Copyright© 2007 by novascriptus
Time Travel Sex Story: Chapter 1 - A bitter old man gets another chance at life. Will he live better this time or will he make the same mistakes? The story follows Paul Sheppard through his last year of high school in the late 1950s and through college. Are our lives fated or can we change?
Paul Sheppard awoke in his bed, alone (no one could stand to be around him for long because he was an asshole and a jerk). Maybe half of his graduate students had been able to stomach him long enough to get their degrees but none would collaborate with him afterwards. He left his eyes closed, not ready to face the world this morning.
He hadn't been bad looking and women were attracted to him (after he became famous), but he treated them like shit and they didn't hang around long. Those that did disgusted him and he dumped them. The most recent one had left last week. Her name was Carol. How many Carols had there been.
He knew he was a jerk and he saw no reason to change because at 75 years old and in bad health, he wouldn't be around much longer.
He realized he was miserable. Deep down he knew that his scathing, 'Ignorance is bliss, ' delivered to some happy person was more because he was unhappy than because it was true.
Two hundred years from now, if you picked up a physics book, his name would be in it. That was enough when he was younger but now his fame didn't give him any solace.
He had been an atheist most of his life. He could tear apart religious beliefs. He knew the Bible well and knew all the inconsistencies. He had enjoyed humiliating more than one believer. Now he wasn't so sure.
Was he just afraid of death?
Atheism - the worship of one's own smug sense of superiority.
Well, that had fit him. Yes, he had become increasingly aware of his mortality and his inevitable demise. It was humiliating to acknowledge the accompanying fear.
He hadn't been humiliated in a long time. Not after learning in college that he could dominate with his mind. He could destroy a person with his intellect more easily than a boxer could an opponent with his gloves. He understood the protocol and subtleties required for socializing, but disdained using them.
"Paul, breakfast is ready. Hurry up or you're going to be late to school again," a woman's voice called to him. It was familiar but he couldn't place it. Late to school, what did that mean?
He opened his eyes and was amazed. The room was crisp, clear, and in focus. The colors were vibrant. He didn't ache. No one warns about that; old age means constant pain. Why is the old man next door so cranky? Because he hurts all the time.
The room was his childhood room. He remembered the smell, the feeling of the night table and the texture of the wall. He slipped out of bed and stood in front of the dresser mirror. A tall thin teenager looked back at him. He had blond hair, long and greasy. He remembered he once wore it slicked back in a ducktail.
What the hell was going on? He saw a National Geographic on the nightstand. It was dated April 1957. If it was really 1957, he was 16 years old. He had already grown to his adult height of 6 feet and weighed around 135 pounds.
He was a freaking beanpole.
The fan was on, the steady click, click, click etched into his brain. There was no air conditioner in this house. It was miserable at night. You could get used to sweating all day long but it was hard to sleep when the temperature in your bedroom was 85º. Paul turned off the fan. School wasn't air conditioned either. No wonder Florida's education was so bad.
"Paul, I mean it. Get ready." Now he recognized the voice. It was his mother. She had been the last person he had loved. Maybe the only person he had ever loved. His father had died in the war and his mother had never remarried. He headed to the bathroom, quickly dressed in whatever he could grab, and headed downstairs.
Norma Sheppard was sitting at the breakfast table with a cup of coffee in her hand. She was lovely. She was dressed for work, a wide blue skirt and a white blouse. Her breasts were shaped like bullets in the bra common in the 50s. She had blond hair and blue eyes.
She looked like she had stepped out of a television commercial except that she didn't wear the expensive jewelry that TV censors insisted on. America couldn't win the cold war if our propaganda wasn't better than the commie's. Doesn't every woman wear pearls while she vacuums? She was 36 years old; she looked beautiful. Paul walked to her and hugged her, a knot in his throat as he said, "I love you Mom."
