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The Windmill of Time: A Time Travel Memoir

I couldn’t tell them I was from the future, so I had to come up with something else—and fast…

 

We were sound asleep when bright lights coming into the bedroom window woke me. It was still dark outside. My first impulse was that there must be a fire except I didn’t smell anything burning. Then I heard banging at the door and a loud male voice yelled, “This is the FBI, open up!”

I jumped out of bed.

“FBI open up!” the male voice repeated.

Laureen got up and ran to the door. When she opened it, four men in black suits barged their way in. They flashed their IDs and badges at us.

“What’s going on here?” I shouted.

“Jeffrey Goldberg and Laureen Tanaka?”

“Yeah.”

“Get dressed, you’re coming with us,” said one of the agents. “You’re wanted for questioning.”

“Questioning for what? Are we under arrest?”

“You’re wanted for questioning.”

“We don’t do drugs,” I said.

“Get dressed,” he repeated.

Two men grabbed Laureen and put her into one car. The others put me into another car. They drove for about an hour and got off the Long Island Expressway at the Melville exit. It was just getting light now. About ten minutes later, they pulled in front of the FBI office. We were taken inside and placed in separate rooms. One agent sat me down in a metal chair. The other agent came back in with three cups of coffee. One of them sat down next to me, the other across the table from me. “Thanks,” I said. “What’s the hell is this all about?”

“Do you know Joseph Bonomolo?”

I thought to myself, Oh shit. “Yes, sir. I know him.”

“Who else is involved?”

“Involved with what?”

“Stealing money from the New York Harness Association.”

“You’re nuts.”

“That’s a felony. You could all be facin’ fifteen years. Bonomolo confessed to everything. So how did you do it?”

“What did he confess to?” I asked.

“You call him each week with the winning horses. We want to know how you got that information and who else is involved.”

“I’m psychic. I can see the future.”

“Don’t be a wiseass.”

KUDOS for The Windmill of Time

 

In The Windmill of Time by Jeffrey Goldberg, the main character, Jeffrey Goldberg, is 92 years old and living in 2043. He is about to embark on a journey back in time to 1971 to try to correct the mistakes that cost him his future with his first love, Laureen. He makes it back to 1971 and Laureen, but things aren’t quite like he expected. He has the memories of his past life in the future in 2043 that collide with his memories of the current life he is now living in 1971. For a while the two sets of memories keep getting confused and Jeffrey has identity problems. I must admit it is a rather novel concept, the idea of not only going back in time, but going back to live in your younger self’s body. It would solve the problem of running into your past-life self while you were both in 1971. And I really liked the logic behind the government sending the elderly back in time to relive their lives—to ease the drain on social security and medicare, since in 2043, medicine has improved and people are living longer, aging more slowly. So to help with the economic problems caused by so many elderly people, just send them back in time. Now you have less elderly people in 2043. Sounds just like something a government would do. The book is so fascinating because it is so convincingly written that it could almost be real. It reads like a true-life autobiography. Very well done. – Taylor Jones, Reviewer

 

I have to say that I was quite impressed with The Windmill of Time by Jeffrry Goldberg. It is a unique novel, to say the least. Not only is the main character named Jeffrey Goldberg, the same as the author, but the story obviously has a lot of genuine truth in it. Or at least it seems to. From the author’s bio, I can see that his wife’s name is Inez. His real wife. And in the story, his wife is Inez. And yet, when Goldberg goes back in time from 2043 to 1971, he doesn’t go back to relive his life with Inez, but with his first love, Laureen. As I am shaking my head, I’m thinking, either this author is one brave fellow, or else Inez is a very understanding wife. (Or else she is getting her revenge in subtle ways the reader will never know about. Go, Inez!) At any rate, I have never read another novel quite like it. The book is long, about 450 pages, but that’s to be expected when the author has to tell two life stories concurrently. It is fascinating to read the way it happened the first time around and then to read the way Goldberg changed it the second time around. But what really impressed me was how plausible it was. The storyline is based on an all-too-realistic premise, making the fiction read almost like non-fiction. It’s intriguing, entertaining, and well worth your time. – Regan Murphy, Reviewer

 

It’s 2043 and the government is sending the elderly back in time to reduce the drain on Social Security and Medicare. Ninety-two-year-old Jeffrey Goldberg embarks on a journey back to 1971 and his twenty-year-old body. Once united with his former self, Jeffrey has but one goal—alter his past and correct the mistakes that caused him to lose his first love, Laureen. But present and future collide as Jeffrey ignores warnings from the scientists in 2043 and attempts to change major historical events.

 

Armed with his knowledge of the future, and his memories of the past, Jeffrey explores the paradoxes of time travel until he begins to question his very existence—and the authorities begin to question where he came by his information. If he tells them the truth, he’ll probably be locked up in a mental institution, but if he doesn’t come up with a reasonable explanation, he could go to jail. Either way, his hopes of reliving his life with Laureen will be dashed. The Windmill of Time begs the age-old question: can love really conquer time?

 

 

 

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 

 

 

I would like to thank my wife of thirty-four years, Inez Terumi Goldberg. Without her encouragement and endless support, I would have never attempted to write this novel. She has read bit and pieces along the way and I could tell it was difficult for her, yet she never demanded that I stop. Even during the many times I wanted to quit, when it would have been easy for her to agree, she wouldn’t let me. Without fail every married woman told me they would never let their husband write a book like this. That’s why our marriage has been so successful through the years. We encourage and support eachother’s dreams. Thanks for always being there for me.

 

 

 

THE

WINDMILL

OF TIME

 

A Time Travel Memoir

 

 

 

Jeffrey Goldberg

 

 

 

GENRE: SCIENCE FICTION/TIME TRAVEL/ ROMANCE

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, businesses, organizations, events or locales is entirely coincidental. All trademarks, service marks, registered trademarks, and registered service marks are the property of their respective owners and are used herein for identification purposes only. The publisher does not have any control over or assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their contents.

 

THE WINDMILL OF TIME

REVISED EDITION 2017

Copyright © 2014 by Jeffrey Goldberg

Cover Design by Jeffrey Goldberg

All cover art copyright © 2014

All Rights Reserved

 

 

First Publication: APRIL 2014
REVISED EDITION 2017

 

All rights reserved under the International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

 

WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

 

ABOUT THE PRINT VERSION: If you purchased a print version of this book without a cover, you should be aware that the book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

 

IF YOU FIND AN EBOOK OR PRINT VERSION OF THIS BOOK BEING SOLD OR SHARED ILLEGALLY, PLEASE REPORT IT.

 

 

DEDICATION

 

This book is dedicated to the memory of my college sweetheart, my first love, Laureen Shigeko Tanaka. Her beautiful smile melted my heart. Her love forever touched my soul.

 

 

 

To every thing there is a season, and a time to

every purpose under the heaven…

 

 

All author profits generated by the sale of this book

will be donated to the following organizations in memory of

Laureen Shigeko Tananka-Sanders:

 

Susan G. Komen For The Cure

Breast Cancer Research Foundation

 

See our photos at ALBUMS:

[
**]https://www.facebook.com/jeff.goldberg.397

 

PROLOGUE

 

 

 

May 20, 2043, 11 p.m.:

 

Tonight I was either going to die or travel in a time machine back to 1971. Hell if I knew which one. So I prepared myself for both and made my peace.

Sitting in the bedroom my college sweetheart and I had shared. I could feel us here, our souls frozen within these walls. I sobbed. Could I get back what time had stolen from me? Loud knocking snapped me back to reality.

“You okay in there, mister?” hollered the man from outside.

I opened the front door and was shocked by the darkness. A light fog hovered over the ground. “What time it is?”

“Almost eleven,” he said, glancing at his watch.

“Jeezus. I’m gonna be late, damn it. Sorry I stayed so long.”

I took his hand and thanked the current owner for letting me visit the vacant rental cottage. We had lived here seventy-two years ago. I hurried across the damp lawn to the solar powered car I left sitting in the driveway hours earlier. I switched it into auto-drive mode as a thousand thoughts raced through my mind. I made the thirty-five minute drive back to Brookhaven Lab from Hampton Bays for my two a.m. rendezvous with the past and the possibility of altering it.

When I got back to my room at the lab, it was almost midnight.

“You were supposed to be back here two hours ago,” scolded Margot, my time-travel adviser. “Where have you been all evening, anyway?”

“I drove to Southampton to see what was left of the old college. Then I stopped by the house where I lived.”

“I could have lost my job if you didn’t come back. You wouldn’t be the first not to show up at the last minute you know.”

“Sorry. There’s no way I would have missed this.”

“Well, I was sure you’d be back. They started prepping for you two hours ago but I didn’t tell them. Did you eat any dinner?”

“I ate around five o’clock.”

“Better have something light,” she said. “I’ll be back in an hour.”

“Thank you.”

I took a container of yogurt from the fridge and a protein bar. It occurred to me that I had never met another potential time traveler during the few days I had been here for orientation. For that matter, Margot was the only person I’d had contact with, although I’d seen other technicians walking around the building in white coveralls. I never asked and she never offered any information about other time travelers she might be advising. I thought it odd, considering there were millions of seniors over age ninety who were eligible to time travel each year, but Brookhaven was just one of five Space/Time Manipulation Centers.

I packed up my few belongings and tossed them into the disposal. I couldn’t take anything from 2043 back to 1971, so I gave all my assets to my sixty-three year old nephew Daniel. The only other thing I had of value was the matching wedding rings from my forty-nine year marriage, to Inez Terumi Ikkanda. Since we never had children, I decided the best place for them was in a small box along side her urn at Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica. All my photos and letters from Laureen, my college sweetheart, I gave to her son.

At one a.m. Margot knocked on my door. “I need your virtual pod.”

I removed it from my pocket and handed it to her. It stored all my vitals and communications, in addition to all my thoughts and feelings, since I received the first generation unit in 2031.

“It will be destroyed unless you want to give it to a relative.”

“Send it to my nephew, I guess.”

“Please follow me.”

She escorted me to another room down the hallway and told me to wait then she left the room. I stood in what appeared to be a small medical office. A middle-aged man wearing a red turban and white lab coat soon entered and introduced himself as Dr. Radh Achuthan. He removed a device from his pocket and scanned my upper body.

“You’re in excellent health, but I detect a rapid pulse and heartbeat. Now I need to remove the nano computer chip from your neck,” he said, stepping behind me. “Might sting a little.”

This microchip, implanted just above my hairline, allowed my thoughts and feelings to connect with my virtual pod.

“Why bother removing it? It’s useless back in 1971 without nanochip technology.”

“Nothing, absolutely nothing can go back to the past from this time,” he said.

He quickly found the gold, inch-long, hair-shaped chip and plucked it out. Then he picked up a jet injection gun off the table and swabbed my left arm with alcohol.

“What’s this for?” I asked.

“I’m injecting you with your personal DNA/Genome nanochip and a GPS nanochip.”

“Why?”

“For the morphing process. They will both dissolve within two hours.”

“Oh. I…uh…I was wondering. How many others are going tonight?”

“Sorry, Mr. Goldberg. I can’t discuss that.”

“How come?”

“It’s just the rules.”

There was a slight pinch as the needle penetrated my skin.

“All done. Good luck on your journey, sir.”

“Thanks, Doc.”

Margot entered as he left. “Time to get over to the Space/Time Manipulation Chamber.”

“Can I ask you a question?”

“Sure. But let’s get going. It’s on the lower level.”

“How come I haven’t seen another senior the entire time I’ve been here?”

“All departures are confidential.”

“Why? I don’t get it.”

“Everyone is entitled to his or her privacy as they prepare to depart. Some want to say farewell to their relatives. I’m sure you can understand that.”

“I guess so.”

“It’s time to go,” she said in a calm voice. “Are you ready?”

“Yes.”

She opened a cabinet marked STERILE and handed me a thin white paper robe and paper booties.

“Please remove everything,” she said, turning her back.

When I had complied, she escorted me down the long white corridor to an elevator at the far end. There was a flashing red sign on the door that read, “DNA Scanning Required.” She placed her palm over the scanner.

The scanner responded, “Margot Greenwood, cleared to enter.”

A small drawer opened, revealing a golden key. She inserted the key and the elevator door slid opened. Panic set in. My body began to shiver. I could barely stand. My knees wobbled, forcing me to lean against her.

The elevator dropped at a rapid pace. Within seconds, it slowed and the door opened into a colossal room filled floor to ceiling with massive machinery that hummed and buzzed. Large mainframe type computers and control panels covered the walls. It seemed as if I’d suddenly been thrust onto the set of a science-fiction movie.

“This is the Space/Time Manipulation Control Center,” Margot said. “This is where the wormhole is created. It’s the vehicle that takes you back to 1971.”

 

 

“Is it…is it safe?”

“As I explained when you first arrived it’s perfectly safe.”

I followed her to an adjoining room just beyond the Control Center where three glass-body chambers stood.

 

 

Two technicians in white overalls greeted me. A woman, who was thin but very muscular, grabbed my hand. “I’m Esther,” she said, flinching slightly from the cold sweat of my palm.

“Sorry.”

“It’s quite all right, nothing to be afraid of.”

About fifteen to twenty technicians scurried around. Then the lid to one of the glass chambers slowly opened.

Esther handed me a thin white tablet. “This is a sedative. Place it under your tongue. It’ll relax you.”

“I’m the only one here?” I said nervously.

Margot looked at me and said, “You’re the only one who has a departure time of May twenty-first, 0200 hours, destination 1971. Please take off your robe.”

Esther and the other tech took hold under each arm and helped lift my ninety-two year old body into the chamber. Even though it was all clear glass, once they closed the lid claustrophobia set in. A cold, clammy sweat spread over my entire body.

I wanted to scream, “Let me out nooowww,” but I resisted.

“How’re ya doin’, Mr. Goldberg?” asked one of the technicians in a Southern drawl.

“Gettin’ very anxious and scared.”

“That’s normal,” said Esther.

“Just take some deep breaths and let the sedative relax you. In a few minutes, you’ll be asleep. You’ll awaken in 1971, back in your twenty-year old body,” Margot assured me in a comforting voice.

Through the glass windows of the Space/Time Manipulation Chamber, I watched technicians maneuver around in the Control Room. They hovered over digital consoles with scores of dials and gauges emitting a soft glow of orange, yellow, and green.

I tensed as the chamber began to vibrate, slowly at first, then more vigorously. A loud buzzing filled my ears. On the wall of the chamber, a small display counted down 1:57, 56, 55…

Everything outside the chamber whirled into fuzziness. Dizziness overwhelmed me. My sense of time distorted. Deep breaths didn’t help. Every muscle quivered as a wave of fear raced through my veins along with the sedative. Scary thoughts raced through my mind…

Was this time travel technology for real or was it just a ruse to exterminate me along with the burgeoning senior-citizen population? As my departure dated neared, I found myself becoming more paranoid. It wouldn’t be the first time a government committed genocide on its own citizens. No, no don’t think that. I’m gonna make it back to 1971…back with my first love. But can I change anything? Can I save her?

Margot’s voice reverberated in the chamber. “Take deep breaths. Have a wonderful life…again, Mr. Goldberg. Don’t forget what I warned you about meddling with the past…it is strictly forbidden.”

Eyelids are heavy…feel myself drifting…from this place, this time, this old body.

Darkness swallowed me and plunged me into oblivion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, God! Oh, God! That it were possible

To undo things done; to call back yesterday;

That Time could turn up his swift sandy glass,

To untell the days, and to redeem these hours!

Or that the sun could, rising from the west,

Draw his coach backward;

Take from the account of time so many minutes,

Till he had all these seasons call’d again,

Those minutes, and those actions done in them,

Even from her first offence; that I might take her

As spotless as an angel in my arms!

But, oh! I talk of things impossible,

And cast beyond the moon…

 

 

From A Woman Killed with Kindness ~ Thomas Heywood

 

CHAPTER 1

 

 

 

Montauk Dorm, Southampton College, Friday, May 21, 1971 2 a.m., The Second Time Around:

 

Iawoke with a jolt, dazed and disoriented, unsure where I was or who inhabited this body, drifting between two times, uncertain if I’d been hurled into the future or the past…

I opened my eyes, blinking to adjust to the darkness. My heart pounded from a rush of panic. Holding back a scream, I jerked to a sitting position, attempting to recover my equilibrium. I was more puzzled than frightened by the feeling of nothingness. I had experienced this same feeling many years ago traveling on Amtrak. The tiny, cramped, coffin-like sleeping compartment vibrated fiercely in the dark. I awoke, startled by the sensation of nothingness, like the infinite timeless, formless, spaceless void before our birth. I’m going to die one day, whispered the voice inside my head. Was this that moment?

Still unsure where I was or when I was, I clutched my stomach as a wave of nausea overcame me. My ears rang to the point of deafness. My head still spun from the G-forces of traveling faster and faster, of being pulled back 26,280 days through the wormhole. My entire body was bombarded with sensory confusion, compelling me to create some kind of order out of the conflicting stimuli. Then I felt the youthful tightness of my skin, the strength of my arms and legs, and the powerful beating of my heart.

The technicians had prepared me for this—for my ninety-two year old body metamorphosing with and into my younger self, yet still retaining all my thoughts, emotions, and memories. The blood raced rapidly through my veins unclogging old, decayed arteries. The sensation of hormones pulsated through my groin. Energy flowed inside my body as it had when I was a teen, and I felt invincible, like I would never die.

I was keenly aware of feeling light. Free of all burdens and the massive weight imposed by age and a lifetime of regrets. Life had yet to beat me down. Lightness permeated my body, reminding me what it was like to have the freedom to not do anything. No worries, no job, no mortgage, no car payments, no one to take care of, no aging parents, and no goddamn responsibilities.

The moist Long Island humidity crawled over my skin. It was still dark outside. Shadows filled the room, but a smidgen of light reflected off the white cinderblock walls. The pungent smell of sea air from Shinnecock Bay infused the room.

My eyes finally adjusted to the semi-dark room. Two metal desks and chairs sat at opposite ends of the room. Stuff was strewn across both desks, but I couldn’t make out what it was. An empty metal bookshelf hung above each desk. Large, wooden, door-less closets filled with clothing stood next to the desks. The first item hanging was a dark-colored jacket with a large white logo that glowed—SOUTHAMPTON COLLEGE. Several white suitcases rested on the floor next to a stack of cardboard boxes. Two frameless mirrors hung on the vacant walls reflecting the blackness of the room. The only sound I heard was that persistent ringing in my ears.

I recognized this place—Montauk Dorm. My sweetheart and I stayed here for a week in May 1971, after the spring semester, waiting to start our summer jobs for the Model Cities Program.

I was here. I really made it. I’m back…I made it back to 1971!

I remembered what Gatsby said to Nick Carroway, “Can’t repeat the past…Why of course you can!”

Time—that phantom, that great equalizer, numbering our precious days, unstoppable, relentless, indiscriminate, irrevocable time. Finally, I had conquered Time!

I found myself lying on a narrow bed. Another bed was adjacent to mine, the two mattresses held tightly together by the sheets. The ringing in my ears subsided and I startled at the sound of quiet breathing. A body cuddled beside me—my sweetheart, Laureen Shigeko Tanaka. The last time I saw her was sixty-eight years ago. She looks exactly how I remembered her, even better, so different from the pictures I found on Facebook. Those photos haunted me. I found them posted on Facebook after she died. Death was evident on her face. Her beautiful face turned frail and sunken and sallow, as the life ebbed from her body. If only I had known.

For a moment, I sat motionless, studying her, watching her chest rise and fall with each breath. My eyes traced the curve of her soft, full lips and the waves of her long, brown, silky hair. The feelings came roaring back. Feelings of intense love that had been dormant in my heart for sixty-eight years, when I had loved her more than life itself. My body trembled as I sobbed in silence.

Laureen was peaceful in sleep. Eighteen years old with no cancer, no pain, no suffering. I reached over and placed my hand on her chest to feel her heart beat strong. The smooth, dark skin of her face glowed, unblemished by age. Until this moment, I hadn’t realized how extraordinarily beautiful she was, how much I had missed her, how much I’d hungered for her touch.

I kissed her lightly on the lips. She wriggled at my touch, breathing a gentle moan. The last time we shared a kiss was sixty-nine years ago, June 5, 1974, when she boarded the plane to go home to Hana for the summer. Now I stared at her and beamed with inner satisfaction. I finally beat Mark Sanders. He died many years before time travel was invented. Mark stole Laureen from me. They were married for thirty-two years and had two children. Now I had Laureen back again—back in 1971—when she loved me.

I gently eased off the bed testing my young legs. The first few steps seemed shaky but I managed to find the bathroom and flicked on the lights. “Oohhh my God,” I gasped, startled to see an unfamiliar face. The wall of mirrors reflected the body of my twenty-year-old self. I stared at the image with powerful curiosity. It had been over seventy years since I’d seen that person staring back at me. My head was covered with thick, wavy brown hair and long sideburns. Lips were thick and full. The sag, wrinkles, and deep frown lines were gone, as were those horrible white eyebrows. Even the pimples I always despised had returned to my cheeks. The skin on my hands was smooth and silky, like a child’s. I had been reborn.

I physically looked the same, but something was different.

I stared at my youthface, trying to reconcile this young, vigourous body with the memories of the decrepit old body I’d had only moments ago, the body I would one day have again if I survived that long this time around. I couldn’t escape from one enormous burden—I knew the past and I knew the future!

I crawled back into bed, too afraid to go to sleep. The unrelenting ringing in my ears made it impossible anyway. Anxiety and nausea lingered. Conflicting memories tumbled around in my head. My head was in two places simultaneously—two different pasts, two different lives, two brains in one body.

The Time/Space Manipulator technician warned me in 2043 that I would experience schizophrenic symptoms as my ninety-two-year-old memories merged with my younger self. It could take several hours or even days for the process to be complete. Twenty-year-old Jeffrey was meeting his older self. Not physically, but in my mind, trying to reconcile the seventy-two years of memories that came flooding back.

The reality of 2043 receded.

Entering this old familiar world again, without the technological advances of the twenty-first century I had become accustomed to and taken for granted, was like going backward through the looking glass to a nostalgic, simpler time.

Who in their heart hasn’t longed to be somewhere else in time?

A time before the “quickening,” when you could go to sleep and wake up the next day knowing the world hadn’t changed overnight. When your choices seemed more clear-cut, when the mundane act of opening up and reading a newspaper was time-consuming and comforting. When you didn’t need a remote because there were only ten channels on the TV. When you knew who your enemies were.

Could I live in this world again? Too late, there was no going back. This place, this time, this 1971, was my real world now.

I watched with awe as Laureen slept. Oh God, to hear her voice again, and that special way she would pronounce words in her Hawaiian accent. I desperately wanted to wake her. I reached out my hand to shake her awake, but then drew it back. It was still the middle of the night, so I let her sleep.

I got up and rummaged through the boxes finding familiar belongings, including several pairs of bell-bottom jeans. It was odd because everything seemed brand new but I also remembered them as old and worn. Now I had my whole life to live again. A single day here in 1971 was worth losing the few companionless years I left back in 2043. My entire life was before me—all the time in the world. You only get one this chance to fix it, so don’t screw it up.

The twenty-year-old Jeffrey from the past had met Laureen nine months earlier in front of the Southampton College windmill. Yet images, feelings, and emotions from the events of a life already lived were slowly being assimilated, like data files transferring from one computer to another. My twenty-year-old mind couldn’t fathom the future, but the ninety-two-year-old me seized that memory from 2010—a moment when something changed my life forever.

“Oh God, no—how? God in heaven, no—no,” I mumbled.

The horror of what I’d seen, what I’d felt, sitting at the desk in my office staring at the computer screen, caused pain to lash through me, obliterating my euphoria.

 

CHAPTER 2

 

 

 

My Home Office, Carlsbad, California, December 6, 2010, The First Time Around[*:*]

 

Istared in disbelief at the computer screen.

 

 

One word on the screen—OBITUARY—severed my soul in two. A vise of fear and panic squeezed my chest painfully, making it difficult to breathe.

My upper body swayed back and forth, like in synagogue, praying for a favor. “Please, God…please, don’t let this be.”

Weeping, I chanted, my beautiful, beautiful sweetheart, my beautiful, beautiful sweetheart…

I slumped in the chair behind my desk, writhing in pain. I no longer felt safe within my own skin. Lightheaded and dizzy, I was out of balance, shaky. My heart palpitated wildly, beating with such fierceness that it might explode at any second. I used to think of my body as a friend, but as I recognized my own mortality, it suddenly became my enemy. Whatever vestige of youth was left in my fifty-nine-year-old body was wrested from me forever. At this very moment, something had changed in my psyche. In my mind, I could sense the present moment fading as memories and feelings from the past came sharply into focus.

She died October twenty-first. There was something, something about that date…but I couldn’t remember what.

I had lost Laureen once when I put her on the plane in 1974. Then I lost her in Hana in 1975. Now I lost her to eternity. There was that same awful, horrible feeling in my gut that part of me didn’t exist anymore.

Somewhere deep inside me was always a crazy hope that we might reunite some day. That was why I Googled her name from time to time just to make sure Laureen was still safe and alive, enjoying her life. For some reason this always gave me comfort. And maybe, just maybe, I would find that she was divorced or widowed. Now that crazy fantasy was stolen from me.

The last time I saw Laureen Tanaka was on New Year’s Eve 1975 in Hana. Although we had only communicated one time in the last thirty-five years, I now knew I would never hear from her again. I would never look into those beautiful, soft, brown eyes or see her sweet smile that melted my heart.

I’d been married to my wonderful wife, Inez, for thirty years, who I loved dearly, but I loved Laureen differently. She was my first love, the very first person to let me into her heart, and whom I let into mine. I buried those feelings years ago, letting her go so I could move on with my life. Could you ever stop loving someone who touched your soul?

I stared at the screen for a long time waiting for this nightmare to end, but it never did. I forced my eyes to look away but when they returned the text hadn’t changed. Pushing myself up on shaky legs and clinging to the wall for support, I hobbled into the guest bedroom. Buried in the closet was an old photo album that hadn’t been touched in years. The blue cover was tattered, the pages separated from the binding. Most of the photos were clear and bright inside plastic liners, but the white borders had yellowed slightly.

I ran my finger across her pictures and sobbed. My beautiful sweetheart—my beautiful sweetheart—what happened to us?

How I’d loved to take her picture. She was so beautiful, even though she didn’t think so. She had an inner beauty that touched my very soul. My fingers trembled as I carefully turned the pages. The photos seemed almost new, as if they weren’t forty years old. I remembered exactly when and where each photo was taken. I found myself still living in these photos, images flashing across my mind. Somehow it only seemed natural that the moment in time captured in these pictures should continue, but I no longer knew that Jeffrey.

The camera could only capture a split second in time—a smile, or the look of love between two people. It couldn’t bring them back to life. I thought I was looking at reality, but I was looking at ghosts—our ghosts.

I gently kissed her sweet, frozen face.

 

 

I hated time. For some reason I could never grasp the reality of it. Even as a child I knew time was my enemy. All of us are held captive by it. I couldn’t stop it, even for a moment. I couldn’t control it. I couldn’t manipulate it for my own desires. I tried, oh how I tried! My entire life had been spent living in the past. Even the music and films I loved were not of my generation, as if I had been born out of my time, an interloper in the present. Ever since I first saw The Time Machine, I’d been obsessed with the idea of traveling to the past. My favorite poem growing up was “Miniver Cheevy.” It befuddled me how slow a minute or an hour could take to pass. Yet the last forty years had flown by so quickly. Time had always tormented me.

Forty years—forty years. How could something have happened to me forty years ago? How is that possible?

The moment I always treasured seemed so insignificant, almost silly now, when Laureen first touched my soul…

 

*****

 

She was out running some errands in Southampton. I was sitting on the couch reading, when she burst into the living room of the house we shared and ran over to me, crying.

“What’s the matter?” I asked, sitting up abruptly, concerned she might have been in an accident.

“I—I was driving on Montauk Highway and a small bird slammed into the windshield,” she said, clutching my hand tightly, her thin fingers ice cold.

I sighed from relief and rubbed her fingers to warm them. “It wasn’t your fault.”

She sniffled. “I know, but I think I killed the poor thing.”

“I’m glad you didn’t lose control of the car.”

Tears ran down her cheeks. “I know.”

“Was anything on the windshield?”

“‘Nope.”

 

“Well that’s good. Did you stop to see if the bird was okay?”

“I couldn’t. There were too many cars behind me.”

“Birds run into things all the time. Maybe it survived,” I said, gently wiping the tears from her watery brown eyes with my fingers.

She nodded. “Oh I hope so.”

“Don’t worry. I’m sure it’s okay. Birds are pretty hardy creatures.”

“I guess so.” She cracked a tiny smile, perhaps feeling a little self-conscious for over-reacting.

“You have a good heart. That’s why I love you,” I said, embracing her and kissing her salty cheek, my soul forever bound to hers…

 

*****

 

I pulled out an old folder with some envelopes addressed to me. I took out one of the letters, running it through my fingers. The paper hadn’t yet yellowed with age. It was still crisp and fresh, as if it had just been written and sent to me. I lifted the letter up to my nose to see if I could smell her, but there was no scent. I read the letter from July 24, 1972 when she was home for the summer, the handwriting still very familiar to me. I kissed the letter, knowing she had touched it, and when she had wrote it she stilled loved me. She signed the letter, with much love & aloha, your sweetheart Laureen.

I wept. After reading this letter, I realized her days were already numbered. I searched through all the letters and notes but couldn’t find anything written on October twenty-first. What was it about that date?

We had spent about 1,350 days together. All those 1,350 nights we slept together, and I would cuddle up next to her like we were one. How I loved to slip my hand under her nightie and caress her breasts. I had been blessed then, but I hadn’t known it.

I could feel a chasm in my brain between the present and the past—my sense of time exploding in my head, the past erupting like a dormant volcano spewing all the memories, feelings, and regrets I’d repressed for the past thirty-five years. I needed to get back to us—to what I’d lost, but how?

God please, there has to be a way to get back!

I could only get back to her in my mind. The memory of that night we first met forty years ago in front of the windmill and the four years we spent together were forever seared in my brain.

 

CHAPTER 3

 

 

 

Saturday, September 12, 1970, 8 p.m., Our First Meeting:

 

It was my sophomore year at Southampton College. I was nineteen years old and had all the time in the world ahead of me. I thought about the first time I saw the campus. It was on a Sunday in August a year earlier, just a few days after the ticker-tape parade for the Apollo 11 astronauts. I was working at Peterson’s Pipe Shop on lower Broadway and had a bird’s-eye view of the parade as it slowly proceeded by the store.

I wanted to see the campus before the fall semester started in early September. I remember the feeling as soon as I stepped out of my father’s car. I felt like I was in heaven. It was a quiet, serene, peaceful setting, lots of grass and trees. Once I graduated high school, I was eager to leave home. I needed to get away from my parents. I needed some peace and quiet, and Eastern Long Island was the type of lifestyle I craved. It was so different from the City College of NY campus in Manhattan where I would have gone if I stayed home in the Bronx. I instantly knew this was where I was meant to be.

I had extraordinary physical energy, raging hormones, youthful dreams, ambition, passion, and so much hope. But also unresolved obsessions. I felt invincible, except I was extremely shy. Even though I had lots of friends, I was a loner, never really feeling like I fit in. I knew I wasn’t handsome, but I wasn’t bad looking either. I always felt too self-conscious about my big nose when I was around girls, and I never knew what to say. I couldn’t seem to relax and just be myself. I had everything except the thing I wanted most—a girlfriend, someone to love me unconditionally.

I dated one girl in high school, Diane Bloom. We went on five dates during our senior year. I was so nervous around her I hardly spoke. What made it worse was that she didn’t talk much either so there were a lot of uncomfortable silences. Then a few days after my grandfather died, she broke up with me. When I asked her why she went out with me she said, “So I would have something to do on Saturday nights.”

That didn’t do much for my confidence and self-esteem. I’d never known unconditional love. Sometimes I don’t think I even loved myself. How could I when my father left my mother and my eight-year-old brother Norman right after I was born? He moved in with his mistress, Adeline Durso. She worked in the New York Telephone Building near the Washington Market where my father had his wholesale produce business, but how or where they met, no one knew for sure.

My parents never divorced and my father came every Saturday to take us kids out and even my mother. I always loved Saturdays because I hated school, but I dreaded that day, too.

This dysfunctional relationship continued over the next twenty years, but it was much more than dysfunctional. It was toxic. The fighting, bickering, and demeaning never stopped. Most of the time my mother was the instigator. I guess that’s how she got her revenge. She used my brother and me as a wedge between her and my father, especially when they fought over money. Many times, she would say to me, “You’re just like your father,” or “You’re no better than your father.”

I grew up feeling worthless, but I swore to myself that I would never do to my girlfriend or wife what my father did to my mother. I finally was able to get away from them, sort of, that day last September, when they dropped me off at Amagansett dorm. There was another freshman on the landing saying good-bye to his parents and he was crying. I couldn’t believe it. What a sissy. That was the happiest day of my life when they drove off and I was finally free.

Tonight, a year later, was a beautiful late summer evening. The air was moist and balmy, carrying the scent of the ocean. A very light fog lingered just above the grass. The full moon lit up the campus, making it easy to find my way along the unlit paths. Jacob, the club president, asked me to meet two prospective International House Club members and escort them to his party across the street from the campus. I sat down on the bench that was adjacent to the giant windmill and waited. It was eight o’clock. No one else had arrived yet. My date to the party was Linda Pincus, a girl I liked from last semester.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The windmill looked impressive reflecting the moonlight.

 

 

It was originally constructed in the early 1700s and moved from the village of Southampton to its present location in 1890 as part of the former Claflin estate. It had been a Southampton College landmark since 1963, when the campus opened.

I saw Linda walking toward me. I admired her as she approached me and thought she looked pretty. She wore a short, tight black skirt; high heels that showed off her thin, sexy legs; and a red, low-cut blouse that revealed her ample cleavage. She was also from the Bronx like me, and tonight was my chance to get to know her better.

“Hi, glad you could make it.”

“Thanks for inviting me,” she said, surprising me with a light kiss on the cheek. “I’m not overdressed, am I?”

“You look really nice, Linda.”

“I like your shirt.”

I wore my new blue-and white-striped dress shirt that I just purchased at a Madison Ave men’s store for twenty dollars. That was one day’s pay at the pipe shop.

“Thank you.”

While we were talking, the other two girls arrived and we all introduced ourselves. Linda and I discussed the courses we were taking this semester as the girls followed behind us. It was a short walk to Jacob’s house just across the street from the campus on the other side of Montauk Highway.

When we arrived, there was already a large crowd of people. Jacob greeted me affectionately in his loud booming voice. “Jeffrey, my friend, how are you!” he said as he hugged me.

Jacob Akindele was president of International House and an exchange student from Lagos, Nigeria. He had three scars across both cheeks and was a kind and gentle soul. He explained to me that the scars were a form of tribal body art to identify a person’s family and regional heritage, but they also had a spiritual significance.

Jacob was always quoting passages from In the Light of Truth, that was like bible to him and the doctrine he lived by. The book was a collection of lectures addressing all spheres of life, ranging from God and the universe to the laws of creation, free will and responsibility, intuition and the intellect, the ethereal world, and the beyond. It answered eternal questions such as what it meant to be human, what was the purpose of life on earth, and what happened after death. It also explained the causes and significance of the unprecedented crises facing humanity today and our responsibilities to the future. As much as I liked and admired Jacob, the book wasn’t something I could relate to, but I considered him my closest friend.

I’d been introduced to Jacob my freshman year by Gary Nault, who lived in my dorm. At one of Jacob’s parties, I had gotten drunk for the first time in my life. I wanted to dance with this attractive girl with large breasts, whom I had been watching all evening. I summoned up the nerve and approached her at the start of a slow dance. When I held her body with her chest pressed close to mine, I got an instant erection. It was very embarrassing. I hoped she didn’t notice. Later, that night Gary had to help me back to the dorm in a freezing snowstorm.

I tried to speak over the loud music. “Jacob, you know Linda Pincus. This is, um…I’m sorry I forgot your names.”

“Collete,” shouted the skinny black girl with a huge Afro hairdo.

“Laureen,” said the petite, dark-complexioned girl with long, brown hair, almond-shaped eyes, and a demure smile.

“Nice to meet you,” he said, shaking their hands.

“Where are you from, Laureen?” asked Jacob.

“Hawaii.”

“And Collete?”

“St. Croix.”

“Welcome, welcome. There’s lots of food and wine so enjoy. I hope you’ll consider joining International House.”

The Beatles’ “Get Back,” one of the few Beatles’ songs that I liked, blasted out of two wooden speakers as the large vinyl record spun around the turntable.

Jojo was a man who thought he was a loner,

but he knew it couldn’t last.

Jojo left his home in Tucson, Arizona,

for some California grass.

Get back, get back,

Get back to where you once belonged…”

 

*****

 

Crackers, cheese, chips and dip, and wine bottles were laid out on a table in the living room. Linda and I carried our paper plates with food in one hand and a glass of wine in the other. We went into the backyard where it was quiet and we could talk. I thought some wine would loosen me up. There weren’t any tables or chairs, but we found a small rowboat tied to the dock. The boat wobbled as we stepped inside. Linda’s wine glass shook as she lunged forward, spilling it all over my new shirt.

“Sorry, I’m so clumsy.”

“It’s okay. Do you think it will stain?” I asked, clenching my jaw.

“I don’t know, but you should rinse it out when you get back to the dorm.”

“I’ll get you another glass,” I said, grabbing it out of her hand.

When I returned she was sitting on the wooden seat. The short skirt slid up, revealing her pale, white thighs. As I sat down next to her, I glimpsed down her blouse to peek at those large breasts. Like most Jewish girls from the Bronx, Linda had a hard edge to her personality. She wasn’t easy to get close to. Other than a few dates, I never had a relationship with a Jewish girl. I never even kissed Diane Bloom. I only made out with one girl, Lishma Bugayeff. That was one night last semester. She was Mongolian, and no doubt the most unattractive girl on campus. I don’t know what attracted me to her except that maybe I was desperate. The next day she acted like she didn’t know me, which really hurt. Who knows, maybe she didn’t like the way I kissed or that I was Jewish?

“It’s nice to be back here after spending the summer in the Bronx,” Linda said.

“I know what you mean. What’d you do?”

“I worked at Alexander’s on Fordam Road. In the women’s department,” she said, sipping her wine. “How ’bout you?

“Second summer I worked at Peterson’s Pipe Shop on 42nd Street across from Grand Central.”

“Do you smoke a pipe?”

“I started smoking in high school.”

“I smoke a joint every now and then,” she said, reaching into her purse. “Want to share one with me?”

“Sure.”

I was a little stunned. I’d never smoked pot before, but tried not to show it. She lit it up, inhaled deeply twice, then exhaled, and handed it to me. Following her example, I inhaled deeply. Just as I took a puff, she leaned over and said, “Kiss me and blow the smoke in my mouth.” The acrid smoke burned my mouth and throat as I held it for her. Our lips met, my tongue reached into her mouth. Then she pulled her head back with disdain. “I don’t tongue kiss,” she exclaimed.

I didn’t respond to her rejection, handing her back the remainder of the joint. I wanted to get intimate with her, but lip kissing wasn’t very romantic or affectionate. She made me feel as if there was there something wrong with me. I tried to fondle her breasts, but she wouldn’t let me, giggling as she slapped my hands away. We drank several more glasses of wine on the boat then went inside and danced. Later, we walked back to her dorm holding hands and we lip kissed some more at her door, but that was all. She didn’t ask me to come in.

When I got back to my dorm, I still felt high from all the wine and was horny as hell. There was something about the pot, the wine, the kissing, and teasing that left me dissatisfied. The entire evening seemed impersonal and forced. I never felt comfortable or at ease, somehow. Just being myself wasn’t enough for her. I was unable to penetrate that wall she put up. Do I even like Linda? I wondered. Does she like me? What I really wanted was someone to like me for who I was.

CHAPTER 4

 

 

 

Our Second Meeting, Wood Hall Dining Room, Sunday, September 20, 1970:

 

Ientered the Wood Hall dining room around five-thirty and found it nearly empty. That was typical of Sunday since students wouldn’t return from the weekend until later that evening. Most students were from Long Island or the City and the campus was dead on the weekends, so there was no reason to stick around.

The huge dining room occupied the upper level of the building and the Ratskeller the lower. There were five long rows of blue Formica-topped tables lined with uncomfortable plastic chairs. On a typical weekday, the dining room would be very loud with the cacophonous sounds of talking, laughter, shouting, trays slamming down on the tables, and chairs scraping the floor. There’d be good-natured pushing and shoving as students waited in a long line to get their food but today it resembled a ghost town.

“Close To You” was playing over the loud speakers, echoing through the empty cafeteria. I walked over to the far left side of the room and picked up a blue plastic food tray and soda from the dispenser.

 

 

There was no line today, so I walked right up and looked at the dinner choices: fish sticks, chicken a la king, or hotdogs. I didn’t like fish, and didn’t feel like eating a pale-looking, boiled hot dog. No way. Not after growing up eating grilled hot dogs from the Jewish deli’s on Lydig Avenue. I took the chicken a la king and some cake with chocolate icing.

 

“Why do stars

“Fall down from the sky?

“Everytime you walk by

“Just like me

“They long to be

“Close to you”

 

Scanning the large dining room for a place to sit, I noticed the shy, petite girl I had met at Jacob’s party last week sitting alone at the very end of a long table. I thought she was very Asian looking, but then most of the girls I knew were Jewish. I never liked to sit by myself in the dining room. Sometimes, if I didn’t know anyone around, I would leave and come back later to eat.

I walked over to the table. “Hi, I remember meeting you at Jacob’s party, but I forgot your name.”

She looked up at me with big, almond-shaped, brown eyes. “Laureen.”

“Can I join you?”

“Uh, huh.” She nodded. “Jeffrey, right?”

That made me feel good so I sat down across the table from her. “You remembered.”

Noise of clattering dishes, trays, and silverware echoed from the kitchen along with the loud music. The chicken a la king tasted all right. I noticed she had the fish sticks.

“Where’re you from, Laureen?”

“Hana Maui, that’s in Hawaii. How about you?”

I tried not to stare at her too much, but I liked the complexion of her dark, flawless skin. It wasn’t olive color but had more of a golden tint. She looked like she never had a pimple in her life.

“The Bronx. What brought you all the way here from Hawaii?” I asked.

“Well, I wanted to be on my own and see New York. Hana is a very small village.”

“Have you been to the City yet?”

“No, but I got a great view of the Manhattan skyline when the plane was landing. I didn’t feel comfortable wandering around by myself, so I took a cab to Penn Station and the train to Southampton.”

I thought she must be brave to have traveled so far from home to attend college. “That was the smart thing to do. Did you like the party?”

“It was okay,” she said, swallowing. “I wasn’t going to go at first but then I came so far from home to meet new people and experience new things.”

“So do you think you’re going to join International House?”

“I’m not sure yet,” she said. “I’m also looking at some other clubs, too.”

“Well, Jacob’s parties aren’t the best way to judge the group, but it’s a good club. You’ll meet nice people from all over the world. Do you like baseball?” I asked, after a brief silence.

“I don’t know. Never been to a major league ballgame, just a few at my high school.”

“You should go to Yankee Stadium if you have a chance. That’s in the Bronx. Of course, the Yankees aren’t a very good team right now. I think they’re in last place. You’ve heard of Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle?”

“Yes, I know who they are,” she said, rolling her eyes.

“I saw Mickey Mantle play many times before he retired last year. He was always my favorite Yankee.”

“I think there’s a minor baseball team in Honolulu,” she said.

Careful not to talk with my mouth full, I asked, “What’s your major?”

“Marine Science. What’s yours?”

“English.”

Some other students came by but sat down at the other end of the table. Fortunately, no other students made any attempt to join us. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to date her. She was just someone to talk to while having dinner, but I enjoyed talking with her without anyone interrupting us. Her long, dark brown hair was parted down the middle and she had beautiful brown eyes. Her nose was small and kind of flat.

“What classes are you taking?” I asked.

“Let’s see, I’m taking Intro to Marine Science, English Comp, Humanities 101, and Biology 101.”

“Who do you have for English Comp?”

“Professor Willoughby,” she said.

“I have an English lit class with him, too.”

“I have a paper due in a few days, but I’m having trouble writing it,” she said, smiling.

It was a nice friendly smile that seemed to warm me. Her lips were thick and full, and when she smiled, it revealed two large oversized front teeth. I could tell she was self-conscious about her teeth because she tried not to smile too much.

“What’s it on?”

The Great Gatsby,” she said.

“That’s one of my favorite novels. Maybe I can help you with the paper.”

“I could really use some help,” she said, almost embarrassed. “English isn’t my strongest subject and my writing isn’t very good.”

I pushed aside the half-finished plate of chicken a la king and started nibbling away on the slice of cake with chocolate icing. She didn’t have any dessert on her tray, so I offered to share it with her. She took two small bites.

“Why don’t you get the book and your class notes and come up to my room—it’s Mattituck FIVE.”

“I have some things to do, but I can try to stop by later,” she said.

I noticed that she wore no make-up, and that was okay because she didn’t need any. Girls who wore a lot of make-up didn’t turn me on.

“Do you know where Mattituck is?”

“I’m sure I’ll find it.”

She got up, took her tray over and placed it on the conveyor belt, then walked back to the table, and said with a sincere, shy smile, “It was nice seeing you again, Jeffrey.”

“See you later,” I said as she turned around and walked away.

She seemed reserved, yet very sweet.

 

CHAPTER 5

 

 

 

Mattituck Dorm, Later That Night:

 

It was getting late and I thought maybe she wasn’t coming. Then about nine o’clock there was a knock at the open door. I got up and invited her in, but still kept the door to the suite wide open, anticipating she might be little nervous visiting my room the first time. I thought it would relax her. The suite was quiet tonight. Otherwise, I would have closed the door.

She wore a loose-fitting gray sweatshirt with Southampton College embroidered in blue letters. Her hair was parted in the middle, but now she had it braided into a loop on left side of her head with a piece of golden yarn.

“I like your room,” she said, turning to look at the posters.

My dorm room was a single and very small. Besides the bed, desk, clothes closet, and a chair, I had a small fridge sitting on an end table, and my stereo and records on a stand. On top of the desk, there was a brown fluorescent lamp, metal candleholder, and a round pipe rack. The floor was covered with a large red area rug, so I didn’t have to walk on cold linoleum. The walls were ugly white cinderblocks, so to cover them up I hung some large reproduction movie posters: The Time Machine, All Through The Night, and Gone With The Wind.

“Is this your father?” she asked, pointing to some pictures taped to the wall.

“No that’s Al Jolson.”

“Who’s Al Jolson?”

“He was a famous entertainer. He made the first talking picture, The Jazz Singer, in 1927.”

“Oh.”

I motioned for Laureen to sit in the chair. “I’ll play one of his songs for you.”

