Hi Folks, Thanks for the reaction to last week's piece, both positive and negative. Whether you realize it or not we really are trying to improve and are listening to your comments and views. This time out I had an idea in mind, but I also wanted to see if I could bring it in with fewer pages. I had to cut out a lot of the things I wanted to do, but I think it still turned out okay. As usual please let us know what you think of it and also tell us what you liked or didn't like so we'll know when we're on the right track. Some of you won't like the ending here and others will but that's normal by now, right? And lastly but by no means least I'd like to give thanks and credit to the incredible Mikothebaby for editng this story. She really makes what I do easy. all I have to do is jot down whatever pops into my head in a somewhat legible fashion and she takes it from there.SS06
Getting over a divorce is always rough. In terms of emotional stress, they say that it's the equal of actually having your spouse die. I actually think that it's worse. I'm not a psychiatrist or any kind of professional counselor but I'm sure I'm right. Let's compare the two. When your spouse dies, you lose the person that you've lived with, loved and been emotionally attached to for whatever period of time.
After a divorce, the exact same parameters are in effect. The difference is, when a spouse dies, whether it's due to illness, accident or even foul play, you aren't left with the paralyzing self-doubt that a divorce brings. You don't spend months or even years wondering why you weren't enough or good enough for her. You don't spend a long period of time afraid to try with someone else purely out of fear that the same thing will happen.
There's also the fact that when your spouse dies, you don't have the pain of wandering into your favorite restaurant and seeing them with someone else. If you really loved that person, seeing that has to be one of the worst feelings you'll ever have.
Anyway, my name is Jake Reed and I'm just beginning to get over my divorce. First, I should tell you that my divorce wasn't one of those bitter drawn out things with both parties scratching and clawing for dominance and a bigger share of the marital assets.
My divorce was the kind that you don't very often hear about. It was warm and caring and filled with a lot of love. I didn't divorce Sarah because I wanted to. I divorced her because she broke my heart and left me no other choice.
Sarah also seemed to truly regret cheating on me, but she knew the kind of person I am. I value loyalty above everything else and her betrayal was the end. As much as I loved her, I still need to be able to look myself in the mirror every morning and respect the face I see looking back at me. So when she fucked her boss, she also screwed up any chance of us staying together. The child that resulted from their union only made it worse.
Sarah, who refused to marry the bastard after their affair and barely has anything to do with him, doesn't have a great life. That isn't my fault. I pay my child support on time and I'm actually a few months ahead of schedule. In my profession, your reputation means a lot so I can't afford to be labeled a deadbeat dad.
Sarah is also very liberal about visitation rights. She never tried to block me from having access to our daughter who is three years old now. She allows me to visit my daughter whenever I want to see her. It's still very hard for me to go to Sarah's apartment though. Every time I see her, I'm reminded of how much I love her and how special she was to me. There's also the problem that no matter how cordial we are to each other, everyone always assumes that I'm the bad guy here. Even people who know what really happened seem to think that this is my fault. I guess I was supposed to simply look the other way and pretend it never happened.
Almost everyone I know seems to think that if your spouse only cheated once that it's acceptable. I'm supposed to just say, "Okay babe, you've burned your get out of jail free card. Now you have to actually honor the promises you made to me."
But, if you can let it go once, why can't you live with it twice? Maybe three times should be the limit. And then for some people with extenuating circumstances there really needs to be a bigger range, right? Nope, that's not what I signed up for. I never once cheated on Sarah and I never would have. So, as much as I miss her and as much as I still love her deep down inside of my heart, I had to say goodbye.
In the end, it was her actions, not my refusal to accept them that tore our family apart. I still buy her a present at Christmas and her birthday without fail and she does the same. She also buys me a present for Father's day, but I'm unable to reciprocate. Mother's day is just so hard for me because her new kid just reminds me of what I lost and what we could have had.
