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. Elias
humble, illiterate, mammoth-sized thirty-nine year-old North
Carolinian farmer with a handsome, but weathered, face, blonde hair,
a red neck and sorrowful blue eyes--thought of it while
on his hammock in his back yard one summer night, enjoying the pitch
blackness and quiet solitude, gazing up at the midnight stars and
pondering that amazing aerial feat.
In the ensuing weeks the new idea
gained more and more substance in Elias' mind, seeming to take a
stronger hold on his psyche. For some reason, ol' Elias--never prone to
flights of fancy,
not to mention obsessive thoughts--ruminated on it
nearly constantly. Furthermore, 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 ground. The thought: Since the Wright Brothers
to make a flying object,
perhaps someone, somewhere, at some point in the
future will invent
something even more spectacular -- a time machine.
Months passed and Elias kept thinking about it, his sorrowful eyes
appearing to brighten a little along with his newfound enthusiasm.
Then, something else cropped up in his head.
An unseen force 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
gave him a real and definite sense of purpose in
life. It took much insistence convincing his fifteen-year-old son,
Oliver, that--as scientific knowledge gradually advanced--a time
possibly, be built one day, even if it constitued a very
faint possibility. So, they kept the dream alive within themselves, and
Oliver 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
succeeded -- surviving like a baton passed down from generation to
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
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 respective voices reflected their contrasting
After taking a deep breath, Frank wasted no time explaining.
"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.
"It's the 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 silver 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 invention, a
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
home. A photo of them standing side-by-side hung on the wall
among all the other family photographs. Taken nearly four decades
ago, in their college days, it accentuated bespeckled Frank's thick,
corn-yellow head of hair next to Len's almond-brown hair, and Frank's
long, narrow face highlighted Leonard's wide, square face.
more, in the picture, Leonard's tall, bulky body seemed to protectively
guard his short, puny younger cousin,
particularly how his muscular
arm was wrapped around Frank's narrow shoulder.
"Yes, it has been a while," noted Leonard right before the two
engaged in a little hug.
"Well, you should come by more often," urged Frank, followed by
a pat on his older cousin's back and a complement on his impeccable
attire -- tan khakis and a designer, black short-sleeved shirt. Frank,
more casually dressed, wore blue jeans and a short-sleeved green shirt
with navy blue stripes.
"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 red, woolen driving cap off his balding fifty-nine
head, glancing up at the picture and briefly reminiscing.
"Excuses, excuses, dear man.
You're so much like your father --
so full of excuses, and even worse, skepticism," Frank jokingly
admiring Leonard's remaining thin strands of grey
hair because his own snow-white locks fared even worse.
"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 what he meant by that odd sounding remark.
"Leonard, that is why I called you and asked you to come over
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,
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
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 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 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 with
those light blue eyes of his 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 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
"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
"Leonard, I want you to take a look at what I have made."
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
indication. On the contrary, he considered Frank the epitome of
rationality. Still, he
felt unable to accept even the possibility
that his scientist cousin
actually invented a time machine.
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 to be 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
of the wall was 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 brown eyes again, again casting them on
Frank. "This whole thing is crazy. I'm amazed that you actually tried
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 time
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
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 bare
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.
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
accent 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
private; it won't take long."
Leonard led Frank into the hallway,
far enough away that they
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
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
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,
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
"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
pointing at it.
"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,
"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
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
inside of it, Steph," Frank warmly asked, as he walked over to the door,
and then opened it in an inviting gesture for her to
"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
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
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 signs to Len
and Steph of something 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 lacked worry and just enjoyed it, as Leonard
initiated more small talk with her, though she barely paid attention to
the words coming out of his mouth.
Now the yellow-gold light flickered and, a split second afterward,
the humming noise increased double in volume, giving all indications
of something--some change--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, lastly the
impending push of the Send button... At that point, Leonard and
Stephanie's bodies felt 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 the tunnel.
Amazing!!! It happened so fast, as sudden as a millisecond,
without warning, like a jolt -- Leonard and Stephanie being thrust out
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
mound, under a dimming grey sky in the early stage of
transitioning to night. Evidently, they arrived there--wherever "there"
was--during evening hours.
heck happened??? Where are we???" Stephanie shouted,
shocked beyond words, feeling utterly disoriented, confused and
traumatized. Leonard felt extremely shocked, but not quite as
much 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," he softly said to
himself, in a state of utter shock and awe, while looking around as if
in a daze.
"Did 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. I'm pretty
sure it's in the past, and I think it is, indeed, the nineteenth century,
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
felt like 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
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 surroundings
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 enough daylight remained to not need them
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 location.
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
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
century style dresses. Shops, stores and
buildings abounded. Turning around and redirectioning their gaze,
they saw another horse and buggy carrying people along the main
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
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
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 with
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 1893,"
informed 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, still reeling and dizzy and
shuddering, though all that was beginning to diminish in intensity.
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
looked practically naked to nineteenth century eyes, and he worried
she'd get arrested for indecent exposure and he'd 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
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
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
twenty-six years 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
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
think 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
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
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. Then, they walked up the steps and
grand opera 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 accusing them of taking their seats and ordering them to get
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 arrival 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 old 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
added, no longer light-headed and trembling, feeling somewhat
"Oh, look, people are beginning to take the stage!" Leonard
excitedly announced to Stephanie.
and Stephanie all settled down in their seats high
up on the balcony, the play was about to start. The lights dimmed and
spotlight shinned down on the stage and its cast. As if on cue from the
change, the audience's collective murmurs ebbed and then
subsided. All perforemers wore very extravagant, old-fashioned
apparel, which seemed to be significant of an even earlier century.
