Tuesday, June 27, 2006

"Great Times," Chapter 3

Copyright 2006, Terry F. Phillips Sr.

Chapter 3

Eddie made his way out of the radio station building, leaving a crying Babs inside.

“If she only knew,” he thought. “If she only knew.”

That night, shortly before they went on the air, Barbara had tried to seduce him.

He found the thought repulsive and had almost lost his dinner.

“She is so old,” he thought of the girl in her early 20s.

How could she not talk to him, look at him, and understand. He was not who she thought he was. Their relationship could never be what she thought she wanted it to be.

Eddie was a historian. He had traveled from the 21st century to 1947 and it had been an eye-opening experience.

Not only was life much more primitive than in his time, but it was more delicate. Many people died of diseases that should not have been a problem - would not have been a problem in his day and age.

But, people did not properly care for themselves.

He thought about the chief announcer, what was his name? Beck? He smoked cigars, he drank too much; he certainly ate too much. He was a heart attack ready to happen.

“ . . . and when it does, there is no hospital in 1947 that can save him, Eddie thought.

But, Babs was the real problem.

Eddie had come to this time and place to meet Barbara, his grandmother. Little did he realize that she would take much more than a grandmotherly interest in him.

He remembered the picture his own mother had shown him of her. But that photo was taken in later years, when she was chunky, bent over with osteoporosis and gray-headed.

He endangered his own existence by continuing their relationship. What if she never fell in love with his grandfather? What if she never met him because of her infatuation with Eddie?

Besides, Eddie had work to do. He was definitely getting homesick. And he had decided to meet the historians also scheduled to visit 1947.

Perhaps, just perhaps - oh, it was his fondest hope - the new process would eliminate the need for drugs when making the journey through time. Maybe it would stop the change in appearance that marked all the historians.

He was already showing the distress of leaping from century to century. His hair was falling out, as if he had some damned form of cancer and he was taking therapy. He couldn’t eat a healthy meal and had become slim, almost willowy.

Then, there was the matter of his voice. It had become high-pitched. Almost lilting. He sounded effeminate.

He knew he had no friends because the word was whispered he was gay – homosexual -- as they called it in 1947.

He must remember not to be offended at the word “gay”. In 1947 it still meant “happy” and “delightful”.

The new time travel process had to work. If not, he would have to stop making the trips. He would have to be satisfied reading the old history books in 2147.

But it had become an ego boost for him, a blast. It was dangerous, because his all too-human ego loved becoming a part of history.

While so many young people care not for history’s dates and places, they would love to interact with history, much as they loved interacting with their electronic games.

If they didn’t enjoy reading about Columbus sailing the ocean blue in 14 hundred and 92, -- BLAM! - make the time travel trip and get to know Chris personally. Become a part of the history of the discovery of America, if you want. Then, return home and listen as the history teacher began lecturing on the voyage of Columbus to the new world. She would then stop and realize the history lesson was about you - one of the students in her class.

She would turn the lesson over to you, sitting there oh, so smugly. And you could impress all the kids with your “I was there” first-person lecture.

For the same reasons, Eddie enjoyed singing on stage before a crowd of hundreds and then receiving letters from thousands of adoring fans scattered across the great Midwest, fans who listened at home in their living rooms to WXBR, the great voice of Chicago.

He would have little time. He had to make it to a god-forsaken place few people had heard about - Roswell, New Mexico, to meet the historians of the new process.

A rendezvous had been set up in a remote area of New Mexico. It was on a ranch owned by a man named Brazel, but no one would be around to see the reunion. No one but cattle, scrub brush and whatever else grew in that desert area.

The rendezvous had been set for July 4, 1947.

“The new process. It has to work,” he repeated to himself.