The worst thing of all happened when I picked Tina, our daughter, up to take her to the zoo a couple of months ago. Sarah's kid follows my daughter around all over the place. I guess that's to be expected as he is her half brother. Anyway, Tina came over to me and hugged me and wanted to be picked up. "Daddy, pick me up," she said. The little boy, following her, came right up behind her and called me Daddy too. I almost lost it.
I hate leaving him behind when I take Tina out and though Sarah understands, it's hard on her. I'm still hearing from our mutual friends that she misses me and that she occasionally cries about our breakup even though it's been over a year. For some reason, she also named her son Jake, after me. She said it was her way of getting back at his father and it had nothing to do with me. But it ended up working out the other way. Her ex-boss just sends a check every once in a while and pretty much has nothing to do with the kid.
I guess the bleeding hearts out there are thinking that the kid had nothing to do with breaking Sarah and I up, but every time I look at him, I see the son I always wanted with Sarah and now will never have. What can I say, it's a truly fucked up situation.
Over the past few weeks, I've realized that I have to get my head out of my ass and move on with my life. No matter how much I loved Sarah, there is no going back there. But also I figured it would be a good move for her too. If she saw me starting to date and get out, maybe she would too.
Tonight had been pleasant but strange. My date for the evening, Mildred Henderson, is a beautiful woman. She has those classic features and that beautiful mane of blonde hair. She's very fit and very petite but I found myself comparing her to Sarah all night. I also found her losing in every category. On paper, Mildred is more attractive than Sarah, but to me she's nowhere close.
Even when I considered the date over, she was ready to go into extra innings. Surprisingly, it was me who wasn't ready to pull the trigger tonight.
I was sure that it would take a while before I was ready to have sex with someone other than Sarah, but it would happen eventually. I just had to get myself ready. That was what I had on my mind as I drove my 2012 Mustang GT back to my condo. I loved the car's low growl and I loved the view through the hood with its power tower partially obscuring my vision.
I also loved the fact that the car had so much power that I was always just one toe twitch away from a speeding ticket and an astronomical increase in my insurance rate. Driving a Mustang has always been a little bit like being Spiderman. Every time you get into the car you remember that, "With great power comes great responsibility."
Actually, buying this Mustang after my divorce had been one of the things that I did to restore my sense of confidence. I've had others but this one is the most powerful. There are only two things I can name that make me smile every time I see them. One is this car and the other is my daughter.
I locked the car and headed for my condo. Hearing the reassuring sound of the alarm system arming itself let me know that my baby would be safe from most of the dangers she'd face while we were separated.
Suddenly, a shadowy figure separated itself from the potted trees around the entrance to my building.
"That car is a fucking beast!" she said. In the shadows I couldn't make out her features. I could tell that she didn't mean to scare the shit out of me but she did anyway.
"I guess I really didn't remember it being so visceral and so powerful," she said. "You are really not going to like this at all."
I was immediately on my guard. I stepped away from her. I wasn't stupid enough to think that just because she was a female that I'd be able to beat her. For all I knew she could have a gun or a taser. I wanted to keep some distance between us, just in case.
As I stepped back, she moved forward.
"And that woman you were with tonight," she continued. "That bitch wants you badly, but it's never going to work so you may as well call her and dump her."
"She's a really nice lady," I said. "The problem was with me. I'm probably just not ready to get back into the dating pool yet."
"The problem is that there's only one woman that you're ever going to be comfortable with," she said.
"Look lady," I snapped. "Maybe you should let me handle my own life."
"Maybe I can't do that," she said. "Maybe I know better than you do what's good for you."
I started laughing and told her good night.
"Can we go inside and talk about this?" she asked. "This really isn't the way I foresaw this. Really, I'd imagined that we'd be hugging by now or you'd be really in shock."
"Are you out of your mind?" I asked. "I'm not letting some strange woman into my home. How stupid do you think I am?"
"Very," she said. She stepped out of the darkness and in the moonlight I was able to distinguish her features for the first time. I really couldn't tell much about her body shape. She was on the shorter side and maybe just a bit chunky, but that could have been the clothes.
