The world is changing at
a rapid rate in many ways. It is continually becoming more complicated, confusing and dangerous. This naturally induces a lot of anxiety in a lot of people, and along with it, a yearning to return to the 'good ol' days.' This has always been
the case--in every age and civilization, with a certain segment of every generation--but now, it seems, even more so, even if it's not publicized or verbally expressed often among people in their own homes. In fact, few people are probably consciously
aware of how they feel, and harbor these nostalgic feelings deep down in the hidden recesses of their subconscious minds. Not even touching on what role, if any, ancestral memories play, it can probably be stated with a certain degree of certitude that
many people desperately long to escape to the past on a subconscious level. My novella is best suited for all those folks, as it serves to bridge the gap between their conscious and subconscious minds.
In my novella, two people are returned to the late nineteenth century via a time machine where they attend
a Broadway show and meet Theresa Vaughn, a musician/entertainer of that era. She was a star during her short lifespan, but her legacy faded away with the passing of time, and my novella brings her back to life... figuratively speaking, of course.
Here's how the journey begins.
Upon the culmination of a secret family tradition, Stephanie Hansen--an Instagram model (totally fictional character)--is tricked into stepping into an inventor's time machine because a 'human guinea pig' is needed to test the machine. Leonard Baxter--the
inventor's boisterous, obnoxious cousin who enjoys writing about, and lecturing on, the nineteenth century--slips in it with her simply because he wants to be in a tightly enclosed space with a total babe, not because he has an ounce of faith in his cousin's
invention. To their astonishment, within a matter of minutes, they suddenly find themselves in another place, in another time. Quite understandably, they are shocked and dismayed at what has occurred. However, within a relatively short amount
of time, they manage to pull themselves together. Discovering that they are in New York City in the year 1893, they begin walking toward a theater and successfully sneak past the ticket collector to make their way to the balcony where they steal a viewing
of a Broadway show featuring, among other entertainers, the long forgotten Theresa Vaughn.
Following a harrowing post-show encounter, which quick-thinking Stephanie bails them out of, they get introduced to Theresa Vaughn inside her dressing room. She doesn't know what to make of them. Ironically,
Leonard, who initially took Stephanie for a ditz, lets it slip that they are time travellers from the twenty-first century. This leads to Theresa helping Stephanie in a one-on-one setting, followed by some singing and banjo playing for both Stephanie
Leonard and Stephanie are delighted
and decide to stay in the nineteenth century permanently.
In the end, it is revealed that Leonard Baxter, now an old and feeble man suffering from the latter stages of dementia, imagined it all, including the secret family tradition and being twenty-five years younger during the non-existent time traveling
saga. Although there was no time machine, Frank really was his cousin and he was an (amateur) inventor, and Stephanie Hansen was an Instagram model whom Leonard met online.
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 1
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 Encounters
Chapter Six: The Glorious Meeting
Chapter Seven: Stephanie's Transformation 37
The Impossible Dream
The widely renowned eighty-four-year-old historian seemed to family
and friends unlike himself lately -- distant bordering on aloofness.
Three hours ago, he settled down at his desk,
in front of his computer
screen to write another destined-to-be bestselling book following a
worldwide speaking tour on the heels of his most recent one, America's
Now sitting comfortably in his armchair,
relaxing, he began
contemplating, putting more pieces of the puzzle together. And these
comprised some of those pieces. Right 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 Baxter--a humble, illiterate, thirty-nine-year-old North
farmer with mammoth-like height and brawn, huge hands, a
handsome but weathered face, blonde hair, a red neck, and sorrowful
blue eyes--thought of it while peacefully lying 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
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, big ol' Elias--never prone to flights of fancy,
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, had planted the thought in his head like a
seed in the ground. The thought: Since the Wright Brothers managed
to make a flying object,
perhaps someone, somewhere, at some point in the future will invent
something even more spectacular -- a time machine.