"What did you do now?" she laughed. "Is that what you're planning on wearing?" she said as he moved around the table to sit down. Paul had a pair of dark blue slacks and a knit shirt with a collar.
"Isn't this OK?"
"Yes, it's fine. It's better than fine. I'm glad you're not wearing that leather jacket." She thought the jacket made him look like a hoodlum.
First time around he had thought the jacket was cool daddy-o. It hid how skinny he was and that was a real bonus. Now it reminded him of the group Sha-na-na and Randy Newman's song Mikey's. Do-wop music was not really worth listening to. After a dozen times, The Duke of Earl was going to start doing brain damage.
Paul was lost at school. He had no idea what his schedule was; he had no idea where his locker was. Although some people looked familiar, he couldn't recall their names. He needed time. He had hoped something would jog his memory but it hadn't. Time to come up with some kind of plan.
He couldn't bring himself to tell his mother what was happening. It didn't seem right. Even when he looked at it from her point of view he wasn't sure it was right. He was already enough of a freak. A plan was taking shape and it called for drama. He had loved being dramatic the first time around, and it ought to work for him this time.
His plan would give him time and an excuse for his memory. It would cause his mom some pain and he regretted that. He wanted to treat her right this time around but could see no other way out of his predicament. The pain would be short-lived and he'd be a good son after that.
He walked over to where the grass was lush as it gets in September. After checking for sandspurs and ants, he weakened his knees and fell forward lifeless.
The school nurse was easy to fool and she called an ambulance as soon as she found that she couldn't wake him. He acted semi-conscious for her and for the ambulance crew. He hoped they didn't notice that his lucidity improved when they looked in his eyes. At the hospital he dropped the act completely. There was nothing wrong and he wasn't going to fool anyone.
I remember waking up this morning and going to school. Everything before that is fuzzy until I woke-up in the hospital. That was his story and he was sticking to it. Only one lie; he remembered everything from that day. It's hard to make a mistake if you keep the lies simple.
Of course his mom was worried. The school had called her at work and she had rushed to the hospital. "Are you sure you're OK?"
"Mom, I can't remember when I've felt better," he said with a smile.
"Paul, I don't know what I would do if you were..."
"You'd do what you needed to do. Just like you've always done," he interrupted before she could finish the sentence. "I love you. Nothing's going to happen to me, but if it did, I'd want you to go on with your life and be happy. You're still young and beautiful. More importantly, you're kind and considerate. Someone would be lucky to find you." She looked surprised at what he had said
He was kept in the hospital for 5 days. This was before the advent of HMOs. Your doctor decided how long you stayed in the hospital. There weren't many tests that could be run; MRIs and CAT scans were decades away. Epilepsy? A brain tumor? Only the future would tell.
A psychologist could find nothing wrong. Nor could he measure Paul's IQ. What is the IQ of a 75-year-old genius in a 16-year-old body? IQ test were useless anyway. He had been proof of that: he had a high IQ but wasn't much of a person.
Paul had known a man who could do tensor and spinor mathematics in his head but hadn't been able to remember multiplication tables. The man understood Einstein's equation but didn't know that 6 times 8 was 48. How do you measure that person's intelligence? You certainly couldn't do it with a single number.
It was near the end of the school year, just three weeks left. Paul's grades were good and his teachers were happy to give him the grades that he had before the incident. Now all he needed to do was find a way out of finishing high school.
Because it would be boring beyond belief. He couldn't imagine sitting through the classes again. It would kill him. OK, maybe a bit dramatic but it would be a pain.
Skip a grade. That was the way to go. All he had to do was sell his mom on it. His plans didn't include being a recluse. Not this time. He would make friends and experience things he hadn't the first time. Going through a high school yearbook brought back few memories. Maybe the names of his friends had just been forgotten over 57 years. Maybe he hadn't had any friends.
It was probably a little bit of both.