I looked at her features and gestures. She bit her lower lip in a gesture I'd seen a million times. My ex-wife does that and though I've never told her, it was one of the sexiest things on earth to me. This woman had a lot of my ex-wife's features but she was older than Sarah. Sarah is going to turn thirty two on her next birthday. This woman was probably no younger than thirty five or forty.
There were also other problems. Sarah has green eyes. This woman has brown eyes that are somehow familiar to me though I've never seen this woman before. Her hair color isn't like Sarah's deep auburn either. Her hair is brown but that could be dye.
Her nose is also wrong, but somehow still familiar. Her mouth, though, from the lips to the way she moves it is one hundred percent Sarah. I was sure I knew this girl. I started trying to remember
Sarah's cousins. I knew that Sarah only had one sister and she too was far younger than this woman.
"Jeezus Daddy," she said. "What's taking you so long?"
I looked at her again and the first thought that went through my mind was that the woman was crazy. My daughter, Tina, is only three years old. I'm thirty three. This woman is at least thirty five or forty. That means I was born when she was seven or eight. There is no way possible for me to be her father.
"I'm not your father," I snapped.
"Holy shit," she said. "You have no idea how badly that hurts. That has to be why Jake is so screwed up. Daddy, look me right in the eye and tell me who I am.
I got closer to her though I was still afraid that she was planning something. I looked at her and she smiled. I took her hand and looked at it.
"That's cheating," she said. Tina has a small birthmark on her left wrist and there it was. But it was more than the birthmark, it was the way she stood. The way she smiled, her eyes, her lips, everything told me that this woman was somehow my three year old daughter all grown up.
My heart started beating much faster. I thought that I was going to pass out. For a few moments, I thought that perhaps I was going crazy. Maybe this was all just a dream. Maybe the idea of fucking some other woman had knocked me out and I was imagining this whole thing.
But she just stood there in front of me, smiling. Then she reached out and just grabbed me. I guess she had taken me so unawares with her revelation that my shock overcame my preparedness. But she didn't attack me. She just wrapped her arms around me and hugged me.
"God Daddy, do you know how much I've missed that? We haven't done that in a very long time," she said. "I'll need you to do that a lot more times before I die."
"Tina, what do you mean before you die?" I asked. "What is all of this about, who are you?"
"Daddy, can't we please go into your house and talk?" she asked. I slowly nodded. I knew that by everything I knew about life in general that there was no way I should be taking some strange woman into my condo, but somehow it just felt like the right thing to do.
Once we got settled, she quickly jumped up and ran into my kitchen and grabbed two bottles of soda and a bag of chips. "Can we sit on your balcony?" she asked. I nodded and we moved outside.
"The air is so weird," she said. "It's still natural air isn't it?" I looked at her bizarrely and started to rethink my decision to let her in.
She twisted off the cap of her soda and took a sip. Her entire body shivered. I smiled. I always had the same reaction to a sip of Pepsi.
"Oh my God," she said. "I can't believe this shit is still legal here. Daddy, don't let me drink too much of this. I don't need to be high while I'm trying to reason with you."
Again, I just shook my head and smiled.
"Okay, first off, I have to tell you that you are not going to believe most of what I'm going to tell you," she said. "But all you have to do is take one look at me and you'll know. You already know in your heart who I am. But I have to convince you to do the right thing. I'll only be here for a very short time. Maybe twelve hours at the most. And I'd really like to see Mommy too, and myself and Jakey as well."
"Daddy, if you haven't figured things out yet; I am your daughter. I am Tina Elizabeth Reed. I'm your daughter with your wife, Sarah Jane Reed. The only thing is that I'm from forty years in the future. A lot of things have changed in my time. Daddy, throughout history there are several people who were pivotal in making sure that things in the world didn't get out of hand. In my time we are facing the end of humanity."