I pulled out my Best of Jolson album and carefully set the needle on the second song, “Toot, Toot, Tootsie.”

 

 

“Toot, toot, Tootsie, Goo’ Bye!

Toot, toot, Tootsie, don’t cry,

The choo choo train that takes me,

Away from you no words can tell how sad it makes me,

Kiss me, Tootsie, and then…

 

“I never heard anyone sing like that before,” she said. “He’s nothing like Elvis or the Beatles.”

“He was the most popular singer of his day before Rock and Roll. When I first heard his voice it touched a nerve and I became addicted.”

“I guess we better get to work,” she said, sounding unimpressed.

“Did you like reading Gatsby?” I asked.

“I haven’t finished reading it yet.”

“Well, what does Willoughby want you to write the essay about?”

“He wants an essay on some of the tragic elements of the novel,” she said, thumbing through her class notes.

“You need to finish reading it first and write down the tragic themes in the book.”

“Such as?”

“One would be Gatsby’s obsessive love for Daisy. Another would be the loss of the American Dream,” I said.

“Okay. I’ll see if I can do that.”

“I have some work to do, too. There’s some soda in the fridge if you get thirsty.”

“Thanks.”

I sat down on the bed to continue reading Kafka’s The Castle for my twentieth-century lit class. She read for about two hours then said she needed a break to go to the bathroom. This was an all-male dorm and each suite only had one bathroom. I told her I’d check to make sure nobody was in there and would wait outside so no one came in.

When we walked back into the room she said, “Aren’t you kinda young to smoke a pipe?”

“No, not really. I don’t like cigarettes and it relaxes me.”

“I don’t like the smell of cigarettes, either.”

“So what do you think you want to write about?” I asked.

“I like your idea about Gatsby’s obsessive love for Daisy.”

“That’s a good theme. Find some examples of how Fitzgerald shows that Gatsby can never get Daisy back again and why it ultimately leads to his death and the death of the American Dream.”

Around 12 o’clock, Laureen looked up at me with tired, brown eyes, and put down the book. “I’m getting sleepy.”

I was just about to ask if she wanted me to walk her back to her dorm, but before I could offer she said, sheepishly, “Can I lie down?”

Astounded, I said, “Um…sure go ahead.”

She looked at me quizzically. “If I take the bed, where are you going to sleep?”

It was a single bed. My mind started racing. Does she intend on sleeping here the entire night?

“Will it be okay with you if I lay down at the opposite end?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said smiling. “You can stay up and work if you want. The light won’t bother me.”

“That’s okay.”

We took off our shoes. I gave her one of my pillows and an extra blanket, closed the door, and turned out the light. I made no move to kiss her and she didn’t offer either. It was a good thing she was short and petite, otherwise this wouldn’t have worked out.

“Goodnight, Jeffrey.”

“Umm…goodnight.”

I lay in the dark thinking how this couldn’t really be happening to me. I couldn’t have planned this even if I tried. I wondered what she was thinking. I’d never shared my bed with anyone before. I was scared stiff lying next to her, afraid to even budge, making sure our bodies didn’t touch. And if I did reach for her, I thought, chuckling to myself, she’d probably fling the covers off and bolt out the door. It was awkward, but at the same time, being this close to her seemed very natural and comfortable. Was she as scared as I was?

She seemed nice, but I wasn’t even sure if I liked her—I mean as a girlfriend. She must really have trusted me, though. Laureen was so different, so authentic and unpretentious, from anyone I’d ever met, nothing like Linda Pincus or Diane Bloom. Neither of us said another word and went to sleep, although I could hear the soft gentle sigh of her breathing.

 

CHAPTER 6

 

 

 

Mattituck Dorm, Monday September 21, 1970, 9 p.m.:

 

Ihitched a ride into Southampton to get the Cliff Notes for The Great Gatsby at the bookstore. I wasn’t going to give it to Laureen, but I thought it would help me give her some good ideas for the essay. I noticed the display for Jack Finney’s new time travel novel Time and Again, so I purchased it.

Laureen and I ate dinner together again, and I suggested she should start working on her essay tonight. She agreed and said she would come by later that evening. I was excited she was going to be coming again, but also a little nervous after she slept over last night. Most of all, I looked forward to helping her with her paper.

I read the notes she had made last night on Gatsby and could see she was having trouble with symbolism and themes in the book. So I typed up some notes for her.

 

*****

 

Gatsby’s love interest, Daisy Buchanan, was a subdued socialite married to the dimwitted Tom Buchanan. The circumstances surrounding Gatsby and Daisy’s relationship kept them eternally apart. For Daisy to be with Gatsby was forbidden, due to the fact that she was married. That very concept of their love being forbidden also made it all the more intense, for the idea of having a prohibited love made it all the more desirable.

Gatsby was remembering back five years to when Daisy was not married and they were together. His heart began to beat faster as Daisy’s white face came up to his own. Then he kissed her. His memory of her was sweet and beautiful. It was obvious that he still was in love with her. He remembered the past and convinced himself that it could be like that once again. He became delusional with love, and he was blinded by it.

 

*****

 

“I wouldn’t ask too much of her,” I (Nick) ventured. “You can’t repeat the past.’’

“Can’t repeat the past?” he (Gatsby) cried incredulously. “Why, of course you can!” He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand. “I’m going to fix everything just the way it was before,” he said, nodding determinedly. “She’ll see.” He talked a lot about the past, and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy.

 

*****

 

Gatsby became delusional with the thought of Daisy. He again thought that he could turn back the hands of time and have everything the same and perfect. The Daisy he met and fell in love with years ago was not the same person anymore, and as much as Gatsby thought that he could repeat the past, in the real world it had been proven impossible. The “ash heap” symbolically was the present, the terrible time where The Great Gatsby takes place—a time, which all hope was lost for the future, and Gatsby’s sacred green light became nothing more than just a light at the end of Daisy’s dock.

 

*****

 

As I waited for her I thought, Do I like Laureen? I had gone to see Linda one night last week in her dorm, but she didn’t seem as warm and friendly as the night of Jacob’s party. Maybe she needed wine and pot to like me.

Laureen arrived around nine o’clock. I kept the door to the suite open again even though there was some loud music coming from another room. I showed her the notes and she was very appreciative. She sat down at the desk and started working. I suggested she start doing a rough draft and then I would read it over. I lay down on the bed and starting reading Time and Again.

I noticed she wore a loose-fitting shirt with jeans, but she kept her hair long, hanging midway down her back. She was a very pretty girl. Laureen seemed introverted, like me, which was why I felt so comfortable and at ease in her presence. I could just be myself.

I was cautious about staring at her, but my eyes kept darting to her uncontrollably, without the subtlest movement of my head from the page to her face. Something about her face captivated me. Then I realized what was different about her and Linda. Perhaps because she grew up in the Bronx, Linda had a crass and impenetrable demeanor, and it showed on her face. Laureen had the face of an extremely sweet person.

“What are you reading?” she asked, catching my eyes in a stare.

Showing her the cover, I said, “I picked up a new time travel novel today.”

“What’s it about?”

“It’s about this guy who goes back in time to the New York of 1882 for a secret government project.”

“Sounds interesting.”

“You can read it when I’m finished if you’d like.”

“Thanks, but first things first.”

Around ten o’clock she said she was getting hungry, so I offered her some soda and chips.

“Tell me about your family,” she said, munching on some chips. “Do you have any brothers or sisters?”

“Just one brother, Norman. He’s eight years older than me. He’s working on his doctorate at Princeton.”

“Are you close with him?”

“I don’t know—not as close as I would like, I guess. He was always away at college when I was growing up. When he was in high school he lived with my mother and I lived with my grandparents.”

“How come?”

“My parents have been separated since I was born. I was a very wild child and my mother couldn’t handle the two of us. Unlike my brother, I could never sit still and just read a book. So I went to live with my grandparents until I was ten and Norman went away to college, then I moved back in with my mother.”

“So your parents are divorced?” she asked.

“They’re just separated, but my father comes over every Saturday. Sometimes I feel like I don’t even have a father. He’s like a stranger.”

“That’s sad. I’m not being too nosey, am I?”

“It’s okay. I’m glad you asked. How about your family?”

“I have five sisters. Two are older than me and married, and three younger sisters. My oldest sister, Diane, is my best friend.”

“You’re very lucky to have such a big family.”

“I guess so, but I didn’t always get the attention from my mom and dad as I would have liked.”

“I wish I had a few more brothers and sisters,” I said. “I always felt so alone growing up. When I was around seven I even had an imaginary friend.”

She picked up the Coke we were sharing and took a sip.

“Funny, but it can still be lonely even with so many people around,” she said, lowering her head.

“Sounds like we have that in common.”

“What does your father do for a living?” she asked.

“He owns a wholesale produce business in the Bronx, Goldberg & DeCurtis Commission Merchants. Anthony DeCurtis is his partner.”

“My mother is a pastry chef and my father manages a papaya plantation. The owner, Mr. Kreg, pays for my tuition.”

“Really?”

“I’m the first one in my family to go to college, but my parents didn’t have the money.”

“That’s very generous of him.”

“I know. Everyone is counting on me to get good grades and graduate with a degree.”

“I’m sure you won’t disappoint them.”

“I hope not.”

We got back to work, and her essay was coming along well. I made a few suggestions that I’d gotten from the Cliff Notes and she continued working. We soon had a brief interruption when Tony, who lived next door, popped his head in to say hello, so I introduced him to Laureen.

About 12 o’clock she asked me to read the draft of her essay again.

“You did a good job discussing one of the tragic themes in the novel,” I said.

“Which one?”

“The idea that love and happiness can’t be bought. Gatsby thought the only way he could win back Daisy was with his money. Even with all of his wealth, he was a lonely and miserable person.”

“Thanks. I feel a little more confident about what I’ve written,” she said, smiling.

“I know what you mean. I did really well in physics in high school, but after attending the first day of college physics, I had no idea what was going on. So I switched my major from Science to English the first week of the semester last year. Then I ended up getting a D in my English Lit class.”

“Oh no.”

“But I got all B’s my second semester.”

“That’s good.”

“You still need to do a little polishing and correct some of the grammar. I found a few comma splices. Like this one here: ‘Daisy didn’t deserve Gatsby’s love, he was loyal to her to the end.’”

“How do I fix it?

“You used the comma incorrectly to splice together two separate sentences. You can either make it two separate sentences or use a semicolon instead of the comma.”

“Okay, I see what you’re saying.”

“I’ll mark the other ones so you can fix them.”

I quickly scanned the essay, marked the two other comma splices, then handed it back to her.

“Thanks,” she said, placing it on the desk. “Is…um…is Linda your girlfriend?”

“She’s just a friend.”

“But I saw you kissing her at Jacob’s Party.”

“You did?” I said, embarrassed by her question. “Well, that was the only time.”

“How come?”

“I don’t think she really likes me. And—”

“She seemed like she did.”

“I don’t have any feelings for her,” I said. “I thought I did.”

“Have you been in a relationship before?”

“Nope.”

“Me neither. I didn’t like any of the guys I knew in Hana. They’re very immature.”

“Interesting, I feel the same way about Jewish girls from the Bronx.”

Later, while still lying on my bed reading, she looked at me with those big, brown eyes and said she was getting sleepy. Without saying a word she crawled over me and lay down on the other side of the bed like she had last night. She asked if I would set the alarm for seven because she had an eight a.m. lab. I handed her a pillow and said goodnight, then closed the door and turned off the light. There was a chill in the room, so I covered her with the blanket. I got under it, too.

Once again, I lay in the dark and thought this couldn’t be happening to me. Here I was with this sweet, somewhat-naive girl I’d just met, lying in my bed. We were both under the blanket together, fully clothed, except for our shoes. For the first time I asked myself if I could really like this gorgeous Asian-looking person. I wasn’t sure, but I figured she must like me to stay in my room for the second night. We hardly knew each other but in a way, I felt like I had known her my entire life. I shut my eyes and enjoyed her closeness.

 

CHAPTER 7

 

 

 

Mattituck Dorm, Tuesday, September 22, 1970:

 

Laureen left her copy of Gatsby and her notes on my desk, so I knew she would be back. She came by around eight-thirty, stuck her head in the doorway, and vivaciously said, “Hi!” beaming a heart-melting smile.

She was wearing a very tight lavender-purple top that was sleeveless, and for the first time I saw that her breasts were large and firm. Her upper arms and shoulders were exposed, and she had the most beautiful skin I’d ever seen—golden brown and it seemed to glow. She wore no makeup again. Her long, shiny hair was parted down the middle and hung down her back.

“That color looks nice on you,” I said nervously. “Everything is set up for you.”

“Thank you.”

I hadn’t thought much about having a relationship with Laureen until tonight. She looked so sexy in that tight blouse, and the color of her dark, golden skin really turned me on. I tried really hard not to stare too much, so I picked up Time and Again and continued reading where I’d left off last night.

I already had the Smith-Corona out on the desk waiting for her. She started typing slowly. The sound of the typewriter keys clacking against the paper echoed off the cement block walls, making it difficult for me to read. My eyes kept darting uncontrollably up from the book to admire her. I hoped she wouldn’t catch me gawking. Each time she made an error, she mumbled quietly under her breath.

“Do you have anything to correct mistakes?”

“Top drawer. There’s some Liquid Paper.”

“Oh Good.”

She finished about ten o’clock. I read her essay and found a few typos that she corrected. She might get a B or B plus because Willoughby was stingy giving out A’s.

“Excellent job, Miss Tanaka. I’m giving you an A.”

“That’s Ms. Tanaka, if you don’t mind, professor,” she said, grinning.

“Would you like to share a package of Hostess cupcakes and some milk?” I asked.

“Mmmm. That sounds good.”

I removed the plastic wrapper. The scent of sweet chocolate cake and frosting wafted up my nose. I handed her a cupcake and we passed the milk carton back and forth.

“Thank you so much for helping me with this,” she said, taking a bite. “Don’t know if I could have done it by myself.”

“You did most of it yourself. All I did was give you some ideas.”

“How come your parents separated after you were born?”

Her question caught me by surprise. I didn’t really like to talk about my parents, but I was glad she was interested. When I was growing up, I did my best to hide the fact that my father didn’t live with us. I was the only kid I knew who didn’t have a father living at home. I told my friends he worked at night and slept during the day, which was true, only not in our apartment.

“It’s a long story, but my father got involved with another woman and left.”

“Why didn’t they divorce?”

“That’s a good question. I wish they had,” I said, passing her the milk. “Maybe my mother would have remarried.”

“I feel sorry for your mom,” she said. “And your dad still comes every Saturday?”

“Yeah. He comes to the house to pick up my mom even though I’m not there. He takes her out to dinner and then over to visit my grandmother. Sometimes they’ll drive out and visit me. They have a very strange relationship. They still argue a lot, even now. It wasn’t always fun growing up. After he’d leave on Saturday evening, he would drive back to where he lived with his girlfriend. To tell you the truth, I couldn’t wait for him to go. There’s always so much tension when my parents are together.”

“There was a lot of fighting in our house too, but just us kids.”

We sat silently for a few minutes, but it didn’t seem awkward. She never took her eyes from me.

“I’m making you blush,” she said.

“No, you’re not,” I said, grinning.

“You have a nice smile.”

“So do you,” I said.

She got up from the chair, moved over to the bed, sitting down next to me. We gazed into each other’s eyes, but neither of us said a word. Her dark luminous eyes had a soft seductive look.

“You have beautiful blue eyes,” she said softly.

“You have gorgeous brown eyes.”

She gently rubbed the corner of my mouth with her finger. “Chocolate,” she said.

Her eyes invited me to kiss her. I saw a hint of desire and lust in them, and I felt that for her, too. I brushed some strands of hair away from her face, running my fingertips over her dark, smooth skin. Her thick voluptuous lips waited for me. We kissed gently, almost cautiously. Then we kissed again, and again, only longer and harder now. Without saying a word, she got up and took her shoes off, and so did I. She lay down on the bed and pulled me down on top of her.

She pressed her face into mine. We kissed much harder and she opened her mouth for me. Her tongue entered my mouth as mine explored hers. I felt her big front teeth. The taste of chocolate cake intoxicated me. We kissed for a long, long time, our tongues dancing. She let me into her world, into her life, into her heart, and I let her into mine. I knew I truly cared for her. I gently kissed the soft flesh of her neck, nibbling her ear, and she moaned.

She took my hand, slid it under her blouse and under her bra. I caressed and kneaded her breasts. I moved my head down to her chest and pulled up her blouse, then she yanked up her bra, exposing her breasts, letting me be the first to explore their pleasure. I kissed, sucked, and squeezed her large, soft breasts. Her nipples instantly grew hard and erect between my fingertips. Gently, I flicked them with my tongue, nibbling each one, causing her to squirm.

“Mmmmm,” she moaned loudly. “Take your shirt off.”

We both got up and removed our shirts. Then I took my pipe lighter and lit the red candle on my desk that I bought last year, waiting, hoping for this night, for just this moment. Now that was the only light in the room. The flickering flame’s light reflected off her golden-skinned chest. My eyes darted across her alluring features, to her eyes, to her mouth, to her lips, to her breasts. I reached for her shoulders and drew her close to my chest, embracing her, touching her, feeling her quiver in my arms.

“You’re very beautiful. I like you so much,” I said.

“I like you, too, Jeffrey.”

She gently pushed me onto the bed and got on top of me. We kissed ferociously, our tongues touching, penetrating each other’s mouths, licking, nibbling, and biting. She rubbed her breasts over my chest, her stiff nipples against mine. I was so hard now. She let them swing over my face, to my mouth, to my lips. Her sensual gasps, moans, and soft sighs echoed mine. I could tell she felt my hardness between her legs, through our jeans, but I wasn’t embarrassed and she didn’t protest. Rhythmically, she massaged me back and forth with her pelvis until every nerve in my body was heightened and reveling in sexual ecstasy, ready to burst.

“Mmmmmm.”

“Did I make you cum?” she asked, coyly.

“Mhm, mhmm…”

“Good.”

Afterward, she rolled over me onto her side to my left and we cuddled up close to each other. I put my right arm around her and held her breasts. We kissed each other goodnight and I covered us with the blanket. For the first time in my life I found someone, I could fall in love with.

The next morning we walked to Wood Hall for breakfast and I held Laureen’s hand for the first time. I liked the way her small hand fit perfectly into mine. I felt a little self-conscious, walking across the campus holding this Asian-looking girl’s hand as the other students stared at us, but I didn’t care.

 

*****

 

Several weeks later ~ October 21^st^:

 

We were inseparable. One evening after we had gone to bed, I suddenly awoke in the middle of the night. I looked at my watch. It was three a.m. And I knew it. For the first time I knew…

I crawled over Laureen, trying not to disturb her, and turned on the desk lamp, adjusting the flexible neck downward. I took a yellow pad and started to write. I chose the words…Hold onto this moment, because I wanted time to stop, so I could have this night and hold this moment forever. I wanted to keep this feeling my entire life. I had no idea where all this was going. Laureen made me feel special, and I wanted to share my dreams, desires, and even my secrets with her. I wanted to be connected to her. I wrote, For Laureen…With Love, Jeffrey, and dated it. I neatly tore that small section of the page, folded it, and placed it in the pocket of my bell-bottom jeans. Then went back to bed.

We didn’t get up until eleven. The sun shone brightly through the window and it was hot. Neither of us had classes today. Laureen wanted to wash her hair, so I waited outside the bathroom door while she took a shower making sure none of the other students from the suite entered. We got dressed and walked down to Wood Hall for lunch. No jackets needed today. Afterward, we decided to go for a walk.

All over the campus, the leaves on the trees had turned beautiful shades of gold and brown and red. It was a beautiful autumn day but it felt like summer. Small groups of students were scattered, some hanging out on benches or lying in the grass soaking up the warm rays of sun. We held hands as we ran down the long, gentle grassy hill adjacent to the main driveway of the Administration Building. Laureen’s freshly washed, long, brown hair blew wildly in the wind. We laughed hard and loud as we chased and caught and playfully kissed each other. All the while, I had this overwhelming feeling that I didn’t have a care in the world.

This must be heaven, I thought. This must be heaven. We collapsed on our backs from exhaustion in the thick, lush grass.

“Is this what you call Indian summer?” she asked.

“Uh-huh.”

“The seasons don’t change on Maui. Its always summer.”

“I went to Miami last year during Christmas break. It was warm like this everyday.”

“You should come home with me sometime.”

“I’d like to go to Hana with you.” I leaned over her and kissed her passionately.

“Mmmmm,” she moaned.

For the first time the words flowed perfectly from my lips. “I love you Laureen Tanaka.”

She opened her big brown eyes and looked deeply into mine. “I love you, Jeffrey.”

I reached in my pocket and removed the folded paper. “I wrote this for you last night.”

“I thought I felt you get up.”

She opened the note and read aloud…

 

“For Laureen…

Hold onto this moment

while I suck on passion fruit

from Aloha State

 

With love, Jeffrey

October 21, 1970

 

She read the haiku again.

“It’s so beautiful.”

“I don’t know if you can understand this,” I said. “But for the first time in my life I don’t feel all alone in the world.”

“Yes, I do. I feel that way, too.”

CHAPTER 8

 

 

 

November 14, 1970, Our First Fight:

 

Laureen and I ate dinner at Wood Hall with Jacob and a few other members of International House. Afterward, I attended a literary society meeting. The guest tonight was playwright Edward Albee. Laureen had some studying to do, so I gave her the key to my room and told her I would see her later that evening.

I got back around ten o’clock. As soon as I walked into my room, Laureen confronted me in a very angry voice. “I was looking in your drawer for a snack and found your girly magazines. They’re filthy and disgusting!”

My dresser drawer where I kept the magazines was wide open. Blood rushed to my head. She’d exposed my dark secret.

“So what’s the big deal?” I asked, trying to appear calm and nonchalant.

“I threw them all out in the garbage!” she said in a spiteful tone.

“You had no right to go through my things and throw them out! How would like it if I went through your draws and got rid of stuff I didn’t like?”

I’d never yelled at her before. I ran outside to the back of the dorm and looked in the garbage can. They weren’t there. I had a nice collection of magazines I had gotten this past summer while working at Peterson’s Pipe Shop on Forty-second Street. During my lunch break, I would walk down toward Times Square and browse the adult bookstores.

I went back upstairs. “Someone already took them out of the garbage.”

“Good, I’m glad!” she yelled.

I’d never seen Laureen angry before and it scared me. Her face turned a furious red. I was afraid to look at her. Her features transformed in front of me. Her beautiful face became ugly and distorted. Large creases appeared on her forehead. Her soft eyes narrowed and glared at me with disdain. The muscles around her mouth and chin tightened, causing her lips to thicken even more, evoking the same fear and dread I remembered as a child when Dr. Jeykll’s face transformed into that terrifying monster Hyde.

“Why do you need them, anyway? If I don’t satisfy you, tell me now and I’ll get out of your life,” she said. “I even masturbate you when you ask me!”

I was so angry I didn’t care if everyone in the suite heard us argue. “It has nothing to do with you satisfying me,” I yelled. “I use them when I get horny, when you’re not here. I like to see other women nude. What’s the big deal?” I felt my blood boiling. I still couldn’t believe she went through my things and threw them out.

“It makes me feel like I’m your whore! That all you want me for is sex.”

“Come on, Laureen. That’s ridiculous. Don’t be such a prude. And another thing—I don’t want you to go to Hilary’s for Thanksgiving! I want you to spend it with me.”

“I’m not a prude! And I already accepted her invitation to spend Thanksgiving weekend with her family, so I’m going! I don’t have to spend every minute with you. You don’t own me, Jeffrey Goldberg!” she hollered. She started to cry. Then she put on her jacket, threw the door opened, and screamed, “If you need that crap, then you don’t need me!” She slammed the door so hard the cement walls of the suite reverberated.

I stood there, stunned, gripping the desk for support. I couldn’t believe what just happened. I felt like shit for making her cry, but she shouldn’t have been snooping around in my drawers. She had no right to throw out my magazines. A wave of emotions flowed through me. I was so embarrassed and, at the same time, I felt cheap and worthless.

Tony came into my room and asked if everything was okay.

“I think we just broke up,” I said.

I needed to release my anger and noticed the honeydew melon my father brought last weekend sitting on my top of my fridge waiting to ripen. I grabbed it, went out into the suite, and threw it against the wall. It splat into chunks, leaving seeds and flesh and juice all over the wall and floor. The other students opened their doors to see the cause of the commotion. Everyone laughed at the mess then returned to their rooms. What really upset me was how we argued just like my parents. I could even hear my mother’s voice repeating those words in my head, ‘You’re just like your father.’

I left my dorm, feeling dirty and humiliated, and walked over to Montauk Dorm just as the cold fog started to move in, thinking maybe it was the best thing to break up with Laureen now before we got too attached. We’d only been together for two months and everything had been going great.

I knocked on Linda’s door. “It’s open,” she hollered. I stepped inside. She was in her nightgown. “Gee, I wasn’t expecting you. Been seeing you and that Hawaiian girl around campus holding hands. Is it serious?”

“Her name is Laureen. I think I’m in love with her.”

“Really?” she said, looking surprised.

I thought she might be jealous but showed no emotion, confirming that she never really care about me.

“We just had a big fight,” I said, sulking.

“What about?”

I was too embarrassed to tell her the real reason so I said, “She was invited to spend Thanksgiving weekend with Hilary, a girl from her suite, but I wanted her to spend it with me.”

Sitting there with Linda felt so different from being with Laureen. I didn’t feel comfortable or at ease, and I suddenly realized why she was so different from Linda and all the girls I’d ever met. Laureen had this sweetness and innocence about her. Even after this stupid argument, I knew which one I wanted.

“Sounds to me like you’re getting very possessive.”

“I don’t think it’s possessive to want to spend Thanksgiving with someone you care about.”

“Well, maybe you’re just going too fast for her,” she said.

“I don’t know.”

“Why don’t you apologize and tell her to go to Hilary’s and have a good time?”

“I’ll think about it,” I said.

“Jeff, I have an early class.”

“Okay, sorry to bother you so late. Thanks for the advice.”

I was still angry and upset, not quite ready to apologize yet, so I walked back to my dorm. The fog was so thick I was unable to see more than a few yards ahead. When I opened the door, I saw a note lying on the floor.

I sat down on the bed and read…

 

Dear Jeffrey,

Please accept my apologies for hurting your feelings. Oh, how much I wanted to be held in your arms and comforted but my mind was in such a state. I wish to describe it as confusion and doubt, and there was so much tension in me that it blocked all my feelings. Please don’t feel that I have no feelings for you.

I cried because you could control me and push me around. I felt like a rag doll. It hurts when someone pushes me and does it repeatedly. This made you seem so cold, wanting to hurt me so that you would get satisfaction. I was stubborn and mad. You are an intruder in my world of fantasy. I want you. My world of fantasy says to keep you out. I am in a battle. I won. I love you, Jeffrey Goldberg.

Then you treat me like a rag doll. You made me feel like you were taking advantage of me. I would like to talk with you and explain it. I feel that you would just get a vague idea of what I am saying because I tend to have a difficult time explaining things.

Love,

Laureen

 

I read the note several times to make sense of it. It felt like I had just been punched in the gut during a fistfight and had the wind knocked out of me. I felt even worse about myself after reading the letter. I got up, looked at myself in the mirror, and didn’t like the person I saw staring back. I felt very small and insignificant, like a child who had just been scolded for doing something bad. I didn’t feel worthy of Laureen’s love. Maybe I didn’t deserve her.

How could I be so mean and nasty to someone who loved me?

I folded up the note and wrote down today’s date on the back. I was going to keep it forever, to remember why I’d hurt her, and hope that I’d never do it again.

At eleven thirty, I decided to go see Laureen and apologize. I walked back over to Montauk Dorm and knocked on her door. Her roommate, Marjorie, opened the door and looked very mad.

“Sorry to wake you up, but I need to speak to Laureen.”

“Can you please go out in the suite and talk?” she said angrily.

Laureen came to the door. Her eyes were puffy, as if she had been crying for the past couple of hours. My stomach lurched.

“I need to talk to you,” I said. We went out into the suite and sat down on the couch. I started to say, “Laureen, I read your note. I’m so sorry—” but tears cut off my words.

I buried my face in her shoulder, too ashamed to look at her. She began crying too.

“It’s all right. Everything will be all right,” she said, softly rubbing the nape of my neck.

I looked up into her eyes. “I love you with all my heart Laureen Tanaka. Please forgive me for being so mean.”

“I love you too, Jeffrey.”

“I—I couldn’t bear it if we broke up.”

“Maybe I overreacted about those magazines. I guess if I had an older brother, I wouldn’t have been so shocked.”

“That’s okay. I want you to go to Hilary’s for Thanksgiving and have a good time.”

“Thank you for understanding,” she said. “I was thinking maybe we could meet up with you in Manhattan on Friday or Saturday.”

“That would be great!”

“I really want to spend tonight with you, but Marjorie would be pissed if you stayed here.”

“I want to be with you, too.”

“Wait here. I’ll get dressed.”

We walked back to my dorm, the campus eerily silent, still, and somber this time of night. The cold, thick, damp fog from Shinnecock Bay enclosed us like a shroud. We took the shortcut by the windmill, stepping cautiously across the darkened dirt path. A frigid gust of wind slapped us harshly across the face. I felt Laureen tremble and wrapped my arm tightly around her to keep her warm. We’d survived our first big fight.

 

CHAPTER 9

 

 

 

December 13, 1970:

 

We were in my dorm room studying for final exams when there was a knock on the door. “It’s open,” I yelled.

Tony walked in. “Hey, Jeff. Your mom is on the phone.”

“Thanks, Tony.” I turned to Laureen. “Be right back.”

When I walked back in, Laureen asked, “Is everything okay?”

“No. Everything’s not okay!”

“What’s wrong? You look very upset.”

“My mom said I got a notice from the draft board to register by the end of February and show up for a physical exam.”

“I thought you had a student deferment.”

“So did I. But according to the letter, I don’t have enough credits and I lost my deferment.”

“Oh no! What are you going to do?”

“Well, I know one thing—I’m not going to Vietnam. That fuck Nixon promised he would end the goddamn war. I might have to go to Canada to evade the draft.”

“Jeffrey!”

“Can you imagine me being in combat with my high-strung personality? I would shoot the first thing I saw move.”

“How can you go to Canada? Do you know anyone there?”

“No. But it’s better than going to prison as a draft dodger here. I told my mother to send me the letter. I think one of the professors is a draft counselor.

“Who?”

“I’ll find out who it is and go see him tomorrow. Try not to worry yet, okay?”

“I’ll try but…”

The next day I went to see Dr. Hitchcock. He was a psych professor and the campus draft advisor. He said he needed to see the letter first before he could offer any advice. I came back a few days later with the letter.

“I have a few weeks to work on this before you need to register,” he said. “I’ll see what I can do for you.”

“What do you have in mind?”

“Right now there are a series of challenges to the draft under Section 20. Lawsuits have been filed, asking the court for an injunction to stop the selective service process. That’s probably our best bet. I have some other things I can try to do for you, so hang tight.”

“Okay, but I’m really worried. This is really stressing me out.”

My head was spinning and I thought I’d be sick. It really hit me now, coming here to see Dr. Hitchcock. I was in serious trouble by not keeping up with my credits. There was just no way I could go into combat. I just couldn’t.

“I know. I’ll be in touch.”

“Thanks. I really appreciate your help.”

The next day I met Laureen at her dorm room around six o’clock to attend the International House’s Christmas party at the campus Conference Center. It was a buffet dinner. We’d made a pineapple-upside-down cake earlier that day using the kitchen in the Social Science Building. I carried the pan with the cake, and she slipped her arm through mine as we walked. While it had been a nice day, I couldn’t get that draft letter out of my head. I was so worried and scared that I’d have to go to Vietnam. I didn’t want to be one of those guys you’d see on the news who came home in a body bag.

“Jeffrey, I hope you’re not going to get upset, but Peter, my biology lab partner, invited me to spend Christmas with his family in Philadelphia.”

My heart plummeted. I was already under a lot of stress, and I didn’t like where this conversation was going. This was the first time I ever heard Laureen mention this guy.

“And what did you tell him?” I asked.

“I told him that I wanted to discuss it with you first. He’s gonna show me all the historic sites. It’s only for five days, and then I’ll spend the rest of the time with you.”

I couldn’t believe she was even going to consider this after she’d spent Thanksgiving with Hilary, even though that actually turned out to be a nice weekend. On the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, I’d met up with Laureen and Hilary at Penn Station and we ate hot dogs at Nathan’s in Times Square. Then we went to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum and the arcade next door to play some games. Later we stopped at Howard Johnson’s for ice cream before walking them back to Penn Station so they could catch the last train to Bellmore at ten thirty.

I shivered in the winter air. Why is she doing this to me again?

“You’re going to spend five days with another guy,” I said, trying to control my jealousy.

“He’s just a friend,” she said, rubbing my hand. “You have female friends like Linda, don’t you? And anyway, you don’t celebrate Christmas.”

I thought it best not to make an issue out of this and spoil the evening. She was going to go no matter what I wanted, so I swallowed my pride. Anyway, Laureen had never given me any reason not to trust her.

“I guess it’s okay with me if you want to go,” I said.

Still, I felt my heart crack a little. I didn’t want to suffocate her, but I wished she could see how much this hurt me.

She squeezed my arm affectionately. “Thank you, sweetheart.”

 

*****

 

Christmas Eve Day:

 

I’d finally gotten an idea for Laureen’s Christmas present. I checked the phone book and found a music box store on Sixty-Fifth and Madison. They specialized in handmade Viennese music boxes. I took the subway from the Bronx to Times Square. It was Christmas Eve day, and the streets of Manhattan were packed with frenzied last-minute shoppers. I headed over to Madison and then north to Sixty-Fifth Street, quickly weaving my way in and out of the crowds of pedestrians. I was an expert at this technique—you had to be, growing up in New York. I looked for the numbers 333 or a sign for the Music Box Attic. I found the doorway leading up a long flight of stairs. I opened the door to the office and entered a large room filled with hundreds of music boxes in various sizes displayed tables and shelves.

An old man approached me and in a German accent said, “Good afternoon. How can I help you today?”

“I’d like to get a music box for my girlfriend,” I said.

“How much would you like to spend?”

“I don’t know. What’s the price range?”

“They start at $10 for the small ones and up to $500 for the very large boxes.”

“How about something like a jewelry box.”

“That would run about $30-$200.” He walked over to a shelf. “These are all handmade in Austria.”

I picked one up from the shelf. I could see it was very well made. I opened it up and the tune “Edelweiss” from The Sound of Music played. The next one I picked played “Lara’s Theme” from the movie Dr. Zhivago. Then I picked up another one with a beautiful rose inlay. It played “A Time For Us” from the movie Romeo & Juliet.

I looked the box over to make sure there were no scratches. There was a price tag of $50 on the bottom.

“I think I’ll take this one,” I said.

I was sure Laureen would love it. I handed him fifty dollars. I couldn’t wait to see her face when she opened her present.

He pulled a heavy cardboard box from under the table then placed the music box inside. “Make sure when you clean the outside wood that you only use a damp cloth, no chemicals.”

“Can we let the music play until it stops so it doesn’t play in the box?” I asked.

We sat there for a few moments while the music slowed and stopped.

“She will enjoy this for many years to come,” he said, smiling with pride. “Have a wonderful Christmas, young man, and a happy New Year’s.”

“Thank you. You, too,” I said, leaving the shop.

I walked back to Forty-Second Street with a skip in my step, excited about the gift I had just purchased. I couldn’t wait until Tuesday when I could give it to her. Before getting on the subway, I stopped by Peterson’s Pipe Shop, across the street from Grand Central Station, where I worked the past two summers. The small store was crowded with last-minute shoppers. I wished Harold, Carl, and Victor happy holidays and bought two tins of Dunhill’s Royal Yacht pipe tobacco for myself.

 

*****

 

Tuesday, December 29^th^:

 

Laureen arrived in the Bronx late Tuesday afternoon, from Philly. I handed her the box wrapped in Christmas paper, green ribbon, and a large red bow and kissed her. “Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukah.”

She took the box and shook it, but there was no sound. With a huge smile on her face, she opened the card and read it. Then she took off the bow, removed the ribbon, and tore off the wrapping paper. She peeled the tape off the lid and opened the box.

I sat there, my legs shaking in anticipation. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.

With wide eyes, she removed the music box. “Oh Jeffrey, it’s so beautiful.” Then she turned the key. “A Time For Us,” started to play. Tears filled her eyes. “I will always treasure this. Thank you so much.”

She leaned over and kissed me softly. Then she handed me a large funny-shaped triangular box wrapped in Hanukah paper. I couldn’t imagine what was inside. I tore off the paper. It was a record, which I never would have guessed, Ray Conniff’s Hawaiian Album.

She wasn’t expecting such an expensive gift from me. I was happy receiving the record, but I was touched when she said she would always treasure the music box. I could’ve given her jewelry, but I wanted to give her a gift that would bind us together, always.

The next evening we went to see The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center. During intermission, we went into the lobby and bought a small wooden soldier for a souvenir.

On New Year’s Eve we took the train into Manhattan and had dinner. We walked down Broadway, making our way to Times Square, stopping at a liquor store to buy a half bottle of champagne. It was a freezing cold New York winter’s night, and I held Laureen close to me to keep her warm. There was no traffic allowed on Broadway that night, only the swarm of people inside the barricades.

By eleven-thirty the huge crowd was huddled together. Everyone around us was a stranger, but we all waited in anticipation for the crystal ball to drop. All you could do was move your head and arms as the bodies of 500,000 people pressed together. We watched the ball descend. Everyone in the crowd counting down. “10…9…8…Happy New Years!”

I’d never seen this before in person, and it was special sharing it with Laureen. At the stroke of midnight I said, “I love you,” and we kissed.

“I love you, too,” she yelled in my ear.

It was a very long, beautiful, passionate kiss to welcome in 1971. We sipped champagne from plastic glasses and cuddled together in the freezing cold.

 

CHAPTER 10

 

 

 

January 8, 1971:

 

We returned to Southampton after the Christmas holiday and found that my stereo and records had been stolen from my dorm room. But the fireworks started after we got our grades for the fall semester. We were on the lower level of the student center getting our mail.

“Shit!” Laureen exclaimed, after opening the envelope.

“What’s wrong?”

“Three C’s and a D. That’s what’s wrong! My parents are gonna to freak out when they see this.”

I cringed. Then went over to my box and opened it, removing the envelope.

“Let’s see yours,” she said. “You took two incompletes. You never told me that.”

“I thought it best not to tell you.”

“I can’t take this anymore!”

“What?”

“I feel like a failure.”

“You’re not a failure,” I said softly.

“I am and you’re not helping, either.”

“What’s that suppose to mean?”

“I spend too much with you when I should be studying.”

“So it’s all my fault that you got poor grades.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Yes you did!”

“I never got grades like this in high school.”

“What did you get the D in?”

“Marine science. That’s my major, too.”

Her eyes started to tear. Her face flushed bright red and she burst out crying. I went to hug her but she jerked away.

“Don’t touch me!” she yelled.

Her words echoed through the hallway of the student center. Several students turned to look, causing me immediate embarrassment. She quickly walked to the exit. I followed behind her.

She turned with a nasty expression and said, “I want to be left alone right now.”

I went to her dorm room around six o’clock, hoping she cooled off so we could go to dinner but she wasn’t there. I didn’t see her in the dining room and I was waiting there until it closed at eight. I walked back to her dorm room and knocked. She opened the door. “What do you want?”

“I didn’t see you in the dining room.”

“I got something at the snack bar and went to the library.”

“I’m really sorry about your grades, but I don’t think you should be taking it out on me,” I said, sitting down next to her on the bed.

“Don’t get comfortable because you not staying tonight!” she said harshly.

“I see you’re still in a rotten mood.”

“There’s a lot of pressure on me to get good grades. I told you Mr. Kreg pays for my tuition and room and board. How does it look when I get a D in my major?”

“A lot of students struggle the first semester. It’s an adjustment coming from high school,” I said.

“I thought about it all day and I think it would be better if we broke up.”

“Because you got bad grades, you want to break up?”

“Even when we try to study together there are always distractions.”

“Like what?”

“You want me to be with you every minute. I have to go to literary society meetings with you or some International House event. I even helped you run for student government when I should’ve been studying.”

“I know we spent a lot of time together the last couple of months, but never once did you say to me you want to be alone to study for an exam.”

“And all you want to do is have sex.”

“So now it’s about sex. I know you’re very upset right now. I wish I could help you with your courses but I can’t. If you are struggling, maybe you should find someone to tutor you.”

“I made up my mind. I don’t think we should see each other anymore.”

“Don’t you think I want to see you do well?”

“I guess—”

“So it means nothing that I love you?” I said, reaching for her hand.

She stiffened at my touch. Then took a deep breath. “I’m not sure of anything right now.”

I got up and blurted out with disgust, “If you really want to break up, that’s fine with me!”

I didn’t mean it, but I was furious, hoping it would return the hurt she’d caused me. I waited anxiously at the door for a response. Maybe breaking up was the best thing for both of us, I thought before I left. She didn’t stop me. The next day I put a note under her door and left without saying goodbye.

I’m getting a ride to the city to buy a new stereo and replace my records. Be back in a few days.

When I got to the Bronx, I called Linda Pincus, who was home for the winter break, and asked if she wanted to go to the movies. We were just friends now and I felt more comfortable being with her. I picked her up at six o’clock. We took the train into Manhattan and went to Ray’s Pizza for dinner. We went to see Love Story the big hit of the season. I returned home around eleven o’clock. My mother told me Laureen had called several times and to call her back tonight. It was urgent!

Laureen must have been waiting by the dorm phone, which was on the second floor, because she picked it up right away. She sounded extremely agitated and her voice was cracking. “Where were you? I called three times?”

“I was out with some of my friends,” I said.

“What’s wrong? You sound very upset? If it’s about the fight we had, I’m really sorry. I don’t want us to break up. I just said that because I was angry.” She started crying. “Can you come back here tonight? I need you.”

“Why? What’s going on? Are you okay?”

“Nooo! When can you come back?” she said through sobs.

“I can’t get back there tonight,” I said. “There’s no way my dad can leave the market now. I’ll see if he can drive me back in the morning, okay?”

“All right. All right.”

“Laureen, please tell me why you’re so upset. You’re really worrying me.”

She paused for a moment. My heart plummeted. I knew her well enough to know that something was terribly wrong. Finally she said, “I don’t want to tell you over the phone. I will tell you in person.”

 

*****

January 9, 1971, Laureen’s Room, Southold Dorm:

 

It was around three o’clock when I got back to Southampton. Laureen had moved into a single at Southold dorm so we could be together without her pesky roommate. When she opened the door, her face was very red and swollen. She hugged and kissed me. Then she burst into tears.

“What’s wrong?” I asked. I had no idea what was going on, but I knew it couldn’t be good.

“Sit down,” she said, slumping on the floor by my feet. “I was very depressed and lonely when you left after our fight. I realized it wasn’t fair to blame you because I got bad grades.”

“No, you’re right to be upset. I am partly to blame. I neglected my classes too with all this student government stuff I’m involved with, and all the time we spend together.”

“The other night I ran into one of my classmates in the library, and he saw I was upset—”

“Who was it?” I snapped.

“He was just being nice and invited me up to his room,” she said, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand. “I didn’t see any harm in going, and one thing led to another—”

“And?”

“I had sex with him.”

My world stopped for a moment, and the only thing I could feel was the pounding of my heart, forcing the blood to rush up to my head. Tears burned my eyes. I turned to Laureen and said in a whisper, “Who was it?”

“I’m not going to tell you who it was. God, I—I’m so ashamed. I feel so guilty.” She hugged me. “I love you so much. Can you ever forgive me?”

I just sat there in disbelief. Hurt, I stared at her, thinking about what to say or do. Should I yell? Should I get mad? Should I walk out? She bitched about finding my magazines and then she cheats on me.

Could I ever trust her again? Would things ever be the same between us? Anger swirled through me, then pain and sadness. I loved Laureen so much, more than anyone. I could never hate her. And that was the problem. No matter what she did to me I couldn’t hate her. I wasn’t sure what to say. I just cried along with her.

She continued sobbing and sniffling. I wiped the tears from her eyes, embraced her, and kissed her. “Of course, I forgive you.”

I really didn’t think it was such a big deal. It’s not like we were married. I’d been curious about having sex with other girls, too. I looked at other girls all the time, even fantasized about having sex with them. It was only natural, but it didn’t mean I didn’t love Laureen.

“I promise—I’ll never do anything like that to you again.”

“Don’t you know that there’s nothing you can do that will make me stop loving you?”

She turned her beautiful wide-eyed face to me. “I love you, Jeffrey. Make love to me,” she pleaded.

 

CHAPTER 11

 

 

 

February 4, 1971:

 

Ifound a note in my mailbox from Professor Hitchcock to come by his office. He handed me a card that said 4-F status: physically or psychologically unfit for military service.

“What does this mean?” I asked.

“It means that you never have to worry about the draft again, ever.”

“You’re kidding.”

“No.”

I sighed in relief. “I don’t know how to thank you, Professor Hitchcock.”

“That’s what I’m here for.”

“So I don’t have to show up at the draft board either?

“Nope. As far as they’re concerned, you’re ineligible.”

“That’s fantastic! I was seriously thinking about going to Canada. I don’t know how to thank you.”

“Glad I could help,” he said.

I ran back to the dorms to find Laureen and tell her the news, but she wasn’t in my room or hers.

Today was my twentieth birthday. My dad sent me a check for fifty dollars. Hard to believe, but I was no longer a teenager. I hoped Laureen wasn’t going to throw me a surprise party. I went by her room several times, but she wasn’t around and that made me suspicious. I’d gotten a job working in the cafeteria to make extra money and had to be at work at four o’clock. I got Tony a job there, too. Our duties included picking up trays, cleaning the tables, and keeping the milk and soda machines filled.

Everything was going smoothly tonight until seven o’clock when shit hit the fan, literally. It spread from one end of the cafeteria to the other, like a crowd wave at Yankee Stadium. Food went flying through the air, hitting the walls, and ending up on the tables, and all over the floor. It was disgusting. Of course, I had participated in a few food fights last year when I was a freshman. It was a lot of fun then. All Tony and I could do was stand there and watch.

 

 

“Would you believe this?” I said. “It’s gonna take all fuckin’ night to clean up this shit. And today’s my birthday.”

“Why don’t you go?” Tony said. “I’ll clean up.”

“No way. I can’t let you clean this by yourself.”

“It’s okay. Don’t worry about it. Just go. Laureen’s waiting for you.”

“Thanks, but I’m staying to help you. Fuck. They had to serve spaghetti tonight!”