Months went by and the gentle giant kept thinking about it, his
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 an oral family tradition
about a time machine to survive his inevitable passing, lasting long into
future generations. This gave Elias a real and definite sense
purpose in life.
It took much insistence convincing his fifteen-year-old son, Oliver,
that--as scientific knowledge gradually advanced--a time machine
could, possibly, be built one day, even if it constituted 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
generation. However, a split-off occurred. Oliver Baxter sired two
and one of them, George, never discussed the impossible dream
with his children, due to sheer skepticism. The other son, Carl,
vigorously discussed it with his children, and quite often. Carl's second
son, Frank--spurred on by the 'impossible dream'--became a scientist.
Leonard, George's first and only son, now nearing sixty, never even
became aware of the 'impossible dream'... then,
he received a phone call one Fall morning
from cousin Frank, the
Laurel to his Hardy, both personality-wise and size-wise.
This is Frank. How have you been doing?"
"Aah, Frank! So nice to hear from you! Fine, and yourself,"
Leonard replied in a loud, boisterous tone, in contrast to Frank's much
quieter, meek one. Even their respective voices reflected their
After taking a deep, apprehensive, breath, Frank wasted
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
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."
"Wow! Okay, what is it," Leonard, quite taken aback, curiously
"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 into his shiny, 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 mysterious
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 beaming eyes and 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 highlighted
thick, corn-yellow head of hair next to Len's almond-brown hair, and
Frank's long, narrow face
accentuated Leonard's wide, square face.
What's more, in the picture, Leonard's tall, bulky body seemed to
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
attire -- a designer, black short-sleeved shirt and designer, tan khakis
which, together, masked
his weight problem fairly well. Frank, still
pencil-thin after all these years and more casually dressed, wore a
second-hand short-sleeved green shirt with horizontal, navy blue
stripes, and baggy blue jeans held up by a brown, leather belt.
"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-year-old
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
admonished while envying 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
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, and
he walked over to the one facing it.
Leonard began growing more and more interested as he took his
is this all about, he wondered, but didn't say, although his
intense facial expression said it very well.
Frank clearly saw that Leonard hung on his every word, and he
went on. "Listen, big guy, I know that great-grandpa Elias had a
reputation for being eccentric ... crazy even, I guess. The fact is, he
wasn't crazy, or even eccentric. The man was very stable-minded and
conservative but, somehow, for some reason, he became thoroughly
obsessed with the idea that someday someone would build a time
"A what?! Hahaha, Hahaha, Hahaha!!! A time machine?!?! What
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--his
pale blue eyes peering through thick lenses at Leonard--after
saying jerk in his mind, yet holding his tongue, as he patiently waited
for the onslaught of 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
that a time machine is possible, do you?"
"I not only believe it, but I think I have built one," Frank 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. Leonard, 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 didn't move. Then, he 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,
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 6x6x7
enclosure he breathed, "This is incredible" -- more to himself than an
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,
yellow...--running 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 interior
unit panels. Only the back
side 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,
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
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." His voice grew louder. "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 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, his voice reaching
a fevered pitch.
"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 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 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
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--hurried to the front door, while Leonard waited
time machine, annoyed by the interruption, yet 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 fresh-faced, sparkling, tall and lean, long-legged, buxom
blonde with a narrow waistline, big, blue eyes, a small nose and
luscious red lips. And he liked that...
all of that! (Not to mention her
tantalizingly skimpy attire consisting of a tight, white midriff tank top
that exposed some cleavage and her flat tummy flesh, and really short
cut-off blue denim shorts--'Daisy Dukes'--which revealed lots
of bare leg. She also wore white socks and white sneakers.) "Beauty
and sensuality combined with innocence and purity" is how Frank liked
to describe his eighteen-year-old neighbor.
Frank jovially introduced the two of them: "Stephanie,
Leonard. Leonard, this is Stephanie."