"Hold it stop. Wait just a fucking moment," I said. "I've seen this movie a hundred God damned times and it never ends well. This is the point where you hit me up for a donation to help you create a time machine or some shit to save the world right?"
"No Daddy," she smiled. "I already have that."
"You have a time machine?" I asked.
"Of course," she said. "Well, it's not really a time machine. It's an iPhone app."
I looked at her like she was crazy. "They still have iPhones forty years into the future?" I asked.
"Daddy, ever since the 50th president back in 2036 it was decided that since corporations have all of the legal status and rights of individuals that a corporation should be able to run for president. Apple became president in 2040 and ever since then, every US citizen is issued an iPhone implant at birth. Anyway, the time machine app is, of course, illegal and you have to jailbreak your iPhone to install it. Jakey invented it. That's part of the problem and it's also why you're the only one who can fix this."
"Tina, if you are my daughter," I said. "Please don't bring that boy up."
"Daddy, there are some things that you really need to know," she said.
"Can you start out with the point about how you're dying?" I asked.
She smiled. "You really do care about me don't you?"
"If you are Tina, I care more about you than anyone else in the world," I said.
"Then why the hell did you desert us?" she asked.
"Tina, are you crazy?" I asked. "I visit you at least once a week if not more."
"You do in this time period," she said. "Later on in life you're going to be very different. Can I get back to this?"
"Anyway, in my time there are a lot of things that are different. Shit, Daddy, I don't have time for this. I'm just going to show you," she said. She grabbed my hand and dragged me, the soda and the chips back inside my condo and then outside. She led us over to my Mustang.
"Perfect," she said.
"Wait, let me guess. You're going to use my Mustang as a time machine like that Delorian in back to the future, right."
"That De whosis in what?" she asked.
"You know in the movie back to the future they used that Delorian sports car to go fast enough to slip into the time stream?" She was looking at me like I was crazy when she was the one talking about fucking time machines.
"I figure that Delorian did zero to sixty in about nine seconds. My Mustang does zero to sixty in under five seconds so the initial acceleration should get us into the time stream much faster."
"Daddy, time travel isn't about velocity, it's about the correct application of tachyon particles," she said. "Besides I'm not going to actually take you into the future. I'm going to project 3-d video holograms onto your windshield so you'll be able to see what my time line is like."
"Shit," I said loudly.
"What's wrong Daddy?" she asked.
"I really wanted to get a glimpse of the 2052 Mustang," I said. She screwed up her face curiously.
"Okay," she said. "Before we do this, take me to see myself."
"Tina, it's almost midnight," I said. "And isn't there some kind of law about different aspects of the same person being in the same place at the same time setting up some kind of time paradox and destroying the space time continuum?"
"Daddy, you have got to stop watching all of those old sci-fi movies. That is the biggest crock of horseshit I've ever heard. I've actually gone back and spoken to myself several times. I even gave myself a hug once, when I thought that I really needed it. What you're telling me is that whole bunch of crap about two instances of the same physical matter being in close proximity at the same time destroying the world, right?"
"Well, uhm right," I said. "They said that in Star..."
"No Daddy, it's just not true. Anyway, I want to see myself as a baby, so let's go. But I'll tell you what. If there are any seismic disturbances or the weather changes as we get closer, I'll back off."
We got into my car and I had to put her seat belt on for her. She smiled at me.
"Oh yeah, you guys don't have inertial dampeners yet do you?" she smiled. "This is so cool."
Her smile evaporated when the car took off. She gripped the seat as if her life depended on it. As we went down the ramp to the freeway traffic was light so I hit a button and my radar detector came up. I shifted gear and put my foot in it.
"Daddy, why are we going so fast?" she screeched. "Isn't this illegal? What is that thing on your dashboard? Can you please slow down?"
"Sweetie, we're barely doing a hundred," I said. "We haven't really opened her up yet."
"Daddy, I don't want to die yet," she said. "Please slow down. I feel like my face is going to come off. And I'm being pushed back against my seat."
"Yep," I said. "Don't you love it?"