Some of the kitchen staff came out to help with the cleanup. Getting the spaghetti off the damn walls took the longest. We finished up about nine o’clock and walked back to Mattituck. I cleaned up a little and then went over to find Laureen. When I entered her suite, she was sitting on the couch. She escorted me over to Mrs. Skinner’s apartment on the other side of her dorm. The vacant suite had been converted to an apartment. A full kitchen had been installed. Mrs. Skinner moved in with her three young children. She was a professor and was divorced from her husband who was also a professor in the psyche department.

“How come you’re so late?” she asked.

“Food fight. But I have great news. I won’t be getting drafted and I won’t have to run off to Canada. I’m officially 4-F.”

“What’s that?”

“It means the military doesn’t want nut cases like me.”

“Really?”

“Yep”

“I’ve been so worried.”

“So I guess I’m all yours,” I said, hugging her.

“Thank God. Okay, now sit down, birthday boy.”

“Where is everyone?”

“Mrs. Skinner took the kids to the library.”

She went into the kitchen and came back a few minutes later carrying a beautiful cake with chocolate icing. Twenty candles were burning and Happy Birthday To My Sweetheart was written in green icing.

Laureen sang happy birthday even though she had a terrible singing voice. It was very touching. The cake was chocolate. It was scrumptious. This was better than any present, but then she took out a box wrapped in birthday paper. I opened it. Inside was Kui Lee’s Extraordinary Hits.

We left some cake for Mrs. Skinner and the kids. Afterward, we went back to my dorm and gave Tony a piece of cake.

“I need to take a shower. I stink from spaghetti. Another food fight tonight,” I said.

“I thought you smelled kinda’ funny. Let’s take one together,” she said.

We took a quick shower. Then took the record out of the sleeve, put it on the phonograph, lit two candles, and turned off the lights.

Laureen parted her hair on the side, the way I liked it, instead of down the middle. Something so simple as that made her look even sexier. I gave her a long, passionate kiss.

“Thank you for the wonderful surprise. I thought you might have been up to something today,” I said, removing her towel. The glow of the candles enhanced her golden skin.

“May you have many, many more wonderful birthdays, Jeffrey.”

“Without the food fights,” I said, grinning.

I felt her long hair down her naked back and curled it in my fingers as we kissed. We made love with a passion that surprised even me.

But something really weird happened after we both climaxed that I had never experienced before. I dozed off momentarily while still on top of her, enjoying the feel of her nude body against mine. During that split second between wakefulness and sleep, I felt so close to her that it seemed we were one person. It felt like I’d lost myself in Laureen, as though I was one with her, a part of her. That feeling of oneness was more than just physical love. We were one body, one spirit, one soul. Not in a physical way, but spiritually. It wasn’t scary, but a strange and wonderful sensation. A light surrounded my being. A light that was warm and beautiful and filled with love. For the first time in my life I felt truly at peace. My heart was open. I felt like I had actually experienced the love of God, as if the hand of God touched me. And I didn’t even believe in God!

 

*****

 

February 5, 1971:

 

I didn’t tell Laureen about my spiritual experience, thinking maybe it was too heavy for her to handle. Neither of us was religious, but I had to speak to someone. I went to see Dr. Gormley, my philosophy professor, who was also the college minister.

I walked over to his office in the Humanities Building right after breakfast. His door was slightly ajar. I could smell the fragrance of aromatic pipe tobacco in the hallway. I didn’t bother to knock. I just opened the door. “Dr. Gormley, I need to talk with you.”

“Come in and have a seat. What’s on your mind?”

“Something happened to me last night.”

“Something pleasant I hope?” he said with a smile.

“It’s a little embarrassing. I never experienced anything like it before.”

He got up and closed the office door. “It’ll just between us then,” he said, reassuringly.

“Yesterday was my birthday—”

“Happy birthday. How old?”

“Twenty.”

“What a marvelous age, twenty,” he said, relighting his pipe.

“My girlfriend, Laureen, surprised me with a cake and gave me a record.”

“Did that embarrass you?”

“No, no. It’s what happened after that.” I paused for a moment. I trusted Professor Gormley, but it was still embarrassing. “We made love. Afterward, I dozed off lying on top of her.”

Professor Gormley sat back in his chair. “Hmmmm.”

“I just had this awareness. I felt this overwhelming sense of love. That I…well, I can’t even find the words to describe.”

“Go ahead try.”

“I felt a part of her. It was like there was no me. Just us.”

“I see,” he said, grinning. “Go on.”

“I was surrounded by this light. I think I felt God. It’s a little scary now that I think about it, but it wasn’t last night. It was very peaceful.”

“I understand completely.” He exhaled a huge puff of smoke from his mouth. “Congratulations, Jeff. That’s what falling in love is all about. It isn’t just the sex and passion. You had a spiritual connection with your girlfriend.”

“But Dr. Gormley, I don’t believe in God, or that God exists.”

“It’s important to differentiate spirituality from religion.” He pulled a book off his shelf. “Um, let’s see if I can find it,” he said, thumbing through the pages. “This is what I was looking for…the French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote…

 

“We are not physical beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a physical experience. Our spirituality is our true essence. It is that part of our life which relates to our soul, which from a spiritual perspective is connected to the Divine and is infinite. This lifetime is but the physical experience of our deeper reality, our spirit, which is our fundamental nature.”

 

I sat there, taking in the words.

“So you see Jeff, it’s not necessary for you to believe in a divine being to have this kind of experience.”

“I’m not sure I understand.”

“It has nothing to do with religion.” He placed his pipe on the desk, his face turning serious. “What you feel for Laureen, this sense of awe, this connection, is more than just physical passion.”

“Then why do we argue so much, Dr. Gormley? And it’s usually over stupid things.”

“My guess is that this is the first serious relationship for both of you.”

“Yes, it is.”

“As a couple, you have several issues going on. You both might not understand what you’re really fighting about, and the two of you haven’t yet learned how to communicate properly. Like most students, you’re both very young to be in such an intense physical and emotional relationship. My guess is that you both want to get your own way instead of respecting the other’s feelings.”

“Yeah, I can be selfish and controlling at times, and Laureen can be very stubborn,” I said.

“Sometimes we expect the person we’re in love with to be perfect and not have any flaws. You both have to watch out for triggers that begin those arguments and try to respect each other’s feelings. It’s not easy to do at your age. I suggest you both sit down and discuss how you can handle these ‘triggers’ and start to understand each other better. Married couples have many of these same issues, too. Being in love with someone can be wonderful, but it also takes some work.”

“Now you’re making me think that maybe we’re not very compatible.”

“Don’t look so downhearted. You wouldn’t be in love if you weren’t compatible. You both have different personalities, and that’s a good thing. That’s why you’re in awe of each other. If you feel that you’d liked my help at some point, I would be happy to counsel the two of you.”

“Thanks for the advice, Dr. Gormley.”

“Good luck. I’m here if you need me. Try to appreciate what you both feel for each other. It’s very special.”

“Okay. Thanks again.”

I left his office feeling even more overwhelmed than I was before, but for different reasons. I loved Laureen, and I knew that we had some issues, but could we work them out?

 

*****

 

Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1971:

 

This was our very first Valentine’s Day, and I thought I would surprise Laureen by taking her to dinner at John Duck’s. Earlier that day I had found a large envelope under my door. On the envelope Laureen wrote:

 

To The Greatest Lover (Sweetheart) in Mattituck

Who lives in Rm. No. 5

Jeffrey, My Dear Ole Jeffrey,

P.S. Guess What?

 

Inside was a handmade, decorated card with the word LOVE. On the back she wrote:

 

Nothing Fancy,

Nothing Smart, Just

I love You, Jeff

My Dear Sweetheart!!

Love Laureen

 

It touched my heart.

Later, Jacob gave us a ride into town to John Duck’s. They were famous for Long Island duck. Laureen had no idea where we were going. It was expensive but a very romantic evening.

 

CHAPTER 12

 

 

 

April 2, 1971 Easter Break:

 

Laureen got an invitation to spend Easter week in Springfield, Mass with her senior high school teacher, Mr. Flynn. I wasn’t too happy about her going for an entire week, but I figured it would give me a chance to play some handball with my friends in the Bronx.

On Saturday morning, we got on the Dyre Ave train into Manhattan. I took her over to meet Harold and Victor at Peterson’s Pipe Shop across the street from Grand Central Station, where I had worked the previous summer.

I held her hand tightly as we jaywalked across the four lanes of traffic on Forty-Second Street. “Why don’t I ride up to Springfield with you?”

Her body immediately tensed at my suggestion. “That’s not necessary.”

“I know, but I don’t have anything to do today anyway.”

“It’s okay. I’ll be fine.”

We stood in the lobby of the cavernous terminal, next to the information booth, crowds of people racing past us in every direction.

“It’s a three-hour ride. Come on, I’ll keep you company.”

“I thought you we’re going to play handball.”

“I have the entire week to play handball.”

We got up to the ticket window and I inquired about student discounts. The crusty, old ticket agent rattled through several options that seemed very confusing, so I just purchased the least expensive roundtrip tickets.

During the trip, Laureen told me that Mr. Flynn and his wife, Marion, had spent the previous year teaching at Hana High School. Dave was her senior class teacher and advisor. He was the one who told her about Southampton College and even helped her apply.

When we arrived in Springfield, the Flynn’s were waiting for us at the station. They greeted Laureen and hugged her.

“This is my friend, Jeffrey,” Laureen said, introducing me. “He’s gonna take the next train back.”

They stared at me with wide eyes. I felt my stomach lurch. Why had she referred to me as her friend and not her boyfriend?

I walked over to the ticket counter, so I could check in and get a boarding pass. “You can’t use this ticket until Saturday, the ninth,” the ticket attendant said. “It has to be used with the other return ticket.”

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“It means you have to purchase another one-way ticket if you want to leave on the next train to New York. That’s why you got the discount.”

I didn’t want to spend the extra money, so I went over to Laureen and told her about the mistake. She asked the Flynn’s if it was okay for me to stay with them. I could tell from their expression that they didn’t look too happy about the idea, but they agreed anyway.

I had no change of clothes or personal items. When we got to their apartment, Mr. Flynn pulled me aside in the kitchen. “I don’t know what your relationship with Laureen is, but we’re only letting you stay because we don’t want to hurt her feelings.”

“I’m her boyfriend.”

“I don’t care. We didn’t invite you.”

He made me feel like a piece of shit. I already felt bad enough. I could have hitched a ride back to the Bronx if I wanted, but two could play at this game, so I decided to stay.

“I’m sorry, but I didn’t realize the tickets were a package deal,” I said, squirming. “It was an honest mistake.”

He stood rigidly, glaring at me with narrow blue eyes, facial muscles quivering. “Let’s get something straight. This is our home, and we won’t tolerate the two of you sleeping together,” he scoffed, clenching his jaw. “We’ll put you up in the living room.”

I told Laureen what he said and I could tell she was upset.

“Why couldn’t you just stay home and let me come up by myself? You didn’t want me to go when Hilary invited me for Thanksgiving and when Peter invited me for Christmas.”

I didn’t respond. I just felt very small. Laureen could make me feel that way sometimes.

After we settled in and freshened up they served us dinner, corned beef and cabbage. Dave motioned to Marion. “Honey, would you get us some beers.”

“I prefer Coke if you have some,” said Laureen.

Dave handed me a cold can of beer. “Same for me,” I said, handing it back to him.

“Don’t drink beer?”

“No, don’t like the taste.”

The corned beef was thick. I prefered it sliced thin, and piled high in a sandwich like the one from Sonny’s delicatessen on Lydig Avenue. Served on fresh rye bread with a kosher pickle.

They asked Laureen all kinds of questions, like how she liked Southampton, what classes she was taking, and her grades—and pretty much ignored me.

Then out of the blue Dave asked Laureen, “Do you believe in ghosts?”

“I don’t know,” she said, looking puzzled.

“How about you?” he asked, scowling at me. “Do you believe in ghosts?”

“No. I only believe in things I can see,” I said, thinking how weird the question was. Dave kind of freaked me out.

“Well, I never believed in ghosts before, but let me tell you a story,” Dave said. He looked at me. “My Uncle Herbert recently died. He was seventy-three. He had diabetes and died from kidney failure. We invited him over for dinner many times, and he would spend the night here since we were his only close relatives after his wife passed away. He always stayed in the living room on the fold-out couch, the one with the fireplace where you’ll be sleeping.”

“Would you like some coffee?” Marion interrupted. We all said yes. She wasn’t confrontational like Dave, and seemed a little friendlier towards me.

“We had the wake for Uncle Herbert at a funeral home with an open casket,” continued Dave. “I went up to the casket to say goodbye, and as I was standing there I felt this tug on my jacket behind me. I figured it might be one of the young cousins, so I turned around and there was no one there, no one even close to me. Then I remembered that I used to tug on Uncle Herbert’s coat when I was a child.”

Marion brought in a tray with a pot of coffee and four slices of Boston cream pie.

“I didn’t think anything of it at the time,” Dave continued. “But after the casket was lowered into the grave, we all stood up, and I felt a tug at my jacket again. I turned around, and there was no one behind me. I thought it was just my imagination or something, since it had been such an emotional day.”

“Delicious cake,” I said, as my stomach started to knot. I didn’t scare easily, but I didn’t like this conversation. It gave me the creeps.

“Thank you,” Marion said with a smile.

“Later than evening, we had some of Uncle Herbert’s friends over for coffee. He was in the navy when the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor. We went into the living room to show some of his medals that I had displayed on the fireplace mantel, and I felt this tug on the back of my sweater. I turned around, and once again, there was no one behind me. I started to think that my mind was playing tricks on me.”

I had an uneasy feeling in my gut. I didn’t like where this story was going. What unnerved me was that he was telling this story very straightforward, matter-of-fact, without any exaggeration, and a deadpan serious look on his face, so I didn’t think he was joking. Not the way you would tell a ghost story to little kids sitting around a campfire trying to frighten them. I could see in his eyes that he was telling the truth.

It reminded me of something that had happened when I was staying with my brother, Norman, in Princeton that past August. He was next door staying overnight with his girlfriend, and I was in bed in his apartment listening to Long John Nebel on the radio. He frequently had guests on who discussed aliens, ghosts, and all kinds of spooky stuff like that. His guest that night was a ghost hunter, and the stories he was telling really scared me, so that I was afraid to go to sleep. I turned on the lights and found a book to read until it got light out, and then I went to sleep.

Marion collected the plates and poured us more coffee as Dave continued. “After everyone left, we went to bed. Sometime in the middle of the night, I was awoken by a thud. It sounded like it came from another room. I got out of bed and looked in the kitchen and the living room, but I didn’t see anything. Then I went into the guest bedroom and noticed that the photo we had of Uncle Herbert on the fireplace mantel next to his medals had fallen to the floor. I bent down to pick it up and placed it back on the mantel when I felt this tug on my pajama top. I turned around, and there was Uncle Herbert standing right behind me wearing his navy uniform, the very same uniform we had buried him in. He just stood there silent. I looked right through him, and then he vanished.”

“Have you seen him again?” Laureen asked in a shaky voice. Her skin was pale.

“I’ve seen him several times right after I feel a tug from behind me.”

I was a bit frightened by his story, but I didn’t want to admit it. “Interesting story,” I said nervously. If his intent was to scare me into leaving, it wasn’t going to work.

“Yeah,” said Dave as he glared at me. “It made a believer out of me.” Then he looked at his watch and announced, “It’s time for the Bruins game.”

Everyone got up and followed him into the living room to watch the game. I didn’t like hockey, but I watched anyway. Laureen and I sat on opposite sides of the couch. I almost wished that I had gone back to the Bronx. At least I knew my house wasn’t haunted. After the game, Marion went to get the bedding while Dave took the cushions off the couch and pulled out the bed. Marion made up Laureen’s bed and then mine. As they left the room, Dave turned to me and sarcastically said, “Hope you sleep well.”

I went into Laureen’s room. She was in the bathroom brushing her teeth.

“Can I use your toothbrush?”

“Um, hum.”

“What did you think of that story?”

Laureen smiled. “I think he was trying to scare you.”

“Do you believe it?”

“I don’t know, but I’ve heard stories in Hana of people seeing dead relatives.”

“Well, he did a good job. I’m not sleeping in that room tonight.”

“I’ll sleep in there and you can stay here, okay?” she said.

“That’s not necessary. I’m not sleeping alone.”

“Jeffrey, don’t act like a baby. They told us they don’t want us sleeping together.”

“I guess they don’t approve of having sex before marriage either,” I said.

“Probably not. They’re very religious Catholics.”

“I’ll sleep on the floor in the corner. That’s not sleeping together.”

“No, you’re not,” she snapped. “You already fucked everything up—don’t make it worse.”

“What do you mean I fucked everything up? Because I made an honest mistake?”

“I told you it wasn’t necessary to ride up here with me. If you had just dropped me off, we wouldn’t be in this awkward situation.”

“So you’re mad at me, too?”

“Yes, I am. I know you didn’t mean to do it,” she said, getting into the bed.

“I’m still not sleeping by myself.”

“Do what you want.”

“I will.”

I went back into the living room to look for something to read. I could hear the Flynn’s arguing heatedly but in low voices from their bedroom. I could faintly make out some of what they said…

“You should have given him the money to go home right there at the station,” insisted Marion.

“Why in the hell should I give him money for a ticket? Anyway, he told us the next train to New York is tomorrow,” said Dave. “What were we gonna do just leave him there on the platform?”

“Well, that’s his damn problem,” Marion said. “Can you imagine the nerve of that guy.”

“I don’t know what Laureen sees in that jerk.”

Whad’ya think we should do now? Marion asked.

“I’d love to kick him out on his ass but I don’t want to hurt her feelings,” responded Dave.

Marion laughed. “Let him stay for now and we can just ignore him. That’ll make him feel so uncomfortable he’ll leave on his own.”

“I hope you’re right,” Dave said.

I took the bedding and placed it on the floor of Laureen’s room in the corner across from the bed, but didn’t mention to her what I had overheard.

Trying to placate her, I said, “Did I ever tell you that my grandfather wouldn’t see Norman or let him into his apartment after he married Charlene? My grandma had to come over to my mother’s place if she wanted to see him.”

“No, you never told me that. How come?”

“Because she was a shiksa.

“What’s a sh…shik…?”

“A Shiksa in Yiddish means a non-Jewish woman. The thing was, my grandfather wasn’t even religious and never went to synagogue. In the meantime, he missed out on five years of their lives.”

“I guess he wouldn’t approve of me either,” she said.

“He’s probably turning in his grave whenever we stay over at my grandma’s,” I said jokingly.

“I’m surprised your mother never said anything about us sleeping together.”

“My parents are very open-minded. And besides, they like you.” I pulled the covers up to my chin. “I’m feeling really gassy after having that cabbage.”

“Me too,” she said with a giggle.

“Maybe it’s a good thing we’re not sleeping together. Can I kiss you goodnight?”

“No.”

“Laureen, you know I can’t go to sleep without kissing you. We shouldn’t go to sleep mad.”

“All right, but that’s all.”

“Can we keep that light on?”

“You’re really nuts, you know.”

“That’s why you love me.”

“No, it’s not why I love you, Jeffrey. Go to sleep.”

“You know, if Uncle Herbert tugs me from behind, he might be in for an unpleasant surprise.”

“That’s why I love you,” she said, giggling.

“Why? Because I’m gassy?”

“No, silly, because you make me laugh.”

“I like making you laugh.”

“I’m gonna read for a while,” I said. “I borrowed their copy of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.”

“What’s it about?”

“You never saw the movie with Bing Crosby and William Bendix?”

“Nope.”

“It’s about a guy who gets hit on the head, and when he wakes up he finds himself transported back in time to medieval England during the time of the King Arthur, you know Camelot.”

“Sounds interesting.”

I sighed and closed the book. “I know Dave was telling the truth about his uncle’s ghost or spirit or whatever it was.”

“How’d ya know that?”

“Because…well…I never told you this, but something similar happened to me.”

“Come on, you’re kidding,” Laureen said as she sat up in bed.

“I was eight or nine years old. Living with my grandparents. I was playing across the street, where those houses are now, but it was an empty lot back then. I ran out between two parked cars and felt something or someone grab me from behind, but no one was there. A car whizzed by so close that I felt the door handle hit my belt buckle. Another split second and I probably would have been killed. I always thought it was my uncle Arnold.”

“Oh my God,” she gasped.

“That’s why I got so frightened by his story and why I believe it.”

“I’m sleepy, Jeffrey. It’s been a long day.”

“Okay, goodnight. I love you.”

“Goodnight.”

I stayed up all night reading, listening for any strange sounds, and hoping Uncle Herbert was off on a mission somewhere. When it got light, I moved back into the living room on the couch so the Flynns wouldn’t have a freakin’ fit.

The next day we all drove into Boston to go sightseeing. They took us to Bunker Hill, Faneuil Hall, and the Museum of Science. On the return trip to Springfield, I asked if they could stop at a Woolworth’s so I could get some personal items. I spent the rest of my money on a package of briefs, T-shirts, and socks.

On Tuesday they drove us up to the Berkshire Mountains to a maple syrup farm, and on Thursday we went to Cape Cod. During the trip, Dave and Marion always directed their conversation to Laureen, treating me like I was invisible. Sure, I knew I was imposing on them, but I also knew they weren’t going to throw me out.

On Good Friday, the Flynns planned on going to services in the evening. “Why don’t you guys go to the movies?” Dave said. “There’s a theater two blocks from here on Columbus Street. Just hang a left out the front door.”

“Do you know what’s playing?” asked Laureen.

“Don’t know. Here’s the paper,” he said. “It’s the Columbus Theater. We gotta get going. See you later.”

“Did you find the theater?” I asked, moving next to her on the couch.

“Yeah, it’s Love Story.”

“That’s the only movie playing?”

“Yeah.”

“Let’s go see it. I don’t wanna sit around here all night.”

“I don’t want to see it.”

I didn’t tell Laureen that I already seen Love Story with Linda when I went back to the Bronx in January. The same night she called me hysterically to come back to Southampton. It was a decent movie. I cried at the end, along with everyone else in the audience.

I tried to get her to see it in Southampton, but she didn’t want to go.

“Why not?”

“Because I don’t like tear jerker movies, that’s why.”

“You know, you’ve been a real sourpuss all week.”

“How dare you call me that!” she screamed. “Just ’cause your mother says that to your father all the time doesn’t give you the right to call me that.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it.”

“If you wanna see it, go by yourself.”

“Come on, Laureen,” I said, trying to put my arm around her, but she moved away. “I know this week has been real stressful. It’ll be good just to go out by ourselves.”

“I’ll think about it,” she said, pulling her body back.

“What are the show times?”

She shoved the newspaper at me. “Here, you look.”

“There’s a showing at eight and ten. Let’s go for a walk and catch the eight o’clock showing.”

“I told you I don’t want to see that damn movie!”

“I’ll go myself then,” I said, getting up. “You can stay here and keep Uncle Herbert company.”

“Thanks.”

I walked slowly toward the front door. “See you later.”

“Okay…wait. I’ll go, too,” she said with a huff.

“Oh, I forgot to tell you that I saw Uncle Herbert the other night.”

She rolled her eyes. “No way.”

“He told me he likes Hawaiian girls and thought you were cute.”

Love Story wasn’t any better the second time around. I watched to see if Laureen cried at the end, but she didn’t. She still had the sourpuss look on her face. I cried again, but I made sure she didn’t see. I liked movies that made me cry. I always cried whenever I saw Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Tomorrow Is Forever.

The Flynns drove us to the station on Saturday morning. I debated whether to thank them for letting me stay. I decided I would be a “mench” and thanked them for letting me stay. They both ignored me.

When the train arrived, Dave said to Laureen, “It was great seeing you again. You’re always welcome to visit us anytime.”

“Thank you for your hospitality and putting up with us all week,” she said politely.

I was glad to finally go home and hoped I never saw them again. During the train trip back to New York, Laureen didn’t say anything for about an hour. Then she turned to me, with narrowed eyes. “You made me miserable the entire week. I don’t understand why you’re always so possessive and controlling. I should have never agreed to let you take me up to Springfield in the first place.”

“I was just trying—I just wanted—”

“To what?”

“I just wanted to make sure you got there safely,” I said, knowing it was a lame excuse.

The truth was I didn’t like it when she wasn’t with me. It wasn’t about trusting her. I just didn’t like being alone.

“I let you push me around too much. You embarrassed me in front of my teacher and his wife. And you made a fool of yourself.”

“I know. I’m sorry.”

“I thought it would be good for us to spend some time apart during Easter break, but instead you spoiled everything,” she said angrily. “Sometimes you get me so mad. It makes it really hard to love you!”

She turned to look out the window. I didn’t know what to say. I deserved her scolding and had no defense, so I withdrew. Sometimes I just didn’t know why I behaved the way I did. I might not have been the smartest person in the world, but I always thought I had common sense. I really fucked this up, but I knew we wouldn’t break up over it. The look in her eyes told me she cared and she loved me. That was why she was so angry.

After a long silence, still facing the window, she said, “Once I graduate, I’m going back to live in Hana.”

A heavy, sinking feeling hit me in the pit of my stomach, as if I was on a rapidly descending elevator.

“And what about us?” I asked, turning my head see her expression.

She just kept looking out the window and didn’t respond. Her silence sent shivers crawling over my entire body.

 

CHAPTER 13

 

 

 

June 19, 1971:

 

Today was Laureen’s nineteenth birthday. We took the train into Manhattan and went to the Museum of Modern Art. Then we walked around Rockefeller Center and the RCA Building.

 

 

 

My surprise birthday present was dinner at The Hawaii Kai restaurant on Broadway and Fiftieth Street in the Winter Garden Theater Building. They still had photos of Al Jolson in the lobby. We both ordered the Hawaiian Luau Dinner for $12.95. They played Hawaiian music and entertained us with luau dancers.

Later we walked over to Grand Central Station to catch the train back to the Bronx. Holding hands, we swung our arms back and forth.

“The food wasn’t really authentic Hawaiian food, but it was still good,” Laureen said. “Thank you for a wonderful birthday.” Then she came to an abrupt stop on the corner of Broadway and Forty-Second Street, turned, and kissed me.

“I love you, Jeffrey Goldberg.”

“I love you very much, Laureen Tanaka. Would you marry me some day?”

“I might,” she said, smiling.

“I would like that,” I said, squeezing her hand.

The thought of being married kind of scared me, but I loved Laureen more than life itself, and I couldn’t imagine spending my life without her. We had been through some tough times, and it seemed like we were always arguing, but it didn’t change the way I felt about her.

 

*****

 

Summer 1971:

 

At the end of June we both went to work for Model Cities on campus, tutoring teens from Central Brooklyn in English, Science, and Math. I bought my first car in July, a used 1968 Ford Mustang. It had a manual transmission, and Laureen had to teach me to drive it.

One day I was at the pool, and this girl, wearing a very low cut bikini, approached me and started a conversation. Her name was Mindy Amerman. She was very attractive and the complete opposite of Laureen. Her skin was very white, like porcelain, contrasted against her jet back hair. She said she was taking art classes at Southampton for the summer. She was only seventeen and was going to be a senior in high school. She wanted to be an artist. Lucky for me, Laureen wasn’t around. She would have been jealous.

Mindy and I fast became friends. I took her to the beach to body surf several times. We really were just friends, and Laureen seemed okay about it. Because we were in separate dorms and lived with the students, Laureen and I didn’t see much of each other that summer. If I got horny, she would tell me to take a cold shower or satisfy myself. Once Jacob let us use his room so we could make love. One night I was lonely and I thought about going up to see Mindy. She was the first girl I had gotten a crush on since meeting Laureen. I walked over to her dorm and stood outside but finally decided it wasn’t a good idea.

In August, Laureen and I left on a three-week trip. We didn’t have a lot of money, so we slept in the mustang most of the time, and it wasn’t the most comfortable arrangement. Our first stop was to see the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, but somewhere along the way, I missed the turnoff and we ended up in Utica. Instead of going back, we proceeded to Niagara Falls, then to Quebec and Montreal. Our route back was through the White Mountains of Vermont where we camped for a few days with Sterling and Vicki Salter. Sterling had been a faculty advisor to the International House. I first met him my freshman year. He was also a counselor and had left at the end of the semester to take a job at a Canadian college. Laureen and I had several counseling sessions with him to help us with our communication issues.

CHAPTER 14

 

 

 

Fall 1971 ~ Spring 1972:

 

We returned to Southampton during the first week of September for the fall semester, Laureen didn’t want to live on campus so we looked for a place off-campus. We checked the bulletin board adjacent to the mailboxes on the lower level of Wood Hall. Most of them advertised for rooms in the local motels that went vacant between Labor Day and Memorial Day. Living in a motel with other students would be very noisy. Then I saw a sign for a furnished two-bedroom cottage. The monthly rent was one hundred and fifty dollars including all utilities. It said to contact Lucy Fatino at the student center. Lucy was the secretary for Peter Rich who was the Director of Student Activities. I was elected treasurer of the Student Government last semester and was responsible for all student funds.

Later we walked over to the Student Center to speak to Lucy. She said there were two cottages available. One was a studio and the other a two-bedroom. Even though I knew Lucy well, she seemed somewhat hesitant when I asked about renting the cottage. I wasn’t sure why. She gave me directions and said to meet her after work and she would show us around.

We arrived at 50 West Tiana Road in Hampton Bays about six o’clock. The Fatinos’ house was painted yellow with white trim. It was a fifteen-minute drive from campus. All of our belongings were in the Mustang. As soon as I rang the bell, a tall, skinny young boy about age eleven or twelve opened the door. Lucy hurried in behind him and introduced us to her son Nick. She told him to go finish his homework. She said her husband Bruno was a chef for a restaurant in Southampton and worked evenings. She escorted us around the back of house and showed us the studio cottage. The rent was less but it was very small.

Then she took us across the lawn to a small gray house, with two entrances, one to the living room and the other on the side to the kitchen. We entered through the living room. The moment I walked in it felt like home but I had another weird feeling. Something I never experienced before and didn’t quite understand but it had something to do with time.The house was very quaint and clean. The furniture wasn’t fancy but it beat dorm furniture. We only needed one bedroom and could use the other for storage.

The kitchen was spotless and fully stocked with silverware, pots, and pans. The walls were yellow, matching the dinette set sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor. Blue Formica countertops glistened as the afternoon sun peeked in through the window above the sink. The chrome handles on the appliances, the faucet in the sink, and the metal frames on the kitchen chairs all gleamed. I asked Laureen what she thought.

“I really like it,” she exclaimed.

“The lease expires in May,” Lucy said. “You’d have to move out a few days before Memorial Day so I can clean up.”

“No problem,” I said.

“But there’s one other thing,” she said. “If Nicky happens to ask you please tell him you’re married.”

I glanced over at Laureen, realizing now why Lucy was didn’t seem too anxious to rent to us. Laureen smiled at me cunningly, turned to Lucy, and said, “Sure.”

“When do you want to move in?”

“We have all our stuff in the car,” I said. “Can we move in now?”

“I just need a check for first and last month.”

Laureen wrote her a check and Lucy handed me the keys.

“Where’s the nearest grocery store?” asked Laureen.

“There’s an IGA supermarket in town. Just go east on Montauk Highway and make a right on Squiretown Road, then another right at the stop sign. It’s right across from the railroad station. The laundry mat is on the same street.”

We started to unload the car, but decided to unpack after we went shopping and had dinner. As we drove to the IGA store, I asked Laureen about Lucy’s request that we tell her son that we were married.

She chuckled. “I guess she doesn’t want her son to know were living in sin.”

“Have you told your parents?” I said.

“Not yet but I will.”

“What happens if they object?”

“Don’t worry, they trust me,” she said, leaning over to kiss me. “I love you, Jeffrey.”

I noticed a Carvel stand on Montauk Highway a few blocks past Squiretown Road. I stopped there after leaving the IGA store and bought six flying saucers.

When we returned to the house we made Sloppy Joe’s for our first dinner. I washed the dishes as Laureen started unpacking the suitcases. It took me forty-five minutes to set up the stereo. There was no TV so that was our only form of entertainment. By ten o’clock we were both tired. We cuddled up on the couch in the living room and I put on a record. We had to get up early the next day to register for the fall semester so we went to bed after playing the first side. It was nice having a double bed. Then we made love.

I got up sometime in the middle of the night to go the bathroom. That’s when I had that weird feeling again. I was ecstatic to be living with Laureen, but I also had the terrible feeling that it was going to be very transitory. Now I understood that strange sensation when I first entered the house.

The weeks seem to fly by. I was heavily involved in student government activities, including the Executive Council, International House, Literary Society, and Treasurer of the Student Government. At the same time, I neglected my academic courses. We got along really well, sharing the cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. There were a few arguments, mostly about the time I spent on student government stuff. Two or three nights a week, I went the student center for meetings, then I would stay to shoot pool or play the pinball machine. In November, I got a job at the RiteAid in Westhampton Beach to cover some of our living expenses.

Before I knew it, Thanksgiving had arrived. We made our first turkey with the trimmings and baked pumpkin pies. My mom and dad came by for an early dinner on Saturday.

A few days before Christmas, we drove into Hampton Bays to buy a tree. There were only about twenty trees left to choose from. We poked around, and Laureen choose the best tree. The branches were still fresh. This was my first Christmas tree, and it cost twelve dollars. Laureen made a Jewish star to put on the top. We bought the tree, but not the stand since money was tight. I thought we could put the tree into a bucket and fill it with rocks to hold it in place. I went out that night to find some rocks and got stuck in the sand. I couldn’t get out and had to call a tow truck. It cost me fifteen dollars, but I got the rocks.

We spent most of our money buying gifts for Laureen’s three younger sisters and her parents. On Christmas Eve, we drove to Sag Harbor to do some last minute shopping for our presents. We made a deal only to spend ten dollars on each of us. It was the first time I ever celebrated Christmas.

 

 

 

The presents weren’t elaborate but spending this time together was very special, like we were a family. We celebrated New Year’s Eve at Jacob’s party.

One cold winter night in January, we returned late from campus. The house was freezing cold. Apparently, there was no oil in the tank and when I put the heat on before we went to bed oil fumes filled the house. That night I stayed up all night to make sure we both didn’t suffocate and die. I was constantly checking on Laureen while she slept to make sure she didn’t stop breathing.

I don’t know what possessed me, but one evening in March I did something terrible. I purposely started a fight with Laureen. I had a pretty good idea of what buttons to push to set her off. Then I left the house and went down to the student center on campus for a scheduled student council meeting. Even though we were living together, I had somehow developed a crush on Tisha Remkus. Why was I even attracted to her? We had no relationship. We weren’t even friends, merely acquaintances. She was the secretary on the student government committee. I knew she would be attending the meeting. I asked her if she could put me up for the night because Laureen and I had a fight.

Tisha agreed and I followed her home after the meeting. She lived in a house near campus by herself and had several empty bedrooms. I didn’t bother to call Laureen to tell her I wasn’t coming home. Besides we never could get a phone installed because AT&T went on strike. I guess I could’ve called Lucy but it was very late. Here I was, after setting the scheme in motion, shy and timid. I never tried to make a move on Tisha. She was polite but had absolutely no interest in me.

I didn’t bother to get undressed. As I lay on the bed, I felt horrible. What possessed me to do such a cruel thing to the woman who had given her heart and soul to me? The woman who had given me her unconditional love. My curiosity to have sex with other women was a very motivating force. It seemed to possess me. Do I have a sickness? I wondered if this is what happened to my father, except that he did cheat on my mother. I didn’t cheat on Laureen physically, but I did in my heart. I justified my behavior to myself, reasoning that I was entitled to experience another woman after what Laureen did to me last year.

The next morning around seven, I was getting ready to leave Tisha’s house, when of all people to show up was our good friend Jacob. I met him in the driveway, embarrassed as hell. I don’t know if Tisha called him or what, but when he asked me what I was doing there so early, I just said it was a long story. Now I knew I couldn’t use him to cover for me if I told Laureen I spent the night at his house. Jacob wouldn’t have lied for me, anyway.

When I got home, Laureen looked pissed and wanted to know where I was all night, so I told her the truth. Her face instantly turned bright red and swollen and she became hysterical. She went ballistic, pounding my chest with her fists.

“How could you do this to me?” she screamed. “I hate you—I hate you—I hate you…”

I didn’t protect myself from her pounding. I deserved her rage. I tried to tell her there was nothing between us, that I just needed someplace to spend the night after our fight, but I didn’t know if she believed me.

Later, after calming down, she apologized for hitting me. I begged her to forgive me, and she did. I knew this moment would change our relationship forever but I didn’t know in what way. Could she ever trust me again after this?

Our relationship returned to normal, and a few weeks later during Spring break we drove to Washington, D.C.

When we returned Laureen started making plans to return to Hana for the summer. It was going on two years since she left home. I knew she was extremely homesick for her parents and sisters. We didn’t discuss it but I thought about going home with her. The truth is I felt we needed a break. Living together this past year was for the most part a joy but it was also very intense. Maybe some space would do our relationship some good. I also had an opportunity to work for Model Cities again.

A few days before Memorial Day weekend, we packed up our belongings. It seemed like we just moved in. That sensation of time accelerating the entire year left a sinking and sad feeling in the pit of my stomach that never left me. The Fatinos let us keep some boxes in the basement even though we weren’t sure we would be renting from them again in the fall. It seemed like just yesterday when Lucy handed us the keys and we were filled with anticipation and excitement about living together. Now it was time to hand Bruno back the keys as we closed the door behind us. Then we drove to the Bronx and stayed at my mom’s house.

On Sunday, May twenty-eighth we attended my brother’s wedding to Judy Kaufman at her parents’ home in Forest Hills.

 

 

Laureen flew back to Hana the following Tuesday.

 

CHAPTER 15

 

 

 

Summer 1972:

 

Imoved back to campus during the first week in July, working for Model Cities again, tutoring junior-high students from the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of central Brooklyn. I was also in charge of a suite full of students in Sagaponack dorm. I was anxious to see if Mindy Amerman the seventeen-year-old high school student from Connecticut was going to return for summer art classes. She didn’t, and maybe it was just as well. I never got her address or phone number. I did get infatuated with another summer school student, but nothing ever happened. By now I had accumulated seven incomplete courses. Most of them required a paper or two to finish, so I worked on them while tutoring the kids.

Laureen sent me several letters during the summer. She wrote how much she missed me and wished I could be there with her. I missed her but at the same time I enjoyed having some freedom. It wasn’t that I was unhappy with our relationship. I just wasn’t ready to be tied down. In one letter, she told me she was dating a guy named Eugene. She wrote, “You know sometimes I wish you were here and then again I’m not sad that you are not here because it gives me time to be “single” again. Oh! Go out and enjoy yourself.”

I understood how she felt.

On August twenty-third I was watching the Republican National Convention on TV in the Queen Anne Lounge. Sammy Davis was performing and it seemed like a very festive event for President Nixon. The door opened and in walked Linda Pincus with a bottle of sangria. She had dropped out of school after her mother died of cancer and was visiting friends on campus for a few days. She seemed happy to see me, and sat down next to me on the couch. She asked where Laureen was and I told her she had gone home for the summer.

We talked for a while and then she started flirting with me, passing the wine bottle back and forth. She leaned over and kissed me lightly on the lips. I tried to tongue kiss, but she resisted. Later, we went up to the suite where she where she was staying in Montauk Dorm and continued drinking and flirting on the couch. I wanted to go into her room but she had a roommate. I couldn’t take her back to my dorm room because the kids were around and I couldn’t risk getting caught with her and losing my job. She said we should find a place to spend the night. By now, we were both horny and drunk. I said there might be some empty rooms in Montauk so we went around the dorm looking for rooms without any lights.

We looked through the windows but couldn’t tell if they were occupied. Then we thought we found an empty room. We climbed through the window and turned on the lights, but two young children were sleeping there. The noise we made must have alerted their parents.

I recognized the father who was a professor but I didn’t know his name. He was very upset and wanted to know what was going on. He insisted on calling campus security. We told him we had too much to drink and were just looking for a place to crash. He accepted our apology and told us to get out. Linda went upstairs to her room, and I went back to my room very frustrated that I didn’t get the chance to fuck her. I guess I should’ve felt guilty for trying to cheat on Laureen again, but I didn’t, anyway nothing happened. She wrote in one of her letters that she had dated this guy from Hana and I was okay with that. I still trusted her. The next day I got called into Professor Gormley’s office—he was now the college dean—to explain what happened. He had quite a chuckle about it, but I hoped this incident didn’t get back to Laureen.

 

*****

 

September 1972:

 

Laureen returned from Hana on the third of September. I picked her up at JFK. I was extremely excited to see her, but she just gave me a hug and a peck on the lips when I greeted her at the gate. Her lack of affection was very noticeable and it hurt. On the drive back to my mother’s house, we made small talk about how we spent the summer. She said she spent most of the summer helping her father at the papaya plantation he managed and visiting her sisters on the other islands. When we got back to my mom’s apartment, it was empty, and I tried to kiss her again but she said she was very tired from the flight and wanted to rest.

During the next few days, Laureen acted very distant and cold and didn’t want me to touch her sexually. I had been horny all summer, but I withdrew, not wanting to upset her. I felt like we were strangers again. It wasn’t the same kind of coldness that you got when someone was mad at you after an argument. I had never experienced this before with Laureen. I could sense that she had some resentment for having to leave Hana to return to school. Was she taking it out me? Her behavior was a stark contrast to the letters she had written me during the summer when she wrote how much she missed me and loved me. Now, she seemed emotionless, unaffectionate, and unresponsive, as if she were telling me,”I don’t love you, and I never loved you before.”

When I tried to engage her in conversation, she only replied with short, curt responses. I felt as though she didn’t want to relinquish some kind of power or independence she had attained while we were apart. I wondered if she saw through me, that I had indiscretions with Linda and another student this summer even though there wasn’t any sex. Her behavior really scared me, so I retreated into myself to give her some time to readjust. But I was left with a strange foreboding that one day I would lose her forever.

 

CHAPTER 16

 

 

 

Fall 1972 ~ Spring 1973:

 

Laureen finally warmed up and became her affectionate self again. A few days before we were going to drive back to Southampton we discussed our living arrangements.

“I’d like to rent the cottage,” I said.

“I don’t want to live together again.”

“Why not?”

“I wasn’t very happy last year,” she said.

“Was it because of that incident with Tisha?”

“You really hurt me. But I also felt very isolated from the campus. There were no friends around or anyone to talk to.”

“So you haven’t forgiven me for that?”

“I said I did so let’s not discuss that again. It’s just that I was alone too much whenever you went on campus or were involved with your student government activities.”

“I always asked you if you wanted to come with me but—”

“I made up mind, Jeffrey. I’m going to live on campus this year.”

“Then what about us?”

“I will stay with you whenever you want, but I need a place when I want to be alone,” she said. “Why is that so hard for you to understand? It’s not like were married.”

“No, I guess we’re not,” I said, lowering my head.

The entire summer I had anticipated we would be living together again. I was crushed, but I could see the determination in her face. She could be very stubborn at times, and I thought it best not get into a fight about it. She moved back into Montauk Dorm, and I got a free room at the College Conference Center, because I was treasurer of the student government. My room was half a mile off campus behind the gym.

Actually, it worked out pretty good. She stayed there most nights, and we didn’t seem to argue as much as we did when we lived together. Except for that time with Tisha, most of our arguments were over childish things. I think having her own place relieved some of the stress on our relationship. During this time, I got even more involved in student government activities. I also got a job working at the college switchboard. I didn’t finish any of the courses I planned to during the summer. By the end of the semester, I was going to have to take two more incompletes.

In December, Laureen got a call from home that her grandmother had a stroke. She asked me if it was okay for her to go home during winter break and help take care of her. I told her she didn’t need to ask for my permission, so she flew home for the holidays and winter break. On New Year’s Eve I got a call from Linda Pincus who was back visiting on campus. She invited me to a party but I declined. I didn’t want any temptation to jeopardize my relationship with Laureen.

I adopted a really cute puppy on January sixth. I named him Jolie for Al Jolson. A few months earlier, I had discussed the idea of getting a dog with Laureen, but she was dead set against it. I always wanted a dog when I was a child but my mother wouldn’t allow it. I don’t think she wanted the added responsibility. Jolie was a mutt, a mixture of poodle, terrier, and sheepdog. I adopted him from the Sag Harbor Animal Shelter. On the drive home, he looked very frightened and crawled under the passenger seat in the Mustang. I had a heck of a time getting him out. A week later, he developed distemper and almost died. I took him back to the shelter where they nursed him back to health. I had no idea how to housebreak him either. Of course, when my parents visited one Saturday, my mother instantly fell in love with him, even though he peed on her.

In the meantime, I got fired from my job at the switchboard. I worked the midnight shift and had trouble staying awake after 4 a.m. The switchboard was located in the Administration Building so one night I laid down on the couch and fell asleep. Apparently, a student on campus tried to reach the switchboard and no one responded. He filed a complaint and the dean, Dr. Gormley, fired me. I was upset because I needed the extra money, but it was my own fault.

Laureen returned at the end of January. I met her at the Southampton train station, and when we got back to my place, I introduced her to Jolie. She was pissed, but he was so adorable that she also fell in love with him right away. She was also cold and distant with me her first few days back just like when she returned in September. I couldn’t understand it because we had gotten along so well the past few months. She told me that her grandmother had many complications from the stroke and she was reluctant to leave Hana.

A few weeks later on a Friday night, we decided to drive to the Bronx and left Jolie in my room. I thought it would be okay to leave him for the weekend. I asked Tony to check in on Jolie to make sure he had food and water. When we got back Sunday night, there was a transcendental meditation taking place in the conference center living room. The collective voices of about fifty people were chanting, “Ohmmm, Ohmmm, Ohmmm.”

We quietly walked down the hall to my room, but when I opened the door, Jolie wasn’t there. I went crazy, ranting and raving, “Where’s Jolie? Where’s my dog?”

“Ohmmm, Ohmmm.”

“Where’s my dog?” Did anyone see my dog?” I looked all over the house for him, disrupting the mediation, but no one responded.

“Who let my dog out of the room?” I screamed but no one responded. It was as if I wasn’t even there. I called the Southampton Police. They said they had no report of a stray dog. Then I called the dog pound but he wasn’t there either.

Half an hour later Tony walked in and saw the panicked look on my face. “Jolie is fine,” he said. “I took him to my dorm room so he wouldn’t be alone. He was crying all weekend.”

After several weeks of frustration, I sent for a book from Purina on how to housebreak a puppy. They recommended taking him out for walks five or six times a day and placing him in a large box the rest of the time. The idea was that puppies would learn very quickly not to make a mess in their beds. It worked!

 

 

 

In March, we sold the 1968 Mustang and purchased a brand new Plymouth Duster for $2400. Laureen chipped in $800 and my dad and I contributed $1600. We were planning a trip during spring break but my mother got my grandmother an apartment closer to where she lived. So we spent the entire time moving her from the apartment where she lived for the past thirty years.