"Hello, Leonard. It's nice to meet you," she said in a soft, sweet,
foreign accent while shaking
his hand and smiling. Must be from a
Nordic country, he thought, looking into her bright, light blue eyes and
smiling back. ... Finally, he let go of her hand.
"Stephanie is in college studying art. She dropped by to return a
book I let her borrow last week," Frank--staying upbeat--informed
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 with a
twinkle in her eyes.
"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 devious mind.
"Excuse me, Stephanie, may I have a word
with my cousin in
private; it won't take long."
Leonard led Frank
into the hallway, far enough away that they
could talk without Stephanie hearing them.
"Frank, I just had an idea," he said, speaking in a hushed tone to
prevent her from overhearing their clandestine dialogue. "How
about trying to send that chick back to the nineteenth century. I know
that time period like the back of my hand--it's what I write and lecture
about--and I'll know, based on what she describes when she's returned,
if she really went there or not. (I'm still ninety-nine-point-ninety-nine--
if not more--percent sure it won't work.) Also, maybe you should tell
her that your time machine is a piece of art work so she'll be more
likely to step inside of it. Like 'abstract art' or whatever they
call it. I
mean, if we level with her, it'll probably either freak her out or she'll
just laugh at it, not wanting to have anything to do with it... or us, for
"Those are both good ideas! Good thinking, cuz," complimented
The conspiring cousins optimistically strolled back
into the lab.
"What's this thing," Stephanie asked 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 shamelessly fibbed. "I bought it from an art dealer
the other day. I just had them put it in my lab until I decide where in
the house I want it to go.
So many choices, you know."
"What's it supposed to be? It looks sort of Sci-Fi'ish," she curiously
inquired in a high-pitched, excited tone, her bubbly personality
becoming more and more apparent to Leonard, who always harbored
quite a fondness for ditzy, unassuming beauties.
"Yeah, that's it -- a Sci-Fi piece of art work. Would you like to
step 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 enter therein.
"Well, I don't know," Stephanie balked. "It looks kinda scary."
"Oh, there's nothing to fear. That's part of the artistry of it --
stepping inside." Frank, even as he talked, was smiling broadly, trying
to appear as friendly and harmless as possible, hoping the pretty young
thing would take the bait.
"Well... if you're not going to slam the door shut and lock me
inside," Stephanie said a little nervously, still hesitant and reluctant,
though trying to make up her mind.
"Hahaha, why would I do that?! It's just a piece of art work, not a
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
"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 know we
have our little guinea pig, but think about something: if
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, guide her and protect 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--that 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
think you'll be able to figure it out. Here is where you type text
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 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, "Uh, Stephanie, my
cousin would like to join you inside."
"Okay," she said half attentively,
still eyeing the interior, followed
a few seconds later by, "Hey, I kinda like it in here, actually. It seems
like some sort of a time capsule or something," spoken cheerfully while
"You don't know how right you are, young lady; you don't know
how right you are!" Leonard muttered after he eagerly stepped inside
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
to settle for smelling her perfume. (Oh, how he wished, at a time
like this, that he was eighteen again, still in shape, and still a ladies'
man!! Maybe then...)
"What?!" she exclaimed confusedly with a furrowed brow, shifting
her focus from the console to Leonard, after Frank hastily shut the
door on them.
"Never mind," Leonard
simply replied, just glad 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 worked
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
and Steph of something 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 lacked worry and just enjoyed it, as
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
skepticism, 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
entered 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
carpet dust being sucked into a vacuum cleaner. And, then, they
experienced the sensation of involuntarily flying, twisting and turning,
through a long, black and white rotating spiral tunnel--a vortex--full of
a seemingly infinity of circles within circles... this lasted for ten
terrifying seconds... and then... Wham! They found
outside the tunnel.
Amazing!!! It happened so fast--as sudden as a millisecond--
like a jolt -- Leonard and Stephanie being thrust out
of the tunnel, no longer standing in the 'time capsule,' as Stephanie
had called it, no longer being hurled around in the whirlwind of the
array of swirling circles. Now they stood on solid, natural
ground outside, on a small mound, under a dimming, grey sky in the
early stage of transitioning to night. Evidently, they arrived there--
"there" was--during evening hours.