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
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
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
World 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
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
sentences could be made out--made for a cheerful and satisfactory
tone and, thus, an upbeat, joyful atmosphere of emotion. Surely, all
much pleasure in the play, saying how much they enjoyed it and
savoring the remarkable experience it gave them, Len presumed as he
stood up, looked around and took a deep breath of fresh nineteenth
Aah, it feels so good being here at this moment in this
point 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.
"Yes, she 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
Stephanie prepared to do... Just then, as they approached the front
thirty-something blonde couple rapidly came upon them in an
aggressive manner, blocking their path so as to prevent them from
exiting the theater.
"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
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
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
nineteenth 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 just said that! In his mind, that was
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 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 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 yielded a ton of influence. He glanced
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 we bothered you two," the man said softly, sheepishly
looking down. Then, he headed straight for the exit, with his wife
trailing right 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. He
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 merrily uttered.
Len and Steph stopped in their tracks and turned around to view
the origin of the pleasant sounding voice. A plump woman in a long,
green dress and a white jacket looked as nice as she sounded. The
chipper lady wore her brown hair in a bun, had brown eyes, appeared
to be in her fifties, and a broad smile covered much of her round face.
"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
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
clothes and get back on your feet."
Len couldn't believe his luck!!! He was about to actually
the famed Theresa Vaughn!!! Stephanie felt 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, however 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, then 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. Immediately after crossing the
threshold, they stopped dead in their tracks, stunned.
Before Len and Steph's eyes--looking right at them from across
the room--stood Theresa Vaughn. Leonard could hardly believe it!
She looked even better--more beautiful, more lovely and more
she did in the old black and white pictures he saw of her
when he lived in the twenty-first century. Out of her stage clothes,
she now wore a long, white dress with pink and blue trim and a pink
and straight, beyond-shoulder-length, light brown hair capped
off a radiant and sweet face which reflected the abundant amount of
love that dwelt in her heart. Her big, soft, blue eyes looked interested
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
grin, but every bit as meaningful nonetheless -- the
same priceless smile that Leonard had observed in some of the old,
grainy pictures, and those eyes... Oh,
those eyes!!! Looking at those old pictures alone, Len perceived a
pure soul, and seeing her in person validated that belief. Theresa
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 walked out and closed the door, 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
floated on air with his feet three feet off the floor. It amounted to 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 concentrated as
her mind got perplexed. Who are these people, and what do they
with me, she thought as suspicion creept in. She looked over at
Stephanie attentively, 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
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
him, 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
She laughed again. Leonard started falling in love
with her laughter, as well.
At last, Leonard managed to vocalize his first words: "Theresa, oh
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,
considering the last two words in his sentence a
"Yes, Miss Vaughn, 2019 -- that is where we are from," he blurted
out, so mesmerized by Theresa -- unable to even think straight,
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
level of credence to the idea; could they actually hail 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 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,
then she forced a smile, looking every bit
as nervous as she sounded.
"Yeah, that's what I meant," echoed Len, trying desperately to
cover for himself upon becoming painfully aware of his blunder, feeling
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.
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"--now searching for physical
evidence of their true identities--followed
by, "Would you mind telling
me what it is?"
"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,
visually fixated on it and showing absolutely no signs of giving up and
letting the subject rest.
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
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
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
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 his words.
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
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 were talking
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 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.
laughed delicately and sweetly, like music to Len's ears.
"Your time machine and The Comm are spectacular creations. I
"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!"
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 had 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, sensing 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
emotional and cultural survival
hinged on transforming from a twenty-
first century 'trendy' gal into a refined, classy nineteenth century
young lady, but on the larger 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 impossible
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 startling sight:
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 rooted in
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, showing
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. A huge
burden has been lifted. What a catharsis!!! I am renewed! I am
reborn! 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, rotten, degenerate, swampy culture! I
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
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." As Stephanie spoke, Theresa looked at her with loving eyes
smiled that warm, sweet smile.
Theresa excused herself to go out of the room and fetch Beverly
and Leonard so they, too, may witness Stephanie's amazing
Much rejoicing by all--including Theresa's
bodyguard who had been stationed outside at the door--ensued after
they returned. 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.
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 magical.
Stephanie awoke on a bed in a log cabin and stepped outside to a
thick forest of pine trees and a golden dawn that reminded her of the
that came on in the time machine right before they got transported.
Now she felt free and harbored a new zest for life. Even the air
seemed fresher. The cabin, Theresa's
gift to Stephanie, signified her
kindness, and she gave 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. 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
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 easily assimilating to the rich culture
Len and Steph had regarded staying in the nineteenth century a
'no-brainer.' Only four days into it, Len told Frank his intentions over
and Frank wished them the best, adding that he moved
their cars, which were in his driveway, to a discreet location and
removed the license plates in order to avoid prosecution since they,
constituted 'missing persons.'
Days turned into weeks which became
months, and months
stretched into years. Ten years passed in a flash for Leonard and
Stephanie because living in the nineteenth century provided such a
delightful experience. 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--unlike everyone else--it came as no
surprise [to them].
One sunny afternoon in late August of 1904, at an outdoor banjo
concert, 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 eleven
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
"What's your name," Leonard curiously inquired.
"Elias Baxter" came his reply.
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 failed to turn his head to
look at her,
and seemed completely unaware of her presence.
Nowadays, 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
and handed Stephanie a glass of Pepsi Cola. A chubby,
effervescent, fifty-six year-old in-home health care aide called out to
Frank from the hallway, saying she wanted to take her thirty-minute
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
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 over the 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
"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
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 still 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.