 

My grandma was very fond of Laureen and the feeling was mutual. It was a lot of work. Norman came in from Princeton to help and Fred, my mother’s friend, also pitched in. I was very grateful to Laureen. She didn’t have to volunteer, but family always came first with her, even my family. By the end of the semester, I had a total of eleven incomplete courses. I had no idea how I would ever graduate. I also got word from Dr. Gormley that in the fall that I would be forcibly dismissed from all my student government activities.

After spending all our money on the car, we didn’t have enough to take a trip during the summer. Laureen enrolled in summer school and got a single room on campus. I had no luck getting a job in Southampton so I decided to go back to the Bronx with Jolie and work at Peterson’s Pipe shop again. Laureen kept the car since it was hard to park in my neighborhood and I took the train to work.

CHAPTER 17

 

 

 

Summer 1973 ~ Summer 1974:

 

Iworked at Peterson’s Pipe shop on Broadway down by City Hall from May through August while Laureen attended summer school. After work I took Jolie down to the handball courts on Bronx Park East where I played until dark.

 

 

 

I didn’t see much of Laureen that summer and I missed her. I was lonely and horny and my hormones were raging. Adult bookshops and massage parlors were on almost every block in lower Manhattan where I walked around during my lunch break. Then one afternoon in August temptation got the better of me. I went into a massage parlor and paid a prostitute twenty dollars for a hand job. It was the first time another woman had touched me besides Laureen, but the experience wasn’t enjoyable. I tried to justify to myself that it wasn’t really cheating. Then I thought, How would I feel if she had done something like that to me? Afterward, I was so overcome by guilt, I swore to myself I would never do anything like that to her again.

 

*****

 

Fall 1973:

 

In the fall, I moved into a house at 82 Pine Street in Southampton around the block from Main Street. Laureen moved into a house with her suitemates from last year when she lived on campus: Annie Glaser, Gail Bielecki, and Esther Beyer. She stayed with me most of the time, but whenever the people I rented the house from came down from the city for the weekend we stayed at Laureen’s place.

She also got a job at McDonald’s so she could earn some money to go back home next summer. Between working and our relationship, her schoolwork suffered and she wasn’t getting good grades. She finally changed her major from marine science to education. I made up my mind that it was time to finish those incomplete courses so I could graduate in the spring. The only student group activity I continued was president of the Literary Society.

One night Laureen came home from work looking dazed and pale. She started to cry when I asked what was wrong. She told me that the McDonald’s had been robbed, and they locked all the employees in the storeroom. Luckily, no one was hurt. She was shivering, her face filled with fear.

These anonymous cowardly thieves, wearing black hoods, had just not stolen money but they had stolen Laureen’s sense of safety and well-being. They had stolen her power to be in control. She would never relinquish that to anyone, not even me. I hugged her and tried to console her, but she didn’t want to be touched by another human being, not even someone who loved her.

“I have to take a shower,” she said, still crying.

She always reeked of McDonald’s burnt meat smell when she came home from work. Sometimes she would bring hamburger scraps home for Jolie, but even he wouldn’t eat them. I told her that I wanted her to quit, but she refused, saying she needed the money. I guess she was very determined to go back to Hana. Once she made up her mind to do something, you couldn’t change it.

Our relationship that had started out like an intense bright star four years earlier had now become a dying sun. I still loved Laureen with all my heart, but much of the intensity and passion was diminishing.

Yet I couldn’t imagine my life without her. There wasn’t any one incident that caused these changes, but I noticed that we started to become distant and argued over stupid, nonsensical, childish things, like who would take Jolie out for his nightly walk in the freezing cold. Once we bickered over silverware or something stupid like that.

We were both somewhat introverted and didn’t openly discuss our feelings or thoughts. Our emotions came out only when we had an argument. Maybe we were getting tired or bored with each other. Although we were four years older now, we didn’t mature all that much, and our relationship hadn’t matured either. We barely even made love during April and May.

I had started a new porn collection, and if Laureen even knew about it, she didn’t care anymore. There were a lot of articles and letters in Penthouse that discussed “swinging.” It really intrigued me. I must have mentioned to Laureen because she referred to “swinging” in her letters later that summer.

 

*****

 

Spring ~ Summer 1974:

 

I finally finished my incomplete courses. Graduation ceremonies were held on Saturday, June 1, 1974. In order to get my teaching certificate, I had to complete one semester of student teaching but that would have to wait until September. Laureen still had another semester of courses and one semester of student teaching to get her degree.

A few days later on June fifth, Laureen left for Hana for summer break. She told me she wasn’t sure about returning in the fall. I had mixed feelings about this. Part of me wanted my freedom and part of me couldn’t live without her. Part of me was also bored with our sexual relationship. Once again, I thought having a break for the summer might be a good thing for us. We kissed good-bye at the boarding gate. Driving home, I listened to “Leaving On A Jet Plane” on the radio.

I worked as counselor at Camp Hillard in Scarsdale. I had a really bad crush on Sally the swimming instructor. She was a rather large “zaftig” woman. She wasn’t good looking, and she had a huge, bulging nose like W.C. Fields. I asked her out several times, but she always refused. She said she had a boyfriend in Florida where she went to school. What in the world did I see in her? I must have been out of my fucking mind!

 

CHAPTER 18

 

 

 

Fall 1974:

 

Iwas at home in the Bronx, watching the Yankee game on TV before the start of the fall semester. The Yankees were playing at Shea Stadium due to the renovations at Yankee Stadium, but they still weren’t a very good team.

The phone rang and my mother picked it up. She yelled, “Jeffrey, Laureen’s on the phone.”

I ran to pick it up. “Hi, how are you?” I said, excited to hear her voice again.

“Fine. How about you?”

“I’m okay, but I miss you.”

“Sorry I haven’t been in touch, but I wanted to be sure about my plans before I called.”

She’d told me once, a few years ago, that she was going back to Hana for good after she graduated.

“I’m not coming back to Southampton.”

I was stunned and speechless. A wave of despair suddenly swept through my chest, taking away my breath, realizing that all my hopes for our future had been lost for good. I always knew this day would come.

Finally, I said, “What do you mean you’re not coming back? What about your degree?”

“I’m going to transfer my credits to the University of Hawaii,” she said.

“You only have a year left. Don’t you want to come back and finish?”

“I’d appreciate it if you’d pack up my stuff and ship it to me.”

“I still love you, Laureen.”

“I know. I love you too,” she said coldly.

“So then come back to New York,” I pleaded.

“I made up my mind, Jeffrey.”

Her tone left me cringing. Leaving no doubt about her determination, no doubt that she was serious. I slouched over and removed the phone from my ear, unable to listen, not allowing her words to sink in, brooding over what I should say. She was the only girl who ever loved me for who I was. I knew it hopeless. She could be very stubborn, and nothing I could say would change that.

“Tell me why you don’t want to come back. You met someone else, didn’t you?” I demanded.

“I don’t want to leave my family again. Jeez,” she exclaimed. “Can’t you understand that?”

“And what about us?”

A long eerie silence followed. All I heard was the dead air and static of the phone connection.

“I don’t know,” she said faintly.

“What do you mean you don’t know?”

“I mean I don’t know!” she snapped.

“So what am I suppose to do?”

“Do whatever you want to do. Go out and meet other people, okay?”

“I don’t want to meet anyone else!” I said angrily, even though I had this bad crush on Sally, the camp counselor I met this summer.

My chest muscles grew tighter, choking me. I still loved Laureen very much, but I also had this uncontrollable urge to experience other women. I felt torn inside.

“Can you send me the eight hundred dollars I put in for the car?”

“I don’t have eight hundred right now! If you want the car, come back to New York. It belongs to you too,” I said sarcastically.

“I told you I’m not coming back! When can you send me the money?” She was really peeved now.

“I can try to send you some payments. I’m going to be student teaching this semester, so I won’t be working.”

“Just send back my stuff as soon as you can, okay?”

“You knew you weren’t going to come back when you left in June, didn’t you?” I said accusingly.

“No. I wrote you and told you that I hadn’t made any plans yet. I just made up my mind.”

“Laureen, please—” I said with resignation, but in the back of my mind I thought we both needed some space and time to mature, so I didn’t really try to talk her out of it.

I dreaded that this day would come and wasn’t really surprised. Intuitively, I think we both knew that we would never marry. I couldn’t imagine my life without her, though. It was as if I didn’t exist without her.

“I gotta go now, Jeffrey. Take care of yourself, and give Jolie a treat and a hug for me.”

“You take care too. I love you,” I said deflated, unable to suck in any air.

“Goodbye,” she said softly.

“Goodbye.”

When I got back to Southampton to complete my student teaching, I moved back into the house on Pine Street. I had purchased a crystal rose flower for Sally and sent it to her, but she never responded to my gift. I sent one to Laureen, too, hoping it might change her mind, but she didn’t respond either. After a few days in the house, I felt haunted by Laureen’s presence, or lack of her presence, and had to move to another place.

Her friend Annie helped me pack up Laureen’s belongings that were stored in the cellar of the house we rented in Hampton Bays two year earlier. I felt a strange sadness going through her stuff. It was like she had died. I took out the music box I had given her for our first Christmas. I remembered the look of surprise on her face when I gave it to her and how much she treasured it. “A Time For Us” played when I opened it up. I recognized some of her jewelry inside, and the haiku poem I wrote her on October 21st 1970

I wrapped the music box in some cardboard for protection and stuffed it into a box with clothes. Didn’t I care what happened to us? I shipped all the boxes to Hana, but kept her creative writing journal because it had some of my short stories that I started but never finished. I was also determined not let her go entirely. “Maybe a little separation would do us both some good.”

I did my student teaching at Amagansett Elementary School. My supervisor, Rosemary Balthizer, was very critical of everything I did, and it created a lot of friction. Sometimes she even treated me like I was a third grader, criticizing me in front of the class. Rosemary arranged for me to meet her daughter, Jennifer. She seemed like a nice person, and I hadn’t met anyone else. She invited me over for dinner right before Thanksgiving. Jennifer lived in the basement of her mother’s house and it was very chilly. After dinner, we both got under the blanket to keep warm and watch TV. She gave me an inviting look as if to kiss her, but I couldn’t. I just didn’t want to get involved with her because her mother was such a nut. I could tell by her eyes that she wanted me to kiss her and touch her breasts. Wasn’t this what I wanted, to experience other women? Isn’t this why I let Laureen go?

Even though I was very lonely, I never called Jennifer again. I eventually got transferred to Mrs. Diamond’s second grade class to complete my student teaching. I never called or wrote to Laureen during this time, even though I kept her pictures displayed all over my apartment. I could be stubborn, too, and she never contacted me.

CHAPTER 19

 

 

 

Winter 1975:

 

Idrove to the Bronx every weekend with Jolie. The weather was very mild so I was able to play handball all winter long. I also started going to the racetrack with my handball friends Joe Bonomolo and Mike Doomchin every Saturday night. They had invited me many times but I never went because of Laureen and not having gambling money.

In January, I got a job with Encyclopedia Britannica in Riverhead. A new neighbor moved in next door. Her name was Yvonne, and she was a nude model for the college art students. She wore glasses and had very light blonde hair and blue eyes. Her skin was bone white, the complete opposite of Laureen. I invited her over for dinner one night, and afterward she shocked me when she said, “Do you want to sleep with me?”

No woman had ever come right out and ask me that before.

“I liked to spend the night with you,” I replied.

Yvonne took off her blouse and, when she removed her bra, I noticed a rose tattoo on her left breast. I thought it was gross, and the sight of it repulsed me, but not enough to leave her side. Her breasts were large and sagged low on her white-skinned chest, which made the red tattoo stand out even more. When I felt them, I thought of jell-o. I’d never felt breasts like that before. Of course, the only breasts I had ever touched were Laureen’s. They were large too, but soft and firm. These breasts felt squishy, spongy, and gelatinous. They wiggled and shimmied in my hand as I caressed them, as if they were trying to escape my fondling, like trying to pick up Jell-O with my fingers. Not particularly a sexually stimulating experience.

After she climaxed, she pulled off my pants and gave me a hand job that took forever. I slept with her that night and cuddled up next to her so I could caress her breasts with my hand like I used to do with Laureen. It wasn’t the same for me. A few days later, we went to see the Towering Inferno at the Southampton Theater and had sex that night. I didn’t bother with her again after that. I was beginning to realize that having sex without feelings for the other person wasn’t very enjoyable, and I missed Laureen terribly.

I sent Laureen an Easter card and included a fifty-dollar payment for the car, but I never received a response. I just couldn’t believe that we had spent four years together and she never responded. It was as if she had fallen off the face of the planet. I had no idea what was going on with her life, if she was happy, if she was sad, if she thought of me as much as I thought of her. Many times, I tried to pick up the phone to call her. I called her friends, Annie, Gail, and Esther but no one had heard from her, or if they did, they wouldn’t say. Even Tony hadn’t heard from her.

I still loved her and started to think about going to see her in Hana. I didn’t know what was going on in her life. I was afraid to call her, fearing the rejection.

A few weeks before Memorial Day, I got a call from Linda Pincus. She was going to be out in Southampton and wanted to get together. We went to see an X-Rated movie. It made no difference. She wasn’t affectionate and I was uncomfortable. That night we slept together in my bed fully cloth and nothing happened. She told me she was staying with her father in Queens and we should get together again when I moved back to the Bronx.

I called her and we dated a few times. She told me that she didn’t like living with her father and brother. Then she dropped a bombshell on me. She asked me if I would consider renting an apartment with her. That took me by surprise. Actually, I was shocked. I had been working for my father during the night at the Bronx Terminal Market and staying with my grandmother. I was also going to the racetrack every night with Joe and Mike.

I considered her offer and thought that it might be the start of a relationship. Maybe I would finally have a chance to break through that wall she always seemed to put up. I found a small studio apartment in my neighborhood and we moved in at the beginning of July. Problems developed right away. She didn’t stay every night but dropped in and out. She didn’t like Jolie because she was allergic to dogs, so I had to leave him with my mother. She also got pissed when I went to the racetrack and didn’t tell her, especially when I won. She still showed no affection for me and I got the impression she was just using me. One night I tried to kiss her but she resisted.

Then I thought I would give her this one last chance. I made arrangements for us to stay in the Pocono’s one weekend in August. We left the city late Friday afternoon. The sunset driving on Route 80 was beautiful. We both seemed to be relaxed looking forward to the weekend. That night we had dinner in the hotel and attended a comedy show in the ballroom. When we returned to the room, we mixed some drinks and got on the bed. We started to kiss and she removed her blouse, but once again she wouldn’t let me tongue kiss her. I stiffened with immediate rejection. I got up, and lay down on the other bed, and went to sleep. She didn’t say a word.

The rest of the weekend was miserable. On Saturday it poured but we drove to Philly to visit a former counselor from Southampton with whom she had kept in touch. It poured on Sunday too and we drove back after breakfast. I had made up my mind I was going to move out of the apartment and told her after we returned. She was really angry but I didn’t care. We both moved out. Now I knew what I had to do.

In September, I was getting serious about going to Hana. Then my grandmother had a very bad heart attack. She was in the ICU for a week. Laureen was very fond of my grandma. Maybe this was the opportunity I needed to reach out to her. I sat in the phone booth and had started to dial her number, when I lost my nerve and hung up. I didn’t know what I was so afraid of. We had spent four years together, but I couldn’t make the call.

Grandmother gradually improved and went home two weeks later. The doctor said she would need someone to help her around the house. I couldn’t leave my grandma because she had helped raise me when I was young. It took her several months before she was back on her feet.

I could tell my life was starting to spiral out of control but I couldn’t stop it. Ever since we first met, Laureen had been my rock and my compass. Now I was completely lost.

 

CHAPTER 20

 

 

 

Christmas 1975, December 21^st^:

 

I’m leaving for Hana today. Of course a freaking blizzard had to hit New York tonight. The plane was packed with holiday travelers. The middle-aged woman seated next to me asked, “Going to Honolulu for the holidays?”

“I’m going to Hana.”

She had short, blonde hair and wore a dark blue blazer and skirt. She was attractive and had a pleasant business-like smile. “Do you have family there?”

“No, I’m going to visit my girlfriend. How about you?”

“I have some business meetings to attend with the Department of Motor Vehicles, but I’ll vacation there through New Year’s.” She extended her hand. “Mary McAdam.”

I shook her hand lightly. She wore no rings so I assumed she wasn’t married. “Jeffrey Goldberg, nice to meet you.”

“So, is your girlfriend Hawaiian?

“Yes. I met her in college, but I haven’t seen her in a year and half.”

“I bet she’ll be happy to see you.”

“I hope so. She doesn’t know I’m coming.”

She looked at me quizzically. “Ohhh?”

The pilot came on the loudspeaker. “We have a slight delay folks, probably just a few minutes. The ground crew has to de-ice the wings before we can depart.”

“Great,” I said nervously.

“Don’t worry, it’s routine,” she said, patting my hand. “Where do you go to college?”

“I went to Southampton College, but I graduated a year and half ago. I have a New York State Teaching License, but you can’t get a teaching job now unless you’re willing to go into a really bad neighborhood.”

“So what do you do then?”

“I work for my dad. He has his own business.”

“What kind?”

“Wholesale produce. He sells mostly to supermarkets and restaurants out of the Bronx Terminal Market.”

“I see. Do you plan on following him into the business?”

“Not if I can help it.”

“Let me give you my card. The company I work for is always hiring.” She reached into her purse, pulled out a business card, and handed it to me. It said R.L. Polk & Co. Mary McAdam. Account Executive. 512 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1309 New York, NY 10026. 212-TA 9-4989.

“What is R.L. Polk?” I asked, stuffing the card in my wallet.

“It’s a publishing company based in Detroit. They publish city directories, but I’m here in New York opening a new direct mail division.”

I looked out the window as the plane started to move. All I saw was a white blur of snow and I nervously asked the stewardess, “Is it safe to fly in this weather?”

“Yes, young man, it’s perfectly safe,” she assured me. “So just relax.”

I thought with my luck the plane would crash and I’d never see Laureen again. I’d only flown once before, and I didn’t like the sensation of the plane taking off or landing. I closed my eyes and tightly gripped the armrests. After a quick ascent and tight turn, both of which made my stomach sick, the plane leveled and the seatbelt sign went off.

“Looks like you could use a drink,” Mary said.

“I don’t drink much. I’ll keep your card, but I can’t say what my plans are just now. It kinda depends on what happens when I get to Hana.”

“I understand.” She opened her briefcase and removed a book. It was Ragtime by E.L. Doctrow. “Have you read it? It’s very good.”

“No, I haven’t.”

“It’s been on the bestseller list for quite a while.” She opened the book to her marker and calmly began reading.

After drinking a martini and smoking two cigarettes, she turned out the light above her seat. “Time to get some sleep.”

“Don’t think I can.”

There was a stopover in Dallas and later in LA. The flight was delayed in Dallas for four hours because LAX was fogged in. I tried not to think too much about what to expect when I got to Hana. I figured there were only two possibilities—it could be wonderful, or it could be awful. I rehearsed in my head what I would say to Laureen when I saw her: “Well, I finally made it here,” or “You look as beautiful as ever,” or “I missed you so much.” Nothing seemed to feel just right, though. What would I do if we did get back together, but she didn’t want to go to New York again? I hadn’t heard from Laureen in a year and half. The only thing I was able find out from her friend Ann was that she worked nights at the Hotel Hana Maui. Ann was also going to Honolulu to visit her boyfriend from Southampton.

We finally arrived in Honolulu the following afternoon. In the terminal, Mary turned to me. “It was very nice meeting you, Jeffrey. I hope things go well with you and your girlfriend.”

“Thank you. It was nice meeting you too.”

“Good luck,” she said.

 

*****

 

December 23^rd^:

 

After leaving the plane I was greeted by teenage Hawaiian girl who placed a lei around my neck. It felt good being in warm weather again. I immediately got on an Aloha airlines flight to Hana. The plane was very small and cramped, about the size of a Cadillac. It seated six passengers, but there was only myself and another woman. The plane took off smoothly and within five minutes was high over the Pacific. Then I noticed the pilot fumbling with some of the dials on the instrument panel.

“I’m having a problem with one of gauges,” he said nervously.

Jesus Christ, what the fuck now?

“Aloha Flight 16 to tower. Fuel pressure gauge not responding, advise.” After a long pause he said, “Flight level at nine thousand. Requesting immediate clearance. Affirmative.”

He turned his head. “The fuel pressure gauge appears to be malfunctioning,” he said calmly said to us. “I don’t think it’s serious, but we can’t continue to Hana. I’ve been advised to return to Honolulu.”

“Then what?” asked the woman sitting in front of me.

“They’ll put you on another plane.

“That’s just great,” I said, starting to panic.

“We’ve been cleared for an emergency landing.”

I felt the sensation of the plane turning. As we descended, my stomach started to churn and my ears began to pop. Instinctively, I grabbed the women sitting in front of me by the shoulders.

“Will you please let go of me?” she said in a nasty voice.

I wanted to hold another human being just in case the plane was going down. Reluctantly, I let go of her. A few minutes later, the pilot landed the plane without any problem. We quickly got on another plane and within an hour landed in Hana.

It was dark when I got off the plane. The woman from the plane had family waiting to meet her. I envied her. There was a bus was waiting from the Hotel Hana Maui so I got on board. The bus seemed to crawl along at the pace of a tractor. I could easily make out lighted Christmas trees through the windows of the homes along Hana Highway. It didn’t quite feel like Christmas in this hot, humid weather.

I glanced from one side of the bus to the other. It would only be a few minutes before I got to see Laureen again. I got up to look out the window. The driver, a crusty old Hawaiian man with very dark skin yelled, “Please sit down.”

“How much longer?” I asked. “I have to make another stop at Hasegawa General Store.” I sat back down unable to keep my feet flat on the floor. My knees involuntarily bounced up and down even with the small suitcase placed over them. I rehearsed one more time what I was going to say to Laureen.

When I arrived at the hotel, I asked for Laureen and I was pointed to an office. I stood outside the door a few seconds taking some deep breaths, my heart pounding away in my chest with anticipation and fear. My hands trembled. I didn’t knock. I just opened the door, walked in, and stood there.

For just a split second, I caught a glimpse of her beautiful face. She looked the same since I last saw her except her skin was much darker, her long, brown hair still parted down the middle. Then she looked up from the desk with her big, brown eyes. The sight of me after a year and half must have shocked her. Her lovely dark complexion instantly turned ashen. Those beautiful brown eyes opened wide, flashing rage. It frightened me. I had only seen that look a few times, the way her forehead grew tight and wrinkled; her eyebrows pulled together; her thinned, tensed lips flattening her nose, tightening her jaw. Anger exploded across her sweet face, turning it a furious red. She jumped out of the chair, sending it backward crashing into the wall.

Before I could say a word she screamed, “What are you doing here?”

“Uh, uh—”

“I’m engaged—I’m engaged to be married!”

I stood there still holding my suitcases. The words I had rehearsed in my head for hours on the plane to announce my arrival back into her life evaporated from my mouth, leaving me speechless.

Engaged to be married? I heard what she said, but I couldn’t process the meaning.

“I—I don’t believe you,” I said. “I don’t see a ring on your finger.”

“Believe what you want. I’m living with my fiancé. I can’t believe you didn’t call me first. You just show up here like this,” she said, scowling, her eyes wide, distant, and cold.

“And you would have told me not to come,” I said, letting go of the suitcases, which thudded to the floor at my sides.

Her small hands that I held lovingly almost every day during our four years together were clenched tightly into fists, fists that beat me once when I told her I’d spent the night at Tisha’s house three years ago, even though nothing had happened. She forgave me that, but I sensed there would be no forgiveness now. I wished she would beat me again. Then I’d know she still loved me.

“That’s right!” she said, pounding the desk with a fist.

“You always wrote how much you wanted me to come to Hana with you. Doesn’t it mean anything to you that I came here to see you?”

“That was before,” she said.

“Before what? I don’t understand what you’re saying.”

“Things were different then.”

“Well, I’m here now. Thanks for the warm welcome.”

“I’m sorry you made the trip, but nobody invited you,” she said coolly. Something in the sound of her once sweet and loving voice suddenly made my legs go weak.

Oh God. I slumped against the doorframe to hold myself up.

“Laureen, please let’s not argue. I’m exhausted. I’ve been on a plane for two days, and then the Aloha Airlines flight had to make an emergency landing. And now you’re giving me this bullshit that you’re engaged.”

Seeing me again after all this time didn’t soften her. Her body remained rigid and tense, her arms folded tightly across her chest as if protecting herself. “There’s nothing to argue about. I told you I’m engaged and living with my fiancé,” she repeated again. “Just go back home. God damn it. Go home!”

I’d never heard her use that tone with me, even when we had a fight. As though she were confronting a burglar who invaded the sanctity of her home.

“Laureen, I missed you—I wanted to see you again.”

She picked up the chair and sat back down at her desk. “You just can’t walk into my life whenever you want. I’m supposed to be working now, so wait in the lobby.”

“Can’t we at least talk about this?”

“I have work to do, damn it, leave me alone,” she said, looking down at the papers on her desk.

I just stood there, silently watching her shuffle papers pretending to work, ignoring me as though she had just seen and ghost and didn’t want to believe it.

“Jeffrey, please. I can’t deal with you now. Wait in the lobby!” she demanded angrily.

I picked up the suitcases, walked into the lobby, and sat down, my body shaking from the confrontation. I had no place to go so I just sat there stunned. Wondering. How—how in the world did I end up here like this? There were so many wonderful happy moments those first few years, so much laughter, so much hope. Our hearts were filled with such intense love. And oh, oh how she loved me. Sometimes I thought my heart would burst from her love.

There was one afternoon a few months after we had fallen in love, I stopped by her dorm room at five o’clock so we could be the first in line for dinner. Laureen wasn’t there. Her roommate Marjorie said that she went for a ride with Shelly, another girl in the suite, but she didn’t know where they went. I waited out in the suite so I wouldn’t disturb her. An hour went by, it was already dark, and I was getting very anxious. Maybe they got into an accident or something?

It was after seven when they finally got back. “Gosh! Where were you so late?” I said. “I was getting worried.”

“We went shopping in Southampton then Shelly wanted to go to Saks in East Hampton.”

“I’ve been waiting since five to go to dinner. Why didn’t you leave me a note?”

“I’m sorry. I thought we’d be back much earlier,” she said giving me a very hard and sexy kiss.

“What’s in the bag?”

“It’s something for my hope chest.”

“What’s that?”

“You never heard of a hope chest?”

“Nope.”

“It’s where you store things for when you get married.”

“What’d you get?”

“It’s a secret. I’m afraid you’ll just have to wait.”

“Okay. But I can’t wait any longer to eat, I’m starving.”

I grabbed her hand and we hurried over to Wood Hall before it closed, thanking God he brought my sweetheart safely back to me.

I didn’t know why but that last year we both seemed to drift apart. The fascination of being with each other faded. We knew each other’s faults and didn’t always like them. Maybe we both wanted the other to be perfect. But all that time, even after she left, I never stopped loving her. Tears rolled down my cheeks. I never found out what it was she bought that day.

Finally, she came out of the office and said her uncle would pick me up. She made arrangements for me to stay at her grandmother’s cottage adjacent to her parent’s house. Ten minutes later a large Hawaiian man approached me. He introduced himself but I hardly heard his name. I followed him outside to a large, old pickup truck, the kind you might see on a farm. He took my suitcases and placed them in the truck bed.

“So you know Laureen from school, eh?” he asked in a thick Hawaiian accent.

“I’m her boyfriend from college. We went together for four years.”

“But uh, uh—She didn’t tell you?

“Tell me what?”

“She live with Mark.”

“Mark?”

“Yeah, yeah. Mark the park ranger. Drives that funny lookin’ white car, The…uh,uh…The Thing.”

“How nice.”

A few minutes later, he stopped the truck and got out.

“We’re here.”

He carried my luggage and I followed him past the large house to a smaller one in the back.

A small, frail elderly woman met me at the door. She looked more Japanese than Hawaiian. “Aloha. My daughter say you friend of Laureen.”

“Yes. Thanks for putting me up.”

“Come, come.” She beckoned. “We all family here.”

But in my heart I didn’t feel welcomed and I certainly didn’t feel like family. Now I regretted never coming back to Hana with Laureen when we were going together. Maybe things would be different if I had. Instead, I wasted all that precious time chasing after women just for sex, women I didn’t even like.

She showed me to the bedroom and offered me something to eat. I hadn’t eaten anything since lunch on the plane but I wasn’t hungry. I just wanted to get into bed and never wake up.

 

CHAPTER 21

 

 

 

December 24, 1975:

 

Iawoke the next day late, suffering from jet lag and severe depression. I lay in bed with this overwhelming feeling that I didn’t belong here in Hana. It was the antithesis of the feeling I had in August 1969 when I first set foot on the Southampton College campus. I knew intuitively that I belonged there, that I was meant to be there, but not here. It wasn’t just that Laureen didn’t want me here. I think I felt it when I first got off the plane, but I was so excited to see her again that I ignored that intuitive feeling.

Her grandmother left a note for me to help myself to breakfast and coffee. I made eggs with bacon and toast. A pot of coffee was on the burner. I went to get some cream and attached to the refrigerator door I saw three photos of Laureen. There was no date on the back. But there was something different about her in these photos. I never saw her look like this before. My favorite photo of her was the one taken when we stopped at a scenic veiwpoint driving through upstate New York in the summer of 1971. She was wearing that same sleeveless, tight-fitting lavender top that she wore the first night we ever kissed. In that photo I loved the way the wisps of hair blew across her face.

I kept that photo of her in my book of Byron’s poems, on the page “She Walks In Beauty.”

 

She walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies;

And all that’s best of dark and bright

…Meet in her aspect and her eyes:

Thus mellow’d to that tender light

Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

 

One shade the more, one ray the less,

Had half impair’d the nameless grace

Which waves in every raven tress,

Or softly lightens o’er her face;

Where thoughts serenely sweet express

How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

 

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,

So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,

The smiles that win, the tints that glow,

But tell of days in goodness spent,

A mind at peace with all below,

A heart whose love is innocent!

 

She always looked sweet and innocent in all our photos, but not in these three photos. Her complexion was much darker and radiant after being in Hana for the last year and a half. Her face had filled out. Her hair was thicker and fuller instead of just hanging down limply. She looked exotic, alluring, and more mature now. She looked provocative. She looked like a woman in love. It was probably that guy Mark who took these photos. Then I recognized the bracelet she wore on her right wrist. My heart sank even deeper. The very same bracelet she wore so many times with me. When I held her hand. And I knew—I knew what I had always dreaded and feared—that I’d lost her forever.

 

 

The Laureen I knew didn’t exist anymore. What happened to her innocent heart that loved me? This was the Laureen I was waiting for, this was the Laureen I always wanted, this was the Laureen I came back for. I fell in love with a teenager, but Mark fell in love with a woman. Now I had lost the opportunity to share my entire life with her.

After breakfast I got back into bed. It was already dark when I heard a knock at the door. It was her mother, Elizabeth. She came over to see how I was doing.

“It’s nice to finally meet you, Jeffrey,” she said. “I only wish…”

“I know.”

“My husband and I want to thank you and also your family for taking good care of Laureen when she was at Southampton.”

“You don’t have to thank me, Mrs. Tanaka. We loved each other very much.”

“Her father and I were very disappointed with her when Laureen didn’t return to graduate.”

“I was hoping she would come back, too.”

“She always used to tell me how much she missed you and how generous your family treated her. I’m very sorry my daughter behaves so badly to you now,” she said.

“I guess it wasn’t a good idea to come here without calling her first.”

“You mean you didn’t know she had a boyfriend?”

“No. We haven’t been in touch for a year and a half.” I swallowed a lump in my throat. “She told me they’re engaged.”

A’ole!” she exclaimed.

“What?”

“Sorry. A’ole means no.”

My heart perked up a bit and then shrank. So Laureen wasn’t engaged. She lied to me.

“They just living together,” she said. “Very embarrassing for our family. Everyone in Hana talk about them.”

“Have you told her how you feel?”

“We try, but she can be very stubborn and selfish sometimes.”

“Yes, Mrs. Tanaka, I know. Believe me, I know.”

“My husband and I are thinking that since you’re here now maybe you can break them up.”

My eyes grew wide. It was obvious that Laureen’s parents didn’t approve of her living situation, but I couldn’t believe her mother was asking me to try and break it up. I should’ve been happy, but all I felt was dread. “I don’t know what I can do. I only saw her for a few minutes last night and she was very upset to see me. I haven’t seen her since.”

“She only say to me that she couldn’t believe you came here and could we put you up. I tell her to go and see you.”

“Thank you,” I said.

After Laureen’s mother left, I sat on the patio and stared at the beautiful palm trees. I couldn’t believe I was in Hawaii, I couldn’t believe anything anymore. I really questioned what I was doing here. My original plan was to get back together with Laureen, swoop her off her feet, and bring her back to New York to live with me. Hopefully, we would get married. But everything had changed. I never realized it until I saw the disgust for me in her eyes.

I knew I should leave, but I needed to see Laureen one more time.

 

CHAPTER 22

 

 

 

December 27, 1975:

 

Ispent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day by myself. Laureen spent them with her parents and sisters, her boyfriend, and probably his family too. I wouldn’t be welcome, of course, and I wouldn’t have gone even if I were invited. Not that I celebrated Christmas, but it wasn’t a holiday I wanted to spend by myself in a strange place. It depressed me even more when I thought about that romantic Christmas we spent only four years ago in Hampton Bays. Only four years ago.

Laureen finally came to see me today. I was lying on the bed when she entered the room. She pulled up a chair and sat down with her legs crossed and her arms folded.

“My mother thought I should spend some time with you,” she said.

“I haven’t seen you in a year and half, and your mother has to tell you that?”

“I didn’t invite you to come here, Jeffrey.”

“That’s true, you didn’t. I came because I still love you.”

“I told you I’m engaged,” she said, looking off to the side, avoiding my stare.

Her eyes kept me distant, not letting me get too close, not letting me in. I watched for her response when I said, “I love you,” but she showed none, not even a tiny glimmer of compassion. “Yeah. So you’re engaged. How come your parents don’t know about it?”

“We haven’t told them yet.”

I thought about the night in my dorm room just before we kissed for the first time, when her eyes had the look of desire and longing for me. Now her eyes were dead for me. They showed no acknowledgement that I ever existed in her life, no memory that we ever had been intimate, no recognition that we had been lovers. In her eyes, I felt myself fading away, being erased, vanishing into nothingness, a void. When I tried to make contact with her beautiful brown eyes, they darted away to a vacuous place beyond me, beyond the four walls of the room, beyond this time and space. There was this helplessness and hopelessness, as though our life, our love was being stolen from me, and I couldn’t prevent it.

I reached for her hand, but she jerked her entire body back away from me.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” I said. “You know I could never hurt you.”

“I don’t want you to touch me, okay?”

She was soft-spoken. There was no anger or animosity in her voice. I didn’t sense that she hated me. It’s not that easy to hate someone you once loved. But I did sense she resented me. Resented me for intruding into her life. She let me into her heart once as I let her into mine. Her expression toward me then was always tender, loving, and affectionate, but now her words killed me. She wouldn’t let me near her. A coldness I’d never seen or felt seemed to come from within her.

“You’re acting exactly the same way toward me like you did when you came back to New York after visiting your family. I remember both those times. You treated me as if I meant nothing to you, like I was a stranger. You didn’t want me to touch you then either. After a few days, you finally warmed up to me again. I never told you how much that hurt me.”

“That’s not true, and you know it!”

“Okay, then answer me this. How come we never broke up before? We talked about it several times, but we always seemed to make up. Were you afraid I wouldn’t be there for you to lean on? Were you just using me for four years so you wouldn’t be lonely?”

“If you want to believe that, then go ahead. I didn’t come here to discuss our relationship.”

“So why did you come? You haven’t even asked me how I’ve been, or my family, or about Jolie,” I said.

“I think you should go home.”

I could sense she had some kind of power over me now that she never had before. Our relationship always existed in my backyard in New York. She was always the needy one, using me to fill the void of her family. Was that all I was to her—a shield against loneliness? She had been the weak one, and I had the power. It wasn’t something I consciously did or was even aware of. It was just the way our relationship seemed to work. She let me treat her that way. I never wanted to have power over her, or control her, or possess her. I just wanted to love her and have her love me.

“Laureen please just give me a chance—I’ve changed.”

“It’s too late.”

“Why.”

“Because I’m love with someone else.”

“So it’s all over between us?”

“Yes, it’s over, Jeffrey. We’re not teenagers anymore. It’s time to move on,” she said. Her tone was unfamiliar, cold, and hard.

“Then, I’d like to have my music box back,” I said.

“You gave it to me as a present,” she said, unable to prevent a grin. “Don’t act like a child. I’m not giving it back to you.”

“Do you still keep the Haiku I wrote for you inside?” I asked but she didn’t respond.

It galled me to think that she might have taken it with her when she moved in with Mark.

“What about all those letters you wrote me when you came back home and wished I was here with you?”

“Things were different then.”

“So the four years that we spent together don’t mean anything to you?”

“I wasn’t always happy,” she said, her mood darkening.

My stomach knotted, listening to her depreciation our four-year relationship, of my love…Tears threatened to burst.

“Oh, thanks for telling me that now. I guess you never loved me either.”

“I didn’t say that. It’s just…”

“Just what?”

“You could be so damn controlling and possessive sometimes. So immature.”

“And I suppose you weren’t?”

“I don’t know.”

“You didn’t mention that I beat you, too.”

“Come on. You know you didn’t.”

“I’m so sorry, Laureen. I never meant—”

“Don’t you understand? It’s too late for being sorry.”

“I still love you very much,” I said.

She didn’t respond or look at me. I didn’t want to, but I began to cry, lowering my head so she wouldn’t see. There were a few times during our relationship when I cried in front of her, and she would always soothe and comfort me. Not now. I hoped it would be her hand rubbing the back of my neck, but instinctively it was my own.

I didn’t want to show her I was weak. All the anxiety of making this trip, the months of anticipation and expectation, and the hopes I had of reuniting with her just overcame me. She didn’t explain what happened since she had come back home and I was too afraid to ask. She was a woman now, and she didn’t want to be in love with a child anymore.

She just sat silently as I cried. I didn’t know why, but my mind drifted back to my Uncle Arnold. I drifted out of my body while still in the room with her sitting in front me—drifted to another time, another place. I saw him lying on the bed during a visit in the Veteran’s hospital right before he died, but I didn’t cry. I was seven years old. He was my favorite uncle. Then I saw my brother Norman holding my hand as we walked into the funeral home, but I still didn’t cry. He was still holding my hand at the cemetery when they lowered his casket into the ground, still not crying. I saw myself at my grandma’s house after the funeral. She was crying and being comforted by relatives and friends and it broke my heart.

“I’m sorry you’re hurt. I don’t want to hurt you, Jeffrey,” she said, softly. “I just wish you hadn’t come here.”

“How come you stopped writing to me?”

“I thought that’s what you wanted.”

“My feelings for you never changed. I just thought we both needed some time to be on our own and grow up. That’s why I didn’t come sooner.”

“It wouldn’t have mattered.”

“Why couldn’t you just have waited for me? I fooled around a few times after you left. I admit it, but I never stopped loving you.”

“My feelings have changed,” she said indifferently.

“I can see that. So what do you want me do?”

“I think you should go home tomorrow.”

“Maybe I’ll go to Honolulu and get a job,” I said defiantly.

“Do what you want, but it’s not going to change anything. I need to go,” she said, abruptly.

“Will I see you again?”

There was a long awkward silence. It was weird. Even when we first met we never had any awkward silences. We didn’t always have to say something to feel comfortable with each other. We just were.

Suddenly she screamed, “I didn’t want to end up miserable like your mother, okay!” Then she got up and ran out of the room.

So now I knew. Now I knew the real reason. That struck a nerve at the very core of my being. I never felt more alone and miserable in my life, as if part of me didn’t exist anymore. Everything we ever had together was wasted and lost. I wasted it all, because I wanted to experience other women. Just like my father. I felt helpless and humiliated. Nothing I could say or do was going to change anything. All along that must have been what she feared, and I never had a clue. But I understood what she meant. Those times when my parents had their nasty fights in front of us, I just wanted to die.

Later that day I left a note on the bed. I wrote something about how I couldn’t live without her. I left everything there and just starting walking. I walked for hours not knowing where I was going. I wandered through miles of fields and never saw anyone. I was lost, truly lost. I finally made it down to a two-lane road and continued walking. A few minutes later, a jeep pulled up beside me with two guys. I recognized her uncle, the one who picked me up at the hotel.

They offered me a ride back to Hana. On the drive back, I thought, If only I’d gone back with her in June of 1974, or come to Hana sooner. If only she hadn’t met Mark, or if he already had a girlfriend, or if they didn’t get along and broke up, or if she had just dated other guys but never got involved. If only she had called me some time during that year and half and asked me to come to Hana. Like that time in January of 1971 when we had a fight and I went back to Bronx to buy a new stereo and she was taking that writing course. Did she remember she called me and begged me to come back to Southampton right away but wouldn’t tell me the reason? Then when I got back, she was in tears and told me that she had sex with someone and she asked me to forgive her, which I did. If only, if only…when she saw me the other day she had welcomed me with open arms and told me how happy she was that I finally came and how much she missed me. I would have gotten on my knees and begged her to marry me!

I never got to see any of the sites of Hana or Hawaii. I had taken Laureen all over New York so many times. She loved the sites of Manhattan and I loved sharing them with her. We would walk hand in hand for miles all along Fifth Avenue or Madison, gazing in store windows or stopping at a bakery for a nosh. I waited but she never came to see me again. I knew I didn’t belong here. I stayed because she wanted me to go. I stayed because I couldn’t let go. I walked all over Hana but never saw that white Thing he drove. I would never hurt Laureen but I wanted to kill Mark Sanders. That wouldn’t change anything, of course, except that he would never have her, and I’d spend a very long time in prison.

A few days later I flew to Kahului and stayed overnight in a seedy hotel. The next day I hitched a ride back on the Hana Highway. It was a beautiful scenic drive, but I was scared out of my mind by the treacherous road conditions. I wished Laureen were here driving instead of the creep who picked me up. I survived the Hana Highway, but I still felt dead.

 

*****

 

December 31, 1975:

 

On New Year’s Eve, one of Laureen’s cousins invited me to a Luau. Kalua pig had been prepared. A whole pig was wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in an imu, an underground pit. It was the most scrumptious meat I had ever eaten.

We bounced from one party to another that night, and every place we stopped I had another drink. I was stoned out of my mind. Laureen and I didn’t drink much. We didn’t keep wine around the house, and I never had an occasion to get drunk in her presence during our four years together. But tonight I didn’t care. I finally ended up on the main street of Hana waiting for the fireworks to go off at midnight.

Then I spotted Laureen walking down the street in a crowd of people just as 1976 approached, a niece hanging on to each hand. Fireworks exploded all over town. It didn’t seem like New Year’s Eve to me. There were never fireworks in Times Square, and it was never warm and muggy like tonight.

I planted myself in front of her and said, “Happy New Year.” I tried to kiss her on the lips, but she turned her face away.

“Happy New Year,” she said coldly, as if she had just crossed paths with a complete stranger.

Then I whispered in her ear, “I love you. I will always love you.”

She just ignored me, looking at me with repulsion. She had never seen me drunk before, but it was more than just my drunkenness. I had invaded her world, a world where I didn’t belong, an interloper from her past. It was only five years ago that we stood in Times Square on that frigid New Year’s Eve. Warmed by the crushing crowd of people and by our love for each other. Our love was new and intense. We had kissed madly after the ball dropped to welcome in 1971. Five years didn’t seem so long ago. I never repulsed her even in our darkest, saddest moments. Now I was going to be sick. I wanted to die.

Somehow, I ended up in her sister’s van and got sick there. I must have passed out, because the next thing I remember was waking up in bed at her grandmother’s house the next day. Her mom and dad came to see me and said it was time for me to leave. I took those three photos that were taped to the fridge and placed them in my suitcase, so I could always remember how beautiful she was, so I could always remember what I’d lost. Later that day I flew back to Honolulu and stayed with Arnie, Ann’s boyfriend from Southampton.

One night I ventured down to Waikiki Beach and found an Asian massage parlor. I picked a woman from Indonesia. I paid her for a hand job, which was all I could afford, but it wasn’t very satisfying. I thought about staying in Honolulu and tried to get a job, but after a few days I decided it was time to fly back to New York. My life was now changed forever. It wasn’t calm during the flight—but the turbulence didn’t bother me. I really didn’t care if the plane crashed. I was already dead inside.

 

CHAPTER 23

 

 

 

January ~ March 1976:

 

Within a week of arriving back in New York I got a job working for a cruise line at 1 Penn Plaza. During my lunch hour, I would walk next door to Penn Station, grab a hot dog, and sit on a bench. I could feel us here—Laureen, Hilary, and myself—back in 1970 during Thanksgiving weekend, three ghosts among the thousands of pedestrians racing to and from trains in the huge station. Not only here, but everywhere I went in New York with Laureen—Rockefeller Center, Times Square, Grand Central—I felt her presence. There was no way I could even make a farewell trip out to Southampton now. I lived there last year, but that was when I still hoped that somehow Laureen and I could get back together. These places were haunted.

Every night I would go to the harness races at Yonkers Raceway. Sometimes I would win a couple hundred and then lose it all the next day. Winning a race was exhilarating, especially with a big payoff. It was like getting high or having great sex, maybe even better. I couldn’t stay away. I was addicted, and I knew it. I hadn’t gone on a date in over a year, so I paid for sex two to three times a week. The more upscale escort services were on the upper West Side, They advertised in SCREW Magazine. Anything you wanted for about twenty-five dollars. A few times I paid for two girls. It was exciting, but I was never really satisfied. How could it be when there were no feelings? I’d suffered with bouts of depression before, but nothing like this. If I were addicted to drugs or alcohol, I’d have been dead by now.

I knew I had to get away from New York. The first week in February, I packed up my belongings in the Plymouth Duster and drove to California with Jolie. I’d thought about moving to California for quite a while. I was tired of the cold winters, and from what I read it was a “swinger’s” paradise. I arrived a week later and moved in with Michael Drezin, an old friend from Pelham Parkway, who was attending Pepperdine Law School. He lived on Ball Road in Anaheim just off the Santa Ana Freeway. There were no pets allowed in his apartment, but he let me stay anyway.

For weeks, I tried to get an elementary school teaching job but had no luck, so I took a job as a security guard for minimum wage working nights at a factory. I also tried to get my own apartment but no one in Orange County would rent if you had a dog. I didn’t have enough money to go to the racetrack or prostitutes, but I found a swinger’s party in West Covina advertised in an adult newspaper that accepted single men. It was free if you brought something for the dinner buffet or paid ten dollars to get in, so I decided to go one Saturday night.