Paul had never paid much attention to psychiatry. Freud still loomed over the 50s but Skinner was gaining more converts. Once medications become available, another paradigm shift. Paul had known a man who had gone bonkers, the whole nine yards: souls speaking to him, some imaginary person living in his garage, messiah complex, everything. His physician's response? Dope him until he drooled. Don't let those thought patterns become fixed in his brain.
Could Paul do something similar? No, not with drugs, that would be the 60s. Could he try to care about others: act as if he cared about others, and begin to really care about them? Could he learn empathy or would he just be a psychopath?
Enough depressing thoughts; 1957 was a great year. The Hula Hoop. The Frisbee. Play dough. The '57 Chevy. The Schawlow-Townes equation. Don't know the last one? Schawlow and Townes took a minor equation of Einstein's for spontaneous and stimulated emission then derived an equation that calculated the conditions needed to make a laser.
Picture an atom as a small solar system with electrons moving around it in orbits, not exactly right but close enough. Electrons can only be in the orbits of the planets. That is a rule that nature has set.
An electron needs energy to move from Earth's orbit to Jupiter's orbit and it gives away energy when it moves from Jupiter's orbit to Earth's orbit. So a photon of light (energy) is emitted when an electron moves from Jupiter's to Earth's orbit. A photon of light is adsorbed when the electron moves from Earth's orbit to Jupiter's orbit. The color of the light is characteristic of the element. Red is easier to make than orange or green and so that is the color of most helium (neon) lasers.
Nature has another rule: at thermal equilibrium, there can't be more electrons in Jupiter's orbit than in Earth's orbit. Mother Nature is fickle, but that is one of her rules. The more you heat neon, the more electrons there are in Jupiter's orbit, but never more than are in Earth's orbit.
It may not be nice to trick Mother Nature but you can do it. In a helium (neon) laser, you add a bunch of helium, a lot more helium than neon. The helium collides with the neon and gives enough energy to move an electron to Neptune's orbit without adsorbing any light, just by colliding with the neon atoms. The electrons don't like to be in Neptune's orbit: neon's odd that way, so those electrons drop to Jupiter's orbit. Now you have more electrons in Jupiter's orbit than in Earth's orbit. You have what is called a population inversion and you can coax the electrons to emit their light in a single direction as they fall back to Earth's orbit. Schawlow and Townes calculated how big the inversion needed to be for any color of light.
There was a business in town that made neon signs. With a little help, Paul would be able to build and patent the world's first laser. If he did it this summer, his mom might consider letting him skip a grade. At first opportunity, he drove to University of Florida.
No copiers in the 50s, no overnight delivery, no email, no cell phones, no blackberries, and a long distance phone call was a big deal. In the library, he hand-copied the important parts of the Schawlow-Townes paper. His hand was cramped before he finished. He needed a typewriter.
The first time around, Paul had watched his mother struggle to get by every week. Her job didn't pay her enough to make ends meet. She had put him through college by working two jobs. He had never thanked her for it. She was dead by the time he became rich, killed in an auto accident. This time she wasn't going to struggle while the rich bastards in town threw money away.
This time she would have enough money.
He didn't want to change the course of the world. Fall of 1962 was too close to nuclear war as it was to risk changing very much. Surely this wouldn't affect that, would it? How long before precision guided bombs? It'd better be after Curtis LeMay had retired or World War III was a real possibility.
"Mom, I want to get a head start on my science fair project this year." It sounded like an innocent request on the first day of summer. Money was tight. Paul needed help and his mother wouldn't be able to come up with the money.
"That's good honey. Will it interfere with getting a job?"
"I'm not sure. I'm going to go talk to Mr. Lawton."
Mr. Lawton made neon signs. His shop was downtown near their bank. Paul had worked for Mr. Lawton last year. The job hadn't paid much but it was something.