"No," she said. So I slowed down to seventy miles per hour. She still didn't look very happy.
"Tina, am I still driving too fast?" I asked.
"Yes Daddy," she said. "This vehicle isn't even computer controlled. You're piloting it yourself manually. What if something happens or you get distracted?"
"Sweetie, how fast do you drive in your time?" I asked.
"During President Obama's second term all manual vehicles were limited to forty miles per hour," she said.
"You're shitting me?" I said. "There is no way I'm voting for Barack Obama again. First he neutered the Camaro when he bailed out GM. Then he neutered everyone else."
"Who the hell is Barack Obama?" she asked. "I'm talking about the president, Sasha Obama."
"Holy shit," I said. "His kid grew up to become President too. Didn't he do enough damage?"
"Tina, I love you honey but I can't drive forty. Even Sammy Hagar has trouble driving fifty five, but forty ... I may as well get out and walk.
Eventually, we got to Sarah's building. We parked nearby and Tina held up her hand. Her hand started to glow and she pointed her finger at the windshield. The projection on the windshield showed what was going on inside of the building. When she found her mother's apartment she zoomed in and I saw Sarah sitting there on her sofa. She appeared to be reading a book. Tina moved to another room and we saw her half brother asleep in his crib.
"He looks so innocent, doesn't he?" she asked. "It's hard to believe what he's going to do to us."
"What?" I asked.
"We'll talk about this later Daddy," she said. Then she switched rooms and saw herself. She was sleeping in her room, holding tightly onto a teddy bear. As she watched herself she turned to me.
"You still have it don't you?" she asked.
"What?" I asked again.
"Mom always talked about you," she said. "Even, after you stopped visiting. She always told me that there were three things that always made you smile. Seeing me, seeing your Mustang, whichever one it was, and seeing her. She told me that she knew your marriage was over when you stopped smiling when you saw her. She was sure that it meant that you didn't love her anymore."
I let my head drop. "You still love her don't you, Daddy?" she asked. "Even now that you're starting to date other women, you still love Mom."
She scanned back to the living room where Sarah had her feet folded under herself while she read her book. Tina zoomed in again and I felt even sadder. Sarah was actually looking at a photo album. I recognized t from the cover. It was a bunch of pictures we'd taken when there were only the two of us, before we even had the kids. I wondered why the hell she'd want to waste her time looking at picture of the two of us together.
As if she could read my thoughts, Tina answered my question. "Because she always told me that it was the best time in her life," she said. "She never had to share you with anyone else, not even Jakey and me."
"Honey, this is kind of depressing for me," I said. "Can we move on?"
"Sure Daddy, I've seen what I needed to see anyway," she said.
We pulled away from the building and I found a secluded spot in the woods away from people.
Tina held her hand up and I stopped her.
"Honey, does that hurt?" I asked. She looked at me strangely and smiled.
"Of course not, Daddy," she said. "Everyone has all kinds of implants. Some are cosmetic, some are functional."
She grabbed her soda and pointed her hand at the windshield. "How's that Daddy?" she said. "That's my baby. The family tradition lives on, right?"
"What the hell is that thing?" I asked. She panned around the object.
"It's some kind of car isn't it?" I asked. "The wheels are so tiny. God damn it, the whole thing is tiny. Please don't tell me that my daughter drives a Toyota." I looked at her as if I was ashamed of her.
"Daddy," she spat angrily. "I just showed you what you wanted to see. She scanned around to the front of the car and there emblazoned on where the grill would be if the car had one was a horse. It didn't appear to be running."
"Please tell me this isn't what I think it is," I screamed.
"Yep Daddy," she said. "That's my brand new GMFC Mustang. It's a Shelby."
The car looked like a smart car with a Mustang sticker on the front. "Kill me now," I said. "Just take a gun to my forehead and shoot me now. Who is GMFC and why are they making Mustangs?"