I was very nervous driving there and wasn’t sure what to expect. I arrived around eight o’clock. A young woman dressed in a scanty, see-through negligee with huge breasts greeted me at the door. The house was packed with people, mostly older than me. I poked around the buffet for something to eat, then sat down in the living room to check things out, but I was too nervous to eat. Couples seemed to hang out with other couples. There was only one single woman. She must have been a regular, because everyone seemed to know her. I found out she was a cop and liked other women. The living room emptied out as couples moved into the bedrooms to swap partners.

The young woman who greeted me at the door suggested I go into the Jacuzzi. She walked me through the house into the backyard. Steamy vapor emanated from the hot water into the cold March air. A man and woman were kissing at one end, and a lone woman was swimming at the other end. I took a towel, got undressed, and slowly entered the hot water. As soon as I got in, the woman slowly approached me. She looked about forty or forty-five years old with curly black hair and not very attractive.

“Would you like some wine?” she asked as she held out her wine glass.

“No thanks.”

“Hi, I’m Helene,” she said.

I wondered if that was really her name. I hesitated for a moment, unsure if I should use my real name, but I finally said, “Jeff. Nice to meet you.”

“Is this your first time here?”

“Yeah.”

“Are you here with someone or by yourself?” she asked.

“Just myself. How ’bout you?”

“I came with my husband, but he’s with another couple.”

“Ohhh…”

“It’s okay, I want him to have a good time,” she said, positioning herself very close to me.

“Do you come here often?”

“Once or twice a month. You seem very nervous. Is this your first swing party?”

“Uh huh.”

She wriggled around behind me. “Just relax. You’re very tense,” she said, massaging my shoulders.

“Mmm. That feels good,” I said, letting out a deep breath.

“Now do mine.”

Then she turned around and started kissing me. I could taste the wine on her mouth. The couple at the other end of the Jacuzzi was having sex, but I wasn’t comfortable doing anything in the open.

“Can we go into a private room?” I said. I wasn’t attracted to her, but I came here to have sex not fall in love.

“Sure, honey. Let’s go.”

We got out of the Jacuzzi, wrapped towels around our bodies, and grabbed our clothes. I saw her middle-aged naked body for the first time and, surprisingly, found her saggy breasts and large butt very sensual. She took my hand and escorted me into a dimly lit bedroom. She removed her towel and lay down on the bed. I’d never had sex with an older woman, but she had a sexy body. She reached over, took off my towel, and pulled me down next to her. We started kissing and fondling and having oral sex. This was nice, because prostitutes wouldn’t let you kiss them. We both climaxed having oral sex. Then we rested and had intercourse. Later there was a knock at the door and a female voice said, “We’re closing in fifteen minutes.”

We got up and dressed. She kissed me on the lips. “Thanks for the wonderful evening.”

I didn’t know what to say. “Thank you, too,” I muttered. “Maybe we’ll see each other again.” But I knew we wouldn’t.

It was after midnight when I left. I got on the 605 Freeway south to Anaheim. Traffic was very light this time of the night. Suddenly, I thought I’d be sick. The pain in my gut was so strong my eyes began tearing. I had to get off the freeway before I lost control of the car. I took the next exit and looked for a place to park. It was a well-lit commercial area, but I wanted to park some place where it was dark. I drove around, found a darkened residential street, and pulled over.

The sick feeling got much worse. It wasn’t just physical. It was beyond the physical. It was the feeling of despair—the despair I’d always been running from.

I recognized that sinking feeling in my stomach. The first time I ever felt it was at the age of six. We were driving on the Bronx River Parkway. I was sitting in the front seat with my father and my mother was sitting in the back. They were arguing. My mother was screaming something about my father leaving his family for that whore, Adeline Durso. She started whacking him on the head with an umbrella from the back seat. He desperately tried to keep control of the car, swerving into the next lane. I thought we were going to crash and be killed. I felt helpless, hopeless, terrified. It was that same feeling I got in Hana when Laureen told me it was over and she loved Mark.

Tonight it had been the sex. Sure. I enjoyed swinging with Helene, or whatever her damn name was. This was my fantasy come true. I first started fantasying about swinging during the spring semester in 1974 after reading articles in Penthouse Magazine.

I’d mentioned it to Laureen, but she thought it was gross and disgusting. She even joked about it in the letter she wrote while on the plane on June 5, 1974, the day she left. I got a vacant seat next to the window and all I saw was clouds and water. Well, there is this nice gentleman who is in the Navy sitting two seats away. Married—so you don’t have to worry (no swinging). And again on June 7, Hope you won’t have to “swing.”

What in God’s name was I thinking? How sick was I to mention, “swinging” to her?

But Helene went home with her husband. I missed having sex with a woman and spending the night with her, cuddling next to her, then waking up the next morning to have sex again.

I desperately wanted to be in love with someone again. Instead, I got what I really wanted, what I had wished for, when I made that deal with the devil…

“You can have all the sex you want to your heart’s content,” he assured me, “with all kinds of partners, all sizes and shapes of breasts, all different colors and flavors of pussy.”

“And what do you want in return?” I asked.

“You give up your love for Laureen, the love of your life. The person who is your soul-mate.”

“I don’t think so.”

“You want to experience lots of woman. It’s your obsession.”

“Yes, but—”

“That’s what’s in your heart, right?”

“Yes.”

“Good, now just sign here on the dotted line.”

“In blood?”

“Yes, Jeffrey, in your blood…”

I sat there for a long time in the darkness and cried. I was lost. My soul was lost. I wept, knowing what I had squandered and wasted to have tonight’s fantasy fulfilled.

There was no place to run, no place to hide from this despair. It would always be with me like a scar. Even though what Laureen did to me in Hana was cruel, I still couldn’t hate her. What I did to us was absolutely evil. There would be no forgiveness. No absolution. No escape from the depravation. I was alone in the world.

 

CHAPTER 24

 

 

 

1976 ~ 2010:

 

After living at Michael’s apartment for several months I had to move out because of Jolie. I needed another place to stay so I got a job as a groom for Walt Peterson Stables at Los Alamitos racetrack. He was a harness race driver and owned several horses. If I thought that cleaning up after food fights in the cafeteria was bad, nothing had prepared me for the odor of cleaning up a stall with horses. After a few weeks, I headed back to New York again in the spring of 1976.

It wasn’t long before I fell into the same routine. I was addicted to the harness races and paying for prostitutes. I made another trip to California in November and this time went to San Francisco and Monterey. Monterey reminded me of Southampton but I couldn’t get a job. I ran out of money and once again Jolie and I headed back to New York.

By August 1977, I had saved enough money to move to Los Angeles. In September I was able to secure a job at Pinecrest Schools in Van Nuys teaching third grade. I rented a room in a house in Tarzana in the San Fernando Valley. During this time, I was able to settle down. I had just learned to play golf before leaving New York and enjoyed the Southern California weather where I’d be able to play all year round. I made a few friends and started dating some Jewish women. Almost every weekend I went to “swing parties.” Even though I had sex, “swinging” for a single guy wasn’t very satisfying. You were basically renting someone’s wife or girlfriend for an hour or so. Sometimes you had to share her with other guys. I was extremely lonely and miserable and desperate to find someone to love me like Laureen had loved me. But during this time I never had a relationship with anyone.

I left Pinecrest after the first year and got a job as a substitute teacher with Los Angeles Unified Schools. I was playing golf every weekend and had gotten my handicap down to eight. I also started to play in tournaments and thought about making a career change teaching golf. The golf pro at Sepulveda Golf Course offered me a job in the spring of 1979. In addition to working in the shop, I had to pick up the golf balls on the driving range. One night I was picking up balls with the tractor and it suddenly stopped. I figured it was out of gas, so I got the gas can from the shed, opened the cap on the tractor, and filled it up. I turned on the ignition and black smoke started spewing from the tractor. I went and got my boss, Richard, and he freaked out. Apparently, I had poured gas into the oil tank not the gas tank. I had never driven a tractor in my life so what did I know. He didn’t fire me but he also didn’t mentor me on how to give golf lessons.

 

*****

 

May 25, 1979:

 

I saw an ad in the LA Times for a singles party in Santa Monica on Saturday night of Memorial Day weekend. I parked my car outside the entrance and waited to see who was going in. Most of the people looked older than me. I thought about leaving but decided to go in anyway. I met Inez Terumi Ikkanda that night. When I met her, I wasn’t looking for an “Asian” woman. It just happened. She was thirty-six, I was twenty-eight, and we started dating. I wasn’t sure if I liked her at first but I did feel comfortable around her and I could just be myself. It was similar to the feeling I had when I first met Laureen. I even stopped “swinging.”

On our second date, we went to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. I tried to hold her hand as we walked around but she resisted. I didn’t like being rejected like that and made up my mind that this was our last date. Then I thought, Maybe I should give you another chance. So we went on a third date in Westwood. That seemed to go a little better.

 

 

The next weekend we drove down to San Diego for the day. We had a picnic lunch in Balboa Park. It was a beautiful summer day. We were lying in the grass, and I kissed her for the first time. She really warmed up after that. Later that night when we got back to her apartment we made love. Falling in love with her was different than it was with Laureen. I was more mature now and ready to settle down. We got married eight months later on January 5, 1980.

 

 

I spent the next two years trying to make a living teaching golf while Inez taught at Paul Revere Junior High in Pacific Palisades. We rented a condo in Redondo Beach. Finally I decided to get a real job answered an ad in the LA Times from a search firm looking for an account executive. When I arrived at the intereview I was shocked to meet Mary MacAdam, the woman I met on the flight to Honolulu back in 1975. She was interviewing to fill a vacacy in the mailing-list division in the LA office for R.L. Polk & Co. She hired me on the spot and I spent the next nine years working for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,

And nodding by the fire, take down this book,

And slowly read, and dream of the soft look

Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

 

How many loved your moments of glad grace,

And loved your beauty with love false or true,

But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,

And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

 

And bending down beside the glowing bars,

Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled

And paced upon the mountains overhead

And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

 

When You Are Old ~William Butler Yeats

 

CHAPTER 25

 

 

 

Montauk Dorm, Southampton College, Friday, May 21, 1971 9:00 a.m., The Second Time Around:

 

Ilay next to Laureen, thinking, If I am really back here in 1971, will I be able to change anything? All these years I had blamed her for ending our relationship when it was my own doing. Now I had the opportunity to at least try to alter our past and prevent her dying from cancer. I must have dozed off, because when I awoke again, the sun was glaring in the room, and I could hear people rustling around the suite.

The alarm clock showed nine a.m. I gently shook Laureen’s shoulder. She opened her eyes and smiled sleepily. “Good morning. What time is it?”

I wasn’t prepared to hear the sound of her soft-spoken, velvety voice and strong Hawaiian accent after all these years. I thought it almost amusing that in her mind nothing had changed since we went to bed last night, having no idea who I really was or what I really was. I guessed I should thank the Senior Citizen Time Travel Project that I didn’t arrive here in my ninety-two-year-old body. I only looked about sixty-five when I left 2043 because of age reversing drugs. Just imagine if she saw the sixty-five-year-old me lying next to her instead of the twenty-year-old Jeffrey she went to bed with last night. Now that would take some explaining! Laureen had no idea about tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year.

When I looked into her beautiful, brown eyes, it was like seeing her again for the very first time. They had that soft look of desire, like that night in my dorm room when we first kissed. My body shuddered. I couldn’t control myself and began to cry.

She sat up looking anxious. “Jeffrey, what’s the matter?”

“I—I thought I lost you, and I—I couldn’t find you,” I said, sobbing.

I buried my face against her breasts and smelled the sweet freshness of her skin, felt the pulse of her heartbeat, and thanked God she was alive again.

“What are you talking about? I’m right here.”

“You weren’t always here. You left me for a long, long time. I lost you forever, and I couldn’t get back to you. Look at me. Am I the same person you went to bed with last night?”

She furrowed her brow in confusion. “You look the same to me. Why?”

“Take a good look.”

“Well, let’s see.You still have that big nose.”

“Thanks a lot,” I said, frowning.

“Wait, there is something.” She poked my cheek with her forefinger. “You didn’t have that pimple yesterday.”

“Very funny. That’s very funny.”

“Were you having a bad dream or something?” she asked, looking at me perplexed.

“It was worse than a bad dream. It was a horrible, horrible nightmare, and it was real. I tried to reach for you, but you kept moving farther and farther away from me through the darkness. And then you d—”

“You’re freakin’ me out, Jeffrey,” she said, grabbing both of my shoulders. “Don’t you remember last night?

“Last night? What happened last night?”

“Yeah, last night. You, me, Tony, and Jacob—”

“Umm,” I said, looking at her blankly.

“You really don’t remember? We walked the back way down to Montauk Highway to Uncle Milty’s for some sandwiches, through the heavy bushes, and when we got back we had those yucky ticks all over us. So we took a shower, and then we ate dinner in the suite. You wanted to smoke your pipe afterward, and Jacob asked that you smoke outside, so we went for a walk.”

“Oh—oh yeah, that’s right,” I said, recalling that event from seventy-two years ago.

“Feel better now?” she asked, wiping the tears from my eyes with her fingertips.

“Laureen—promise you won’t ever leave me like that again?” I pleaded. “Promise me.”

“I promise, Jeffrey, I will never leave you,” she said.

She pulled me closer to comfort me. I gazed into her eyes and saw the love she felt for me, a look that touched my heart and soul. I kissed her eyes, and stroked her long hair. But I couldn’t get those images of her out of my head, those haunting images of her right before she died.

Tears streamed down my cheeks. “Laureen, I—I love you so much. More than you could ever know.”

“I love you too, Jeffrey,” she said, kissing me over my face. “Why are you still crying?”

“Because I didn’t lose you. I have you back again,” I said, laughing and crying at the same time.

She sighed. “Don’t ever let me go.”

“I won’t—believe me I won’t, ever again,” I said and giggled with joy.

My tongue penetrated her mouth, feeling her big front teeth and tasting my own salty tears on her lips. I slid my hand under her nightie and squeezed her breasts, her nipples already hard and erect.

I removed her nightie, feasting on her large, firm breasts. We went down on each other, sharing each other. Her breast and nipples rubbed against my stomach. Sounds of our gasping and moaning and sighing filled the room. She shifted around to face me so I could enter her.

“Mmmm—you feel so—so good—inside of me,” she moaned. Then she lifted her chest, handing me her breasts so I could suck her nipples. She squeezed me tightly inside of her, rubbing her nipples against mine. “Now, Jeffrey—now,” she demanded.

I was on top of her in an instant, slipping inside. I crossed my right leg over her left leg the way she always liked it, our bodies fitting together seamlessly. Sounds of heavy, rhythmic breathing filled the room.

Sweat lubricated our flesh as her body moved in rhythm with mine, a rapturous thrusting, waiting for me to explode inside her. I waited for her sounds of pleasure.

“Oh, Jeffrey, I—I’m—” she yelled quietly under her breath.

The overflow of love and tension inside of me was released that very same moment. I had that same feeling again, like I didn’t exist, my body melting into hers as though we were one.

It had been sixty-nine years since we last made love, but it felt the same, that feeling of losing myself in her. I only felt that with her. Somewhere in our past I had known this ecstasy of love and sex and sharing, but I wasted it and let it slip away. Now it was back, part of me again. I dozed off in a timeless void, lying on top of her, and felt God’s love.

Satisfied and exhausted, Laureen cuddled next to me on her side, making little moaning sounds of pleasure, then she went back to sleep. I placed my arm over her, caressing her breasts, but tears welled in my eyes.

Something inside of me wasn’t quite the same. The twenty-year-old Jeffrey couldn’t erase the horrific memory that Laureen had already died.

CHAPTER 26

 

 

 

The First Time Around, December 6, 2010:

 

Iwent back to my computer and re-read Laureen’s obituary over, and over again, unable to believe the words I saw. I was trying to hold myself together, but the pain in my chest, with each pulse of my heartbeat, was unrelenting.

God, how could this happen to her, to my sweetheart?

Then I remembered what eluded me about the day she died, October 21st. My anguish only intensified.

October 21st 1970. That was the day I wrote the haiku. The little folded yellow paper she always kept in her jewelry box.

 

For Laureen,

 

Hold on this moment

While I suck on passion fruit

From Aloha State

 

From Jeffrey with love, October 21, 1970.

 

The day I realized I loved her. The day I first told her, “I love you.” The day she first said, “I love you, Jeffrey.” The day I was in heaven.

My first impulse was to contact Laureen’s husband to find out what happened. I was in shock and felt this terrible sense of panic. I needed to know more. The obituary said she had died in California, but I knew she lived in Las Vegas. Where in California? Did she die in a car accident? Was she murdered? She had never been sick when we were together, even for a day. The worst thing she ever suffered from was dandruff and dry skin.

In my mind, I still envisioned Laureen as the shy, petite, eighteen year-old I first met in front of the college windmill forty years ago with smooth, golden-brown, unblemished skin that seemed to glow, her hair parted down the middle and hanging down her back. Her gorgeous, brown eyes full of life and hope, her thick, plump lips and sweet, her innocent smile that melted my heart. Somewhere inside my old body, even now, the nineteen-year-old Jeffrey still existed.

How could she die? How could she leave me again?

Her absence from my life during the past thirty-five years had only intensified the feeling of wanting to be close to her again. I wanted my old life back, my old dreams. I wanted to take those old roads and old highways again, beyond the curves and bends of time and space…

 

*****

 

We’re getting in our ’68 mustang to go to class, backing out of the driveway onto West Tiana Road, turning right onto Montauk Highway, stopping at the Mobil station. I roll down the window. The attendant says, “Fill ‘er up?”

I hand him a dollar bill, embarrassed. “Regular please.”

That was all we could afford, but it was enough gas to last for a week. He even cleans the windshield. We get back on Montauk Highway heading towards Southampton College.

Laureen turns to me. “What’d you want to have for dinner?”

I smile. “How about spaghetti?”

No, I’m tired of spaghetti,” she says.

Okay, how about sloppy Joes then?”

That sounds good,” she says.

What do we have for dessert?” I ask.

We have some donuts left and some ice cream. I don’t know how you can eat so much and never gain a pound,” she says half jokingly.

That’s just the way I am, what can I tell ya?”

We turn left into the college parking lot.

My class is over at four. I’ll wait for you in the library. I love you,” she says, kissing me on the lips.

I love you, too.”

 

*****

 

And so I kept trying to reconstruct my old life, yet inevitably I failed. We could never get back what time had stolen from us. We made that trip about hundreds times during the nine months we lived in Hampton Bays. Our only worry then was when the next paper was due or passing the next exam, or what we were going to eat for dinner. That time and that place didn’t exist anymore. Laureen, my beautiful sweetheart, didn’t exist anymore. Forever stuck in time…

I went to her Facebook page and copied her profile photo to my desktop. It had recently been changed. I opened it up and enlarged it so I could look at her features more closely. It was the first time I had ever seen a photo of the mature Laureen, but she still seemed healthy. I recognized her face, of course, but it had filled out. Her body was thicker, her shoulders broad and wide. Her complexion didn’t glow. It was old and faded with some brown age spots. Her dark, brown hair was lighter and shorter. It was graying and had lost its sheen. Her lips were no longer thick and full. Her chin drooped and sagged slightly, and her nose was much wider. Her eyebrows had thinned, and her beautiful, brown eyes looked tired but still sparkled.

The Laureen in that Facebook photo was a stranger to me. How many times had I looked at her face and into those beautiful, brown eyes? How many times had I kissed those full lips? How many times had I felt her long hair along her naked back when we made love? How many times had I held her hand when we walked? How many times had I wiped tears from her eyes when she cried? How could I grow tired of her, of us? If only I had acted differently, I might not be living with this dreadful regret. I was tortured with guilt that I let her go so I could have sex with other women. If it were a certainty that in death I could look into those eyes and see the love for me again, I would…except I had always believed that death was nothingness.

I searched Google for Mark Tanaka-Sanders. I found an email address, and then searched the web address and found his phone number. I knew this was crazy, but I had to call him. I had to find out what happened. My heart was pounding as I dialed the number.

He answered and said, “Hello.”

“Is this Mark?” I felt awkward and thought about hanging up.

“Yeah, who’s calling?”

“This is Jeff Goldberg. I just learned that Laureen passed away. What happened?”

“She battled cancer for three years,” he said. “Where are you calling from?”

He didn’t ask how I knew Laureen. Did he know who I was? Should I tell him? “I live in Carlsbad, California.”

“Oh, my son goes to school in Costa Mesa at Vanguard.”

“Yes. That’s just about fifty miles north of here.”

I started to feel uneasy, thinking it had been a mistake to call. I wanted to ask how it was that she died in California when I knew she lived in Las Vegas, but Mark wasn’t very talkative or forthcoming. I was getting flustered and didn’t know what else to say, finally I said, “Uhh…please give my condolences to your children. I’m so sorry for your loss.” Then I hung up.

I felt sorry for Mark. After all, he was married to Laureen for thirty-two years. It must have been terrible for him, as it would be for any husband, to see his wife suffer and die from cancer. I wondered…if this were to be Laureen’s fate, would I have traded places with Mark to spend those years with her? Even now I still felt a connection to her, but why, after all this time. Why?

I was still in touch with only three people who knew us when we first met. So I called Tony Beninati, who lived next door to me in Mattituck dorm. I didn’t remember why, but we called him Mr. Minutz. I found Tony’s number and called.

“Mr. Minutz. This is Jeff.”

“Helloooo, Jeff, how are you?”

“Tony, I just found out that Laureen died,” I said, my voice breaking.

“Oh my God! What happened?”

“She had cancer for three years.”

“How do you know?” he asked.

“I saw her obituary online, and then I called Mark.”

“I had no idea. I lost touch with her a few years ago,” he said sadly.

I could sense he was shaken.

“I Googled her name and saw that her father died in 2006 and her mother in 2007. Apparently, they moved to Vegas in 2008.”

“Then that’s why my cards came back undeliverable. What kind of cancer?”

“He just said she died from cancer. We just had a very brief conversation and I didn’t want to pry. He didn’t even ask me who I was. Or how I knew Laureen. I told him my name so I think he knew.”

“Her daughter must be twenty-four or twenty-five now,” he said.

“Her son goes to college here in California.” I paused for a moment as tears flowed from my eyes. “I loved her so much, Tony,” I said, sobbing.

“I know—I know you did, but you’re married now,” he said, his tone scolding.

“But I never really got over her.”

“Come on, Jeff, it’s been what, forty years?”

“She was my first true love.”

“Jeff, you have to let it go.”

“I did, Tony. I did—I tried. Okay, Tony. Take care.”

I hung up, frustrated that he didn’t feel my pain.

I found her daughter’s Facebook page and copied her profile photo onto my desktop. Laureen and her daughter were both holding caramel candy apples and had big smiles on their faces. Her daughter didn’t have any of her mother features, not even one. She looked just like her father. Laureen was wearing a pink hoody and a cap with a large “K.” I could tell she had no hair under the cap. I thought the “K” probably stood for “Komen For Cancer.” Did she have breast cancer? Her fingers were very thin and bony, those beautiful fingers that once touched me all over. It broke my heart to see her so frail, but she still had that beautiful smile that could melt my heart.

The photo on her sister’s Facebook page was even more heartbreaking. Laureen was wearing a pink outfit and a cap. I cried because I could see that the life was leaving her face. It must have been near the end. She held her thumb up in the air to show that she was still hopeful and optimistic. And, she still had that beautiful smile.

I wanted Mark to know for sure who I was so the next day I sent this email:

 

Dear Mark,

I apologize for intruding on your privacy by calling you yesterday. I was just so deeply saddened and shocked to learn that Laureen had passed away. Again, I want to express my condolences to you and your children.

We were just teens when we met in 1970, but somehow she forever touched my heart. No matter what happened between us, I always hoped that she would have a happy and productive life. It sounds like she did with you, the children, and her career. I wish I could have had an opportunity to say goodbye.

Please let me know if there is an organization where I can make a donation to fight cancer in Laureen’s memory.

Jeff

 

Mark never responded. I also sent Facebook messages to her sisters, but they never responded either. I even sent a Facebook message to her daughter but she didn’t respond. I tried to share my grief, but no one except our old friends Hilary and Jacob would listen.

I knew I’d never be the same. I felt it in my soul. This was different than the deaths in my own family. She was my sweetheart, she always was my sweetheart, and she always will be my sweetheart. How many times did we make love during those four years? How many times did I say, “I love you?” How many times did she tell me, “Jeffrey, I love you?” There were so many times when her smile melted my heart and touched my soul.

We were both so young, immature, and naïve when we fell in love. It was the first time we both became intimate with another human being. The first time either of us had sex. I opened up my heart to her as she did for me. We took risks, sharing our innermost thoughts and feelings in order to receive each other’s love.

I’d always had good intuition, even as child. I knew in my heart a year or two before we broke up that I would lose Laureen and we would never marry. What hurt so much was that I couldn’t do anything to change that. God, I tried. At least I went to Hawaii and tried to get her back.

For the past several years, I’d had this vague sense in my gut that something dreadful was going to happen in my life. I couldn’t explain it. I thought something terrible was going happen to my mother since she was over ninety years old, like a stroke or falling and breaking her hip. Now I realized what that impending feeling of doom really was—all this time, it was Laureen fighting cancer. But I had no way of knowing that she was so ill. It was only some time later, after finding a note her husband left on Laureen’s Facebook page, that I learned she died from breast cancer.

Over the years, I thought about her occasionally. I finally wrote to her this letter in September 2000, on the thirtieth anniversary of our meeting. I sent it to her parents address in Hana hoping they would give it to her. It was first time I had contacted her since I left Hana that New Year’s Day in 1976. I thought it was finally time for some closure.

 

September 2000

Dear Laureen,

I hope this letter finds you in good health, spirits, and with much love, joy, and happiness in your life.

It’s been many years since we communicated. Now that I will be fifty years old next February, and we never know how much time we have. I wanted take this opportunity to get some things off my chest.

I have always felt very guilty that I wasn’t more supportive of you in getting good grades at Southampton College. I know how important it was for you, especially since your father’s boss was paying for your tuition. I know it was very embarrassing for you not to get good grades. I wish I would have been more helpful to you, but unfortunately I wasn’t a very good student myself and we certainly had a lot of distractions. I always wanted you to do well, and I hope you eventually got your degree.

The second thing I feel bad about was how I behaved when I went to see you in Hana during Christmas 1975. I know I acted very childish and immature, but it was also very painful for me. I never meant to hurt you, and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.

After I returned to NY I moved to California. I met my wife, Inez, in 1979, and we married in 1980. I think you would like her, because she has many of the same qualities you had, which was why I fell in love with her. I was very sorry to hear that your sister, Diane, passed away recently. I know how much you loved and missed your family when you were at Southampton. I hope your parents are well and in good health. My brother, Norman, died in 1983 of a very rare disease and it was heartbreaking. Judy gave birth to my nephew, Daniel, in 1980, but since he lives in NY we don’t see him very much and we aren’t very close. Jolie died of cancer in 1984. My father died in 1991 from diabetes. He was blind for the last ten years of his life and had kidney failure. We moved my mother here to San Diego in 1995, and she is currently living in a retirement home.

I have a lot of fond memories of our time together at Southampton. It’s hard to believe it’s been thirty years since we first met in front of the windmill and I walked you to Jacob’s party. I remember that night like it was yesterday. Then we met in the dining room a few days later and I offered to help you with your English paper, and you came up to my room and stayed the next three nights. The last time I was in Southampton was in 1989. It was very emotional for me to go back to the campus because in a strange way I could feel us there.

I still have vivid memories of New Year’s Eve 1970 when we watched the ball drop in Times Square in the freezing cold. Then we kissed and drank champagne.

I never told you this, but one very cold winter night in 1972, when we were living at the house in Hampton Bays, I put on the heat before we went to bed but there was no oil in the furnace. Only oil fumes came through the vents, filling the house with a dangerous foul odor. I opened all the windows, covered us with extra blankets, and stayed up all night to make sure we both didn’t suffocate and die. I was constantly checking on you while you slept to make sure you didn’t stop breathing.

Even though things didn’t work with us, you’ll always have a very special place in my heart. All these years I wished for you to have a life full of love, joy, and happiness.

God Bless You,

Jeffrey

 

The letter she wrote back hurt my feelings because of the last line she wrote in script. How was it that she could still affect me this way after all these years? I got the same feeling from reading her letter as I did that night back in 1975 when she came over to talk with me at her grandmother’s house, when I saw that her eyes were dead for me. It was understandable, that in her letter, the past was dead for her and I was dead for her, too. I suppose that was her intention.

 

Oct. 16, 2000

Aloha, Jeff & Your Lovely Wife,

It was a surprise to hear from you after all those years. Yes, I do forgive you. My life has been great ever since my husband, Mark of 23 years and I became Born-Again Christians.

Jesus has been great to us even before that. We were blessed with 2 lovely children who have given us so much joy. Our daughter is sweet 16 and has been a wonderful teenager. We feel her Christian upbringing has been a positive influence. She is athletic, talented, and smart but also compassionate. She can have an attitude problem once in awhile. I wish I was raised as a Born-Again Christian. It would have made my life better. We took our family to the East Coast 8 years ago and we visited Southampton College. My daughter loved New York City and said she wouldn’t mind going there but we will probably send her to a strong Christian college. She wants to enter the field of performing arts.

My son is handsome and charming like his Dad. He will be 9 soon. He is athletic also and loves to sing. He could do without school and loves to play all day. He is also turning out to be a fine young man and he loves to sing Christian songs. My parents are getting older and they just love to have my son sing and pray for them. Mark’s parents also live nearby so it has been special having grandparents around although they have some health problems.

It was nice to hear that you are looking after your Mom. I remember how much she loved you even though she loved to complain about her life. It is great to know that you have a special marriage because it is difficult to imagine what your mom went thru. I am proud of you and your wife for caring for your mom all these years and especially for moving her close to you.

Mark is working as a Park Ranger and will be retiring in a few years. I have been a homemaker when my children were small and in between those years I have been a director of a preschool, public school teacher, and I am now a Christian school teacher which I enjoy most of the time. My children both attend the Christian School.

Sorry to hear about your brother’s death. I remember their wedding. I hope you keep in touch with your nephew, family is so important. Thank you for your condolences. I still miss my sister even though I have 4 more sisters! She was one of my Best Friends! Happy 50th birthday and many more blessed birthdays and wonderful years of marriage for you and your wife. I hope someday you and your wife will be born-again Christian Jews if you are not already. Thanks for remembering all the good times but let’s leave the past there and get on with our own futures with the families God has blessed us with. I try to look at life with a positive attitude and it has made things great.

God Bless! Aloha, Laureen – John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

I apologize for not knowing your wife’s name since I threw out your letter.

 

*****

 

I wondered what happened in her life that caused her to become so religious. Why did she end the letter this way? John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes through the father except through me.”

I wrote another letter in response to hers, but I never sent it. I tried to respect her wishes not to intrude in her life. I found her Facebook page but never requested to be added as a friend. I had planned on writing her again this past September on the fortieth anniversary of our meeting in front of the windmill. Now I regreted that I didn’t. I just never could imagine she would die so young. I couldn’t accept that my sweetheart had taken her last breath.

I will find a way to get back to you! I thought. I will find a way to get back to us!

 

CHAPTER 27

 

 

 

December 13, 2010:

 

It happened about a week after I learned that Laureen had died. I was lying in bed, trying to fall asleep, when I felt the sensation that I was suddenly floating above my own body. I looked down and saw Laureen and my younger self, lying together on the bed. I recognized our bedroom in the house we shared in 1971 in Hampton Bays. We were wearing our matching plaid jackets. At the same moment, I also felt her presence beside me as we both watched from above. We held each other so close that I couldn’t tell where I ended and she began. It was that very same feeling I got sometimes when we made love—that we were one, and time seemed to stop. We were kissing, but I couldn’t see her face, so I don’t know if she was the young Laureen or the mature Laureen that I saw on her Facebook page. I felt her thick lips and her big front teeth. We held that kiss for a very long time, as though time didn’t exist. When we released our lips, a white-yellow light emanated from her mouth and then her entire body. Then she vaporized.

I knew this wasn’t just a dream—or my subconscious mind trying to cope with her death. It wasn’t cloudy and vague like most dreams, or a dream that didn’t make any sense. It was very clear and lucid. There was no sex. Just the awareness that the love we had for each other was of the spirit and not of the body.

Even though we never said a word, Laureen communicated with me telepathically.

 

My dear sweetheart, Jeffrey, with those beautiful, blue eyes, I know your heart is broken now that I have died. My battle with cancer is over, and there is no more suffering and pain. How I enjoyed my time on earth. I had a wonderful life full of love and happiness and joy. I had a wonderful marriage with my husband, Mark, and I raised two beautiful children of whom I am so proud. I wish I could be there when they marry and have children. How I would have enjoyed being a grandmother. Can you imagine me a grandma, Jeffrey? I am at peace now and have joined my grandparents, my mom, Elizabeth, my dad, Shigeyuki, and my sister, Diane. Even our precious dog, Jolie is here with me now, and he still remembers me.

I know you are angry with God and the Universe, because I died so young. Your sorrow and grief will fade in time. I wish I could wipe the tears from your eyes and comfort you, but you have to find a way to let go of the regrets you have about our relationship. I know they are tormenting you, but you can’t change anything now. We had our season, my sweet Jeffrey, but there was a reason we never married. We were both so young and immature. Both of us were so insecure and we had low self-esteems. Sometimes, I don’t think we even liked ourselves. That is who we were then. We both tried to change the things we didn’t like about the other. We came from different cultures and we had different values. We were incompatible. No one is to blame.

Yes, we shared many good times and we laughed, cried, made love, and you took me to wonderful places. I know you cherish those memories, but they haunt you, too. Don’t you realize that the minute that just passed is as far out of your reach as a minute that passed a million years ago? There is only the minute that exists now and the anticipation of the one coming. You have to find a way to let go. I want you to have some peace, my sweetheart.

I know you wished that I had contacted you about my illness. I didn’t want you to see my emaciated body. I wanted you to remember me as I was when I was young. I know you’re wondering if I ever thought of you as I lay dying. I know you would have liked to say goodbye to me. I know you have so many unanswered questions, but, Jeffrey, you weren’t a part of my life anymore. I wouldn’t let myself think of my life before I become born again, or enjoy those memories, or feel those emotions. My only concern was leaving my husband and children and my sisters. I wasn’t afraid of death because I had faith in Jesus.

Now that I am “free” of this earth, I can let my spirit experience again how you loved me and how I loved you without dishonoring my husband and my children. I know this was the part of my life that existed before their time. It is part of who I was, and had we not fallen in love when we did, maybe my life and yours would have been different. Your fantasy about us getting back together is just that—a fantasy because you can’t let me go. I would never let you leave Inez. You think to yourself that you still love me and miss me, but what you really miss is your own youth and the energy and the dreams you once had. You have a wonderful wife, and you need to honor and love her. I’m so proud that you have taken on the burden of caring for your mom now that she has Alzheimer’s. I know this isn’t easy for you and Inez. I want you have some peace. I want you forgive yourself. There will be a day when I will come for you and our souls will be together again for eternity. Yes, Jeffrey, I knew when you wrote me that letter in 2000 that I was always in your heart.

 

I knew in my heart and soul that Laureen had come to me. Now I was more determined than ever to find a way to reach her.

 

CHAPTER 28

 

 

 

December 25, 2010:

 

Ithought about Laureen a lot today. I was obsessed with her memory now. Forty years ago, during our first Christmas together in 1970, we went to see The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center. It was so hard to imagine anything happening forty years ago in my life. Sometimes I wondered if my mother, who had Alzheimer’s, was better off not remembering her life anymore. During the intermission, Laureen and I had bought a small wooden soldier that we used as a Christmas ornament and stuck a Menehune papaya sticker on its head. I still took it down to display at Christmas.

 

 

 

 

*****

 

December 31, 2010:

 

Today was New Year’s Eve. I didn’t think there had been a New Year’s Eve in the past forty years that I hadn’t thought of Laureen. I never liked New Year’s Eve except for that one in 1970. There was so much hope and so much to look forward to that night. I wondered if Laureen ever thought of that night during the past thirty-nine years of her life. I had mentioned it in the letter I wrote her in 2000, but she didn’t respond to that memory.

I seemed to be regressing more and more into the past now. Her death rekindled those old repressed feelings. Part of me was here, and part of me was back with Laureen. I knew I was dishonoring my wife, Inez. Was I cheating on her because I had these feelings? I was still in love with the Laureen of my past. I couldn’t let her go. There were just too many vivid memories in my head and my heart. Something changed in me when she died, but I didn’t know what. I knew my heart was broken and part of me had died. The regrets had been tormenting me.

 

*****

 

February 4, 2011:

 

Today was my sixtieth birthday. The entire day I thought about my twentieth birthday in 1971. I waited for five o’clock, which was eight o’clock in New York. It was at that moment that Laureen surprised me with a chocolate birthday cake. It really was the most wonderful birthday of my life. I never liked celebrating my birthday except for that one. I wondered if Laureen ever remembered my birthday on February forth. I hadn’t always remembered her birthday on June nineteenth. She even wished me “Many happy birthdays” when she responded to my letter in 2000.

Inez and I were going up to Orange County to spend the weekend. I didn’t talk about Laureen and kept the thoughts to myself. We had a wonderful dinner and made love. I took Viagra for the first time tonight. Never needed it before but I was recently diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. It actually worked.

I woke up startled in the middle of the night like I did on the Amtrak train to Florida back in 1996. The voice in my head that night said, I’m going to die one day. This time the voice in my head said, I don’t want to be here! I don’t belong here! I don’t belong here in 2011!

Now I knew what changed in me after I found out Laureen died. I didn’t want to be in the present anymore. I didn’t want to be in 2011. Something happened in my brain. My sense of time shifted, fragmenting the present and the past. The past began to seem just as real to me as the present. I could live without computers and the Internet and cell phones, too. I wanted to be back with her at Southampton in 1971. In my heart and soul I knew that was where I needed to be, but how did I get back there?

Why couldn’t the universe allow time travel? How wonderful that would be to go back and be with my grandma and grandpa, Uncle Arnold, Norman, my dad, and Jolie again.

 

CHAPTER 29

 

 

 

June 5, 2014:

 

How I dreaded this day. Forty years ago today, I put Laureen on the plane to Hana. I rarely thought about this day over the years, but now that she had died, the guilt and regrets were unbearable. How many people had experienced one event that forever changed their lives? This was mine. The one day in my life that I wished I could redo above all others.

I recalled how excited Laureen was to be going home to Hana again. She had gotten up early and had already packed…

 

*****

 

“Jeffrey, let’s get going,” she said anxiously as she paced back and forth, checking drawers, making sure she packed everything.

“It’s only nine o’clock. Relax, will ya? The plane doesn’t leave until noon.”

We had some breakfast and left for JFK around ten a.m. I placed her luggage in the trunk. She usually sat next to me when we drove any place but today she sat by the door.

“I hope you’ll like working at the day camp this summer,” she said, as we crossed the Whitestone Bridge. The Manhattan skyline was visible in the distance, reminding me how distant our relationship had become the past few months.

“It’ll give me a chance to get more comfortable around kids before student teaching next semester.”

She nodded, rummaging through the shopping bag between her feet. “I’m sure you’ll do fine.”

I forced a laugh. “It’s easy for you to say, because you grew up with three younger sisters.”

She didn’t reply. I glanced over. She had pulled out her wallet, counting her cash.

“Do you need some more money?” I asked.

“Thanks, I have enough.”

The windows started to fog, making me feel like we were strangers lost in dense fog. The same feeling I got that night four years earlier when we had our first big fight, after we made up and walked back to my dorm in the fog. I quickly rolled down my window and opened the vents, letting in a rush of traffic noise and exhaust air.

“Not much traffic today,” she said. “I guess you were right—we’ll be there in plenty of time.”

“I hope you’re planning on coming back in the fall.”

I glanced out the rearview mirror as I merged onto the Van Wyck Expressway. I was torn inside. Part of me was also hoping she wouldn’t return even though I was still very much in love with her. Wasn’t I? A spark of guilt made me grip the steering wheel tighter. What kind of person was I, that I was willing to let this beautiful person go, willing to end our relationship?

“I haven’t made up my mind yet,” she said, her tone unconvincing. “I’ll let you know what my plans are.”

“I’m sorry we kinda drifted apart the last few months. I know it seemed as if I was neglecting you, but I had to finish those eleven incompletes so I could graduate.”

“I know. They’ve been hanging over you for years.”

“I can’t believe I finished them all except for that final in German. That’s the only F I took.”

“I’m very proud of you, Jeffrey,” she said, squeezing my arm.

I took my right hand off the wheel and slipped it into hers, just like I had done thousands of times.

I’d spent the last four years of my life with Laureen. It hadn’t always been fun and games, but I couldn’t imagine my life without her. So things hadn’t been great between us lately. Sometimes I just did things because—well, because I needed to satisfy that burning desire to experience other women. I didn’t know what possessed me, but I recently told her about articles I read in Penthouse about “swinging.” Was I becoming just like my father, who left his family for another woman? Did Laureen realize this too, and had it scared her away from me?

A spurt of testosterone rushed through my groin as I thought about swinging. Laureen thought it was disgusting. I told myself that she was prudish and unadventurous about sex. The truth was having sex with her was getting boring. This was how I justified my feelings.

She put away her wallet and turned her head to look at me. The wind wildly blew strands of her long, brown hair all over, that long brown hair that I loved to feel down her naked back when we made love. I didn’t want to lose her. I didn’t want to let her go. I was just so damned confused inside.

“What would you do with all your credits if you don’t return?” I asked, knowing it was a feeble attempt at persuading her to come back in the fall.

“I think I can transfer them to the University of Hawaii.”

My throat tightened. Now I was certain she had thought about not coming back. “Laureen, if you don’t—” I said, clearing my throat, forcing myself to get the words out, “if you don’t come back, what’s going to happen to us?” I took my eyes off the road and turned to see her expression.

“I don’t know, Jeffrey,” she said, shrugging her shoulders. She looked out the passenger window, avoiding me, avoiding my eyes.

I was waiting for some signal, some sign of commitment, but she gave none. “What do you mean you don’t know?” I said, feeling her hand go limp in mine, a tiny gesture confirming my sense of loss. A feeling of emptiness in the pit of my stomach slowly made its way up my throat. I wanted to cry out to her, Please, please don’t leave me.

“Well, you can always come to visit me in Hana,” she said, cheerfully.

“Okay, maybe I will.”

We had arrived at JFK around eleven. She checked her bags and got her ticket. Passengers started to board the plane at eleven-thirty.

“I guess I should get on board now.”

“Laureen, there’s something I never told you,” I said, embracing her. “There’s been many times when I felt that I couldn’t imagine my life without you.”

“That’s very sweet, Jeffrey,” she said half-heartedly.

“I’ll miss you,” I said, looking into her beautiful, brown eyes. “I love you so much.”

“I love you, too. I’ll write soon, maybe even from the plane.”

We kissed each other several times. Then I watched as she walked down the boarding ramp. She turned before entering the plane and waved to me. I waited to make sure the plane took off safely. I felt as if a great burden had been lifted from my shoulders, the burden of our relationship. I was happy to be “free” again, happy not to be tied down, happy to have some space. Now I was finally free to fool around with other women.

I got in the car and turned on the radio. “Leaving On A Jet Plane” came on, of all the songs that could be playing at that moment. Something told me that this would be the last time I would ever kiss her again. It would be the last time I would ever see her when she still loved me.

 

*****

 

What would have happened to us if I’d gone to Hana with her that day? I could have. I didn’t need to work at the day camp. Maybe I could have convinced her to come back to Southampton in the fall to finish her degree. Then she never would have met Mark. There were always lots of “what if’s,” but I would never know the answers.

 

CHAPTER 30

 

 

 

September 19, 2020:

 

Ilit my pipe and leaned back in the recliner, the one in the upstairs loft. Inez was in the bedroom reading the latest mystery bestseller. She always liked to feel the actual book so she never used that old Kindle device she received for her seventieth birthday. Bulging bookcases remained throughout the house.

The date hadn’t escaped me. Today was the fiftieth anniversary of our meeting in 1970. I was sixty-nine years old now. Although I had my memories, the essence of that nineteen year-old person had long ago faded into oblivion. I could never imagine the life I had lived and was now living. Making my home in Carlsbad, California; married to a Japanese women eight years older than me; spending most of my career self-employed; never having children; and so on. Nothing that I ever dreamed or hoped back then ever materialized. Over the years my dreams and hopes turned into disillusionment and disappointment.

Of course, I had good fortune too. Meeting Inez in 1979 was like a miracle. We’ve both had good health and now we are enjoying our retirement. But there was this weight I carried. Not the physical kind, but the kind brought on by years and years of experiencing life, the weight of time and age that you couldn’t possibly comprehend at age nineteen. When you were a young adult choices were usually simple ones to make. They were black or white. At my age there were no simple choices. Everything had consequences and lots of them. All these things sapped your energy and enthusiasm, both of which I once had in overflowing abundance.

I was born into the Atomic Age in 1951. My grandfather, David Goodman was born in 1892 in Russia during the reign of Czar Nicholas II when the horse and buggy was the only form of transportation. He immigrated to America before the Revolution and married Minnie Shapiro who also escaped from Eastern Europe. They raised two children during the Roaring Twenties. He died a month before Apollo 11 landed on the moon. He never talked about his life in Russia.

My mother was born in 1918 when you had to crank a phonograph to play the record. She survived the great influenza epidemic. She grew up during the Great Depression, was already married, and gave birth to my brother Norman when the Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. She lived to the age of ninty-six, even after braking her hip at the age of ninety-four, because of advances in medicine during the first two decades of the twenty-first century.

I grew up during the Golden Age of Television. Uncle Miltie was a little before my time, but I loved The Abbott & Costello Show, The Jack Benny Show, George & Gracie, The Lone Ranger, and of course, The Twilight Zone. Today Jack Benny was as extinct as an ancient Greek Comedy. Reruns of I Love Lucy no longer played on TV. Most toys during the 1950s and ’60s required that you use your imagination. I was in seventh grade the morning of November 22, 1963, when we were summoned to our homerooms to hear the dreadful news. The news that changed our country forever, much the same way 9/11 did thirty-eight years later.

I survived the Cold War, air raid drills, and the Nuclear Age. I prospered during the Information Age and matured during the Digital Age. Now we were on the verge of the age of nanotechnology. Technology was a wonderful thing. The car we owned today ran on fuel cells, our home was solar powered, computers were of the old pocket radios, cheap and disposable, and artificial intelligence systems were a part of our everyday lives.

Laureen had been gone almost ten years. I wished I could share this moment with her. My heart still ached for her, the emptiness was still there. I wished I had written to her ten years ago. Perhaps she would have responded and let me know how ill she was. Maybe I could have said goodbye. Sometimes I felt as if I led a double life. Not the deceptive kind, having two different families unbeknownst to each other. My double life was in my mind, living in two different places and two different times simultaneously. I needed to find a way to cope with my grief, to find some peace.