"What the heck happened??? Where are we???" Stephanie shouted,
shocked beyond words, feeling utterly disoriented, confused and
traumatized. Leonard felt extremely shocked, but not quite
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, jeez!!! My little cousin actually did it," he softly said to
himself, in a state of utter shock and awe, while shifting his body
every which way and looking
all around as if in a daze.
"Did what," Stephanie questioned loudly and frantically, unable to
gather her senses, so upset she appeared on the verge of bursting into
tears and having a nervous breakdown.
"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 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 observed, 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 it felt
like her knees might buckle as she stood beside Leonard on the grassy
"I don't know, Stephanie. I really don't know. But he did
that he has a way of returning us to present time, so I don't think
there's any need to panic."
"No need to panic?!?!?!" Stephanie shrieked, clearly annoyed
that remark. Leonard completely ignored her sarcastically desperate
cry, either due to being so consumed in his observations of his
surroundings or insensitivity to her distress, or a little of
It looked like a big city, possibly New York, he speculated. Street
lit the air, although enough daylight remained to not need them
quite yet. A lot of hand-painted signs also came into view. A bevy of
people walked about, mostly along the cobblestone sidewalks on either
side of the main 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
combined sound of all those hooves trotting on the tar streets marked
the first thing they
heard in that big city. The men were dressed in
classic nineteenth century attire; many wore suits and old-style top
hats too, while the women brandished antiquated hats, themselves, or
hairdos atop their heads and, down below, long--
uniformly ankle-length--nineteenth century style dresses. Shops,
stores and buildings abounded. Turning around and redirecting their
they saw another horse-drawn carriage rolling 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
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. A string of people shuffled
into it. Leornard and Stephanie quickly decided to go inside the
building themselves, and started walking toward it under
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
the cobblestone sidewalk--about one-third of the
came upon a giant of a man who was sitting on a bench, reading a
newspaper which he held up in front of his face, concealing it. This
posed the perfect opportunity for Leonard
to find out the year they
were in without having to ask a stupid--and probably even suspicious--
Leonard came to a halt, standing directly 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 chin, revealing a friendly
countenance and a kind smile, and handed it to the passerby.
top right said 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
to be 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.
"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 stretched midriff tank top, which 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
remember to give that line
to anyone that might inquire -- that we're decked out in costume," he
"That's a good idea," said Stephanie as she kept strolling
cobblestone sidewalk, sticking real 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
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 every approaching passerby out of
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
heard it because she didn't react to it, but, in fact, she did
"An article in that paper that that 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!" Stephanie sarcastically replied. "This is just so bizarre!" she
then opined as her long legs
moved forward, keeping in stride with
"Theresa Vaughn was a splendid musician and a cultural icon,"
Leonard stated, trying to give Stephanie
a brief history lesson.
"If Theresa Vaughn was such a superstar and so great, then why
haven't I ever heard of her," Stephanie casually inquired.
"Because evil forces infiltrated the establishment and pretty
much erased her name and legacy from the annals of history," Leonard
spouted Stephanie, not quite comprehending what
Leonard was saying.
"To put it simply, the bad guys won out. The bad guys won out,"
Stephanie gave it some thought, then, seeking clarification,
asked, "Does this have anything to do with, like, in college when we're
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
understand," he repeated, as he was prone to do when trying to
emphasize a point.
They kept walking together and soon came upon the steps leading
to the building's main entrance after they saw its big, bold name--
Palmer's Theater--overhead. Then, they walked up the steps and
grand opera house. They slipped past the ticket collector and then
they ascended the staircase and took
their seats on the 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 up.
