In the Past, Again
CAST of Characters
Dave McTavish – ME, 51
Julia McTavish – my wife, 44
Martin McTavish – my older brother, 58
Linda Bigelow – my older sister, 55
Lorraine McTavish – my mom, 77
George McTavish – my dad, 76
Susan Robbins – my divorced aunt, 72
Dr. Hubert H. Huckabee – the Doc, 52
My name is David McTavish, the younger brother of Martin McTavish. He and my sister Linda have been going back in time, using a Time Machine created by Dr. Hubert Huckabee, a local General Practitioner. Its 2012, I'm 51 years old, retired with a hot wife, with no kids.
The details of how the Time Machine works I never fully learned, but I finally convinced my big brother to take me to it.
"Hello, Martin – is this your brother?" Doc asked.
"Yeah, I did my best to explain what was going on but he insisted on seeing the Time Machine for himself."
Marty showed me the controls, how to read the information, then took me on a trip - to April 12th, 1954 at 5am!
We seemed to lose the vision of the basement and from what Marty told me we were on top of the property that we were in the basement of scant moments before. I looked over at him to remind myself how he looked, then unbuckled the seat belt and got out. So did Martin.
"Oh god – it's all true, I see Danny Hilts when I look at you big brother. So ... we're in 1954 – I guess the housing development hadn't got here yet. You understand this better than I, lead on!"
As we walked towards the home we both were born and grew up in I looked back and saw the Time Machine go invisible, just like Marty said.
"Aren't we going to run into you and Linda?" I asked.
"No, we're here after we'd left, just don't make too much noise?" he said to me as we skulked to our own house.
He took me to around the back of the house and showed me Aunt Susan at 14, holding little Martin and singing to him. Wow, what a looker Susan was back then. It was growing lighter quickly so we used Docs Remote and got ourselves back to the Machine where Marty let me get us back the present.
"Holy Shit, Martin – that is just about the coolest thing that I've ever seen," I said.
"Hello gentlemen," Doc Huckabee said, "How was it, David – everything your brother said?"
"Doc, I'm still shaking – could you try again to explain this to me and talk to me like I'm only 10 years old, please?" I asked.
With much patience, Doc, with the occasional smart-ass remark from my brother explained the 'Electrinos, ' which started to make some sense to my 51-year-old brain.
After he was through, I asked, "May I used the machine, Doc Huckabee – not for anything devious. I'd like to meet some family from the past?"
"While your brother used it rather willy-nilly I have some reasonable ground rules for its use now," Doc said.
"I understand," I remarked seeing Martin glance at my wide-eyed wonder.
"First, if you go ahead in time, I want to hear none of it – I want my future to be at my own pace, got that!"
"Second, do you understand how to read the time used portion of the screen?"
"Show me, change it to time remaining, as opposed to time used?"
I pressed a few buttons and it came up to "88,271:31:44" with the seconds and hundredths frozen in place.
"Very good, David - you officially know more about it then your older brother does!" Doc said with a laugh.
"Any more rules and regulations, Doc?" I asked.
"Yes, one more – there will be a fee for usage ... for either of you. I trust you - so payment can be after the fact, but I have a meter built in now – that only I can access, that will charge you $10 for every 3 hours you use it. Also, I suspect that when the usage approaches 10 percent of the available time left, there may be something of a 'hiccough' that happens. That's about 61 hours of usage from now – Be warned."
Martin asked, "What brought on the fee idea, did I really abuse my privileges Doc?"
"Not really, I need some funding for my next project – 'Electrinos' don't grow on trees, you know," he said chuckling at his uber geek joke.
"Linda's expecting me home Davey – are you ready to go?" my big brother exhorted.
"Go on ahead, I'll meet you in the car – I've something to ask Doc," I said.
As he went up the stairs, I stepped to Doc, "Do you want me to only use it when you're here?"
"I've trusted two McTavish's already – there isn't a problem, anything else?"
"Is there any logistical problem going back before the year 1900?"
"No, what is there that far back to see?" Doc asked.
"I promised Aunt Susan, I would take her to see her grandparents," I said.
"There shouldn't be a problem with that – although no one had yet gone that far back yet – Here's a key for the front door and your own remote for your use. Now go, your brother has plans!"
After shaking his hand and getting up the stairs and into the car, Martin took me home then accelerated quickly to get home to Linda.
As I lay in bed that night, I was thinking about what name I'd use when I started jet setting through time – Douglas sounds good, yeah Douglas Goode!
The next morning, I went over and found Doc at home!
"Bright and early, aren't we David?" he said opening the door. He walked me down to his basement. "Go ahead, I know you're anxious to try it out, when are you going?"
"To the year 1965," I declared.
"Any specific reason for that?" he persisted.
"Not really, Linda would be 8, Martin 11 – I think my Aunt Susan was still helping with things," I remarked as casually as I could.
"Don't tell me that you're going to hit on your own Aunt?" he said figuring me out.
"Well, she'd be 25. I'm going to be Douglas Goode – 18 years old..."