Over the past ten years, I had become fascinated with the idea of time traveling through astral projection and OBE, out-of-body experiences. I read every book on the subject, bought CDs, and even attended workshops. The first really good program I found was “Mastering Astral Projection.” It included a very thorough day-by-day manual, CDs, and a brainwave generator to help initiate the process. But after going through the ninety-day training course, I wasn’t able to experience an astral projection or have an out-of-body experience.

I understood now that I had out-of-body experiences when I was a child, but those experiences left me very frightened. Then I found an old CD course online by William Buhlman. I decided to contact him for a personal consultation. We agreed to meet in Los Angeles in November when he would be attending a conference at UCLA.

 

*****

 

November 7, 2020:

 

William Buhlman was waiting for me in the lounge of the Four Seasons Hotel in Westwood. I recognized him from the photo on his website, except now he had white hair and a white beard. He looked about my age. He was reading the newspaper with one hand and in the other held a glass of red wine. We introduced ourselves.

“Would you like a drink,” he asked.

“No thank you, I’m fine.”

“As I told you over the phone, I don’t normally do one-on-one consultations,” he said, placing the paper on the table. “But I thought I would make an exception in your case.”

“I really appreciate that, Dr. Buhlman.”

“Now tell me about what you experienced as a child. How did you induce this OBE when you were child?”

I shifted nervously in my chair. “Well, I was about ten or eleven or twelve, and I was in bed but not asleep. I don’t know how it first started, but I would say to myself over and over again, My name is Jeffrey Goldberg. I live at 2130 Muliner Avenue in the Bronx. Then I would find myself floating outside of my body. I was floating in complete blackness. Then I became very frightened, and I felt that if I continued floating, I might disappear or die. So I snapped myself back, if you know what I mean.”

“When you were floating, did you see your body still in bed?” he asked, sipping some wine.

“I didn’t see myself in the bed, but I could sense I was still there. It was like my mind or consciousness left my body and floated into the darkness, into a black vastness without shape or dimension, a void. That’s what scared me.”

“It sounds like this repeating, My name is Jeffrey Goldberg was like a mantra to help you separate from your physical body and experience your non-physical self. It can be quite startling if you’re not prepared,” he explained.

“Yes. I think so, even though I had no idea why I was doing it.”

“As children, we tend to be more open to having paranormal experiences than we do as adults.”

“When I felt myself floating out of my body, I seemed to lose all sense of time and space,” I said.

“I believe you may have entered into the fourth dimension. I can understand how frightening that could be for a youngster.”

“It was scary, but at the same time there was this feeling of peace and calm and well-being. It was a very peaceful blackness, but I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to return to my body.”

“Actually, this is a very common reaction to leaving the physical realm. Many people have similar anxiety or a panic attack. If you had said an affirmation to yourself like, I am safe and secure or I am protected, or I enjoy my new adventure, the fear might have subsided.”

“This scary feeling of leaving my body in the darkness happened every time. Then I as I grew older I couldn’t do it anymore. I tried using the mantra when I lived in other places, but it never worked. I even tried as an adult when I went back home and slept in the same bed, and I still couldn’t do it.”

“As adults we become more attached to our physical reality. We become more susceptible to the filters imposed by our conscious mind,” he said. He was one of the people that looked you straight in the eye when they spoke to you.

“I guess that makes sense.”

“You mentioned on the phone that the only other time you had an OBE was a week after you learned your girlfriend from college passed away.”

“Yes, but that was different. It wasn’t self-induced and I didn’t feel my conscious self leave my body. It was a dream I had where I saw Laureen and myself hovering above us on a bed in the bedroom of the house we once shared. We kissed for a long time, but we weren’t having sex, and then she vaporized in a white light. During this kiss she communicated with me telepathically.”

“What did she communicate to you?”

“That our time together was very special when we loved each other. She had moved on with her life, with her husband and children. Now it was time to for me to let her go so I could find some peace. This wasn’t like a typical dream though. It was very, very clear, and I never forgot the details, like most dreams.”

“What you experienced is called astral projection,” he said. “It’s a form of out-of-body experience. What you remembered was a lucid dream. Most people confuse one with the other. They are two separate phenomena. OBEs are usually experienced in the waking state. Lucid dreams are not necessarily out-of-body experiences, but a psychological manifestation similar to an internal projection. The unusual or outrageous events in our dreams are creations of our subconscious mind specifically designed to grab and hold our attention.”

“Well, that was the only time she communicated with me. I never had another experience like that. But during the four years we were together, there were several times after we made love when I felt I had experienced God through her.”

“I think that dream provided a profound insight into your spiritual essence. You felt connected to something far greater than yourself, whether we call it spirit or the universal mind of God.”

“Dr. Buhlman, what’s the difference between an OBE and astral projection?”

“Almost everyone has experienced astral projection at some point and didn’t even know it. More often than not, it occurs during their sleep and they simply thought of the matter as being a dream. Astral projection is basically the act of your astral body, or spiritual body, leaving your physical body and traveling. These travels normally offer clarity, communication, or contact with a person or place. You might astral travel to a different astral plane or to a physical place that you have actually been to before, like the bedroom of the house you both shared.”

“That’s definitely what I experienced.”

“What’s the other question?”

“Can you control what you do or where you go during an OBE?”

“Good question. An OBE tends to be less controlled. Lack of control and destination is what makes an OBE fundamentally different from astral projection. There are a lot of people who practice astral projection in the conscious state and are able to control where they go, what they do, and how they interpret the experience. This takes an extreme amount of experience, dedication, and concentration and can be very enlightening.”

“So there’s no way to control what can happen during an OBE?”

“I’m afraid not. Ready?” he said, getting up. “Why don’t we go up to my room and see if we can induce an OBE.”

We went up to his hotel room on the twenty-first floor.

“So, tell me. What would you like to achieve by having this OBE?” he asked.

“Laureen, my girlfriend from college, passed away ten years ago. When I found out she died I was heartbroken. I never had a chance to say goodbye and to tell her how much I had loved her,” I said.

“I’m sorry.”

“I wonder if there is a part of my mind, some fragment, where Laureen still exists, where we still exist, the way we were?”

“Yes, yes, that’s very possible. By all means, let’s see if we can tap into that,” he said enthusiastically. “First I’m going to have you listen to some music that will relax you and prepare your conscious mind. I’ll be using some visualization techniques to initiate the OBE. Then we’re going to induce the OBE using hypnosis. This will help control and eliminate some of the subconscious and conscious blocks and fears that occur during an out-of-body experience, like you had as a youngster.”

“Okay. You requested that I bring some objects from our relationship.”

“Good. We’re going to use them to help focus and maintain your awareness away from your physical body.”

I opened the box I’d brought. “I have some letters she wrote me from 1972 and 1974 and one from 2000. I also have about fifty photos. This is the candle I used the first night we made love. This wine decanter was purchased one night on a date in Manhattan, and this toy soldier we got when we went to see The Nutcracker at Lincoln center during Christmas break in 1970.”

“Do you have an article of clothing she might have worn?

“No, but I have her creative writing notebook.”

His eyes seemed to light up when I removed it from the box. “This is fantastic.” He beamed. “It’s like a window into her soul.”

When he said that it sent shivers up my spine, fearing where this might lead. Did I really want to do this?

Then he had me lie down on the bed. He placed the headset over my ears and turned it on. He handed me the photos I’d brought. I listened to the music for about half an hour as I looked at the photos, then he removed the headset. My mind was clear but I still felt this underlying anxiety. He handed me several more pillows to put behind my back so I was sitting upright. He positioned the coffee table at the foot of the bed and placed the candle, wine decanter, and the toy soldier on top so I could see them. Next, he placed the letters on my lap and had me hold Laureen’s composition book.

Then he pulled a chair up next to me. “Take several deep breathes, allow your eyes to close, and completely relax. Just allow your body and mind to relax completely. As you feel yourself becoming comfortable and relaxed, release yourself to a special kind of experience. Let go and relax. Take a deep breath and relax, completely relax. Now, relax even more—take another, slow deep breath. Let go of all stress, all tension. With each breath feel all your tension flowing out of you. Just relax—completely relax.

“Visualize, imagine, and feel your head bathed in a soft healing light—a light that quiets all thoughts, a light that quiets all worries. Your mind is at peace. This soft, healing light releases your physical senses from their work. Just feel your head and its senses enveloped in this light.”

“Now, allow this healing light to expand slightly. Feel the light as it slowly moves down your neck and shoulders Each muscle and cell that it touches is made more relaxed, more centered, more harmonized. No other sounds will disturb you. They will only cause you to go deeper and deeper. You are more peaceful and relaxed. As this quiet, soft, healing light envelopes your neck and shoulders—every nerve cell. every muscle is completely relaxed. Every cell and tissue of your body is completely relaxed. Now allow this light to flow even farther. Feel it as it flows down through your arms, your hand, your fingers—bringing greater relaxation. Feel the light envelop your chest and your upper back, your ribs, your internal organs, your lungs, and heart. Any tension, any stress that is a part of your body is released as this soft healing light fills you. Every muscle is so relaxed…so very relaxed. Feel yourself go. Deeper and deeper…down…down…deeply relaxed…

“I am going to count downward from ten to one, with each descending number, allow yourself to slow down and relax. And when I reach the number one, you will enter your own level of deep, deep relaxation. 10…down, down, 9…deeper, deeper, down, 8…down, down, deeper, deeper, 7…down, 6…down, 5…deeper, 4…deeper, down, 3…deeper, down, 2…deeper, down, and…1 You are now at a very deep level of natural relaxation. Remember, you are in complete control and are completely aware at every level of your mind. This journey is something you want, because you are eager to explore, eager to learn. In a moment we will begin a series of exercises into your perception, your ability to see and feel and be completely free from your physical body, from your temporary physical vehicle.

“Now feel the part of yourself that longs for something more. There is a part of you that longs to see more, longs for movement. As this longing grows within you, feel this longing grow into a desire, a passion to know your true self, to know and experience yourself completely independent of your physical body, to know and experience your spiritual self. Feel this desire.

“I want you to look on the horizon and see or imagine a soft light—a doorway of light. You feel and know this light to be good. This light is full of love and protection. Now begin moving toward this doorway of light. Feel yourself moving toward the doorway of light. As you see this doorway get closer and closer, you can feel yourself totally enveloped in the light. You are totally enveloped and protected by the light. You can feel the warmth and protection of the light. You are becoming lighter and lighter…you are as light as a feather…light as a balloon as you slowly lift and float up, up, up…

“Now you can feel yourself floating free. As you float, enjoy all the warm sensations of floating free…floating completely free from your physical body. You are floating above your body. As you enjoy the floating sensations, you can feel your awareness increase. You are more aware…more aware of your new, lighter energy body…more aware of your light energy self. Now you are completely aware of your energy self…your floating energy self. Your entire awareness is moving into your light energy self. With feelings of joy, you can feel yourself floating free, floating completely free of all limits… all dense limits. Now you are completely aware within your light self. You can see and feel with all of your awareness, all of your consciousness is within your light energy self. You can feel the joy of being free from your physical body, completely free from all limits…

“Now, what do you see? What do you observe?

“I’m watching myself from above, near the ceiling, sitting in my office. I’m on my computer. I type Laureen Tanaka-Sanders into Google. This is the first search results:

 

Posted On November 6th, 2010 – Honolulu Star-Advertiser

MARK TANAKA-SANDERS Age 59, of Las Vegas, NV, a former park ranger, died on October 21, 2010. He lived in Hana. He is survived by his wife Laureen…

 

“You can feel and see an increase in your new perception,” he said in a soft quiet tone. “Your vision is becoming better and better, clearer and clearer, sharper than every before. Your lighter self now has perfect vision, perfect perceptions. You can feel your entire awareness. Your entire consciousness is completely within your lighter energy self. You focus all of your energy within your light energy self. What do you see? What does it feel like? Can you see your body? Describe what you see in detail. Enjoy all the sensations and sights. Take all the time you need.”

I took a deep breath and felt William sitting next to me. He placed his hand on top of mine. I allowed myself to drift away, to view this out-of-body experience.

I saw myself jumping out of the chair. I had been waiting to see this for a long time. I never wished for Mark to die, but maybe it would give me a chance to finally reconnect with Laureen.

I was writing Laureen a sympathy card, hoping she’d respond…

 

Nov 6, 2010

Dear Laureen,

I’m so sorry for your loss. I saw your husband Mark’s obituary online and also that your mom and dad had passed away. The last three years must have been very difficult for you. I hope that your faith in Jesus will give you strength during these difficult times.

My condolences to your children.

Jeffrey

 

Now I was opening a letter I received from her. I took it out of the envelope, unfolding it.

 

November 19, 2010

Dear Jeffrey,

Thank you for the sympathy card. My husband Mark passed away suddenly from a heart attack. He was only fifty-nine years old. We recently celebrated our anniversary and were blessed to have thirty-two wonderful years together. Our faith in Christ has kept us strong, especially with the holidays coming. My children have grown up now since I last wrote you about them. My daughter is here with me in Las Vegas, and Kapono is attending Vanguard University in Costa Mesa.

I am back at work now teaching bible studies at Calvary Chapel Spring Valley, and it really helps me to pass the time. Both my parents were ill the last few years before they died. I helped take care of them, and it was very hard to see them suffer. I am grateful that they both had a chance to see their grandchildren grow up to be fine adults. I try to look at life with a positive attitude.

I haven’t made any plans for the future yet. I would eventually like to go back to Hana. We both have good jobs here, but the winters are too cold and the summers are brutally hot. I miss my sisters and nieces and nephews. Also, now is not a good time to sell a home here in Vegas.

I hope that your wife (I’m sorry but I forgot her name) and mom and you are all doing well.

 

God Bless.

Aloha,

Laureen

 

Then I was sitting there, writing her back.

 

December 11, 2010

Dear Laureen,

I’m glad to hear you’re coping well and back at work. My wife’s name is Inez. I don’t think I ever mentioned that she is Japanese/American and was born in Manzanar relocation camp during the war.

I noticed that you have a Facebook page, but I was very reluctant to intrude in your life before and request being added to your friend list. Would that be okay with you now?

Take care,

Jeff

 

I saw her request on Facebook that I add her as a friend. I clicked ACCEPT.

The part of me lying on the bed heard William ask in a very quiet voice, “What are you doing now?”

“I’m sitting at my computer, sending her a Christmas and New Year’s e-card just to keep in touch,” I said. “In February, she sent me an email birthday card. At that point, I sent this message through Facebook.”

 

Hi Laureen,

Thank you so much for remembering my 60^th^ birthday. It meant a lot coming from you. It reminded me of my 20^th^ birthday when you surprised me with a chocolate cake you baked in Mrs. Skinner’s kitchen.

I was wondering if you would be open to meeting with me the next time you visit Kapono in Costa Mesa. It’s only an hour drive for me, and we could go to lunch or just get coffee at a Starbucks. It would be nice to see you after all these years.

Jeff

 

I was sitting at my computer, reading her reply.

 

Hi Jeff,

It would be nice to see you, too, but I don’t think Inez would approve.

Thank you for remembering, but let’s leave the past there and get on with our own futures with the families God has blessed us with.

Laureen

 

I waited a few weeks and then sent her this reply.

 

Dear Laureen,

I understand your concern about Inez, and that’s very kind of you to think of her. I can assure you that I have no intentions of having a relationship with you or doing anything that would hurt Inez. I just thought since you were close by we could meet. Please think about it. A weekday would be best for me.

Jeff

 

She sent me this email a few days later.

 

Hi Jeffrey,

I plan on going to visit Kapono during Easter Break around April 16^th^. Maybe we can make arrangements to meet for lunch. Will keep you informed.

Laureen

 

As I read this, my heart pounded in my chest. I anxiously waited to hear from her again. She sent me an email, and we agreed to lunch on Monday, the seventeenth. I looked for some places online where we could eat. I suggested The Champagne Bakery in South Coast Plaza. We agreed to meet there at noon. I asked her to bring some photos and told her I would bring some, too.

“Very good, you’re starting to understand,” William said. “You are in a higher vibratory region, a thought-responsive environment. Your perceptions of your surroundings are created by your mind. Your mind is interpreting the environment according to the reference points and forms it can relate to.”

William’s voice sounded far away, distant, then it faded. I returned to the space, viewing myself as if I was a fly on the wall. Similar to a dream, it seemed as if time didn’t exist. I could sense time was passing as I recounted what I was experiencing, but in a different realm, a realm where there was no space, a realm with no dimensions. I hear myself continuing to relate to William what I’m seeing and doing…

“I dyed my thinning hair a few days before, so it would look more natural when we meet. I keep thinking what I am going to say to her. I am as nervous as a schoolboy anticipating his first date. I dropped my mother off at Glenner Alzheimer’s day care around ten a.m. I had to leave Costa Mesa by three o’clock to make sure I got back to pick her up before five.

“I arrive at the mall at eleven-fifteen and walk around. A few minutes before noon, I head over to the restaurant. I wait outside. Then I saw her approach. I didn’t realize how short she was. Her body had gotten wider, and she seemed shorter than I remembered her. She was wearing a printed top with a sweater and black slacks.

“She looked at me and said, ‘Jeffrey.’

“We gave each other a hug. The hostess escorted us to a table. When we sat down, I said, ‘You still look very beautiful.’

“‘Thank you, but I’m an old lady now. You still have beautiful blue eyes,’ she said, staring at me.

“‘And you still have those beautiful brown eyes.’

“I looked at the menu. I tried not to stare at her too much, like I did that day I saw her in the dining room a few weeks after Jacob’s party. My eyes darted uncontrollably from the menu to her face. She had gotten older just as I had. She was slightly overweight. Her hair was short and graying, her face heavier and filled out, her chin drooping. Her lips were much thinner. Her skin had age spots, but she didn’t have any noticeable wrinkles. She still didn’t wear any make up. Her nose was the same, only wider now. Her hands had age spots too. But in my mind I was still seeing her as a teenager.

“Our eyes connected, and we both stared for just a second. It was a different stare than that night in my dorm room, when we kissed for the first time. That night she allowed me to enter her world. She opened up the door to her heart just a crack. Now I sensed that the door to her heart was forever closed, and there was no getting back in. She wasn’t the shy, demure, innocent teenager that I fell in love with. She gave me access to her heart and soul once, but I’d betrayed her.

“I reached over and placed my hand on hers. Our fingers touched. Instantly, I felt tingling through every nerve in my body. It was the recognition of her touch. In that millisecond I knew I had traveled back in time. It was unique to her, to us, a very different sensation than touching my wife. Laureen was the only other person I was ever intimate with, even though I had sex with many others. She was the only other person I ever loved. She slowly withdrew her hand across the table, almost reluctantly, knowing it was the right thing to do.

“I heard us giving our lunch order to the waitress. Laureen was telling me about her two children and her job teaching bible studies. She asked me about my wife, what I did for a living, and how my mother was doing.

“The waitress placed our sandwiches on the table. I picked up half a tuna sandwich and started eating.

“Laureen said, ‘You still eat very fast. Looks like you haven’t gained a pound in all these years.’

“‘I was about twenty-five to thirty pounds heavier a few years ago, but then I got Type II Diabetes. I had to get on medication and cut down on my carbs.’

“‘Do you have it under control now?’

“‘Yeah, I just had a physical, and my blood sugar level is very good. My father died from diabetes. He went blind and then had kidney failure. The last ten years of his life were really bad.’

“‘My mother had kidney failure, too, and was on dialysis.’

“‘I’m sorry. I saw she passed away. Would you like to see some pictures?’ I asked.

“‘Sure.’

“I took out my wedding album. ‘This is a picture of Inez and I when we first met.’

“‘You have a mustache. You look so mature. How old were you?’

“‘That was 1979. I was twenty-eight and Inez was thirty-six. I just grew the mustache before we met.’

“‘So Inez is eight years older than you?’

“‘Uh, huh.’ I hoped she wouldn’t ask how we met, because I didn’t want to hear how she met Mark.

“‘You make a nice looking couple,’ she said.

“‘We had a Japanese wedding with Jewish and Japanese food. I wasn’t comfortable getting married in a Buddhist temple, so we had the ceremony at her friends’ house.’

“‘I recognize your mom and Norman and Judy.’

“‘Judy was pregnant then, and we had a scare and thought she might lose the baby, but everything was okay.’

“‘I was sorry to hear that Norman passed away.’

“‘Thank you. He had a very rare disease. He was only forty.’

“‘I lost my sister Diane to cancer.’

“‘I guess these things are just part of growing old and surviving. All my mother’s relatives and friends died. She’s never been the same since Norman died,’ I said.

“‘It looks like you and Inez had a beautiful wedding. Have you been happy?’

“‘Yes. We have a good marriage. We hardly ever argue or get mad at each other, but having my mother living with us with Alzheimer’s has been very stressful.’

“‘I know. I took care of my mom and dad before they died,’ she said.

“‘We’re looking to put my mom into an Alzheimer’s facility now. I can’t handle it anymore.’

“I shuffled through the pictures, and then I took out some photos of Jolie. I adopted him when we were still in college. He was really our doggy.

“Her eyes light up and she smiled at me. ‘Oh my God, look at Jolie.

 

 

He was so adorable. How old was he when he died?’

“‘He was eleven. He had cancer, so I had to put him asleep. It was the most painful thing I ever had to do.’

“‘Yeah, I remember when he was just a puppy.’

“‘Did you bring any photos?’ I asked.

“She took out some wedding photos and photos of her children. She flipped through the photos, explaining who people were, but I stayed silent. I didn’t really look at the pictures. I was jealous. After all the years, I was jealous.

“Then I said, ‘I also brought some old photos of us. Would you like to see them?’

“‘You still have some of our pictures?’

“‘They were in an album we gave to my mother, remember?’

“I floated above us as we sat at the table. The first picture I showed her was of us by the Christmas tree, when we lived together in Hampton Bays.

“‘I remember this one. God, I look so young,’ she said.

“‘I don’t know if you remember this, but when I got the Christmas tree I was too cheap to get a tree stand, so I thought we could hold the tree up in a bucket filled with rocks. That night I went out to find some large rocks and I got stuck in the sand. It cost fifteen dollars to get towed out when a stand only cost five dollars.’

“She laughed. ‘That sounds like something you would do.’

“‘This is my favorite photo of us from Norman and Judy’s wedding.’

“‘I remember their wedding.’

“I handed her the rest of the photos. She looked at them and smiled. Then she put them down and looked at me. Suddenly, her expression turned very serious.

“‘I don’t know if you will understand this, Jeffrey, but everything I did in my past before I accepted Christ as my savior—everything—is dead. The person you knew in these photos doesn’t exist anymore. That Laureen died and was reborn when I let Jesus into my life.’

“I knew what that meant—that I was dead for her too, that we never existed.

“I sighed. ‘I think that’s very sad.’

“‘I wish I’d been raised a Born-Again Christian. It would have made my life better.’

“I said, ‘Even though things didn’t work out between us, I always wanted you to have a happy life.’

“‘Thank you. I wished that for you, too.’

“I was afraid, but I asked, ‘Can we get together again sometime?’

“‘No, I don’t think we should see each other again.’

“‘Why not?’

“‘Because meeting me like this is being unfaithful to your wife, and I can’t be part of that.’

“‘Can I ask you a question? If I wasn’t married, would you be open to getting to know each other again?’

“‘But you are married. That’s why I didn’t want to see you in the first place.’

“‘I wasn’t going to tell you this—I may never have another chance,’ I said, gazing into her brown eyes. ‘I’ve loved you all these years.’

“Her eyes didn’t respond. ‘You’re still in love with that girl in the photos. She doesn’t exist anymore!’

“‘So if I were widowed or divorced you wouldn’t—’

“Before I could finish, she stood up from the table, opened her handbag, and pulled out a twenty-dollar bill. She dropped it on the table. Then she looked at me and said, ‘Goodbye, Jeffrey. I wish you and Inez all the happiness in the world. God Bless you both.’

“‘Laureen, please. Please don’t go yet.’

“I saw her walking away. I wanted to go after her, but I couldn’t move.”

“Now, Jeffrey,” William said. “I want you to slowly return to your physical body. Take your time and slowly return. As you return, know that you can separate from your physical body with ease. With complete confidence, you can step from your physical body whenever you wish. Your physical body is only a vehicle for your awareness—only one vehicle of many which you possess. It feels good to be able to go beyond your body to see and know for yourself. From now on, you can and will leave your physical body with complete ease, complete safety, whenever you wish.

“Now, breathe deeply, relax. In a few moments I am going to count from one to three, so that by the time I say the number three, you will be able to open your eyes and feel wide awake. You will remember all that you have experienced. You will awaken to even further insight. You will feel invigorated and revitalized. You will be rejuvenated and rested, as if you have taken a peaceful nap. You will be in complete harmony. One…two…three. Your entire body, mind, and soul are refreshed. Now open your eyes feeling completely refreshed and full of energy and joy.”

When I opened my eyes I began to sob.

“What are you feeling right now?” he asked.

“I—I don’t know. Part of me feels joy, because I saw her again, and part of me is very sad.”

“Why are you sad?”

“Because I know we can never get back together again.”

“You still a have lot of pain. You were in touch with those feelings and that fantasy you had.”

“Yes. I did fantasize about that for many years.”

“I think this experience will help you find some closure,” he said.

“I hope so.”

“I know it hurts, but your OBE ended the only way it could. What you experienced today, in the nonphysical realm, was your subconscious mind seeking a spiritual healing. Over time your conscious mind will begin to accept that.”

“I don’t think I could do this again,” I said.

I packed up everything in the box, wrote him a check, and thanked him for the session.

 

CHAPTER 31

 

 

 

March 8, 2029:

 

Inez died today. She was eight-six years old. We were married for forty-nine wonderful years. Her heart gave out, and she died quickly and peacefully without suffering. I took her wedding band and placed it on my left hand ring finger. I recalled our first wedding anniverary on January 5, 1981. I told her I was going to have our wedding bands engraved. I returned to Jay’s Jeweler’s at the Northridge Mall on Tampa where we’d purchased them, and asked him to embed four diamonds. I never gave her an engagement ring, so I thought this would be a perfect way to make up for it. She was so surprised she cried. In January we celebrated our forty-ninth wedding anniversary. Except for not having any children I had no regrets. We shared a wonderul life. We were devoted to each other.

She was cremated, according to her wishes, and I put her urn next to her parents in the mausoleum at Santa Monica Cemetery.

Once again, I was truly alone in this world.

The house felt empty without her. All our possessions, the antiques, phonographs, art deco, and 1939 New York World’s Fair memorabilia we enjoyed collecting throughout the years seemed worthless. I decided to sell our house in Carlsbad and moved into a retirement community in La Costa.

 

*****

 

September 19, 2030:

 

Sixty years ago, Laureen and I met in front of the Southampton College windmill. She would have been seventy-eight this past June. It never occurred to me until now that she had barely turned eighteen when I fell in love with her. I had all the memories and even the feelings, but now it seemed unreal, like it happened to someone else, or I’d seen it in a movie, as if it was just a dream.

I knew it was time. Time to have another OBE. I contacted Dr. Buhlman again, but he said he was retired and unable to travel. If I was willing, he offered to conduct the session using our virtual Google glasses.

Dr. Buhlman’s hologram suddenly appeared in my living room. He said the recliner would be perfect. I took out the same items I had in the box last time. I played the OBE induction music he had given me, so I could get into a relaxed state. I said I was doubtful this would work, but he zoomed in his holographic head, glanced over at me, and smiled assuredly. Then he proceeded to hypnotize me.

“Now, Jeffrey, what do you see? What do you observe?” he asked.

I closed my eyes and allowed myself to be taken away.

“I am floating. I see myself writing a letter on my computer to Laureen. Back to the day of the fortieth anniversary of our meeting…

 

“September 19, 2010

“Dear Laureen,

“I hope this letter finds you in good health and happiness. It’s been nine years since I received your last letter. I had another written to send you, but it didn’t sound like you wanted to hear from me again. I thought this might be a good occasion to touch base with you again since it is the 40th anniversary of the day we first met in front of the windmill before Jacob’s party. It’s so hard to believe that anything could have happened in my life forty years ago. I don’t know where all that time went. I still feel like that nineteen-year-old person inside, not someone who’s almost sixty.

“When you wrote me nine years ago, your daughter was sixteen and your son was nine. I guess your daughter is about twenty-five now, and your son must be in college. I hope they bring you much happiness and joy. I understand that your mom and dad have both passed away. I’m so very sorry. I know how much you loved them. I did meet them that one time in Hana, but it wasn’t under the best of circumstances. I had mentioned in my letter to you that Inez and I had moved my mother here to California in 1995. She was living in a retirement community, but in the last few years she started to get Alzheimer’s, so we moved her to a special facility. I didn’t like the care she was getting, so I moved her to our house and have been taking care of her. She goes to an Alzheimer’s day care for five hours, but the rest of the time I watch her. Inez works as a technical writer and I work from home selling used books on Amazon.

“My mother’s been living with us about two-to-three years now, and it’s taking a toll on me and Inez and our marriage. The stress is overwhelming, and sometimes I’m afraid I’m going to get a heart attack or stroke. We decided to look for another facility and my mother will be moving in next month. I never had a chance to tell you that my wife Inez and I have been happily married for thirty years but we don’t have any children.

“I see that you have a Facebook page and many times I wanted to request that you add me as a friend, but I tried to respect your wishes and not intrude in your life. Maybe you could go to my Facebook page and request that I add you as my friend. My profile photo is the one that you took of me by the windmill when we first started dating.

“I know you don’t want to be reminded of the past, but I also know that you remember. I still have a letter you wrote me in 1972 in which you say “you never forget things.” Sometimes I think my mother is better off with Alzheimer’s, because she can’t be haunted by her memories now. I just remember fondly the time in my life when we first met, because I was so young and strong and carefree with no worries. I even had all my beautiful hair then.

“In the letter I wrote you nine years ago, I asked your forgiveness for two things I did that I wasn’t proud of. The first was that I wasn’t more supportive of your school responsibilities and helping you get good grades. The second was how I behaved when I finally went to see you in Hana. You did forgive me, but I was too embarrassed then to ask your forgiveness for what happened one night when we were living together in the cottage at 50B West Tiana Road in 1972.

“I don’t know why but even though we were living together, I had gotten this crush on Tisha Remkus, so I purposely picked a fight with you so I would have an excuse not to come home that night. There was a student government meeting at the student center and I knew Tisha would be there. Afterward, I asked if she could put me up for the night. When I came back home the next morning, I told you where I spent the night and you went ballistic, pounding me with your fists. I deserved your rage.

“All these years I never have been able to forgive myself for doing this to you and to us. I don’t know if you can find it in your heart to forgive me. I don’t think you ever trusted me after this, even though we stayed together for the next two years. Looking back, we were probably too young and immature to be living together. Except for this one incident, living with you that year was one of the happiest times of my life.

“You also wrote me in your letter that you visited Southampton in 1993. I would be curious to know if you had any feelings or thoughts about us as you walked around the campus. I made two trips there with Inez, but not since 1989. It was very emotional for me, because it brought back a flood of feelings and memories from our relationship. I could feel us there.

“I have always wished for you a life full of happiness, joy, and fulfillment. You wrote that you and Mark are Born-Again Christians, so I will leave you with God’s blessings for you and your family.

“Jeffrey.”

 

“I sent the letter to her address in Las Vegas. I waited for a reply. A few days passed. I heard the phone ring in my office and picked it up.

“A male voice I didn’t recognize said, ‘Is this Jeffrey?’

“I thought to myself, Nobody calls me Jeffrey. ‘Yes,’ I replied.

“‘This is Mark.’

“A sense of shock and apprehension passed through my body. I searched my mind for something to say.

“‘Laureen asked me to call you,’ he said.

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. ‘How come?’

“‘Laureen is dying from cancer. She would like to see you to say goodbye.’

“‘Oh my God. No, no,’ I moaned.

“‘She’s been battling breast cancer for three years, but now it’s spread to her entire body. She only has a short time left,’ he said.

“‘Oh God, my poor sweetheart. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to say—

“‘It’s okay. I understand. You were together before we met. She’s at a hospice in Orange County so she could be near our son’s school.’

“‘I can drive up there tomorrow,’ I said.

“‘I’ll tell her.’

“‘Thank you so much for calling me, Mark. I’m so sorry for you and your children.’

“ Goodbye,’ he said, then hung up.

“My vision got fuzzy, and then I was driving up to Costa Mesa. What did I bring to say goodbye forever? I stopped at a florist to get a single bird of paradise. I remembered it was her favorite flower. I arrived at the hospice. I was so scared. I was shaking.

“I walked to the front desk. The nurse told me Laureen was in room six. I lightly knocked on the door. I heard her voice. ‘Come in.’

“I hadn’t heard her voice in thirty-five years, but I recognized it immediately. She was sitting up in the bed. An IV was attached to her arm. She was wearing a pink cap, and I could tell she had no hair.

“‘Aloha, Jeffrey Goldberg,’ she said with a big grin.

“‘Shalom, Laureen. Do you remember the two turtles we had, Aloha and Shalom?’ I asked.

“‘Yes, I remember.’ I handed her the bird of paradise. ‘It’s so beautiful. Thank you.’

“‘It was always your favorite.’

“‘Yes.’

“I began to cry. ‘I—I promised myself I wouldn’t cry.’

“‘It’s okay, Jeffrey. Sometimes it’s harder for the people visiting us.’

“‘Thank you for getting in touch with me so I could see you again.’

“I bent over and kissed her cheek. I sat down in the chair next to her bed and took her frail hand. Her fingers looked the same as I remembered them, except now they were very thin. I’d held this same hand a thousand times, the same small hand that always fit perfectly in mine. I looked at her face and into her eyes. I saw death.

“‘You still have beautiful, brown eyes.’

“‘And you still have those beautiful gorgeous blue eyes.’ she said.

“‘I’m an old man now.’

“She smiled at me. ‘You’re still very handsome even without all your hair.’

“‘Your smile still melts my heart. That’s why I could never stay mad at you.’

“‘I got your letter and I was very touched. I want to tell you some things, too. I’m happy that you found someone like Inez to love you.’

“‘I’m lucky. I’ve been blessed twice in my life.’

“‘I don’t want you to grieve for me. I’m not afraid of dying. I’m at peace.’

“Then suddenly I knew—what I didn’t understand, what I felt when I was eight years old, visiting my dying Uncle Arnold in the VA hospital. I felt that pain now too.

“‘I forgive you for what happened when we lived together,’ she said. ‘We were both so young and immature then.’

“‘There is no excuse for what I did to you—to us.’

“‘You need to forgive yourself, Jeffrey. That’s what Jesus teaches us. Why he died for our sins.’

“‘I’ve tried.’

“‘I know you don’t believe in the Lord, so I will forgive you. Now there’s something I want to tell you. When you came to see me in Hana, after I left you, I had never expected to see you again. When I saw you standing there I was shocked. If you had just called me first to tell me you were coming, I would have told you not to, but—’

“‘I know.’

“‘I knew you still loved me, because you never came to Hana before, even when we were going together. But I had already made a commitment to Mark. I wasn’t really engaged then. I still had feelings for you, but I didn’t want you to know that and I couldn’t show it. It was cruel what I did to you. When you told me you were thinking of staying in Hana, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t want to lose Mark.’

“‘If I had only come sooner?’

“‘Don’t blame yourself. It wouldn’t have made a difference,’ she said.

“‘I just wasn’t ready to settle down yet. I thought we needed some space. But I couldn’t imagine my life without you.’

“‘You shouldn’t have any regrets. I wanted you to have an explanation for why I behaved the way I did.’

“‘Thank you for telling me. I never really got over you or stopped loving you. As much as I love Inez, it’s not the same way I loved you. You were my first love.’

“‘I know. And you were mine. I could tell from the first letter that you wrote me nine years ago that you still loved me. I wrote you that we went to Southampton in 1993, but I didn’t tell you that I felt your presence there—I felt us there again. And how we would roam the campus holding hands so much in love. That’s what I felt. I thought you’d like to know that.’

“‘I’ve missed you so much all these years,’ I said.

“‘Jeffrey, you should love and honor Inez. You need to let me—you need to let us go. I want you to have peace.’

“‘The reason I could never let you go is that your love touched my very soul. No one else has ever done that, not even Inez. I never told you this, but I felt God through you. I felt His love.’

“‘That’s very sweet, Jeffrey. That’s why I fell in love with you. You were sweet, and gentle, and you made me laugh. Sometimes you made me cry too, and you keep me warm on those cold winter nights.’

“I saw myself sobbing. ‘I still have some letters you wrote me in 1972 and 1974.’

“‘I still have the music box you gave me for our first Christmas,’ she said.

“‘I always wondered what happened to it. I remember the day I went to buy it for you in Manhattan. I was so excited I couldn’t wait to give it to you. It played the theme from Romeo & Juliet, “A Time for Us.”’

“‘It always reminded me of you,’ she said.

““And Mark didn’t mind?’

“‘I could never get rid of it. It was such a beautiful, precious gift.’

“‘And you got me Ray Conniff’s Hawaiian Songs. I still have it, too. I brought some photos to show you, is that okay?’

“Laureen smiled and nodded.

“I opened the envelope and took out the photo of us in front of the Christmas tree when we lived together in Hampton Bays.

“‘I remember this one. We look so young.’

“‘I’m getting tired now, Jeffrey.’

“‘I’ll go then. I want to kiss you. I mean really kiss you.’

“‘I would like that.’

“I pressed my lips to hers. I felt her big teeth with my tongue. I remembered that feeling. I whispered in her ear, ‘I will always love you, my sweetheart. God bless you. I will see you again some day.’

“‘God bless you, Jeffrey, my sweetheart.’

“Tears ran down my face as I turned to leave. I stopped at the door and took one last look at her. I cried all the way home.

“Mark called me on Thursday, October twenty-first, and told me that Laureen died peacefully at seven fifty-five a.m.”

 

*****

 

“Now Jeffrey,” William said, “I want you to slowly return to your physical body. Take your time and slowly return. As you return, you absolutely know that you can separate from your physical body with ease…”

I took a deep breath, fighting the tears.

“Now, breathe deeply, relax,” he continued. “In a few moments I am going to count from one to three, so that by the time I say the number three, you will be able to open your eyes and feel wide awake. You will remember all that you have experienced. You will awaken to even further insight.

“Your entire body, mind, and soul are refreshed. Now open your eyes, feeling completely refreshed and full of energy and joy.”

“Yes, but my heart is broken.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We all, from time to time, indulge in

dreams about traveling back into time.

Every time we recall something that happened

in the past we make a mental journey back in time.

But wouldn’t it be grand if we could actually return

physically to the most delightful moments of our memories?

Wouldn’t we all like to reexperience the bliss of childhood, the heydays of youth, or return to make that big decision

which we failed to make then, for lack of courage?

 

A Philosopher Daydreams, The Past Revisited ~ J. Faye, 1987

 

CHAPTER 32

 

 

 

The First Time Around, January 22, 2035:

 

Iopened my virtual pod this morning to check the latest news and saw this headline:

 

The World’s First Time Machine?

Tunnel to the past could open door

to future this decade!

 

U.S. government scientists have used Einstein’s equations to design a time machine with circulating laser beams. According to Einstein, whenever you do something to space, you also affect time. Twisting space causes time to twist, meaning you could theoretically walk through time as you walk through space.

“As physicists, our experiments deal with subatomic particles,” said Dr. Arnold B. Sklare. “How soon humans will be able to time travel depends largely on the success of these experiments, which may take the better part of a decade. And depending on breakthroughs, nanotechnology, and funding, I believe that human time travel to the past could happen in this decade.

“Einstein showed that mass and energy are the same thing,” said Dr. Sklare, who published his first research on time travel in Physics Letters in 2032. “The time machine we’ve designed uses light in the form of circulating nanolasers to warp or loop time instead of using massive objects.”

To determine if time loops exist, Sklare designed a desktop-sized device that will test his time-warping theory. By arranging mirrors, Sklare can make a circulating light beam, which should warp surrounding space. Because some subatomic particles have extremely short lifetimes, Sklare hopes that he will observe these particles to exist for a longer time than expected when placed in the vicinity of the circulating light beam. A longer lifetime means that the particles must have flowed through a time loop into the past.

 

*****

 

I didn’t understand most of it. Could it really be true? I spent months and months trying to contact this Dr. Sklare directly but had no luck.

My time was running out. I prayed. Every day I waited—waited for more news.

Finally…

 

New Government Agency Will Oversee Time Travel. Dr. Arnold B. Sklare To Head Dimensional Time Administration. First Full Scale Tests Scheduled For Humans Within Months!

 

August 31, 2037: It was announced today by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) that Dr. Arnold B. Sklare will head the Dimensional Time Administration (DTA). Dr. Sklare is a protégé of the famous late physicist Michio Kaku, the co-founder of string field theory, quantum field theory, and supergravity. Dr. Kaku joined DARPA in 2001 to provide his expertise in string field theory and quantum field theory for DARPA’s Maximum Temporal Mobility Time-Space Manipulation Program.

 

 

It was revealed today that DARPA, the chief research and development arm of the U.S. military under the Department of Defense, had been developing time travel technologies as early as 1970 under a secret program called Project Pegasus. DARPA’s secret technical accomplishments go far beyond what it has publicly acknowledged and that by 2010 DARPA had achieved teleportation-based time travel, as well as advanced electro-optical means of discerning past and future events via different technologies that provide quantum access.

Dr. Sklare joined DARPA in 2005 and took over the time-space program after Dr. Kaku’s death in 2033. In a statement provided today, Dr. Sklare announced that the program would kick off the first phase of human testing in October using the prototype Time-Space Nanochip until Full Operational Capability (FOC) is achieved.

 

The possibilities of traveling in time were becoming a reality. This was what I had prayed for since Laureen died. Once again, I tried to contact Dr. Sklare through DARPA and the DOD but got no response.

Then the news I had prayed for finally came.

 

*****

 

August 31, 2039:

 

Dimensional Travel Administration Announces Details Of Time Travel Project!

 

ARLINGTON, VA August 31, 2039: The Dimensional Time Agency achieved its final acquisition milestone on April 29. Two years of design work, development, testing, and fielding culminated in the operational sponsor, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) declared that it had achieved Full Operational Capability (FOC) and is now able to deploy capabilities that enable human dimensional time travel to the past.

In a virtual news conference held today at the Dimensional Time Administration, Dr. Arnold B. Sklare gave the following statement: “Thank you all for attending. Let me start by saying that for the past two years we have conducted thousands of Temporal Mobility Time-Space Manipulation tests using human subjects. I’m very happy to say that all subjects returned safely to their present times from excursions to the past without any physical and mental complications or abnormalities. Tests were performed at a secret location by military and civil scientists and engineers and were classified as Top Secret for the protection of national security.

“Some subject’s time traveled for only hours, while others for days and months. Using our current protocol, the time traveler cannot travel back and forth in time. In other words, they don’t possess a ‘time machine’ that is often characterized in fiction and movies that allow them to travel at will through time and space.

“Let me address some of the paradoxes associated with time travel. Regarding the possibility of the time traveler meeting their younger self, a subject whose current age is thirty-five was sent back in time one year where he resumed being the age of thirty-four. The subject did not meet himself at age thirty-five, but morphed into his thirty-four-year-old again. The difference was that he maintained his memory of his thirty-five-year-old life. We found during our testing that an individual cannot occupy the same space in the past in the space-time continuum. We call this phenomenon ‘Time Metamorphosis.’ The time traveler is transformed into the younger version of him or herself, but retains the memories of his future self.

“Attempts by subjects to time travel along with physical objects such as virtual pods, artifacts, clothing, etc. were not successful. They arrived in the past to locations based on prearranged GPS coordinates. Additional details will follow.”

The Senior Citizen Time Travel Project (SCTTP) was established by a Directive from the President and will coordinate with the Social Security Administration and GAO to implement the first phase of the program on January 1, 2040. The goal of the project is to encourage senior citizens over ninety years of age to participate in the program and reduce the percentage of GDP spent on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Currently this accounts for 95% of GDP compared to only 40% in 2010. At the current rate, we can expect to see the U.S. economy and subsequently the global economy implode within the next two years.

For this reason it has become imperative to alleviate the huge increase in the senior population we have experienced in the U.S. due to advances in nanomedical technologies. Virtually all major diseases and disabilities including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s have been cured in the last seven years. The number of seniors in the U.S. currently over 65 years is estimated at 200 million (U.S. census 2035) compared to only 100 million in the year 2000. The population of seniors over 100 years is currently 15 million compared to only 300,000 in 2000. Average Social Security check for seniors 70 years of age is approximately $3500 per month. Social Security and Medicare eligibility age will be raised to 80 years effective January 1st 2040. The population is growing faster than the infrastructure can support it. We are currently experiencing major food shortages, housing shortages, etc. We have an economy that is on the brink of disaster. The current situation has now been elevated to National Emergency Status.

Participation in SCTTP’S Temporal Mobility Time-Space Manipulation is strictly voluntary. Temporal Mobility Time-Space Centers will be established in five major geographic regions with an annual quota of 10 million based on age, date of birth, and social security number. Seniors who agree to the terms of the program will be given a rare gift never before experienced in the course of human events. That is the opportunity to relive one year of their lives or to visit anytime in the past. We expect 5-8 million seniors to enroll in the program the first year.

 

But I wouldn’t be eligible until February 2041 when I turned ninety.

 

CHAPTER 33

 

 

 

2041 ~ 2043:

 

Iwas finally notified on my ninetieth birthday that I qualified for the Senior Citizen Time Travel Project. Anyone older than me could be accepted first until the quota was filled. There were millions of people over age ninety and even over a hundred who would be eligible before me. If there were any openings, they would be selected based on birth date and social security number. Once you were notified you had only forty-eight hours to accept or decline your spot.

I wasn’t selected this time, according to the notification on my virtual pod. Then I saw that the AARP had filed lawsuits and requested the courts place an injunction to stop SCTTP.

“Goddamn those fuckin’ bastards,” I screamed. “I’m so close to getting back to us!”

My heart started racing, hammering away in my chest, which wasn’t good at my age. I printed out the notification and stared at it, shaking my head in denial, hoping it might change the outcome. I had to take deep breaths to calm myself, praying I didn’t die before next year.

 

Washington, D.C May 30, 2042 (Reuters):

AARP, the nation’s “largest seniors” lobbying group, said on Wednesday it has filed a lawsuit against the Dimensional Time Administration (DTA), which regulates the Senior Citizen Time Travel Project. The suit asserts that the project is causing a hardship for spouses, who are not eligible to time travel with their spouses or who choose not to participate in the project, as the benefits of time travelers to surviving spouses are terminated.

The case was filed in Federal District Court for the District of Columbia by the AARP Foundation, the organization’s charitable arm, and the law firm of Mehri & Skalet on behalf of the surviving spouses of three participants in the Senior Citizen Time Travel Project who left between 2039 and 2041 to return to their past lives.