Mr. Lawton was about 5 foot 9 inches, slightly overweight, bald, and red-faced from the heat, but not really that bad looking... He was dressed in a grey suit. He had taken his jacket off and thrown it on a chair. He had a white short sleeve shirt with a T-shirt under it. His building was about 95 degrees. He must be cooking in those clothes.
"Mr. Lawton?" Paul inquired. "Is there sometime I can talk to you about a business proposition?"
"Proposition, huh? Sure. Wait for me in my office." Any excuse for getting into the office, and the air conditioner, was welcome. "So what's your proposition? I'd be happy to hire you again this summer," he said as he entered the room and stood in front of the AC.
It took Paul close to an hour to explain what he wanted. "So," he finished, "I have an invention that will make a fortune. The problem is that I can't make it and I don't have the money to patent it. I don't have money to enforce the patent. You can make it and you can come up with the money."
"You're talking about a ray gun," scoffed Mr. Lawton. "You can't be serious." He had hired Paul last year because he felt sorry for Paul. The kid was a little odd. He had been surprised by his intelligence and work ethic. He had also been surprised by Paul's mother.
"It's not a ray gun. It's not going to be powerful enough to cut through anything and I'm serious. To build one, all we need to buy is a small 100% optical mirror and a small 90% optical mirror. They would only cost about $75. You've got the glass tubes, the electrodes, the gases, and I've seen your signs so I know you're a very good glass blower. When it works, every university in the world will buy one. After that, others will find uses for it: surveying, range finding, signaling. If we build one, you'll be convinced."
"What would the split be?"
"And I suppose you would get the fifty-one."
"Yes sir. I don't mean to be rude but there is more than one person in town that can come up with the cash but only I have the idea."
In the end Mr. Lawton couldn't refuse. He thought that $75 for the mirrors and 3 hours of his time was a lot, but little compared to a possible $1,000 payday. He had no idea how big the payday would be.
Ok he had another reason. Norma Sheppard was a pretty woman. Maybe he would finally get a chance to ask her out.
Two weeks later was Friday, the third week of summer vacation. That evening Paul drove his mother's '53 green Ford two-door to the Dog and Suds, the home of hot dogs and root beer. It was the local hangout for high school kids. The radio played too much Pat Boone and Do-Wop, not enough Elvis, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Buddy Holly. The Beatles were years away and Paul would have to suffer through folk music before that.
Two girls and one boy were seated at the nearest table. He walked over to them. "May I join you?" He said as he slid into the seat. The two girls were named Carol and Susan. Carol was rather plain looking with dark hair. She had a scarf over her hair and hideous glasses but she was friendly. Tommy, her boy friend was seated next to her. He had an average build with red hair and seemed nervous. Susan was a knock out. She was a young version of Marilyn Monroe. She gave him a look that said she knew something that he didn't. She probably did. Probably more than one thing.
"Have you really lost your memory," asked Carol. "That must be horrible." She was friendly, not tense like Tommy.
"I don't remember." Paul smiled to show it was a joke. "It's not too bad. I remember everything since that day. Before that my memories are vague, as if they happened long ago. Did I know any of you?"
"We had algebra together in 8th grade but we didn't talk much," Tommy ventured.
"I get the feeling that I didn't talk much to anyone."
"You knew better than to sit in Steve's seat," observed Susan.
"I am, asshole." The voice and the slap to the head came from behind him.
"Steve, leave him alone. He didn't know," Carol pleaded.
"Shut up stupid," Steve glared at her. He was mad and not willing to listen to reason.
"Leave her out of this," Tommy complained.
"And you shut up or I'llkick your ass too."
As Paul remembered a few tidbits about these things, it seemed that if he was going to fight, he should stand up and trade taunts with Steve. In a few minutes one or the other would suggest stepping behind the store and settling the fight there. They would shove each other a couple of times and then start swinging. It seemed like more effort that it was really worth. He didn't need to beat Steve, he just needed to stand up to him.
Paul stood, skipped the entire taunting phase, and gave Steve a hard shove. Steve was looking at Tommy, so he tripped and went down hard. He came up swinging wildly.