"This wasn't the time when guys approached girls that much older than them, why don't you try... 1958 instead – you're going to look 18, she 'was' 18!"
"I'm not here to be your conscience -- after all of your brother's trips to get his sister, I can still be your 'Jiminy Cricket!'"
Rolling his eyes, Doc said, "Never mind, buckle up and have a nice trip, Douglas."
At that exact moment, my phone rang.
"Hey, David – where are you?" Julia asked.
"I'm running some errands – I'll be back in 30 minutes, OK?"
"Fine, I got up and you were gone – just checking ... Love you!" she said.
"I love you, too," I replied.
I heard Doc chuckling something about 'that's how it started with Martin?'
I entered the date and time, 'June 7, 1958 2pm' and pressed GO!
January – Sputnik 1 falls to earth from its orbit
February – First Black woman, Ruth Carol Taylor becomes a flight attendant
March – US Army inducts Elvis Presley as private #53310761
May – Unidentified remains from WWII and Korea are added to the Tomb of the Unknowns
June – Hearst Castle opens to the public
July – The first IHOP opens in Toluca Lake, Los Angeles
August – Controversial novel Lolita is published in the USA
September – The first Integrated Circuit is invented
October – Pope Pius XII dies
November – Ted Kennedy marries first wife, Joan Bennett
December – The John Birch Society is founded in the USA
Fortunately Doc's house wasn't built yet, but there were houses on the same block now, none close. I'm going to use the time honored 'I lost my dog, ' to get past the front door.
I personally didn't like doorbells. I knocked and an 18-year-old Susan opened the door. "Hello, can I help you?"
"Excuse me, my name is Douglas – my dog 'Ruffles' is loose and lost somewhere in the neighborhood. Have you seen a brown dog with big floppy ears around here at all?"
"I'm sorry – it sounds like you really miss him. It's awfully warm out, come on in for a drink of water – my name is Susan ... Susan McTavish."
She let me in, the house was the same, and the wallpaper was different.
"Well, who's this handsome young man?" my mom came out to ask.
"Excuse me ma'am, my name is Douglas Goode. Susan here asked me in to have a glass of water. I've been looking for my dog, Scruffy for two hours in the heat – I hope nothings happened to him. I've had him since I was nine years old..."
"I thought you said his name was Ruffles?" Susan said.
Marty told me to keep my lies easy to remember, "Well, everybody else calls him Ruffles, when he used to climb up on my bed to rest, I started calling him Scruffy – he's too old to get up on my bed anymore." I started to cry a little, not intentionally.
I felt an arm on my back, "Come sit down Douglas, it sounds like you miss him – like he might already be gone. Lorraine, could you get him a big glass of water please?" Susan asked.
I heard a baby cry, "Well it sounds like Linda's up," mom said coming out of the kitchen handing me the water and heading upstairs.
"I'll keep him company Lorraine – take your time, it's OK. I'm the sister of Lorraine's husband George McTavish. He works all day, she doesn't – they have two kids, Martin – who turns four next month, and Linda who is less than a year old. They've said they're all through having kids, but I think she wants one more – another little girl maybe."
"This is great water – tastes pretty good, I've always liked it from the tap better than bottled water," I said.
"What do you mean bottled water?" she asked.
That is what you get for winging it, Davey!
"I just meant, wouldn't it be nice if someone were to take regular old water, clean out all of the impurities, then bottle it up and sell it that way."
Just as I was finished taking a big drink of water – Little Martin got in between us and laughed at us. Susan picked him up in her arms and he said, "I wubbu Susu!"
I had no idea that she was such an influence on everyone in the family. I didn't come along until 1961, and I don't remember much about my real early youth.
"Douglas, would you like some help looking for your dog?" she asked putting Marty down between us.
"I'm not quite ready to go back out, something in here is a lot nicer than out there," I said.
She giggled and said, "That's OK, I'm not kicking you out. If you'd like to stay for dinner, Lorraine just learned a new recipe for Chicken and Noodles last month. It's become everybody's favorite. George won't be home for a while, is there anything you'd like to do while we wait?"
Dammit – I was worried she might ask me something like that – I could really fall in love with this beauty.
I took her hand and said, "Do you have a boyfriend Susan?"
"As a matter of fact, I don't right now – I seem to have the worst luck with boys, the ones I like don't like me and the ones who like me, I don't care for!"
"Well, I know that we just met, but I like you?" I said gripping her hand.
"Douglas, to tell the truth – I kind of like you too!" she said.
That old song, 'It's Now or Never' popped into my head, so I put my hand behind her left ear, and I pulled her lips to mine, and we started a kiss – I needed to remember that kisses in 1958 didn't include the tongue – so it was just the pressure of our lips...
"I never would of thought I could get that Linda back to sleep ... oh ... excuse me – I'll just go in the kitchen, you too," Lorraine said.
From the other side of the door I heard, "Can you stay for dinner Douglas?"
"Sure can, Mrs. McTavish!"