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--Can you read this?--and received a short reply
Yes. Then, he tried the audio, speaking to Frank--"Can you hear me?"--
and Frank's excited voice came through loud and clear--"Yes, I can hear
you!!!" Leonard felt very excited
about it, as well. Then, they chatted
a little while, mostly about his and Steph's time traveling experiences
leading up to, and including, Palmer's Theater.
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
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
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 with The Comm.
"Let's see... hmm... Oh, wow! It sure does!!!" he exclaimed in a
of surprise and delight after looking for, and finding, it.
"You should film the play when it starts," Stephanie
"Oh no I shouldn't!" Len firmly disagreed. "For one thing, don't
you think these nineteenth 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
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
announced to Stephanie.
With Leonard and Stephanie all settled down in their seats high
up on the balcony, the play was about to start. The lights dimmed,
and spotlight shinned down on the stage and its cast. As if on cue from
the lighting change, the audience's collective murmurs ebbed
subsided. All performers wore very extravagant, old-fashioned
apparel, which seemed to be significant of an even earlier century.
Len's curiosity was piqued to the point he felt compelled
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 tell me what it's about?"
The distinguished gentleman neared his head toward Len to avoid
disturbing anyone and replied in a whisper of his own, "It's called 1492
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, merging and blending. 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 found much pleasure in the play, saying how
much they enjoyed it, and savoring the remarkable experience it gave
presumed as he stood up, looked around and took a deep
breath of fresh nineteenth century air. Aah, it feels so good being
here at this moment in this point in time, he thought. Stephanie felt
the same way, and she gained a new appreciation for America and its
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
Now they walked on the first level, heading for the exit. People
ahead of them shuffled out of the building, which Leonard and
to do also... Just then, as they approached the
front door, a thirty-something blonde couple rapidly came upon them
in an aggressive manner, stopping right in front of them and blocking
path so as to prevent them from exiting the theater.
"You took our seats," the man said, angrily, to Len with
menacing stare while his female companion darted her own pair of
piercing, blue eyes from Len to Stephanie, back to Len, then to
Stephanie -- continuously, as if she bore zero trust in them,
preparation for the worst. Len and Steph feared violence from them,
as well... and with good reason: they acted very hostile and paranoid
and were, obviously, simply mean by nature.
"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,
wishing the bully would
just take a couple of steps backward and get
out of his face.
"Because... the way y'all 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
American citizens?" He spoke loudly, in a harsh tone, just like an
officer. He looked like one, as well!
Leonard gulped, and managed to offer up a feeble sounding 'Yes,'
now fearing arrest on suspicion of being foreign spies,
unable to prove
their citizenship; American citizens they were, but natural-born
nineteenth century American citizens they were not -- a fact subject
to revelation 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
Vaughn," she said forcefully.
Len couldn't believe she just said that! In his mind, that was
about the worst thing possible to say because, now, all they had to do
was to check with Theresa for verification purposes... and, of course,
she'd contradict Stephanie's outrageous 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
owned the city and yielded a ton of influence. He glanced
over at the lady, seeming not to know what to say or do next. She
looked at him as he looked at her, with newly formed nervousness on
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 increasingly
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, plus her
bravery; although, he found all those attributes a
bit intimidating, as
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
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
clothes and get back on your feet."
Len couldn't believe his luck!!! He was about to actually meet
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 about her from Len and saw 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
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
began pounding even faster. It felt like, not sparks, but
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
glorious--than 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
Straight, beyond-shoulder-length, light brown hair framed a
radiant and sweet face which reflected the abundant amount of love
that dwelt in her heart. Theresa's big, soft, blue eyes looked
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
opened-mouth grin, but every bit as meaningful nonetheless
-- the same priceless smile that Leonard had observed in some of the
old, grainy pictures. And those 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 with the dropped jaw and
that were locked on her. She was trying to
figure him out, realizing he was, obviously, awestruck. Her eyes--
normally innocent looking and tender--narrowed and became intense
as her mind got perplexed. Who are these people,
and what do they want with me, she thought as suspicion crept in.
