interacted with upon arriving in the
nineteenth century, while he was walking along the cobblestone
Palmer's Theater -- the gentleman who was sitting on
the bench reading the newspaper which he lent to Leonard upon his
request. It was the same man, only a decade-and-one-year older. And
during the course of their conversation--the first time he didn't speak
at all; 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.
"Elias Baxter" came his reply.
Leonard immediately knew that he had just come face-to-face
with his great-grandfather. But Elias didn't know that the time
he had conceived of in his head had already been built [in the
future] and he didn't know that he was actually talking to his time
traveling great-grandson. Leonard just smile knowingly, seeing no
to tell him.
May 15, 2019
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 did not turn his head to
look at her or acknowledge her presence in the least; he didn't even
feel her hand on his narrow shoulder or even know she was there.
rarely moved a muscle. He was in his own little
world, staring blankly into space.
Frank Baxter, engineer and amateur inventor, returned to the
to hand Stephanie a glass of Pepsi Cola. An in-home health care
aide called out to Frank from the hallway, saying she was going to
take her thirty-minute break early if he didn't mind.
"No problem, Beverly," he returned, raising his voice enough that
she'd be sure to hear him. 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 the rest of your family
since he got dementia," Steph said, walking over to the couch to take a
seat on it, while Frank went to settle down in his own armchair, facing
both Stephanie, to his right, and his cousin, who was to the left
"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
Internet. How many Instagram models would do something like
that?!" he asked rhetorically. Reinforcing his deep sense of 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 somewhat because now I really enjoy
listening to nineteenth century music, and I even dress more
conservatively." She giggled a little at
what she'd just said. "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 Pepsi.
"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 stages of his
dementia 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,
concluded reading. I can imagine Elias lying on a hammock at night,
looking up at the stars, thinking about it.
now he has managed to totally escape to the past in
his head," Stephanie said.
Frank nodded and smiled. They could only guess how big that
'little world' of his was.