You can tell if a fighter has had training by watching him punch. Straight punches mean training. Steve was untrained or in blind rage. He was shorter than Paul, maybe 5'10" and had to weight at least 40 pounds more than Paul.
Paul landed the first punch, but the distance was too long and the punch lacked power. His timing and distance were off. Still there was some blood from Steve's nose and his punches were wild. Steve was wearing blue jeans and a white T-shirt. He moved back and took off his letterman jacket.
Paul began to think he had a chance until Steve caught him with straight right hand. It hurt and it didn't bode well. Paul needed to gain Steve's respect. That meant that the fight had to last until Steve was tired and Steve needed to look like he had been in a fight. The nose was a good start but Steve's right hand was heavy. It could be a very short fight.
"If you can't win fair, you can always fight dirty," a boxer had once told Paul. So he stepped in close and threw a hook that hid his elbow striking Steve's face. It worked perfectly. A large cut was opened over Steve's left eye.
Now it was just a matter of holding on. Paul jabbed and moved, jabbed and moved. It was going fine until he threw a lazy jab.
Paul was seated on the ground not sure where he was. You notice the oddest things when you've been knocked out. The grill work on the car next to him really did look like two huge chrome breasts. "What happened?" he asked Tommy.
"You were in a fight with Steve."
"Oh. I guess there's no reason to ask who won, is there? Where is he?"
"He's by the table." A glance showed Susan holding a towel over Steve right eye.
He stood, shaky, but walked over to Steve. Blood was running on Steve's face from the cut. "Are we finished or do we need to keep going?"
Steve looked up surprised. He laughed, "You're fucking crazy. Did you know that?"
"Yeah. I'm Paul Sheppard."
"Steve McLaughlin." He held out his hand.
Paul took it. "If we're finished we should clear out before someone calls the cops."
"Tommy, would you or Carol please give me a ride. I don't think I should be behind wheel right now." He was sure he could drive but it would be best if he acknowledged the knock-out to Steve.
"OK. Carol can drive my car. Where do you need to go?"
"I'm going home. I've had about enough fun for one night. Steve, do you need a ride?"
"Yeah. Thanks to you asshole," he said with a laugh. "But Susan can drive me." Susan wasn't happy.
The next evening found Paul pulling into the parking lot of Dog and Suds again. Steve and Susan were seated at a table with another couple. He walked up to the table. "Steve, I don't want have to go through that again," he said as he rubbed his sore jaw, "but if I do, can I go home and get a different shirt? I don't want to ruin this one."
"I told you he was crazy," Steve laughed as he spoke to the other couple. He looked at Paul and said "You're alright. Your only problem is that you've got a glass jaw. Sit down." He moved over to give Paul room. There were stitches over Steve's eye.
The other couple was Brian Johnson and Mary Johnson. They were not related but were going steady. Both Steve and Brian were wearing letterman jackets even though it was hot.
"So Paul, what were you thinking when you picked a fight with the middle linebacker of the football team," the whole table laughed. Talk about dumb luck. He'd been in the perfect fight. Steve had one of the toughest reputations in the school and he didn't seem to hold a grudge.
"I don't remember picking the fight and I certainly didn't remember who Steve was."
"Paul," Steve said. "There's a party at Bob Edward's tonight. His folks will be there but it'll be fun. Why don't you join us, it'll be fun."
Paul was surprised that Susan didn't go with Steve. When the four party-goers reached the party, Steve pulled Paul aside. "Listen, I'm sorry about last night. Susan and I are breaking up and I was mad at her. I shouldn't have taken it out on you."
"Don't worry about it. I'm just glad you didn't hold a grudge. By the way, you look like shit. Have you been in a fight?" With a smile he turned towards the door.
"How's your jaw?" Steve countered as he followed.