One plaintiff, Delores Diana Powell of Southfield, Conn., was not eligible to time travel with her husband, Terry, who left in June 2041 to return to 1955. Under the DTA rules, the suit says that Mrs. Powell should be entitled to the $4,300 monthly Social Security benefits received by her husband. Mrs. Powell can no longer maintain her residence at the Seacrest Village retirement community where she resided with her husband. SCTTP participants must be 90 years of age, so in some cases, one spouse is too young to qualify. In other cases, one spouse may choose not to participate in the voluntary Space-Time Manipulation program. One of AARP’s plaintiffs wasn’t eligible because she was five years younger than her husband but was dependent on his benefits.

Suits were also filed in state court where the five Space-Time Manipulation Centers are located. AARP is asking for an immediate injunction to stop all SCTTP activities. “We took this action to protect our members and all retirees from losing their rights and benefits under the age discrimination laws,” says Michael Drezin, Jr., director of federal affairs at AARP. “This would have put millions of retirees at greater risk for losing their spousal retiree Social Security coverage.” The DTA was established in 2039 with the Federal mandate to implement time travel technology for the sole purpose of reducing soaring healthcare costs and inflationary Social Security benefits.

A spokesman for the DTA said today that it would seek to block the injunction on the basis that the project was mandated by the President and passed by Congress in 2039 under the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act (P.L. 1099-177, 1099 Stat. 1038). Although the Constitution does not mandate a balanced budget, it does require Congress to approve all federal expenditures (Article I, section 9, clause 7), and it empowers the federal government to reduce expenditures during an economic crisis. The Supreme Court ruled in 2040 that the SCTTP could exercise the authority given to that agency by the President and Legislature in an effort to reduce the Federal Budget of senior citizen benefits. According to the DTA, approximately 10 million seniors have participated in the SCTTP between 2039-2042, saving the government 4 trillion dollars.

 

In a panic, I got on the virtual phone and called the number on the SCTTP notification form. A large African American woman appeared before me in hologram.

“I received my notification letter. You gotta help me, please,” I pleaded. “I’m ninety-one years old. I need to get back to 1971 again.”

“Sir, I’m sorry I can’t help you. I just answer the phones here.”

“Who’s in charge?” I demanded. “I need to speak to someone in charge.”

“Hold on, will ya. I have another call I have to materialize on.” She appeared again a few minutes later. “I’ll connect you with Mr. Philbin.”

“Thank you.”

A young man sitting at his desk appeared in my room. “Philbin here.”

“Mr. Philbin, I need your help,” I said, wringing the notification in my hands. “I just received this notification that my social security number wasn’t selected for the time travel project. I have to—”

“Sorry, but all selections are computer generated at random,” he interrupted.

“I have to get back to 1971. I might die before next year’s selection. Please help me,” I said, clenching my jaw. “Please.”

“You’ll just have to wait your turn like everyone else.”

“But the lawsuits and injunctions to stop the project—”

“Sir, nothin’ I can do. You’ll just have to wait. Goodbye.”

The hologram of Philbin abruptly disappeared. I shook my head and slumped into my chair, my feeble old hands shaking.

The quota for 2042 was filled, so I would just have to wait and pray that I didn’t die first. Now that I’d finally gotten this close, I would have to watch my diet even more and exercise regularly, but with caution.

 

*****

 

 

 

February 4, 2043:

 

Finally, I received notification that I was accepted into the SCTTP. What a birthday present! My Temporal Mobility Time-Space Manipulation (TMTSM) number was F0451-065. My orientation would begin on May 18, 2043.

I made preparations for my journey back to 1971. There were several forms to fill out and return. One requested the year and date you wanted to time travel to. I had given this some serious thought over the past two years, but held off making a decision.

Did I want to return to Laureen or spent my life again with Inez?

It wasn’t an easy decision. I had forty- eight hours to make up my mind.

Part of my dilemma hinged on whether or not it was possible to change the past. From all the research I had done the SCTTP never addressed that issue. There was no mention of it in my acceptance letter or any of the forms I’d received. The only restriction was that I wouldn’t be permitted to take any objects, possessions, devices, money, or artifacts back to the past. There were positives and negatives with both decisions. I had gone back and forth and changed my mind several times, but now I had to decide once and for all.

If I returned to Laureen, I would go back to the spring of 1971, because I wanted to change our plans for that summer, that is, if I could alter the past. I also knew that we would be living together starting in the fall. If I returned to be with Inez, I would time travel to 1976 and try to meet her a few years earlier with the hope that we could have children.

If I spent the next three years with Laureen and the same events occurred, then at least I’d have the experience of being with her again. Then I guess I could move to Los Angeles and try to meet Inez a few years earlier. My head was spinning from all the possibilities. But this time travel thing, in reality, wasn’t like time travel depicted in some of the great sci-fi stories or novels. I’d read them all over the years. Most of them had an actual time machine where the main character could transport themselves at whim. Time travel in the real world meant choosing a year and a date to return to then living out the rest of your life there. Not a terrible situation considering the alternative—dying here of old age. At least you could be young again. Scientists speculated that human immortality was still twenty-five to fifty years away. Of course, based on the current economic catastrophe no society could survive if we lived forever.

There was no perfect answer. So I decided to go back to Laureen. Back to May 1971. Now it was time to get to work and prepare for the journey of my life.

I got my nano-memory chip recharged. One thing I wasn’t going to have to worry about was money. I pulled the New York Post archives and downloaded the harness race winners from Yonkers Raceway and Roosevelt Raceway for every race, including place and show, starting with May 1971. This was how I would earn money so I wouldn’t have to get a job. It also occurred to me that if I ever got into some trouble, real trouble, I might need to have some kind of proof that I was a time traveler.

Using my virtual pod, I went to the national archives starting from 1971 and downloaded directly to the chip implanted under my hairline all the significant events, names, places, dates that took place over the time span of the next fifty years. I could use that information to make large wagers on sporting events such as the World Series and Superbowl. Then my plan was to invest in real estate and buy up empty tracks of land cheaply, before anyone had any interest, but that years later would become housing developments. Since I couldn’t bring back anything tangible having knowledge and information about the future would be worth its weight in gold.

Assuming, of course, that the past was going to be the same past I already lived.

 

CHAPTER 34

 

 

 

May 10, 2043:

 

Aweek before I was scheduled to arrive at the Temporal Mobility Time-Space Center at Brookhaven National Lab on Long Island, I made arrangements with a local charity to donate all my furniture and belongings, including my car. Then I rented a new self-driving solar car from Hertz to drive to New York. I paid little extra to have a driver retrieve the vehicle from the Center. The Transcontinental Hyperloop from San Diego to Manhattan was still under construction and wouldn’t be operational until 2045. Several days later I drove up to Los Angeles to visit with our nieces, Lisa, Denise, and Vanessa. I gave them each albums of photos we had taken of them since they were babies. After Inez died I gave her jewelry and mementos to her sisters Irene and Virginia. They had since passed away, too.

On my way back to La Costa, I stopped at the mausoleum at Santa Monica Cemetery to say good-bye to Inez. I took off my wedding band and placed it along with hers in a black box behind her urn where it wouldn’t be visible.

The following day I drove down to the pet cemetery in Sorrento Valley to say good-bye to Jolie. I told him I hoped to see him again soon. My plan was to leave on Saturday, May 16th. That would give me plenty of time to drive cross-country on the super highway and make a few stops along the way. I prepared a box of photos for my nephew Daniel, including my parents, grandparents, Norman, and myself, along with Norman’s PH’D dissertation, Redactions of Romanticism in D.H. Lawerence: Three Major Novels from Princeton. Next, I took all my photos of Laureen and her letters and placed them in a manila envelope.

On Saturday morning, I entered the name Kapono Tanaka-Sanders on my V-Pod and searched for an address. What came up was the same house number in Las Vegas that his parents purchased in 2007. I entered the GPS coordinates on my dashboard keypad and put the car on autodrive. Estimated arrival time from Carlsbad to Las Vegas was one hour and thirty-five minutes on the new super highway.

I placed the manila envelope I planned on giving to Kapono on the passenger seat then pressed the start button. These new solar powered rental cars were extremely smooth and quiet even at speeds over 200 mph. I put on some music to relax. Just in case Kapono didn’t want the photos and letters, I decided I would place them in a box and bury them at the house we shared in Hampton Bays.

I arrived just before 1 o’clock. I got out of the car and the blazing heat hit me like a blast furnace. I rang the doorbell expecting the security system to activate. But the door opened instead and a young woman holding a baby stood in the doorway. I couldn’t believe what I saw with my own eyes. The last thing I remember was hearing her say, “Can I help you?”

Then I felt myself crumbling to the ground.

When I awoke, I found myself on a couch with a virtual physician hovered over me. I heard him say, “His vital signs are all fine. He must have been dehydrated. It’s very hot out there today. Let’s get him some cold water.”

Then I recognized the face of Kapono, Laureen’s son.

“Thank you, doctor,” he said.

The doctor vanished. Kapono handed me a bottle of cold water. I sat up. “The woman at the door—”

“Yes that was my daughter Lauren. You gave her quite a scare.”

I gulped down the water. It felt good on my dry throat. “But she looked just like Laureen. I mean your mom?”

The young woman I saw at the door looked just like Laureen when we first met. She was short and petite with that same golden Hawaiian complexion. She had her beautiful brown eyes and long brown hair parted down the middle.

“Yes, she does resemble her. You knew my mom?”

Kapono’s face looked the same from photos I had seen of him on Facebook when he was about nineteen or twenty. He must be about fifty now, had filled out quite a bit, and his hair was peppered with some gray. He had Laureen’s big brown eyes.

I had also seen pictures of his older sister. She was the spitting image of her father and had none of Laureen’s features.

“Your daughter was holding a baby?”

“Yes that’s my granddaughter, Shigeko.”

“Congratulations.”

“Thank you, uh, uh…”

“Jeff Goldberg.”

“Feeling a little better now?” he asked.

“Much better. I’m sorry to impose on you like this.” I said, sitting up.

He handed me the manila envelope. “You dropped this when you fainted.”

“Yes. Thank you.”

“So tell me Mr. Goldberg, how is it you knew my mom? She’s been gone over thirty years.”

“Yes, I know. She’d be ninety-one now.”

“Then you must be from Hana?”

“No, I’m not from Hana. I met your mom when she was a freshman at Southampton College in 1970.”

He stared at me with wide-open eyes and mouth agape as though I were a ghost. “But you look about…”

“Sixty-five. I know. It’s those age reversing drugs. I’m really ninety-two.”

“In 1970 mom was only—”

“She was eighteen and I was nineteen when we met.”

“Were you friends?”

“Not quite. She was my first love and I was her first love.”

“Really?”

“You seem surprised?”

“Well mom never spoke much about her life before she met my dad.”

“I know. She was born again and didn’t dwell on her past.”

“Tell me what was mom like when you knew her?”

“Well when we first met she was very shy and timid. She was very sweet, but she was also insecure and didn’t have a lot of self-confidence. I guess I was like that, too, which is why we were attracted to each other. She was absolutely gorgeous although she didn’t think so.”

“She was always self-conscious about her teeth.”

I handed him the envelope. “This is why I came. You see I don’t have much time and I don’t have any children so I thought you might like to have this.”

He opened it up and removed the photos and letters. He stared intently at each photo.

“You probably haven’t seen these before.” I said.

“God, she’s so young.” His eyes started to well up. “What do you mean you don’t have much time?”

“Like I said I’m ninety-two.”

“Can I get you something to eat?”

“No, the water is fine.”

He went through the sixty or so photos. Then he said, “I can see that you and my mom were very much in love.”

I could sense that he said it reluctantly. As if acknowledging that someone else loving his mom somehow diminished the life his parents had together.

“Yes we were.”

“So what happened?”

“We were very young and immature but intensely in love. That first year we both lived on campus. We were inseparable. The next year we lived together off campus. It was one of happiest years of my life. Your mom went home the following summer. She really missed her family. Then in 1974 she went home for the summer again and decided not return to finish her degree. I stilled loved her very much but I thought we both needed some space. I was hoping to get back together again, so I made a surprise visit to Hana during Christmas in 1975. I guess I’m the one who got the surprise of my life, because by then she was already living with your dad.”

“You didn’t know?”

“We didn’t keep in touch during that time.”

“She was still so young when she died,” he said, as tears rolled down his cheeks. “My sister and I have missed her terribly all these years.”

“I sorry maybe I shouldn’t have—”

“No, no, I’m glad you came. It’s just that…well, it’s so nice to see her in these photos. She’s so young with her whole life ahead of her. My memories of those last few years when she was fighting cancer are horrible.”

“I know. I saw some of those photos on Facebook before she died. I wrote her once in 2000 about twenty-five years after I last saw her in Hana. It was on the thirtieth anniversary of our meeting. The letter I sent and her reply are here. She wrote how very proud she was of you and your sister. I thought you might like her letters and creative writing notebook, too. They will give you some insight of what her life was like back then.”

“How come you kept the photos and letters all these years?”

“I married my wife in 1980. We were married for forty-nine years, but your mom always had a special place in my heart.” I was still a little woozy but managed to get up off the couch. “Oh I almost forgot.”

I reached into my pocket and pulled out the little soldier boy we got at the Nutcracker during Christmas 1970 and handed it him.

“Oh my God, that’s the Menehune papaya stamp. I haven’t seen one of these since I was a little kid.”

“You can still see your mom’s handwriting on the bottom.”

He read:

 

“Dec. 70

“Play: The Nutcracker.

“Place: Lincoln Center, N.Y.

“Jeff & Laureen.”

 

He thanked me and gave me a hug as I left, along with another bottle of water.

I sat in my car for a while running the air conditioner to keep cool. I thought about canceling my time travel trip altogether or at least going back to a time after Laureen and I broke up. What if it was possible to change things and I did something that caused Laureen not to marry Mark Sanders. That would mean Kapono night not be born. That would also mean that his daughter and granddaughter wouldn’t be born. The thought never occurred to me until just now, after meeting him, and it frightened me.

But how could I know? The thing was millions of people had already time-traveled and no one living now, in this time, ever disappeared, or vanished, or suddenly ceased to exist. You couldn’t keep something like that quiet. I mean there had to be people who had bad marriages, like my parents, who returned to the past and decided not to marry their spouse. So their kids or grandkids would’ve never been born. If that were the case, then those people shouldn’t exist here, at this moment in time.

So either the past couldn’t be changed, which is why people here weren’t suddenly disappearing, or there had to be some other explanation. I could feel the dizziness returning as I wracked my brain over this conundrum.

I also had a plan brewing in the back of my mind. But now I thought maybe it had been a mistake to come here.

 

CHAPTER 35

 

 

 

May 19, 2043:

 

Idrove over the George Washington Bridge around one o’clock Thursday afternoon. I met Daniel, who was now sixty-three, for lunch in Manhattan. He wished me luck with my time-travel journey. As we parted we gave each other a hug. Then he said, “Give my father a hug for me when you see him again.”

I thought about driving to the cemeteries to visit my grandparents and my dad and Norman. But there really was no point. I would hopefully see them all again, except for my Uncle Arnold and my grandpa, when I returned to 1971. So I headed to the Long Island Expressway.

My orientation center was at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island. When I arrived late in the afternoon, I was set up in a small studio apartment on the grounds. A young woman, about twenty-five or thirty, tall and thin, with short jet-black hair and emerald green eyes greeted me.

“Welcome, Mr. Goldberg. My name is Margot Greenwood. I’ll be your advisor,” she said. “I see from your file that you’re currently ninety-two years of age.”

“That’s correct.”

“And you wish to return to May 21, 1971.”

After meeting with Kapono, I still had my doubts about going back to 1971.

“Yes,” I said apprehensively. “But what if I wanted to change my mind at the last minute?”

She gave me a quizzical look. “That could be a problem. It’s already been programmed. “

“So it can’t be changed?”

“Not unless you want to cancel, re-enter the seniors’ lottery, and take your chances getting chosen again next year.”

“No. That’s not an option,”

“Fine. So let’s continue. It states here on your application that the reason for returning to 1971 was that your college years were the happiest times of your life.”

“Yes, they were.”

“But according to this form, you started college in the fall of 1969. So why not return to that year?” she asked.

“Because I didn’t like living on campus in the dorms. I was able to move off campus my junior year.”

“Very well then, 1971 it is.”

“Your departure date will be May twenty-first at 0200 hours. You’ll arrive at that same time and date, two a.m. May 21, 1971. For your destination, you have Montauk Dorm on the campus of the old Southampton College.”

“Correct.”

“GPS coordinates are north 40 degrees 53.1409 feet, west 072 degrees 26.83879 feet. They will be imbedded in your nanochip. That’s scheduled to be implanted tomorrow.”

“What happens next?”

“At 0200 hours on the twenty-first, you’ll enter the Space/Time Manipulation Chamber. You’ll be given a mild sedative to relax you. Within minutes, DNA transference, sequencing, and realignment will occur, resulting in your physical body morphing within the wormhole. The wormhole is created in the Chamber. It’s the transport vehicle that bends time in a backward direction. When you awake, you’ll find yourself in your twenty-year-old body. All your memories from the past seventy-two years will merge with your twenty-year-old self, including the feelings, thoughts, and emotions associated with those memories.”

“Hmmm. Will I feel anything?”

“There shouldn’t be any physical effects other than your body feeling young and strong again when you arrive.”

“I’m really looking forward to that.”

“However, you may experience some mental and emotional side effects. That would be the result of your young mind absorbing all the memories from your older self. You might have some disorientation, confusion and anxiety, but that should pass within a few hours or days.”

“Can I take anything back with me to 1971?”

“I’m afraid that’s not possible. Even if you could take back a virtual pod it wouldn’t function since that technology didn’t exist at that time.”

“I see.”

“But the main reason is that returning to 1971 with such devices and artifacts from 2043 might alter the future as we know it.”

“So does that mean that I can’t change any events?”

“I see that you married you wife, Inez, in 1980.”

“Right.”

“But you had no children.”

“Uh huh.”

“Let’s say that you had children and grandchildren as a result of your marriage and they existed here in the present. If you were to return to 1971, but nine years later you didn’t marry Inez, it’s very possible your children and grandchildren and great-children would cease to exist.”

I suddenly started to worry again. Maybe it would be a mistake to go back to Laureen. What about her family? What if I couldn’t change anything that had already happened? Only now Margot said I couldn’t cancel without risking my place.

“So let me see if I understand what you’re telling me. If I had children and grandchildren with my wife, but I didn’t marry her when I returned to the past, it’s possible that they might not exist in 2043.”

“Correct. Obviously, we can’t risk the existence of relatives living today,” she said.

“Even if I could, I would never do that. But I never heard of anyone—”

“Mr. Goldberg, I can only advise you that any change you attempt to make in your past could result with a negative, even catastrophic effect on the Space/Time Continuum.”

“What exactly does that mean?” I asked.

“Would you be willing to risk being sucked into a black hole or the possibility that the universe could implode?”

“Christ, no.”

“Then return to 1971 and enjoy your youth. Don’t try to play God,” she said sternly.

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of Margot’s warning. Since the senior-citizen-time-travel project started two years ago, I’d never heard of anyone’s family or relatives dematerializing, perishing, vanishing, or whatever, and the universe never imploded as far as I knew. This entire situation was still an enigma.

The following day I had my Space/Time nanochip implanted. I slept until evening, and ate a light dinner.

 

CHAPTER 36

 

 

 

Campus of the Old Southampton College, May 20, 2043:

 

The next day I drove the rental car to Southampton. I stopped at the college entrance, but the gates to the driveway leading to what used to be the Administration Building were closed off. I could still see the Administration Building down at the end of the driveway. The college was taken over by Stony Brook in 2007, but closed in 2009, due to budget cuts and the Great Recession.

 

 

I remembered taking part in the protests at the front gate right after the Kent State shootings in May 1970. Things were getting out of hand, so they decided to end the semester early and canceled final exams. I parked the car along Montauk Highway and walked down to a short wooden fence that I easily climbed over, even at age ninety-two. The moment I stepped on the campus, I knew I was home again.

I walked over to the dorms and stopped first at Amagansett. The g and the last t had long ago fallen off. I walked up the stairs to the landing where I had waved goodbye to my parents in September 1969. I remembered the feeling of exultation I had of finally being “free” from their dysfunctional relationship. It was one of the happiest days of my life.

Then I took the shortcut over to Mattituck dorm. I could only tell it was Mattituck because of its location. I recognized it of course, but it seemed surreal. I lived here when the building was only three or four years old in 1970. The last time I was here was in 1989 when it was still pristine, still a dorm. All the windows and doors were boarded up now.

 

 

Next to the entrance was the stairs leading down to the Counseling Center in the basement, which was also boarded up.

I’d spent many times at the Counseling Center, talking with Sterling Salter about my relationship with Laureen. The outside walls had huge cracks, missing bricks, and graffiti sprayed painted on them. The shingled roof had been exposed to years of rain, snow, wind, and the corrosion of moist salt air from Shinnecock Bay across the road. The green manicured grass neglected for years was knee high, brown, and covered with weeds. Construction materials were scattered all around. The only thing that seemed to flourish were the overgrown trees with ominous-looking roots surrounded by overgrown scraggly bushes.

And there were ghosts here, too.

I managed to get through a half-boarded window. The suite was empty—even the flooring had been stripped. I went to my old room number 5 on the first floor. The wooden door was unlocked. I sat on the cement floor in the corner as though my bed were still there. I looked up at the wall and could still see the rivets on the cement block where the bookcase and mirror used to hang above my desk. I could feel us still here. This was the room where I first kissed my beautiful sweetheart. This was the room where we lost our virginity. This was the room where Laureen and I fell in love—where I had such dreams. I sat there now, an old, worn-out man at the end of my life, and cried.

Later I walked over to Southold the next dorm over. This was where Laureen got a single room starting her second semester. I opened the door to number 6. I sat down on the floor where her bed used to be. I felt our presence here, too. I used to come over here in the middle of the night many times when I felt lonely. She would sleepily open the door, welcome me into her bed, and I would slip my hand under her nightie and caress her breasts. I sat there and cried.

It was a beautiful spring day, but eerie and desolate without any students walking around. The campus resembled a ghost town, not of rotting wooden buildings like the old west, but long abandoned neglected structures of cement and steel.

 

 

I made my way over to the windmill and sat on the alumni bench. I sat on the bench and pondered. I could hear the echoes, echoes of voices and footsteps, students making their way to class, or the dorms, or the student center. When I was a student here, I thought I would discover what I would do when I grew up, but I never did. To this day, I had never found my purpose in life. All my dreams and talents had gone to waste. I remembered thinking about all the time I had in the world and how quickly it all passed, like a dream. My life seemed more like a dream than reality. That was how time always seemed to me. Time had always been my enemy.

This was where it had all started. This was the exact spot where I first laid eyes on Laureen Shigeko Tanaka. I looked over to the rock and the tree where we took our first pictures. I wondered—Was this how it was meant to be?

If we hadn’t met that night, what would have happened to me? Would I have fallen in love with Linda Pincus? Would I still have moved to California and met Inez? Was there a reason for all this? Was there a purpose and meaning to it all? Was it fate, free will, or just some kind of cosmic coincidence?

I thought about all the dreams that never got realized, all the things unsaid and undone. My entire life was a waste. I never fulfilled or accomplished anything worthwhile. I never did anything to help humanity. I was only interested in making money and failed miserly at that. I never had children or grandchildren.

My dream was to be a writer, and all I ever did was write one lousy short story for Professor Peterson’s creative writing class. I started to write others, but never completed them. I never completed anything. From the time, I was a small child I always looked for the easy way, the shortcut, so I wouldn’t have to work.

There was another place I needed to visit so I got up and tried to run across the grassy field, much like we did on October 21, 1970, looking for that place where I first said to Laureen, “I love you.” The spot where we sat down and I gave her the haiku I wrote the night before. I wondered if she had felt our presence when she came back here in 1993. She mentioned visiting the campus in her letter to me in 2000.

Did the memories haunt her like they’ve haunted me all these years?

 

CHAPTER 37

 

 

 

Later That Day:

 

Igot back to the car and drove west on Montauk Highway toward Hampton Bays. I had the car on manual drive so I could feel the joy of driving again like I had as a young man. No need to set the GPS for West Tiana Road—I remembered the way, even though I didn’t recognize any of the landmarks. Shopping centers and retail stores covered both sides of Montauk Highway now, but after all these years Montauk Highway was still only one lane going east or west. I turned left on West Tiana Road and stopped at a white house with blue trim numbered 50. A digital sign flashed For Rent in yellow letters next to the mailbox in the front yard.

The house Lucy and Bruno Fatino lived in had been rebuilt once that I knew of in the 1990s and probably several more times. I parked in the driveway, the same driveway where we had always parked. I walked up Bellows Road, now paved and lined with single-family homes, to see if the cottage was still on the property, and it was still there. Then I walked back to the main house and rang the doorbell. A young heavyset woman, still carrying the weight of a recent pregnancy and holding a toddler, opened the door.

“Can I help you?” she asked, gazing at me.

“Good afternoon. Sorry to bother you, but I was wondering if I could take a look at the cottage?”

“Are you interested in renting it for the summer?”

“No, I’m afraid not. I lived there many years ago. I’d like to take one more look around if you don’t mind.”

She was visibly annoyed as she rocked the baby who had started crying. “When did you live there?”

“Back in 1972 when I was in college.”

She moved away from the door. “The house has been remodeled several times since then, and my husband isn’t here right now.”

“That’s okay, I won’t be long. I have a lot of memor—”

Without saying a word, she slammed the door in my face.

I got in the car and drove back east on Montauk Highway to Southampton Village. I parked the car on Main Street and walked around. It was still quaint but I didn’t recognize any of the shops. Hildreth’s Department Store was gone, so was Silver’s Luncheonette. Then I walked down towards Job’s Lane. The only building I recognized was the Parrish Art Museum, which made me feel a little better.

I felt a vibe from my virtual pod and found a critical message from the Space/Time Manipulation Center reminding me return to Brookhaven no later than ten p.m. for my two a.m. time travel rendezvous.

After an early dinner at the Hampton Bays Diner, I waited until seven o’clock and then drove back to 50 West Tiana Road. There was another car in the driveway now. I rang the doorbell again, hoping it wouldn’t be the same unpleasant woman I’d scared off earlier. This time a tall, grimacing man opened the door.

“Yeah?” he said.

“Sorry to bother you, but I was here this afternoon and asked your wife if I could take a look at the cottage.”

“We don’ like strangers snoopin’ around unless you’re plannin’ on rentin’ the place,” he said.

“I’m not, but I lived here when I went to college back in 1971.”

“Geez, that was ages ago. My grandparents were born aroun’ den.”

“The last time I was here was back in the 1983, but I didn’t go into the house.”

“There ain’ no college anywhere roun’ here,” he said, eyeing me suspiciously.

“I went to Southampton College.”

“You mean dem ol’ ruins east of here on Montauk Highway used to be a college?”

“Yeah. I think it closed down about thirty-five years ago. The folks who lived in your house used to rent the cottage to students.”

“Well, the cottage been vacant since last summer. We remodeled the place five years ago when we bought this house. Jus’ installed a fusion generator last fall, too.”

“I promise not to disturb anything.”

“Look, if you’re not rentin’ there’s nothin’ much to see.”

“You’d be doing a very old man a big favor,” I said. “I have lots of memories here.”

“I don’t know—”

The wife yelled from inside, “Fred, let him go in the cottage already, so he’ll stop botherin’ us.”

“Well, okay, you seem harmless enough I guess,” he said.

“I really appreciate it,” I said.

Reluctantly, he handed me the electronic key.

I walked across the yard. The smaller cottage where our neighbor Mike had lived was no longer there. The large Ponderosa Pine tree in the corner of the yard was still there and must have been a hundred years old now. This was where we took some pictures after a huge snowstorm.

 

 

The house looked the same from the outside except that it was painted yellow instead of white. The cellar where we once stored our belongings was to the left of the front door. My heart was racing. I started shaking and leaned into the front door to take some deep breaths. It had been seventy-one years since I was last inside. I pressed the electronic key and the door opened. For an instant, I hallucinated that I would find Laureen inside, just like the many times when I’d return from campus. But when I stepped into the living room nothing looked familiar.

The structure of the rooms was the same, so the remodel had only been cosmetic. The house was very stuffy. I felt short of breath, as if all the air had been sucked out of me. Furnishings were arranged differently, but I envisioned them as they once were. On my right was the kitchen with new, modern appliances and a small dining table in the middle. I could see us sitting there when we made Thanksgiving dinner for my parents in 1971.

A sleek, black couch sat in the spot where we had our first Christmas tree with the Jewish Star on top, between the two ugly brown armchairs. I took out that old photo and sat down in a chair on the other side of the room. It was the only photo that I had of us inside the house. The tree was about six weeks old when we finally got Mike to come over and take that picture and most of needles had fallen off by then.

“Oh God,” I said, as tears welled up in my eyes.

I got up and walked into our bedroom. There was a bed in the same exact place—the only place you could put a bed, because the window seat took up one entire wall and a double closet on the other. I sat down on the bed, my heart still pounding, taking short, quick breaths. I could feel us here. In my mind, Laureen was curled up on the window seat where she liked to read, and I heard the phonograph in the living room playing “Love Can Make You Happy.” I began to cry, sitting there remembering.

Then I recited the poem I memorized as though it were a prayer. “Sudden Light” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

 

I have been here before,

But when or how I cannot tell:

I know the grass beyond the door,

The sweet keen smell,

The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.

You have been mine before.

How long ago I may not know:

But just when at that swallow’s soar

Your neck turned so,

Some veil did fall – I knew it all of yore.

Has this been thus before?

And shall not thus time’s eddying flight

Still with our lives our love restore

In death’s despite,

And day and night yield one delight once more?

 

I had one final hope left in my old life now. Would this time travel thing really happen tomorrow morning so I could get back to Laureen, get back to us? The time was getting close for implementing my plan to ensure that Laureen never married Mark Sanders.

There was pounding on the door and a loud voice shook me out of the past. “Yooouu okay in therrrr, mister?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“No man ever steps in the same river twice,

for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

 

Heraclitus

CHAPTER 38

 

 

 

The Second Time Around, Friday, May 21, 1971, 11 a.m.:

 

My twenty-year-old body felt the same, but I was different. I remembered everything now. I wasn’t prepared to cope with the seventy years of emotions, thoughts, and memories that had been crammed into me. I felt violated. The pain of knowing our past overwhelmed me. I felt unnatural, like I had been ripped apart and then recreated, like there were parts that didn’t belong to me. My brain didn’t belong to me. I felt like a Frankenstein. I wanted to tell Laureen what I really was—a time traveler—but I couldn’t, not yet.

We got up, dressed, and walked over to the Student Center to get something to eat at the snack bar. The semester was over, and the campus was empty except for a few students. We had to move out of our dorms. Jacob was going to be teaching tennis over the summer, and the college let him use a suite in Montauk Dorm. He let us stay in one of the rooms temporarily.

Later that day, Jacob drove us into Southampton and dropped us off on Main Street. I felt like having some dessert, so we walked over to the Village Ice Cream Shop next to Hildreth’s Department Store. I opened the door and we stepped over to the counter displaying two long rows of ice cream in five-gallon containers. A young teenage girl dressed in a white uniform immediately came over to us. “What would you like?”

When I looked up and I saw our reflection in the large mirror that filled the entire back wall of the store. I was mesmerized. I stared at the image of Laureen and I in the mirror, through the young girl as if she didn’t exist.

Laureen gently poked me the ribs with her elbow when I didn’t respond to the girl’s question.

“You okay?”

“Uh, huh,” I said, still staring at our reflection. “You order first.”

The teenage shop attendant turned to Laureen. “What are you going to have?”

“I’ll have a sundae with one scoop of strawberry ice cream.”

I heard her scurry behind the counter, my eyes still glued to the mirror. I saw Laureen walk back and forth checking out the other flavors just in case she might change her mind. When our server returned, she placed the blue and white paper cup on the counter. I could see her long blonde hair tied into a bun on the back of her head under a white paper cap with the ice cream shop logo on the front. A swirl of white whip cream poked out above the rim of the ice cream cup and a red cherry with its stem attached sat on top. Then she placed a napkin and a spoon next to the cup.

I couldn’t move my eyes from the mirror. It provided me with a crystallization of reality. I knew this wasn’t some dream. I knew this wasn’t one of those out-of-body experiences, or a journey on the astral plane. Finally, my gaze into the mirror was broken when the teen stepped in front of me.

“What can I get for you?”

“Hot fudge sundae with two scoops of pistachio please.”

Laureen picked up her cup and stuck the spoon inside. “Are you sure you’re okay? You’re acting really weird.”

“I’m okay. I’m okay.”

“Here, you can have this,” she said, taking the cherry by the stem and placing it up to my mouth. She remembered that I like to eat the cherry along with its stem.

Our server returned with my sundae. “That’ll be $1.75, please.”

I gave her two dollars that I found inside the wallet in my jeans and told her to keep the change.

We sat down on a bench outside the store with our sundaes. The town was beginning to bustle in anticipation of the Memorial Day weekend when the population would triple. At the far end of Main Street was the AMC car dealership. Displayed out front was the new, funny-looking Gremlin. It was just as ugly now as I remembered it.

“There’s something I want to discuss with you regarding our plans for the summer,” I said to Laureen. “I know we planned on working for Model Cities and then going to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and Canada in August. How ’bout instead of doing that we both go to Hana for the summer to visit your family.”

“Do you mean it, Jeffrey?” she said, her face beaming with joyous shock.

“I know how much you miss your mom and dad and your sisters. I’ve taken you all over New York, and I would like to meet your family and see where you grew up.”

“Yes, I miss them terribly. That would be so wonderful. But how would we pay for trip?”

“Don’t worry, I can get the money. Do you think your family would like to meet me?”

“Of course, they would. I’ve written to them about you many times,” she said proudly.

“So where would we stay?”

“I’m not sure. I’ll have to call them and discuss that, but they won’t approve of us sleeping together like your mom does. My grandmother lives next door to my parents and she has a guest room.”

“If we stayed for the whole summer what would we do there?” I asked.

“Well, aside from showing you Hawaii, we could help my dad out on Mr. Kreg’s papaya plantation. I worked for him during the summers. He always needs some help. You are serious about this, aren’t you?” she asked tentatively.

“Yes, I’m serious. I think it would be really good for our relationship,” I said.

“I know. We’ve had a few difficult times in our relationship—”

“Yeah, like that stupid trip to Springfield during Easter break last month,” I said, interrupting her.

“Jeffrey, this is the most thoughtful thing you’ve ever done for me,” she said, squeezing my hand.

She kissed me passionately. I could taste the chocolate syrup and whipped cream in her mouth.

So there, I did it. It was simple. What once was had been undone. The space/time continuum didn’t seem to ripple or collapse the universe. A black hole didn’t suck us in and swallow us up. I slightly changed the past, and the two of us were still here sitting on the bench in Southampton, on Main Street, in 1971, enjoying our ice cream sundaes. Reshaping the past was surprising easy.

And I made up my mind just then—now that I knew the past could be changed—I was going to do whatever it took to make sure Laureen didn’t marry Mark Sanders. The plan I had concocted would take care of that, even if it meant their children would never be born.

 

CHAPTER 39

 

 

 

Later That Day:

 

We hitched a ride back to campus. Laureen went back to the dorm. I stopped on a bench to write down some notes before walking down to the Humanities Building. I knocked on Professor William E. Gormley’s door. I had this overwhelming sense of fear and trepidation. Could I handle knowing everything about the future? What should I try to change? I needed someone to confide in, someone I could trust with my secret. I took a philosophy course with him in the spring semester that just ended. He was also a Jesuit priest and offered the non-denominational services at the windmill on Sundays.

 

 

“Professor Gormley, do you have a few minutes? I need to talk with you.”

“I always have time for you, Jeff. Come sit down,” he said in his deep theatrical voice. “Is this of a spiritual nature, or are you here to discuss your grade?”

“I was very happy with my grade, thank you.”

He was a large imposing figure about fifty years old, bald except for hair on the sides of his head, with a cherub face and rosy cheeks.

“How can I help you then?”

“Can I close the door so we can talk in private?”

“Sure. Go ahead.”

“I have something I need to discuss with you. The reason I’ve chosen to talk only with you is because you’re a doctor of philosophy, but more importantly you’re a man of God.”

“Well, Jeff, this sounds rather serious.”

“It’s very serious, Dr. Gormley. Before I tell you what’s on my mind, I need you to promise me that what I’m going to share with you is confidential.”

“As long as you haven’t committed a crime.” He grinned. “I will give you my word.”

“I can assure you I haven’t committed any crime. Would it be inappropriate for me to ask you to swear on a Bible?”

“That’s highly unusual. I don’t think anyone has ever asked me that,” he said, giving me a very strange look. “Only if that makes you feel more comfortable.”

“It would.”

He grabbed a well used Bible that was on the desk and placed his right hand on it. “By Almighty God, I solemnly swear to keep whatever Jeff Goldberg tells me completely confidential. How’s that?”

“Thank you.”

“Okay then. Please proceed.”

“Do you know my girlfriend Laureen?”

“She’s the young lady we spoke about last fall when you told me you thought you experienced God. I’ve never met her, but I’ve seen the two of you on campus quite a few times. She’s from Hawaii, I believe.”

“She’s from Hana.”

“Well, observing the two of you together, you look like you’re both very much in love.”

“Yes, we are.”

“I hope everything is all right.”

“That’s why I need your advice and guidance, Dr. Gormley. I don’t know how to—where to—”

I tried to search for the right words. I was never told not to tell anyone that I was a time traveler only not to change anything. I was anticipating his response to my fantastic story. What if he didn’t believe me even after I showed him proof?”

“You see I’ve traveled back in time from the year 2043 to now, 1971. This is the second time I’ve lived in 1971.”

He stared at me, his mouth agape, searching for something to say. I could see the blood drain from his normally red cheeks. “Jeff, you never struck me as a person who took drugs.”

“I can assure you, Dr. Gormley, that I don’t smoke anything other than tobacco in my pipe, like you, and I don’t take any drugs and only drink occasionally. I’ll explain. Laureen and I started going together last October. I’m twenty, and she’ll be nineteen next month. This is the first time either of us has been in love, and although we love each other very much, we argue a lot, we pick on each other, usually over childish things, and it puts a strain on our relationship. Sometimes it’s like a roller coaster.”

“Yes, that’s understandable, but where did you come up with this time travel fantasy?”

“Laureen and I will be together for three more years, and then in June of 1974 she will go back to Hana for good. I’ll fool around with other women for the next year and a half until I realize how much I really love her. Then I’m going to make a surprise visit to Hana in December of 1975, but she will be living with her boyfriend, who she will later marry and have two children. When I return New York, I will move to California, and in 1979 I will meet my wife, Inez, and we will get married the following year.”

“Whooooa, Jeff. I think you’re makin all this up to protect yourself from breaking up.”

“Believe me, I’m not making this up. The next time I hear from Laureen is when she responds to a letter I write her in 2000, twenty-six years after I last saw her. During that time, I had a very happy marriage, but Laureen was always in my heart. I loved my wife differently than I loved Laureen. I was more mature and ready to settle down. Then in 2010 I was at my computer—everyone has a personal computer by then—and I saw her obituary. She died at age fifty-eight after a three-year battle with breast cancer. I was heartbroken, and I went into a deep despair. All the feelings, memories, and emotions that I had repressed all those years came flooding back. I also had many regrets about our relationship, and the grief just overwhelmed me. I was never the same after that.”

“Ugh—”

“Please, let me just finish. In 2029, my wife Inez passes away. Then in 2040, a group of government scientists announce that time travel to the past had been achieved. Over the last seventy years advances in medicine have eliminated most cancers and diseases, and people are living much longer, even well over one hundred. Also, aging could be reversed, so that a ninety-two year old person like me, that’s how old I really am, would have the organs and the body of someone sixty years old. You’ll be happy to know that even baldness had been cured.”

“Really. How nice,” he said, rubbing the top of his baldhead.

“Anyway, this was putting a tremendous strain on Social Security and Medicare. The U.S. economy was ready to implode. In 2043, when I am ninety-two years old, a voluntary program was set up to reduce the senior population. Anyone over the age of ninety could go back in time to any period of their life. But we don’t have time machines, so we have to stay in that time. I was unhappy at that point in my life after my wife and friends had all died. I decided to enroll in the program. I agonized over what time in my life I should return to. I could go back to when I first met my wife, Inez, and relive our life together, which was wonderful, but I had already been married to her for forty-nine years. Or, I could to back to my college years here at Southampton, which was some of the happiest years of my life. I chose 1971, when Laureen and I lived together, and because I missed her terribly after all these years.”

He never took his eyes off me, staring silently, letting me speak. Finally, he said, “Jeff, I honestly don’t know what to say. Only it’s quite a story.”

“I understand. And I expected you would be very skeptical. That’s why—”

“Skeptical isn’t quite what I had in mind,” he said.

I took out a paper from my pocket, unfolded it, and handed it to him.

“I wrote down a few things that will prove to you that I’m telling the truth. Do you think I would make up anything so morbid as Laureen dying? The things I’ve written down here I would have no way of knowing unless I was from the future and already lived through these events. In your philosophy class, you discuss things like if there were really a God, why would he or she allow earthquakes that killed thousands of people, right?”

“Yes. We pondered that.”

“Well, here are some events that will take place in the next few weeks. Think about this. If they turn out to be true, how could I possibly know they will happen?”

 

May 22 ~ A 6.9 earthquake lasting 20 seconds will destroy most of Bingöl, Turkey. The earthquake will be located about 410 miles southeast of Ankara. The city of Bingol will be nearly destroyed. A 1000 or more people will be killed, 90 percent of Bingol’s structures destroyed, and 15,000 of its inhabitants made homeless. The earthquake occurrs at the extreme eastern end of the Anatolian Fault.

May 27 ~ Six armed passengers hijack a Romanian passenger plane and force it to fly to Vienna.

June 6 ~ A midair collision between Hughes Airwest Flight 706 Douglas DC-9 jetliner and a U.S. Marine Corps McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom jet fighter near Duarte, California, claims 50 lives.

July 13 ~ Paced by a prodigious home run by Reggie Jackson that hits a transformer on the roof of Tiger Stadium, the American League defeats the National League 6-4 in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Detroit.

 

He read what I’d written. Then he sat there silently, staring at me with a bewildered look on his face. He was normally a very jovial person, which was why I always liked him. He also had a way of making life’s tragic events seem understandable because of “free will” in the universe. But he seemed shaken by what he read. Perhaps I had touched a nerve deep within him, questioning his faith. He eyed me with suspicion and contempt, as though I had annihilated, in one afternoon, all the laws of nature he had experienced his entire life.

“Is this a practical joke?” he said, sneering. “If it is, I’m not amused.”

“No, I wish it were.”

“According this list, there will be an earthquake tomorrow,” he said.

“Yes. And there’s nothing you or I could do that can change these things from happening.”

“If what you say is true, Jeff, can anything be done to prevent this? Maybe we can warn them?”

“So you believe me?”

“Let’s just say I’m trying to keep an open mind.”

“We’re not supposed to make any attempt to change the past in a major way, and we can’t in some cases, even if we wanted to. Anyway, who would believe us? There is a reason these events happened but we can’t understand why. I think you know that. Call it fate or whatever. I can tell you much more about all this and give you more proof, but we’re going to go back to Hana for the summer to visit her family. We’ll be back for the start of the fall semester in September.”

“You said you were sharing this with me, because you needed my advice.”

“Do you think I should tell Laureen what I’ve told you? At some point she will have to know, but I’m afraid if I tell her now she’ll think I’m crazy.”

“Yes, she probably would. I’m thinking the same thing myself to be honest.”

“I guess if someone told me this, I’d think they were crazy, too. But tomorrow you’ll see that I’m telling you the truth.”

“I’m going to have to pray for some guidance before I can advise you.”

 

CHAPTER 40

 

 

 

Saturday May 22, 1971 – 11 a.m.:

 

We had packed up everything and waited for my dad to pick us up to go back to the Bronx. Suddenly, Dr. Gormley came running into the suite out of breath, looking very agitated.

“Dear Jesus, Jeff, it hap—”

“Ohh—hello, Dr. Gormley, this is my girlfriend Laureen.”

“Very nice to meet you.” He motioned for me come outside. He was a very large man and towered over me. He grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me. “I heard on the radio—it—it—the earthquake. It happened just like you said it would. Is it really true what you told me?”

“It’s really true.”

“I have to admit I didn’t believe what you told me yesterday about that earthquake. I thought maybe you were having some kind of emotional break down from stress. You have this irrational fear of losing Laureen. But then everything you had written on that paper actually happened. Even a psychic wouldn’t be that accurate.”

“Do you think I should tell Laureen now?”

“It might be best not to say anything to her just yet. All I can tell you is I’m having trouble grasping it, so I can’t imagine how she might react.”

“Then let’s just keep this to ourselves,” I said. “Remember what you promised me.”

“You’re secret is safe with me.”

When I came back in, Laureen asked, “What was that all about? He seemed very upset about something.”

“Nothing, I just gave him some information and he thanked me.”

My dad arrived and drove us to the Bronx. We stopped at his office in the Bronx Terminal Market. He had a storeroom in the back where we were going to leave our stuff for the summer. Then he dropped us off at my mom’s apartment around three o’clock. I thanked him for picking us up and asked if I could borrow a few hundred dollars.

“What for?” he asked.

“We need to get our plane tickets. I’ll pay you back on Monday when I go to the bank.”

He pulled out a wad of cash from his pocket, proceeds from last night’s receipts, searching for the larger bills. I stared at him perplexed. He was only fifty-three and appeared very healthy and spry. The way I always remembered him before diabetes ravaged his body. Part of me just realized that the last time I saw him he was in a coma, and I was the one who told the doctor to let him go. Another part of me had the memory of seeing him just a few weeks earlier when he and my mom came to visit us one Saturday.

“Keep it,” he said, handing me three hundred dollars.

I hugged him, which is something I rarely, if ever, did. “Thanks, but I want to pay you back.”

I opened the door to my mother’s apartment but she wasn’t there. Again, I had conflicting feelings upon returning home. Knowing that I had been here only months ago and also having the memory of moving my mother to San Diego in April 1996.

Later I called Joe Bonomolo, my handball buddy, to see if he was going to the racetrack tonight. His mom said he was down at the handball courts.

One of the things I had missed ever since I moved to California in 1977 was playing handball. I quickly grabbed Laureen by the arm and we raced down Lydig Avenue to the handball courts at Bronx Park East.

There was a doubles game in progress when we arrived. Joe and Danny Heffernan were playing against my friends, Micky Cassola and Gary Rosenkrantz. Joe was about ten years older than us and lived with his parents in Yonkers. Danny was ten years older than Joe and did odd jobs. He still lived with his parents. I met Joe and Danny in 1968 when I was in high school. At that time I used to play paddleball but I hurt my arm. I tried playing handball and there was no pain so I switched. At first they weren’t anxious to play with me since I had no skills, but I picked it up pretty fast. I was a lefty and had a vicious hook. The problem I had was controlling it and keeping the ball on the court.