"GMFC is General Motors Ford Chrysler, Daddy," she said. "Back in 2020 they got tired of all of the competition with the other car companies. They all just merged and ran everyone else out of the business. They're the only car company around now, except for the boutique manufacturers."
"Shoot me now," I said.
"Okay Daddy," she said. "What else do you need to see before I start with my presentation?"
"Show me what the cities look like," I said. I watched what looked like a scene from a shopping mall.
"Tina, show me something exciting like a major city, not a shopping mall," I said.
"Daddy, that's New York City during rush hour," she said.
"But why does it look like a mall?" I asked.
"We built domes over all of the cities over twenty years ago," she replied.
"Where are all of the cars," I asked.
"Daddy, very few people actually need cars anymore. Public transit is faster cleaner and more efficient," she said, sounding like a campaign ad for mass transit.
"What about personal freedom and the pioneer spirit that built this country?" I said.
"Well you're free to do anything you want that there isn't a law against," she said. "And you're free to explore the entire world via the transit tubes. At least during my time you can."
"Where are all of the different kinds of people?" I asked. "What about differences."
She looked at me like I was insane. "Daddy, what are you talking about?"
"Tina, where are the fat people, where are the black people, where are the old people? Every God damned person in that crowd looks the same."
"Daddy wait, I'll explain it to you," she said.
"How come no one is short?" I asked. "Who the fuck do they bully in school?"
"Daddy, no one is bullied," she said. "Bullying is a felony. Anyway, back when you were a kid society looked at it as being odd or wrong to marry a person of a different race or faith, remember?" she asked.
"By the time I was born though, it wasn't big news anymore, it became normal. By the time I was in my teens it was fashionable to be in a mixed relationship. Over the next twenty or thirty years there were so many mixed marriages, that at least here in America, everyone has black or Hispanic or Asian relatives. After a while, all of the racial characteristics just blended in. So there are no more dark skinned blacks. There are no Asians with almond eyes anymore. We all kind of look the same. Then, of course, doctors do DNA mapping during pregnancy so children who would be born shorter than optimal or taller are fixed before they're born. Everyone is also given a metabolic implant in their preteen years that stabilizes their metabolism."
"It analyzes their weight and gives them an appetite suppressant if they're in danger of becoming fat or makes them hungry if they're below their optimum weight. Realistically, the only differences between people now are hair coloring and since that can be dyed on a whim ... Well it's like you said everyone with the exception of the older people, all kind of looks the same."
"I guess that's why most of the big stars and super models all want to marry older people. There are so many variations between them and variety is the spice of life Daddy."
"Oh, they also banned alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and all stimulants as well as all sweeteners," she said taking a healthy swig of her Pepsi. "This is so good. I can't believe it's still legal."
"Shoot me now," I said. "I really don't want to be alive in your time."
She moved to a different scene. It showed a large house on the outskirts of town. An older man who was still in very good shape slowly jogged around the perimeter of the property. At certain intervals he passed armed guards who all nodded politely to him and then shook their heads when he passed.
"Who's that Tina?" I asked. "Why does it look like his house is sequestered away from the rest of the city?"
"Because it is Daddy," she said. "He has enough money and enough power to just say Fuck you, to the rules and the laws. He does what he wants when he wants."
As we watched, he finished his run and a couple of young beautiful model types threw themselves at him. They seemed to be arguing over who he spoke to and who he wanted to spend time with.
"Okay, I want to be him," I said. As I watched, I noticed that he seemed to have everything anyone could wish for but he wasn't happy. The two women did everything they could to get him to notice them but he barely paid them any attention.
"If I didn't know any better, I'd swear that he was depressed," I said.
"Very good Daddy," she said.
"I don't get it," I said. "What the hell is he depressed about?"
"He did the dumbest thing in the world and lost everything?" she said.
"Let me guess," I said. "Some dumb assed merger fell through and now instead of five billion he's only worth four. Fuck him, he's a moron."
Tina burst out laughing and actually touched my shoulder the way she does now as a child.