"Call your parents and make sure, OK?" she said also through the door.
I went over to the old rotary phone, dialed some numbers and put my finger on the actuator and said, "Hey Mom, it's me Doug. No, I haven't found him yet; I'm over six blocks from home. No, everyone has been very nice – I met a family, the McTavish's. They invited me for dinner, can I stay? Great, thanks Mom, I love you – I won't be home too late!"
I put the phone back and turned to Lorraine, and said, "She said it was fine. Thank you for asking, Mrs. McTavish?"
"Call me Lorraine, Douglas – everybody else does. Dinner will be ready in just a bit – I need to check on Linda."
"Lorraine," I said. "Susan and I can check on her for you, is that all right?"
"Aren't you just the nicest – thanks, wash your hands. Dinner will be ready by the time you get back down."
I picked up Martin. Susan led the way to the room Linda was in.
"Martin doesn't like most people - you are one of the lucky ones, Douglas."
"I agree with that statement Susan, if I hadn't knocked on your door today, I would've never met such a pretty girl. Ooh, look at her – that's your little sister, Linda," I said to Martin.
"Winda," was what he said causing me to laugh. A tear or two dropped from my eye. He also pointed right at Linda, like he was saying 'yep, she's my sister.'
Susan picked up Linda giving her a bottle to drink from. She and I, with babes in our arms gave each other a look, and then she put Linda back down again.
I didn't realize Martin had fallen asleep in my arms. Susan took him from me and we walked over to his big boy bed, with a protection rail, and set him down. She put her finger to her face as we carefully walked out of the room. She kept the door open as we got to the top of the stairs. I took her in my arms and gave her a totally inappropriate kiss, but she was OK with it.
Quietly, we walked hand in hand down the stairs to dinner. I pulled out the chair for her and we sat down – boy was there a lot of noodles. I could see big chunks of chicken bobbing amongst the noodles.
"Both of the little ones are down Lorraine, that Martin is a real cute kid. I have an older brother named David, if you were to have another child David is a pretty good name."
"We actually would like one more, I would prefer another girl – but you're right about the name David. I have an Uncle named David."
We all raised our plates as Lorraine served us big helpings - I got Susan's for her.
"I called my husband who said he's running late. What a gentleman, Douglas – you're welcome to come by anytime, looking for your dog or not ... I do hope you find him. If I were you I'd be prepared for the possibility that you'll never see him again," my mother said. She has been such a wonderful and inspiring woman for as long as I've known her.
I felt Susan's hand on top of mine; as we looked at one another – then we settled down to eat this mouth-watering dinner.
After my third helping, I signaled that I needed to get home. I could probably configure a way to stay here, but it would probably mean having Lorraine call my mother!
Susan got up and walked me to the front door, as we kissed one last time.
"Douglas, when might you be back again?" she asked tugging on her hair.
"Well, how about tomorrow the same time – I want to look some more for Scruffy first."
All of the way back to the Time Machine, I was crying – I don't know what to do? I got back to 2012 and looked at my watch, just under six minutes passed. I was quiet, got out $10, paid Doc and left for home.
I needed to talk to my brother.
"Hello, this is Martin."
"Hey, bro – David here – can I come by and talk to you?"
"Sure, Linda's here – does it matter if she hears about your first trip in the past?"
"How did you know?"
"The sound in your voice tells me that something 'interesting' must've happened," Martin remarked.
"Yeah, be there in ten. Bye."
"Hey honey, this is David – I need to swing by Martins for a bit – can you live without me for a little while longer?"
"Sure, I may have to start by myself, but you'll be OK to join me," my Julia giggled.
"Sure thing, Baby – might be a bit – see you!"
I pulled up to the new house that my brother and sister had built and were living in together. They welcomed me with open arms and we sat on the front porch until I realized that I needed to start this.
"Well guys, I went back 1958. I was 'Douglas Goode' – I used the 'I lost my dog ruse, ' and then she opened the door!"
"Who opened the door?" Linda asked.
"Susan... 18-year-old – beautiful with those blue eyes – Susan," I said.
"Well, it looks like she made an impression, so what happened?" Martin asked.
"I got inside – no problem, I saw you at four Martin, and you Linda - were a knockout at just under one year old."
"Davey, what did you do?" Martin asked with a heavier tone to his voice.
"No, nothing like that – but now, I think I'm in love with my own Aunt Susan!"
"Jesus ... Davey, did Doc explain the Butterfly Effect at all?"
"No, should he have?"
"And I thought I was stupid when I was younger," Martin said.
So, the two of them explained that to me, and it settled in.
"Guys, I've got to get home – but I need to talk some more and find out what I should do next." I said.
"What does your gut tell you to do?" Linda asked.
"It's not my gut that's running things at the moment, the brain is a bit lower than that," I said laughing at my remark. Linda blushed and Martin slapped me on my back as I went and jumped in my car.
When Martin told me that using the Time Machine would change my life, I thought he was bullshitting me – One trip and I'm all fucked up!