She looked over at Stephanie attentively, picking up on their clothing.
... ... ... No one had said anything, still. Stephanie glanced over
at Len; that
stunned expression was stuck, frozen on his face, she
observed, as he continued to stare at Theresa in a trance-like state.
That, coupled with the mounting seconds of silence in the process of
prompted her to speak the first words.
"Miss Vaughn, we--speaking on behalf of my companion--are
delighted and honored to make your acquaintance. And... as I'm sure
you can tell... Leonard is perhaps a little too delighted and honored."
Stephanie let out a little chuckle at her own joke
while looking back
over at Leonard. The apparent spell that Theresa's presence cast on
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
uncomfortable." She laughed again. Leonard started falling in love
her laughter, as well.
At last, Leonard managed to vocalize his first words: "Theresa, oh
Theresa, it is such an immense honor and a 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,
considering the last two words in his sentence a bit odd.
Vaughn, 2019 -- that is where we are from," he blurted
out, so mesmerized by Theresa -- unable to even think straight,
incapable of keeping a big secret like that.
Stephanie squeezed her eyes shut, immediately becoming aware
of the severity of his huge verbal blunder. Meanwhile, Theresa looked
at Leonard with a shocked expression of her own. But then, it clicked
in her mind: their clothing coupled with Leonard's claim lent a certain
level of credence to the idea; could they actually hail from another
century?!? What he said was, perhaps, not beyond the realm of
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
like he'd just 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
But it may be too late, he thought. The damage may already be
done. Now Theresa will probably kick us
out of her dressing room on
the grounds that we're lunatics, he inwardly speculated.
But Theresa--too savvy and far too nice to just kick them out
right there on the spot--set out, like the officer before her, to conduct
her own interrogation proceedings. Could they fast-talk
their way out
of this one?? But first, she keenly observed both of them so she'd know
exactly what to ask.
Turning to Stephanie, she began: "Tell me, young
lady, are those
clothes you're wearing part of a stage act, like a burlesque show?"
"No, not really. It's just my casual attire."
"Are you a performer?"
"No, I'm a model."
"What type of model? A fashion model?"
"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 -- quite
familiar with the nineteenth century world of modeling, but totally
unfamiliar with that twenty-first century
"Not 'instant,' 'Instagram.' It's a type of social media platform in
"Social media?" Theresa
"Wait, back up. An Instagram model models on the Internet."
Stephanie rolled her eyes at what she'd 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
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
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
there, but fearing Theresa's persistence.
"What type of device?" came her follow-up question.
"Oh, just a communication device. Something my cousin gave
me. It's not really important," he said uneasily--struggling with his
words--trying to downplay it.
"May I see it," she pressed, still looking down at the bulge and the
black top part of it which stuck out of his pocket. Her eyes seemed to
be locked on it, staring in anticipation of the pending revelation.
"Oh, like I said, it's not important, nothing worth seeing," he
resisted, but weakly.
"Still, I'd like to see it if you don't mind," she firmly insisted, still
visually fixated on it and showing absolutely no signs of giving up and
letting the subject
With that, upon feeling little hope of winning the battle of wills,
or wits, with her, he finally relented. After he pulled it out, she took
from his outstretched hand and visually scanned the futuristic device
"Gosh, this looks pretty complex," she observed. "Will you please
tell me what it is and show me how it works," she asked, her voice
teeming with interest.
At that point, Len decided to give up his charade. "Miss Vaughn, I
feel I must confess. We are, indeed, from the future. We came here
by way of a time machine.
And this is called 'The Comm.' My cousin
invented it in 2019 -- the year we were in less than four hours ago."
Theresa raised her hand to her cheek and gasped, "Oh my gosh,"
her eyes looking like a pair of saucers, feeling flabbergasted beyond
words. It took a few seconds for her to mentally digest
Then, she exclaimed, "You know what, I actually think I believe you."