"We'll come back to him Daddy," she said.
As I looked, the screen changed again and I saw a grave site. She pointed at a headstone and I saw the name on it. Seeing the name on the marker pissed me off.
"What the fuck is this?" I asked. The name on the marker was Jake Reed Jr.
"Did I have another child somewhere down the line?" I asked.
"No, Daddy," she said.
"So you're telling me that Sarah's kid is buried with my fucking name?" I hissed. "I'm sorry Tina. I love you more than I'll ever be able to show but I hate that fucking bastard of hers."
"Why Daddy?" she asked.
"Because every time I hear about him or see him it's like a slap in my God damned face. And he's a reminder of what his father stole from me."
"What did his father steal from you?" she asked.
"My wife, my marriage; he just stole everything," I snapped.
"Think about that too Daddy," she said.
"Should I be keeping a list of everything we're going to get back to and everything I'm supposed to be thinking about?" I asked.
"If you want," she said. Even as she said it, the screen changed and it showed another grave site. As she zoomed in on the headstone, I had a totally different reaction this time.
Even in my time we'd been divorced for over a year. I don't know why I started crying when I saw Sarah's name on a headstone. I cried even worse when I saw the inscription and I looked angrily at Tina.
She held up her hands. "She made me promise," she said. The inscription read "Sarah Reed."
The second line said, "Finally a good wife." The last line read, "An embarrassment no more."
"That was the way she felt for her entire life after the two of you broke up," said Tina. "And Daddy, you did this to her."
"Don't blame me, young lady," I snapped. "Your mother's actions are responsible for what happened to us, not me."
Tina started laughing again. She waved her hand and then showed me a different grave site.
"What the hell are we playing Tina, name that grave?" I asked. I looked at the headstone anyway. It was Kenard Davenport, Sarah's boss and the bastard who got her pregnant. I smiled.
"What happened to that bastard?" I asked. "Why does his grave look so old?"
"He just disappeared," said Tina. "A lot of people think that Jakey had something to do with it. But he didn't. Davenport actually died after Jakey did but before him, really."
"Tina that makes no fucking sense," I said. "How could he have died after Jakey but before him?"
She started to talk. "Let me guess," I said. "We'll get back to it."
The screen showed a room with an old woman on a bed. I could see that it was Sarah and that she was far older than she is now. She was talking to Tina.
"It doesn't make any sense that your father and I should live longer than our baby," she said. "But I'll be with him soon and maybe your father will be with us in a few years."
"Mom, the way things are going now, we're probably all going to be dead soon. Half of the fucking world is already brain dead thanks to Jakey's creations. Mom, why didn't you ever tell Daddy the truth?" asked Tina.
"Honey, what good would that have done? I hurt the man I love more than it is humanly possible to forgive. What if he had forgiven me? Then he'd have been a laughing stock for the rest of his life. As much as it hurt me, I deserved it," she said.
"Yeah Mom, but did I deserve it. Did Jakey deserve it? I really think that's what twisted the two of them."
"Promise me that you'll never tell him, Tina," Sarah said. "Jakey's dead so it won't help him now. All it'll do is hurt your father even more. So promise me that you won't tell him."
Before Tina could answer, Sarah slipped away. I couldn't help it. I started crying again.
Tina looked over at me. She could see that I was not taking any of this well. Maybe it was harder on me than she'd anticipated.
"Tina, can we just get to the bottom line, here?" I asked. "I'm sure you didn't travel back in time just to make me feel shitty, or did you?"
"Dad I..." she began and then hesitated. "Dad, you told me several times so far that you didn't want to live in my world." I nodded.
"Well Dad, you already do," she said. "But you don't have to. You alone, of everyone on earth, have the potential to stop this from happening. For the past few weeks, I've been moving both forward and back in time and everything hinges on you."
"Tina, what are you talking about?" I asked again. I was beginning to become frustrated.
