The Time Traveler, Part 6

Wherein Brown answers the door.

[Last time: Brown advocated for more pesticides, poisons, and circus animals, and received an unwelcome knock on his motel door.]

In crime movies, there’s always a window. If I were Dan Duryea or Neville Brand I would have bolted for the lavatory when the law started pounding on my door, where I would have given them the slip courtesy of a conveniently-sized window opening onto an even more conveniently-placed alley trashcan upon which I could step.

Not today. There was no way out of the little motel room other than the door, and whomever was pounding on it wasn’t leaving. I scanned the room for a makeshift weapon: soda pop bottle, pizza box, television clicker, Gideon Bible. The brass bedlamp was mounted to the wall.

Knock knock knock.

A pillow–what could I do with a pillow? I could throw a shoe, maybe use my belt as a makeshift garrotte.

Knock knock knock.

I considered hiding, but the bed’s platform offered no point of ingress. I was a dead duck. My goose was cooked. There was no way to fly the coop. The chickens had come home to roost.

Knock knock knock.

“Brown,” a hoarse voice whispered. “Brown, are you in there?”

This was an interesting development. How could these future policemen have ascertained my name? I carried no identification. Had I mentioned it to someone? Of course: the coffee shop. The little gal who made my coffee insisted upon knowing my name. I should have known it was a trap. She was probably an operative working for the world police, a spy who was dispatched the moment their systems detected my capsule’s breach of their time-space defenses.

“Brown, is that you? Open up. It’s me. It’s Ray Carpenter.”

Ray Carpenter! Wainright had sent his teenaged lab assistant through time to get me out of this jam. Three cheers for the cavalry! I fumbled with the latch and threw open the door, and there stood not Ray Carpenter but rather a little old man. A fringe of white hair clung to his liver-spotted head, which hung low between his hunched shoulders. His emaciated body was dwarfed by a suit that probably fit him well 20 years prior, before spinal curvature set in and time robbed him of his muscle mass.

The old man steadied himself on a cane topped with a white knob. He smiled broadly. His wrinkled lips parted to reveal a stained set of long, worn teeth. “My God,” he said. “It’s true.”

“Who are you?” I asked.

“It’s me, Brown. It’s Ray Carpenter, just like we planned. Look–” He handed me his walking stick. It wasn’t topped with a white knob, after all, but rather with a carved ivory facsimile of my time capsule.  I studied his wrinkled face closely, and there it was — Carpenter’s boyish elan flickering behind those baby blues. There we stood for a moment, two travelers through time, each marveling at the other’s path. We saw each other just a week ago when Ray was 15 years my junior. Now he was 45 years my senior.

“Please, come in,” I said. “Can I offer you some soda pop?”

“No time for niceties,” Carpenter said. “We need to get you to safety. We can catch up on the drive. Come, hurry!” He turned slowly and shuffled toward a sedan parked in the nearby handicapped space. I recognized the Chrysler emblem, but this was a modern vehicle.

“The Chrysler?” I asked.

“Yep,” Ray said.

“America’s finest.”

“They’re an Italian company now,” he said.

“Amazing. The wops own one of the big three?” I walked over and stood next to the sedan’s passenger door.

“Nobody says that anymore. I’ll tell you all about it, but right now we must hurry,” he repeated. He hadn’t advanced more than two feet since the first time he said it.

 

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4 thoughts on “The Time Traveler, Part 6

  1. thanks

    On Mon, Apr 3, 2017 at 11:00 AM, Why It Matters wrote:

    > James Stafford posted: ” Wherein Brown answers the door. [Last time: Brown > advocated for more pesticides, poisons, and circus animals, and received an > unwelcome knock on his motel door.] In crime movies, there’s always a > window. If I were Dan Duryea or Neville Brand I w” >

    Like

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