"Would you like to chat with cousin, Frank," he asked in an
"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 requested. "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
Leonard Baxter. He usually just goes by Len," she informed Theresa
while he was looking down at The Comm, pressing digits.
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 name rings a
bell. ... Now I remember! I read all about you in Len's book, America's
"Yes, and not only did Len write about you, he talked about you...
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 overall expression on her normally angelic
face. Now he knew they were talking about him, and he turned his
head away from Theresa and
grimaced, which satisfied Miss Vaughn's
sudden desire to torment him a little bit. It was about as mean as she
could possibly be.
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
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."
"Goodbye, Miss Vaughn."
"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, and continued to talk, and talk, and talk, and talk. "... ... ...
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 Carolina, not New York, brought us both 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 a whole
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 much colder,
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
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 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.
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
carried the attachment of making her seem vain.
"Unfortunately, not," Len said bluntly. "As I was telling
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
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
living 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
nodding 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
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
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
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
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
because Theresa assigned her bodyguard to stand guard outside at her
dressing room door on orders not to let anyone inside, unless in case of
an emergency--it would have been a
most strange and startling sight:
guided, closed-eyed meditation, mantras repeated over and over
again, the laying on of hands, swaying back and forth, occasional
gyrations, and things of that nature -- all
solely rooted in alternative
American health and wellness tradition, Theresa being an expert in the
... ... ... The spiritual revival ritual finally
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 from me. 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
feel as though now I am the person I was from the very
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 heart, mind 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
and 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
transformation. 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. Then,
she played many more songs for them, thus making it a little private
concert right there in her dressing room. All of it felt very
Stephanie awoke 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.
she felt free and harbored a new zest for life. Even the air
seemed fresher. The cabin, Theresa's gift to Stephanie, symbolized her
kindness, and she gave Len one, as well. They both expressed a great
amount of appreciation to Theresa for her generosity, and thanked her
profusely, considering her a heroine for the ages. Len and Steph
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-drawn carriages
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 model that Theresa
as a gift, and she loved listening to Appalachian folk music.
Furthermore, they planned to frequent Palmer's Theater and see more
Broadway shows. That's something they really
looked forward to! A
fun and exciting time it was for them. They felt very pleased and
content living in America in that era, enthusiastically, quickly and
easily assimilating to the rich culture
inherent in it.
Len and Steph had regarded staying in the nineteenth century a
'no-brainer.' Only four days into it, Len told Frank his intentions over
Comm and Frank wished them the best, adding that he moved
their cars, which were parked in his driveway, to a discreet location
and removed the license plates in order to avoid prosecution since
officially 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 made for such a
delightful experience. Now, at the
start of the twentieth century, the
Wright Brothers lifted the airplane they'd 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
Leonard struck up a conversation with a middle-aged,
gargantuan 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 years older. And during the course of their conversation--the
first time he didn't speak; he just handed Leonard the paper
smiled warmly--the intriguing gentleman casually alluded to a
prospective time machine.
"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
room and handed Stephanie a glass of Pepsi Cola. A chubby,
effervescent, fifty-six-year-old in-home health care aide called
Frank from the hallway, saying she wanted to take her thirty-minute
break early, if he didn't mind.
"No problem, Beverly," he called back out. Then,
Stephanie, he said, "Thanks so much for being here with my cousin
before he dies," in a much lower and softer tone.
"I know how hard it has been on you
and your family since he got
dementia," Steph said, walking over to the couch to take a seat on it,
while Frank prepared to settle down in his own armchair, facing both
Stephanie, to his right, and his cousin,
who was to the left of him.
"Yes, it has been, and I appreciate your support so much -- flying
in from Bavaria just to be with him after developing a friendship with
him over the Internet. How many teen Instagram models would do
something like that?!" he asked rhetorically. Reinforcing his
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 because now I really enjoy listening
to nineteenth century music, and I even dress more conservatively."
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
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
a time machine so he could travel back in time and meet the
one and only 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.
Was reading this book an escape to the past for you?