There were two large bodies in letterman jackets standing by the door. This looked like an invitation-only type party. They didn't appear inclined to let Paul into the house until Steve shoved him and said, "Move aside. This is Paul. He's crazy." Life was good.
There were no more than twenty-five kids in the house, about half girls and half boys. Paul was introduced to Bob Edward and then introduced himself to Bob's parents. Paul spent much of the night learning names and faces. Most of the kids were seniors like Steve but a few were juniors. Paul tried to spend extra time with the juniors, they would be around next year if he had to go to high school.
A beautiful girl stood in the kitchen, and Paul made a concerted effort to close his mouth. Ava Wells was tall with graceful curves. She looked like a high maintenance kind of girl, and she looked like she would make it worth every minute and every dollar. She had dark hair and pale skin, an unusual combination for Florida. Her breasts were large and her hips wide but her waist and height made them perfectly proportioned. She wore a black skirt that came down to just above her knees and a pink blouse.
Paul wanted her desperately.
Next to her was a short blond with long hair. She was thin with small breasts. Emmy Langston wouldn't be called beautiful but there was something attractive about her. It sounded corny but she looked sweet, the type of person who would be kind to strangers. Maybe it was her smile or her eyes. Both had dates. Paul kept searching for Ava during the evening. He left early saying he had to study, that got a good laugh.
Tuesday evening was spent with Mr. Lawton.
"Why are we putting windows on the tube instead of the mirrors?" Mr. Lawton asked, not for the first time that night. He was very good with tools and a good businessman, but hadn't quite gotten the idea of a laser yet.
"The mirrors need to be exactly parallel so light will bounce back and forth many times. That will make sure the beam is collimated and give a better chance of stimulated emission. We'll figure out how to permanently set the mirrors later. Right now I need to show you that this will work."
"I must be crazy to be doing this," complained Mr. Lawton also not for the first time that night. Paul had realized they needed an adjustable holder for the 90% mirror. It had cost $83 to build.
"No, you're just ahead of your time." In fact he had shown more trust in Paul than Paul could reasonably expect.
The 100% mirror was easily put in place, power applied, and Paul began to adjust the 90% mirror. Within 5 minutes there was a bright red spot on the wall of the building. Mr. Lawton was amazed. Paul looked at the interference patterns on the wall and thought how cool it was. They were the first people in this world to see it. Life was good.
"Let's pull the table over to the door and shine the light on the water tower."
It took a couple of minutes to realign the mirror. The water tower was a mile away and the red spot on it was not more than 1 foot across. Pretty good collimation, thought Paul. "Mr. Lawton, do you think we could get a piece of rail to mount all this?"
"I guess so. Why?"
"That way we can mount it and not have to realign so much each time we move it. It will also cut down on the vibration. See how the spot jumps around on the tower? The table vibrates too much. Once we mount it all we need to do is add a Brewster angle window to polarize the light, some rubber dampers to get rid of vibration, and we'll be ready to take it to the University."
"What is a Brewster angle? Never mind, I don't need to know. Show me in the morning. Can I make one?"
"Yes sir, you can." Paul laughed. "You seem to be able to make anything you want. Do you have an attorney?" he asked suddenly becoming serious.
"You want a contract don't you?"
"Yes sir. And we need to get started on the patent. I'll start on the paper tonight. We'll only have a year to apply for patents once we publish."
"We're going to be famous, Mr. Lawton." Paul looked straight into his eyes, "a paper for Physical Review Letters, where we will announce the world's first laser."
Mr. Lawton grinned. "That will show my ex-wife. Take that you bitch. Are we going to sell this one?"
"No sir, we're not going to sell it. Someday when we need a big tax write-off we'll donate it to the Smithsonian."
"Keep dreaming kid. That is what youth is for."
"I'd like to take the laser to UF on Thursday. Can I borrow your truck?"
"You can if you return it in one piece."
Paul explained his plan to Mr. Lawton.