"Dad, in every age, there are a few people who shape the direction the world will go in. Henry Ford put the world on wheels. A few years later it was the air age with the Wright brothers. Bill Gates, later on, didn't usher in the computer age, but his company shaped the computer age. There had been computers before and software before, but Microsoft took computers out of the hands of the eggheads and put them in everyone's living room and then in their pockets and now they're under our skin."
"Daddy, Jakey did that in my era. My brother was a twisted genius. And he changed the world. If Jakey had been a little less twisted, things would probably have gone in a different direction. But the way things are now, or at least the way things are in my time, Jakey is dead and the world may not last another twenty years beyond him."
"Before I came back here, I went forward into the future, but we'll talk about that..." she began.
"Let me guess," I smirked. "We'll talk about that later."
"Anyway, Daddy, Jakey, like you, was driven and brilliant. But where you took your tragedy and focused all of your intellect on business and making money, he used his in a different way. The two of you are like opposite sides of a coin. You became bitter and finally sad because of what happened. So after a few years of dating women like the one you had last night, business just became your reason to live. You concentrated on making money above everything else. Years later, when all of the bitterness was gone you were just a sad, lonely, old man. You have all the money in the world but no one to spend it on. You know or assume that everyone around you is only there for the money. You buy and sell people like most people buy food. The thing you long for the most is the people you really love. But they're gone."
"Jakey, on the other hand, is just like his father. He has the ability to concentrate on one thing to the exclusion of everything else. Stemming from his childhood, the one thing he wanted most was to be loved. It was the thing he was denied as a child. His mother was broken and his father never spent any time with him at all. He longed for his father's approval. So he took the thing he wanted and in trying to create something for himself, he changed the world forever but it just grew beyond his ability to contain or control it."
"How is that similar?" I asked. "And why are you linking me and that boy together. I have nothing to do with the fact that his father neglected him. Davenport was an asshole, we all know that. You can't expect me to try and fix things that he fucked up."
"Daddy, God damn it," she screamed. "I don't have time to keep leading you through this with baby steps. Yes, Davenport was an asshole. But you're a bigger one. In fact you may be the biggest asshole on the planet. You, Daddy, not Davenport are the reason we may all be dying."
I was taken aback by the fury in her voice.
"What did I do?" I asked.
"Well, for one thing, you keep fucking interrupting me," she snapped.
"Daddy, Jakey started experimenting in robotics and artificial intelligence when he was only twelve. At first, he made silly little things like his talk box. That thing made him rich. It was a box that he could actually talk to. It was a very rudimentary AI. It would access the internet and get information and hold actual conversations with him. He could ask it questions and it would answer them. For a boy with no friends and no one to pay any attention to him, it became his best friend. Then he started working on bodies. Because of his brilliance and his success with the AI, he was able to set up partnerships with several other inventors and use or license their products. I remember going back to Mom's house when I was about twenty. I was in college by then and Jakey was still at home. There was a woman with him. Dad, I sat in the same room with her and was amazed at how beautiful she was. I thought that she was just trying to latch onto Jakey because of his brains."
"When I tried to talk to Jakey about it he just smiled and called her into the room. He asked her what she would do for him. She told him that she'd do anything he asked. Jake asked her if she would take a knife and slit her throat. She nodded her head. Jake handed her a knife and I swear if I hadn't grabbed her, she would have slit her throat."
"When I grabbed her wrist, she was still trying to fight me to cut her throat. She was stronger than hell and Jakey was just standing there laughing. Finally, he told her to stop. And then he did the weirdest thing. He told her to shut down and she just slumped to the floor."
"My little brother, by the time he was seventeen years old, had made himself a companion robot that was so realistic, that I couldn't tell the difference. Of course, she was a one of a kind. She had a pulse and she was warm to the touch. She also had the benefit of full AI. It would be years before robots like her were widely available. Jake had made her in conjunction with a sex toy company. After I understood what she was for and what she was, I looked at her more critically and I could tell. But over the next ten years, Jakey got richer and richer and his robots got better and better."