Another one of my friends, James Chubinsky, had the next game. We agreed to play the winner of this match. Laureen cheered me on even though James and I lost the match. Needless to say, I was very rusty. We had to wait until Micky and Gary got their rematch before we got ours. We lost to them for the second time but it was fun playing again.

 

 

I asked Joe if he was going to the track tonight. He said he was, and I asked if he would mind picking us up.

“How come you want to go to the track all of a sudden?” Joe asked. “Every time I asked you to come with me before you passed.”

“I’ll explain later, okay?”

We left the courts and walked back to my apartment. “When did you ever go to the racetrack?” Laureen asked.

“I used to go before we met.”

Laureen turned to me and raised her eyebrows, giving me a skeptical look.

My mother was standing in front of her building talking with some neighbors when she saw us approach. She greeted both of us with a hug and a kiss. Conflicting images of the present and the past inundated my brain. My vibrant fifty-three year old mother who stood here excited to see us, juxtaposed with my mother who I watched suffer the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease forty years later.

 

*****

 

Later That Evening:

 

Joe came by my house around six o’clock and we left for Yonkers Raceway.

He went there almost every night during the three-month meet since it was only ten minutes from his house. He made his living as a commercial artist, but he made most of his money betting on the harness races. Joe was extremely thrifty with his money and, instead of paying the one-dollar parking fee, he had a permit to park on the residential street across from the raceway.

Walking across the parking lot to the main entrance, Joe looked up from the tonight’s racing program. “I don’t see any good horses running tonight. I might not even play a race.”

I didn’t remark but chuckled to myself. We’ll see about that.

Once inside, he took Laureen and me to his favorite seats on the mezzanine level right on the finish line.

“First race is the daily double,” Joe said.

“What’s a daily double?” Laureen asked.

Joe explained that the daily double wager was picking the winner of the first race in combination with the winner of second race.

He looked at the program. “Both horses in the daily double are the favorites, so it won’t pay much.”

“What do you think it will pay?” I asked.

“Maybe fifteen or seventeen dollars. I don’t see those odds as a good bet.”

“So, Joe, if you knew that for every two dollars you bet you could win fifteen, you wouldn’t take it?”

“No, because you have to pick the winner of two races. I like at least five-to-one odds in a daily double, not two-to-one. Even though both horses won their race last week, I’m gonna sit this one out.”

A bugle call trumpeted the “first call,” indicating fifteen minutes to post time. The betting lines would be getting long with last minute gamblers.

I motioned to Laureen. “Let’s go, I want to place a bet.” I told her to get in one line as I got on another to see who got up to the window first. I made it to the window before she did with only a few minutes to spare. I took the number seven horse in the first race and the number one horse in the second race.

“How much did you bet on that daily double?” she asked.

“I have it twenty-one times.”

“Are you nuts? You bet forty-two dollars on that race when Joe told you not to?”

“Relax, okay. Just relax,” I said calmly. We quickly made our way back to our seats. I handed Joe a daily double ticket.

“What’s this?” he asked.

“A little gift,” I said. “For picking us up.”

“Gee, thanks.”

The bugle call signaled for the jockeys to line up their horses at the starting gate. The gate opened and they were off. My stomach was churning. What if this didn’t work?

The seven horse, Lucky Chucky, won the first race. Laureen was getting excited now.

Joe looked at me. “Okay, we have the first race?”

“Yep.”

My anticipation grew waiting the fifteen minutes before the start of the second race.

Wishing Stone had the rail in the second race, and he wired the field. Laureen and I were standing and screaming as he approached the finish line. Then Laureen started jumping up and down. I whispered in her ear to calm down so we didn’t attract any attention. The tote board took a few minutes to calculate the daily double results and finally flashed seventeen dollars. We netted two hundred and ninety-eight dollars, which was nothing great, but this was just a test.

“How’d ya do?” Joe asked.

“I had it twenty times.”

Joe didn’t seem impressed. We all went to the window and cashed in the tickets. The third race was a trifecta, where you had to pick the winning horse, place horse, and show horse in that order. Again, the favorite was paying low odds, but Joe said that a trifecta would usually pay a few hundred dollars.

I read on the back of the program, written in bold red print, that if you won more than nine hundred in any one race, you had to report it to the IRS right there at the track.

“So what do you think about this race?” I asked Joe.

“The favorite looks good. I might box him with the two and one horses.”

Joe explained that he would play the favorite, the number six horse, to win, the two horse to place or finish second, and the one horse to show, finishing in third position. Then he would buy another ticket and reverse the one horse to place and the two horse to show.

Joe was really good with the odds so I asked, “What would the payout be?”

“Probably three hundred.”

“Joe, I’m going with the six-two-seven combination.”

“I don’t like the one horse, even though he might get sucked along with the others along the rail.”

“Joe, just go along with me on this, okay?”

“But why the seven horse?” he asked.

We all got in line and I gave Laureen four dollars to play the six-two-seven combination twice. I got it twice, and Joe got it two times. Then we went back to our seats, anxiously waiting for the race to start. We all stood as the horses approached the finish line desperately trying not to scream, yell, or jump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was a photo finish with the two horse and the six horse. After a few minutes, the results flashed on the board, six-two-seven. The trifecta paid three hundred and twenty dollars. Joe and Laureen both had stunned looks on their faces.

Joe won six hundred and forty dollars, and Laureen and I each won six hundred and forty dollars. We went to the cash-in window to collect, but this time on a different level and on different lines so as not to attract attention to ourselves.

Joe put his money in his wallet and took me aside. In a very low voice he said, “I know this isn’t beginner’s luck. How did you pick these horses?”

“I can’t explain now. I’ll tell you more on the way home.”

We took a break to get some snacks that Joe offered to pay for. The seventh race didn’t really have a favorite, but the number nine horse was paying fifteen to one odds. I gave Laureen fifty dollars and told her to put it on Mach Three, as did Joe and I. Joe said not to show any emotion even if we won the race. He said he noticed people staring at us during the earlier races. We won, of course, and each of us collected another eight hundred dollars.

The final race was another trifecta. I gave Laureen six dollars and told her to play the six-one-four combination three times. Joe went along with me, and we all got on separate lines. The six-one-four combo won and paid two hundred and seventy-five dollars. We each netted eight hundred and nineteen dollars.

We walked back to Joe’s car in silence our pockets stuffed with cash. I was ecstatic! So far the preparations I had made for this day before leaving 2043 had paid off. The high you get from winning at the racetrack is intoxicating and, like drugs or alcohol, it’s extremely addictive. I had first hand knowledge about that.

Joe on the other hand had tremendous self-control. I had been with him several times when he never made a wager, but he would watch intently, looking for horses that he could parlay into winning wagers when they raced the following week.

Once we got in his car, Joe asked, “Okay, Jeff, how’d you do it? Are you doing something illegal, ’cause I don’t want to get into trouble.”

“I’m afraid I can’t tell you. It’s nothing illegal, and the less you know the better off you are. But I have a proposition for you. I’m gonna need some money from time to time, and I will give you the winners just like I did tonight. You have to agree not to tell anyone about this, including Danny or Mike, even your father. You figure out the odds and the payouts so that you don’t have to report the winnings to the IRS. We’ll split the profits. How does that sound?”

“It sounds good, too good. Why can’t you tell me—”

“Because I can’t,” I interrupted. “Take it or leave it.”

Laureen looked at me quizzically but didn’t say a word.

“How will you get me the information?”

“I’ll call you a day or two before the race. I think it’s a good idea for you to keep a ledger on the bets and winnings. Not that I don’t trust you, but just to keep everything straight.”

Joe agreed to my offer. He dropped us off on the corner of Pelham Parkway and White Plains Road, rather than in front of my apartment building, so we could take a walk. As soon as we got out of the car ,Laureen asked, “How much did we win tonight?”

I whispered in her ear, “We won about forty-five hundred dollars, which should be more than enough for the summer.”

“You never took me to the racetrack before tonight. You never even mention the racetrack since we met. How could you win so much money?” she asked impatiently, seeking some explanation.

“If I tell you I’ll have to kill you,” I said jokingly.

“Very funny. Jeffrey, don’t play games. I want some answers!”

“Okay. Okay. But let’s get some egg creams first.”

“I don’t want an egg cream.”

“Come on they’re good.”

We went into Bib & Sam’s candy store and ordered up two egg creams. I immediately recognized Sam who I had known for years growing up in the neighborhood. He greeted me, took two cone shaped paper cups, and placed them in a metal holder. He poured some milk into both cups, went over to dispenser and gave each cup two squirts of Fox’s U-bet Chocolate Syrup.

Then he went over to the fountain and filled each cup with seltzer water stirring with a spoon to create a foamy top.

When we got outside, I explained to Laureen. “My father’s partner, Tony DeCurtis, well, he’s…he’s in tight with the mob. And the mob controls the harness horse owners and the jockeys.

When we were at my father’s office this afternoon Tony took me aside. He knows my father never gambles. He said he had some inside information about what horses to play at Yonkers tonight. He even gave me a hundred dollars to place some bets for him.”

“I don’t—I dunno about all this stuff,” she said, looking baffled.

“Tony said he got these tips all time, but since they work nights at the market, he can’t get to the track. He can’t even get to the OBT office because he has to sleep during the day.

“What’s the OBT?”

“Off Track Betting office, like the one on White Plains Road,” I said.

“But isn’t that fixing races?”

“I don’t know if it’s illegal, but I think it’s done every day at all the tracks.”

“Just because you don’t know, doesn’t make it right.”

“The same results are going to occur whether I play these races or not. That’s just the way it is.”

“Okay, but with those combination races like the trifecta, how do they know they’re gonna finish in that order?”

“I can’t be sure, but I think all the jockeys may be involved. Some will purposely hold back their horses. Joe even pointed that out to us tonight when some jockeys were pulling back on the reins as their horse came down the finish line. They probably bet on the winners themselves.”

By the time we got back to the apartment, Laureen seemed to accept my explanation. What I actually gave her was a “bubbe-meisa.” That means a tall story in Yiddish. It’s something I’d always been quite expert at making up. Now that we had more than enough money, I told her she should call home tomorrow and tell her parents we were coming in a few days.

 

CHAPTER 41

 

 

 

Monday May 24, 1971:

 

After breakfast, we walked down to White Plains Road to Liberty Travel and purchased two round trip tickets to Honolulu. Earlier, I had checked the yellow pages for a pawnshop in the South Bronx. I figured that would be the best place to get a gun. I told Laureen that my dad needed some help in the office and I would be back in a few hours. She wanted to come with me, but I suggested she should stay in the neighborhood and buy some things we would need for the trip, like presents for her three younger sisters.

I took the train to Jackson Avenue and walked three blocks to South Bronx Pawn Shop. I told the clerk I needed a small handgun and ammo for protection. He showed me three guns taking them out of the glass display case.

“Which would you recommend?”

“Your best bet is this SIG-Sauer P220,” he said. “It’s compact but carries a big punch.”

“How much?”

“$250.”

“Does it come with ammo?

“Yeah .38s.”

“Okay, I’ll take it.”

“I’m going to need to some ID.”

“Driver’s license?”

“Yeah.”

“I’ve never shot a gun before. Can you show me how to use it?” I asked.

“Sure. Pay for it, and we’ll go down the basement to the range,” he said.

The clerk showed me how to load the ammo into the magazine and use the safety. We put on gun earmuffs then he showed me how to hold the gun with both hands and brace for the recoil. From ten feet I hit the target four out of six times. That was good enough for me.

I took the train back to Pelham Parkway and went into the Woolworth’s on White Plains Road, hoping I didn’t run into Laureen. I bought a pair of lightweight latex gloves, a small duffle bag, and a clear, disposable rain jacket. Then I stopped at Ben’s Hardware on Lydig Avenue and bought a small garden trowel. I packed everything into the duffle bag. In 1971, airport security didn’t exist, so I would be safe with the gun packed in the duffle bag that I carried on my shoulder. My plan was to make it look like a drug deal gone bad. I would need to get some pot. I didn’t want to fly with pot because of the smell, and there should be plenty of it in Hana anyway.

 

*****

 

May 27, 1971:

 

We booked a flight to Honolulu on United Airlines. We lifted off around nine a.m. and were served breakfast. We were scheduled to land in Los Angeles at two o’clock. Laureen was so happy to be going home she couldn’t sit still. Even the movie didn’t relax her. We landed on time and had a two-hour layover before going to Honolulu. Luckily, we could leave our luggage on the plane. I placed the duffle bag in the overhead compartment. She asked me what was in it. I told her some things I couldn’t fit in the suitcases.

We wandered around LAX for a while to stretch our legs and then found a cafeteria called Clifton’s where we could get some lunch. The cafeteria was self-serve so we each took a blue plastic tray and got a sandwich and dessert. The place was crowded with travelers, but we able to find a table by ourselves.

As I went to take a bite of my tuna sandwich, I looked up and couldn’t believe what I saw. I thought I would die from the shock. At the table directly in front of us sat three women. Two of the women were Japanese. One of them was my wife, Inez. This was eight years before I had met her, the first time around, and she looked very young. She would have been only twenty-eight in 1971. She wore large, thick glasses. I also recognized her sister, Virginia. I couldn’t help but stare. Inez was reading a book, something about Great Britain. I knew they were both teachers and went to Europe during summer break around this time.

Laureen couldn’t help noticing that I was staring at them. It was obvious. The other woman, sitting with Inez and Virginia, noticed my staring too, because she glared at me several times.

Laureen poked me under the table with her foot, and then whispered in my ear, “Why are you staring at those women?”

“I’m not.”

“Yes you are.”

“I thought I recognized one of them.”

Then Inez lifted her head up from the book and looked straight at me. I smiled, but she didn’t respond.

“They look Chinese,” Laureen said. “Where would you know them from?”

“I think they might be Japanese.”

“Well, whatever. You’re making them uncomfortable and me, too, so stop staring.”

The three of them finally had enough, got up, and left.

“What was that all about?” she asked.

“Nothing. Forget it. They’re probably very self-conscious.”

“Your staring like that would make anyone self-conscious. I hope you’re not going to stare at all the pretty Hawaiian girls when we get to Hana, Jeffrey.”

I desperately tried to hide my emotions, but my heart ached seeing my wife so young. It was as though I was being pulled apart by the very force of time itself. At one point, I even had the inclination to approach Inez and tell how much I missed her. Did I make a mistake coming back here? Could I really change what happened to Laureen and me? And what about Inez?

I grabbed Laureen’s hand, squeezing it gently. “As far as I’m concerned you’re the only Hawaiian girl for me, and you’re the prettiest one, too!”

For which I received a kiss on the cheek.

 

CHAPTER 42

 

 

 

During the flight from LA to Honolulu, we watched The Andromeda Strain, but most of the time Laureen slept. I was too nervous about flying and couldn’t sleep. I thought a great deal about how I could make our relationship more like the one I had with my wife, Inez. We never argued over nonsensical things. I always tried to put her feelings before mine. We always just seemed very compatible. Of course, I was nine years older when I met Inez and had matured a little bit, and she was eight years older than me. But I knew what made the real difference in that relationship. Inez and I were able to make a commitment. We had met at the end of May and got engaged at the end of October. We married in January. Making a commitment was something Laureen and I could never seem to do.

I had also gotten swinging and prostitutes out of my system. Laureen was still only eighteen years old now, and she didn’t have the life experiences that I had. She was still very immature. She always felt that I manipulated and controlled her, something she resented with a passion. The thing was that you could only be manipulated and controlled if you wanted to be—if you gave the other person permission to treat you that way. I never consciously wanted to manipulate or control Laureen, I just wanted to love her and be loved.

I also had some ambivalent feelings about going to back to Hana. I still had painful memories when I made this trip the first time during Christmas 1975. I could still recall the anticipation of seeing Laureen again and the shocking welcome I received. I tried to put those feelings aside now that we were going there together.

We landed in Honolulu and were greeted with leis as we disembarked the plane. Laureen went over to Aloha Airlines to get tickets for the one-hour flight to Hana. The small plane took off smoothly and leveled off about 10,000 feet over the Pacific. We were the only passengers and sat behind the pilot. I could see the joy in her face, but I also sensed a change in her body language. I was on her turf now. She had a huge smile on her face, sitting straight up with her shoulders back instead of hunched. She wasn’t a shy and introverted teen. She exuded confidence, and as she looked at me with those wonderfully radiant, almond-shaped brown eyes, I fell even more in love her. She was the one in control. It was like she was no longer dependent on me. It was a feeling I knew all too well. This was the Laureen I had waited for the first time around. This was the Laureen I always wanted.

Her mom and dad met us at the Hana airport. There were bursts of tears and laughter as they embraced their daughter. Her father, Shige, firmly shook my hand. Her mom, Elizabeth, gave me a bear hug and a big, wet kiss on the cheek.

“You’re very handsome,” she said, causing me to blush.

Nui ihu,” said Laureen, giggling.

A’ole,” said her mom.

“Okay, what was that all about?”

“I told her you have a big nose.”

“Thanks a lot,” I said.

“It’s okay, she doesn’t think so.”

They seemed truly happy to finally meet me. Her parents were in their late forties, a few years younger than mine. Her father had dark and weathered skin from years of working the Menehune papaya plantation.

We were exhausted from the trip, and I got settled in at her grandmother’s house. Her grandmother was about the same age as mine, mid seventies, and spoke with a very heavy Hawaiian accent, making it difficult for me to understand her. That evening we all got together for dinner, and I met her three younger sisters, Lena, April-Sue, and Mary-Liz. We purchased the kids some expensive toys from FAO Schwarz, along with the other goodies Laureen bought for them.

They all seemed to welcome me into their family, but I also remembered that I sent messages to April-Sue and Mary-Liz after learning Laureen had died. They never had the compassion and empathy to respond to my grief. I was living in a new present, but my feelings were still immersed deeply in the past.

After dinner, Laureen and I went for a walk into town, holding hands as we walked. Along the way we met people she knew. Letting go of my hand, she introduced me as her “friend” not her “boyfriend.” When we arrived back at her house, she kissed me goodnight, but it was a lukewarm impassionate kiss.

“What’s the idea of introducing me as your friend?” I demanded when we were alone.

“What do you want me to say, that you’re my lover?”

“Why can’t you just say I’m your boyfriend? Are you embarrassed because I’m a holy…you know, what you call a white guy?”

“You mean a haole.”

“Yeah, that’s it.”

“Ya know, you’re pupule.”

“What’s that mean?”

“It means crazy.”

“You’re right. I am crazy. Crazy in love with you.” I pulled her close and kissed her hard. “What are we going to do if I get horny?” I said, jokingly.

I guess I should have known better than to bring up sex while we were here. But sometimes the urges of my young body overpowered my older mature self.

“You’re such a sex maniac, you know. Take a cold shower or satisfy yourself,” she said sternly. “We’re not going to have sex while we’re here.”

“Don’t get nasty about it. How about if you get horny?”

She didn’t respond and abruptly turned, going into her parent’s house. I thought it best not to get into an argument over it. If that was the way she wanted it, then I had to accept it. She always seemed to enjoy having sex as much as me. I liked it when she would initiate lovemaking. If she wasn’t in the mood for sex, she was content to satisfy me if I asked her. She didn’t like it if I looked at porn magazines. I could still remember our first fight like it was yesterday, even though it had been seventy-two years ago, when she went into a rage after finding my porn magazines. I could just imagine how she would react to adult videos when they come out in VHS in the early 1980s, or porn sites on the Internet when it was invented in the late 1990s.

Her grandmother lived in a small two-bedroom cottage adjacent to the main house. She was already asleep but left the ceiling fan on for me. I sat down on the bed to unpack my suitcase, and looked around the room. It was exactly how I remembered it when I was here sixty-eight years earlier. The room was furnished with a rattan desk, a bamboo coffee table, and an armchair with floral pillows. On the floor was a woven rug with a bird of paradise design. The windows were covered with white wooden shutters.

After unpacking, I brushed my teeth and got into bed. The air was moist and very humid. The fan just blew the heat around, making it uncomfortable to sleep. I lay there, trying to sort out all the emotions I was feeling. The last time I was here Laureen broke my heart. I tried to repress those feelings of anger, hurt, humiliation, and rejection, but they were still very strong. Yes, this was the same exact room but it was a different time on the space/time continuum. Now our relationship was still new with a very intense love for each other. As far as Laureen was concerned, we had only been going together for nine months. I knew I couldn’t let those old, ingrained feelings of pain get in the way. Somehow, someway, I had to let them go. So I channeled them into devising my plan to make sure that Laureen and Mark Sanders would never even meet!

We relaxed for the next few days. Laureen took me sightseeing all over Maui. We went to the Mahahiku Falls, above Seven Sacred Pools, the Garden of Eden Arboretum and Botanical Garden, Wailua Falls, and the Haleakala National Park observatory. These sites were truly breathtaking. I enjoyed spending all this time with her, sharing these places, enormously. The last time I was here, she wouldn’t spend five minutes alone with me. We also drove the scary scenic Hana Highway with its narrow one-lane roads and bridges, hairpin turns, and unprotected cliffs.

Her mother, Elizabeth, was the pastry chef at the Hotel Hana Maui, and her father, Shigeyuki, managed the Menehune papaya plantation for Mr. Kreg, who paid for Laureen’s college tuition, room, and board. There was a lot of pressure on her to succeed and be the first Tanaka to graduate from college. I knew how important it was for her to get good grades. She felt terribly guilty when she got poor grades. She was the first and only one of six children to go to college. When I wrote her in 2000, I asked her to forgive me, which she did, for not being more supportive by helping her study and get good grades during our four year relationship, but I had terrible study habits myself. I wasn’t going to make that same mistake this time around.

Our plan was to stay in Hana for the entire summer. Her dad put us to work in the office and packing room, in addition to pruning papaya trees. He wanted to pay me, but I told him I couldn’t accept any money since they were putting me up and feeding me. He insisted, so I secretly gave the money to her mom.

 

CHAPTER 43

 

 

 

June 5, 1971:

 

Iwoke up around three a.m. It was still dark and eerily quiet in this paradise, something I wasn’t used to. At night in the Bronx, lying in my bed, I could hear cars drive down our street, even the Dyre Avenue train passing a block away from my mother’s apartment. I dreaded this day. It was sixty-eight years ago that I put Laureen on the plane to Hana—the day I lost her forever.

That afternoon we were working together in the packing room. I grabbed a papaya and stuck a Menhune Brand Hana Tropical Fruit Plantation sticker on it, placed it in a protective sleeve, and gently laid it in a crate along with eleven other papayas. I went over to Laureen and kissed her on the neck.

She flinched. “Not here, Jeffrey.”

“Well, then where? How come you never visit me at your grandmother’s?” I said, leaning on a stack of papaya crates.

“I told you we’re not going to have sex here.”

“We don’t have to have sex. We can talk. And what’s wrong with just kissing?”

“You know you’re not just going to want to kiss. One thing will lead to another and—”

“I don’t understand you. It’s like you don’t want anyone here, including your parents, to think we’re in a relationship. Sometimes I get the feeling you don’t want me here, that maybe I should go home.”

“I do want you here. It’s just that everyone knows everybody here and people talk.”

“So what can they say if they see us holding hands or kissing? What’s the big deal? I feel like you don’t need me any more now that you’re home.”

“To me, it is a big deal what people here think.”

“Maybe you’re embarrassed to be seen with me because I’m a haole Jew?”

“No, of course not. Don’t be ridiculous,” she said.

“Are you afraid people will think we have sex?”

She continued placing Menhune stickers on papayas and gently placed them into the crates. “Everything is about sex with you. I don’t want to talk about this here, okay? We’re supposed to be working.”

“Then come and see me tonight after dinner. We never spend any time together. All we do is watch some TV with your parents, or you go off to visit your friends or relatives. I never left you at my mom’s place while I went out with my friends. I always took you with me. I never get to see you alone.”

I knew the immaturity and insecurity of the twenty-year old Jeffrey had taken over.

“I told you before we came that’s how it was going to be.”

“No, you didn’t say you would completely neglect me.”

“I’m not neglecting you,” she said, raising her voice.

“Then come by tonight, okay? I just want to talk with you.”

“Okay, okay. Let’s get back to work.”

That night, she knocked on the door around ten o’clock after everyone had gone to bed. She sat on the edge of the bed. She looked radiant.

“Did you just wash your hair?”

“I took a shower. My hair was feeling icky, then I did a quick blow dry.”

Her complexion had also changed since we first arrived. It was much darker now than in New York from working out in the sun. With her hair fuller and her darker complexion, she looked almost the same as in the pictures I found here in 1975.

“You look very beautiful tonight.”

“I don’t feel beautiful.”

I remembered what she once wrote in her writing composition book: I am ugly. I hate to be told that I’m beautiful when I’m not. I have an inferiority complex. Someday I will get over it…

Sometimes I even blamed myself that she felt that way.

“You don’t like being told that you’re beautiful, do you?” I said.

“No, I don’t.”

“You should have a better self-image. You’re a beautiful person on the inside, that’s why I fell in love with you. You have a really nice family. I can see how much they love you and how proud they are that you’re going to college. I know why I have poor self-esteem, growing up with my parents fighting all the time, but I don’t understand why you do.”

“It wasn’t easy growing up with five sisters. I mean, I love them all, but I had no privacy and I had to share everything. I will never have that many children,” she said.

“I think you are very lucky having five sisters. I never felt like I even had a brother with Norman gone all the time. I was so lonely as a child that I even invented an imaginary playmate.”

“You never told me that.”

“You know, you act differently here than in New York. Sometimes you behave like a child and other times you’re very independent. I don’t know what to expect.”

“I feel like I’m still a child when I’m here. That’s why I left to go to college in New York in the first place, to get away and grow up.”

“But at Southampton you seem so lonely for your family. Sometimes I think the only reason you fell in love with me was because you’re lonely.”

“I fell in love with you for a lot of reasons.”

“Such as?”

“Well, let’s see. You’re very handsome. You’re very sweet. You make me laugh. You have a good heart. You listen to me when I talk. You don’t judge me. I can be myself when I am with you. And…”

“And what?”

“You turn me on.”

“Oh really.”

I moved next to her and ran my fingers through her long hair. It smelled fresh and clean. I looked into her brown eyes and saw the same look she gave me the very first time we kissed in my dorm room.

“I love you, Laureen Tanaka.”

“I love you too, Jeffrey Goldberg.”

I kissed her. Then I kissed her neck and licked her ears. I could tell she was getting aroused.

We made love that night in her grandma’s house, this very same room where she broke my heart in 1975. I finally got to set things right for what happened here so many years ago.

Several days later, when Laureen was out visiting some friends, Mrs. Tanaka came over to see me. We went outside and sat on the patio shaded from the hot afternoon sun.

She took my hand. “Jeffrey, what are your intentions with my daughter?”

I was a little shocked by this question, not expecting her to be so direct. “Well, I love her very much, and I think she loves me, too.”

“Are you going to marry her?”

“We’ve only been going together since last September. I would marry her now, but she isn’t ready yet. It’s not the same like your generation.”

“I know kids today do things differently than when I was young,” she said.

“Laureen isn’t ready to settle down yet. She’s only eighteen. Give her time. You don’t have to worry, though. I take very good care of her in New York. My parents and my grandma are very fond of her, too.”

“Thank you. That makes me feel much better. She chose a very nice person for her friend.” I could sense the relief in her voice.

“You know, we’re much more than just friends, Mrs. Tanaka.”

“Yes, I know.”

 

*****

 

Sunday June 6^th^:

 

From the day I time-traveled back in May until today, I’d managed to change all the events that occurred from our past the first time around. On this particular day in 1971 we would have already been working for Model Cities at the Southampton campus.

But I needed to be certain that the changes I made just weren’t some kind of fluke or anomaly. The time was getting close for implementing my plan to ensure that Laureen never married Mark Sanders.

On the notes that I gave Dr. Gormley was an event that was going to take place today. Could I prevent that tragedy from happening?

Hughes Airwest Flight 706 would be taking off from Los Angeles International Airport at 6:02 p.m. PST en route to Seattle with a stop over in Salt Lake City. At an altitude of 15,000 feet it would collide with a Marine Corps jet fighter at 6:11 pm over the San Gabriel Mountains in the vicinity of Durate, CA. Fifty innocent people would perish.

The plane was scheduled to depart at 4:02 p.m. Hawaii time. I walked the half-mile from Laureen’s house to Hasekawa General Store where there was a pay phone. I went inside and got three dollars worth of quarters. I was pretty sure that in 1971 it would be impossible to trace a short call from a public pay phone. Timing this was going to be critical. I had to wait until the passengers were on board but with enough time to stop the plane from taking off. Also, who would I call at the airport? Did the airport even have a security department in 1971? This was several months before the infamous D.B. Cooper hijacking in November 1971. I was also counting on the fact that in 1971 bomb threats at airports would be taken very seriously.

At 3 o’clock I called information and got the number for LAX. The information operator only had one number for the airport so I asked her for the number of Hughes Airwest at LAX. She told me it was 213-824-1377. I dialed the number to see what would happen. I was told to deposit seventy-five cents.

After three rings a woman answered and politely said, “Good afternoon, Hughes Airwest.”

I quickly hung up. I figured if I waited until passengers starting boarding they would have to evacuate the plane and it would never take off on time. And there also wouldn’t be time to prepare another plane.

I waited around nervously until 3:30 then I dialed the number again. The same woman answered. “Good afternoon, Hughes Airwest.”

Trying to disguise my voice, I said, “There’s a bomb located in the fuselage of flight 706. It’s going to explode right after the plane takes off.”

“Who is this?” I heard her scream just as I hung up.

Then I called the number for LAX. A male voice answered. “Los Angeles International Airport. How can I direct your call?”

“Airport security please. Hurry, it’s an emergency.”

The phone rang five times before someone picked up. Maybe the woman from Hughes Airwest had already alerted them?

“Security. Officer MacKay. Please Hold. Got another call.”

I could quickly tell from his voice he was under some duress. I checked my watch. It was 3:37. He came back on the line at 3:39.

“MacKay here.”

“There’s a bomb on board Hughes Airwest flight 706,” I said.

“Yeah. We know, we know. Who is this?”

“This is not a joke. The bomb is in the fuselage.”

“Who the fuck—”

I hung up. I was shaking. I’d never done anything like this before. Oh sure, I’ve made my share of prank calls when I was a kid. But this was intense. The question is would it work?

That night I watched the eleven o’clock news. There was no mention of a plane crash in Los Angeles or a bomb scare at LAX. In some ways that was good news but I started to panic.

Nothing appeared on the morning news so I walked over to Hasekawa’s to get a paper. I picked up the Honolulu Star Advertiser but noticed the L.A. Times was the Sunday edition. I asked the clerk when the Monday edition would arrive. He said it always came the next day. I tucked the Star under my arm and walked back to the house. I poured a cup of coffee along with a bowl of corn flakes and scoured the paper. No story about the Flight 706. I was going to have to wait for tomorrow’s Times.

I went to Hawsekwa’s again the next day. There it was in bold on page 3, front section, of Monday’s Times.

 

Bomb Threat Phone Call Halts Hughes Airwest Flight At LAX

 

LOS ANGELES, California: A passenger jet bound for Seattle was cancelled at LAX Sunday night after someone phoned in two anonymous bomb threats, airport authorities said.

The threats against Hughes Airwest Flight 706 were made from a pay phone about 5:40 p.m., sources told the Los Angeles Times.

The aircraft has been relocated to an isolated area on the airfield and immediately surrounded by emergency vehicles as a precautionary measure,” said Sgt. Andrew Nettles, spokesman for the airport’s police. “A unified command has been established with Los Angeles Airport Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, LAFD and the LAPD Bomb Squad at the location for assessment and investigation.”

Airwest 706 was set to leave for Seattle Seatac Airport, with a stop over in Salt Lake City, at 6 p.m., according to flight reports. The flight was at first delayed but was cancelled sometime after 8:30 p.m. Passengers were placed on a later flight.

The plane was taken to an isolated area at LAX, and the bomb squad searched the aircraft, the Times reported. Airport police later told Times that nothing dangerous was found on the plane. FBI spokeswoman Laura Dillon said agents were trying to determine who made the call to police.

 

What a relief! I wondered how they knew the calls came from a pay phone. The calls were so short there was now way they could’ve been traced. Anyway, I was also elated. I saved fifty people from a horrible death. Still, I couldn’t answer the gnawing question—what about those people who did die in the collision on June 6th 1971? They really did die because I downloaded it from the archives. But on Sunday these same people didn’t die. It must have been the same people on that plane, wasn’t it? The more I tried to comprehend the possible paradoxes of time travel, the more questions it raised and the more confused I got. It seemed fruitless trying to explain to myself what was unexplainable.

I picked up the phone and called Dr. Gormley. Luckily he was in his office. He still had the notes I had given him on his desk. I explained what I did then read him the L.A. Times article. He was stunned but he also didn’t have any answers to my questions. He expressed concern about the risks I was taking in changing the past. I assured him that I wouldn’t do anything drastic. But that was a flagrant lie.

 

CHAPTER 44

 

 

 

June 19, 1971:

 

For Laureen’s nineteenth birthday, I made arrangements for us to go to Honolulu for the weekend. I wanted to spend some time with her alone and booked a room at the Hilton on Waikiki Beach. We went out for dinner, and I surprised her with a beautiful black pearl mounted in a gold necklace. She said she would never take it off. That night in the room, I started kissing her, but she seemed almost frigid. We had sex, but it wasn’t the same. Her attitude was like, “Let’s just fuck and get it over with.”

Afterward, I asked, “What’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing is wrong with me.”

“You’ve been acting strange ever since we arrived here. You treat me like I’m just a casual friend, not like your boyfriend. You’re not affectionate either, except for that one night a few weeks ago at your grandmother’s house. You’re very cold. You’ve only said ‘I love you’ once since we’ve been in Hawaii.”

“I’m sorry if you feel I treat you that way.”

“Laureen, talk to me. What’s on your mind?”

She sighed. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s just that I don’t feel so dependent on you here, like I do in New York. I have my family and friends here to support me.”

“I understand all that, but I don’t want you to be dependent on me. I just want you to love me. You’ve been acting like I’m a stranger. I want you to be dependent on yourself. Being in love with you means that I want to support you, cherish you, and protect you. I love you because of who you are and the wonderful qualities you have, not because you’re dependent on me. I love you because you are such a sweet person and you have a good heart. I love you because you accept me for who I am even with all my faults. I love you because you make me laugh. I love you because I like being with you and sharing things with you.”

“Also, my father wants to know why we don’t get married since we’re together all the time.”

“So that’s what upsetting you?”

“Yes. He was pressuring me.”

“And what did you tell him?”

“I told him that I’m not ready to get married now. I don’t want to be tied down like my older sisters who got married very young. I want to finish college so I can get a good job. They got married and had children right away.”

“Nobody said anything about getting married. I didn’t come to Hana with you to get married. I just wanted to see where you grew up and meet your family. I’m sure your mom and dad are just concerned about your welfare. Remember, they grew up in a different time.”

“I guess so. I just don’t want to make a mistake and end up like your parents,” she said.

“Thanks a lot.”

“I didn’t it mean it that way.”

“How did you mean it?”

“Your mother’s always so unhappy and angry with your father. I don’t want us—”

“I’m not my father!” I shouted. But in my heart I wasn’t so sure.

I wondered how she would have reacted if I had gotten her an engagement ring instead of the necklace. I had thought very seriously about doing just that. The problem was, how could I explain to her that I was really ninety-two years old? And what would happen to Inez? I really hadn’t thought ahead about us getting married before I left 2043. How could I when I didn’t know if was even possible to change anything? I had no idea what the future held for us.

“Just so you know, if you were willing, I would marry right now,” I said.

“That’s very sweet. I love you, Jeffrey Goldberg.”

“I love you, Laureen Tanaka. I promise you we won’t end up like my parents.”

I got up later that night, after she was asleep, snuck out of the hotel room, and walked down to the beach. I decided to buy the grass here instead of Hana so it couldn’t be traced. I bought three bags for three hundred dollars.

The next day we went to the Arizona Memorial and the Iolani Palace. Later that evening, her older sister, Diane, invited us for dinner. She was only a few years older than Laureen and already had five children. She passed away in 1998 at age fifty-one from cancer, too.

The following afternoon we would be going back to Hana. I told Laureen I would pack up and bring our luggage to the airport and she should spend the day with Diane. She thanked me and asked what I was going to do. I told her I was going to do some body surfing down at the beach. Actually, I wanted to take my knowledge of the future and do something meaningful.

Diane picked her up around nine a.m. for breakfast. I went down to the lobby and found a waiting cab. I had the cabby take me the nearest toy store and then over to 1617 S. Beretania Street. It was a high rise building about five miles from downtown. I looked through the directory for the name Dunham and pressed the button.

“Hello.”

“Is this Madelyn Dunham?”

“Yes it is.”

“Hi. My name’s Jeff, I met your daughter Ann in Jakarta last year.”

“Oh how nice.”

“I was wondering if I could speak to her,” I said, knowing she was still living in Indonesia.

“She’s not here but come on up.”

There was a buzzing sound and I open the front door. I took the elevator up to the seventh floor. When I got off the elevator, I saw a woman in her late forties or early fifties, standing outside the apartment door.

“Madelyn. Dunham,” she said, extending her hand.

“Jeff Goldberg. Very nice to meet you.”

“Come in. So you know my daughter Ann?”

“Yes I met her in Jakarta last year. She gave me this address.”

“Ann is still in Jakarta but her son Barack is living with us now.”

I followed her into the kitchen. “Oh. I thought she might be back already.”

“Would you like something drink? I have a pot of coffee on.”

“A cup of coffee would be great. Thank you.”

“Make yourself at home,” she said, pouring two cups of coffee.

“So how do you know Ann?”

“My parents lived in the same building with Ann and Lolo.”

“Do you live in Hawaii?”

“No. I’m from New York. I returned several months ago. I was visiting some friends on Maui and thought I would look Ann up.”

“I expect her back in a few months.”

“I see. Well, I won’t keep you but I brought a gift for Barry.”

“Oh, he’ll be so thrilled. He’s playing in his room.” She pointed down the hallway to a closed door.

“May I?”

“Go right ahead.”

I knocked on the door. A tall ten-year old stood in the open doorway.

 

 

“Hi, Barry. I’m a friend of your mom’s. My name’s Jeffrey,” I said, extending my hand.

He lightly shook mine. I could see he was very, very shy.

“I brought you a present.” I handed him the gift-wrapped box, which he quickly took.

“Can I open it now?

“Sure. Go ahead.”

He sat down on his bed and tore off the paper. “Wow, Mastermind! Far out. I was hoping to get this for Christmas.”

“I thought you might like it.”

“Thank you so much, Mr…”

“You’re very welcome. Call me Jeff.”

“Can you play it with me now?”

“I wish I could Barry but I can’t stay long. Maybe another time.”

“Argh…” A look of disappointment transformed his handsome face as he opened the box.

“So tell me young man what would you like to be when you grow up?”

“I’d like to be a teacher like my mom.”

“I see. Well, I think you can be anything you want, you know.”

He gave me a quizzical look, looking up from the instructions.

“You might even grow up to be President of the United States,” I said.

“I have thought about that.”

“Really? Maybe I should check back in about forty years.”

“Okay.”

Well, it was very nice meeting you Barry.”

“Thanks for the game, Jeff.”

I walked back to the kitchen.

“I hope its okay. I gave him Mastermind.”

“He’s been talking about that game for weeks,” said Madelyn.

“He’s a very polite young man.”

“We try our best.”

“I have something else for him,” I said, handing her an envelope.

Mrs. Dunham opened it and removed a bank check.

“I don’t understand,” she said, looking me with confusion. “What’s this for?”

“This is something for Barack’s—I mean Barry’s education.”

“But—I—”

“You remember the TV show The Millionaire, don’t you?”

“Yes.”

“Think of this as a gift from an anonymous benefactor. I understand that the Punahou Prep School is excellent. This should be enough to cover his tuition for next year.”

“But I can’t take this.”

“I have to be going now.”

“That’s very generous of you but I still don’t understand.”

“Just make sure he gets the best education. The benefactor believes Barack will do great things in the future. Give my regards to Ann.”

“Yes, yes. I will,” she said, embracing me with a hug.

I whispered in her ear, “Your grandson is going to be the first black President one day.”

I thought I would give her this little gift since both she and her daughter wouldn’t live to see that day.

Later that afternoon Laureen and I flew back to Hana. Now I was ready to set my plan into motion, but I was waiting for the right time.

 

CHAPTER 45

 

 

 

August 22, 1971:

 

Mrs. Tanaka was planning on taking the younger girls to Kahului to get them some new school clothes. I suggested that Laureen should go along and help her. They were going for two days. They left Thursday. Now I was ready.

I found Mark’s parents listed in the phonebook along with their address. It was about a two-mile walk from her grandmother’s house on Uakea Road. I remembered that he drove a white VW Thing. I walked over four different times in the evening, and each time I saw his Thing parked in the driveway along with some other vehicles. I also remembered he was a park ranger when I was there in 1975, so I called the Wai’anapanapa State Park office from a pay phone and asked to speak to him. When he got on the phone, I hung up. Now I knew where he worked.

Next morning, around four a.m., I walked over to Mark’s house with my duffle bag. I had seen him in town a few weeks earlier at the Hasegawa General Store and recognized him from his Facebook photos even though he was much younger now. He was a very big, imposing, muscular guy, and could have easily overpowered me if he got the chance. His car was in the driveway when I arrived.

 

 

I put on the thin plastic raincoat, so I wouldn’t get blood splattered all over me, and hid behind the driver’s seat on the floor. Unlike the Bronx, people in Hana didn’t lock their homes or their cars. Then I put on the latex gloves and loaded the small, charcoal-colored Sig-Sauer pistol.

I ran though the scenario again in my head while I waited for him. When he stopped the car, I’d shoot him in the back of his head, then dump the pot inside the car and over him so it would look like a drug deal gone bad. Next, I’d place everything in the duffle bag and bury it in the woods. I knew that as long as the police couldn’t find the weapon I’d be safe.

I would have two hours to get to the papaya plantation and go to work. It was about five miles. I would have to walk since I didn’t want to risk hitching a ride. I would also have to stay off the main road so that nobody saw me. Luckily, there were several trails I could take out of the park.

As I waited in the back seat, my mind was bombarded with crucial questions. Should I attempt to change his past? Was it even possible to kill Mark since he had already lived his life? If I killed him, how would it change my future and Laureen’s? What about the two children they had? What about Kapono and his daughter and granddaughter? What other possible paradoxes did my time travel create that no one ever considered? Would killing him break the space/time continuum? Who the fuck knows? I’d worry about it later.

So far I’d only changed our past—mine and Laureen’s—by coming here to Hana instead of working for Model Cities and taking our trip to Canada like we did the first time around in August 1971, and that didn’t seem to affect anything. I had no idea about the people on Hughes Airwest Flight 706. I definitely changed their future because they didn’t die. But did I change their past, too? All I knew was right now I was dying from the heat, wrapped in this fuckin’ plastic raincoat, and my legs were cramping something awful.

I heard the house door slam. He opened up the car door, got in the driver’s seat, and turned on the radio. “How Do You Mend A Broken Heart” played very loudly, and he started singing along like it was the Sing Along With Mitch Miller TV show.

 

“I can think of younger days when living for my life

“Was everything a man could want to do.

“I could never see tomorrow, but I was never told about the sorrow.

“And how can you mend a broken heart?

Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again.”

 

The music was so loud it was deafening. I couldn’t hear it, but I could feel the car back out of the driveway and speed down the road. I was scared shitless, but as long as no one saw me, I had nothing to lose by killing him. If I shot him while he was driving, no one would hear the damn gunshot over the music, but then the car would crash and with my luck, I’d be killed, too. About ten minutes later, I felt the car pull onto a gravel road. My Sweet Lord was playing now. He turned off the engine, but kept the radio on. He sang along with George Harrison and tapped his big fingers to the beat on the metal steering wheel like he was playing a keyboard.

 

*****

 

I was ready. My heart pounded violently. I wondered if he might hear it thumping even with the music blaring. I had seventy long years of anger and resentment against this person ready to erupt. My body began to shiver even though I was sweating profusely under the plastic raincoat. My cramped legs were numb. I raised my shaking arm, pointing the barrel of the gun a few inches from the back of his head, at the nape of his neck, trying to hold it steady. I started to squeeze the trigger. I closed my eyes and braced myself for the loud bang, the recoil, and the splattering of blood and brains. Squeezing…squeezing…

I tried to squeeze harder, but I couldn’t. My finger wouldn’t let me, as if it had a mind of its own. It wouldn’t respond to the command from my brain. The song ended and, in one swift motion, Mark clicked off the radio and opened the door. He got out of the car, and I heard him walk away still singing

 

“My sweet lord

“Hm, my lord

“Hm, my lord

“I really want to see you

“Really want to be with you

“Really want to see you, lord…”

 

I just couldn’t kill him. Did the laws of the universe somehow prevent it? Was it my free will, fate, or the space/time continuum interfering? Was there a reason why he needed to live? Now there remained the awful possibility that he could marry Laureen again, and the entire purpose of my time-travel journey would be thwarted. I wanted to kill him. I could have killed him. I wasn’t afraid to kill him, but I didn’t have it in my heart to take Mark’s life away from him. It was just that simple. It wasn’t about Laureen, it wasn’t about their two children, and it wasn’t about the possible dangerous consequences. I had a conscience. The truth is I wasn’t a killer. I wasn’t one now and I never was, which is why I would have never gone to Nam.

I waited for ten minutes, then took the three bags of pot and hid them under the passenger seat. I took off the latex gloves and put them in the duffle along with the gun. I looked out the window to make sure the coast was clear and quickly got out of the car. I staggered like a drunk trying to maintain my balance, waiting for the circulation to return to my legs. I managed to take off the raincoat and stuff it into the duffle bag as I walked away from his car. Then I heard a loud deep voice yelling from the doorway of the log cabin office building, “Hey, you! Park isn’t open yet.”

I turned around and was face to face with Ranger Mark Sanders. His body was huge and wide. He had a thick moustache and wore a light brown park ranger uniform with a wide brim official-looking hat. He towered over me. I would be no match for his strength.

In desperation, I said the first thing that popped into my head, “Uh, um, sorry didn’t know. I was just taking a hike.”

“What were you doing near my car?” he growled.

“I was just curious. I’ve never seen The Thing up close. Interesting car,” I said politely.

“You a local?” he asked, studying me intently.

“I’m just passing through Hana.”

“That accent—you from Boston?”

“Nope. Da Bronx, ya know, New Yawk.”

“What’s your name dude?

“Uh…uh, Jeff Goolddd.”

“What’s in the bag, Jeff?”

“Just some stuff,” I said, taking a step backward, preparing to flee.

He grabbed me by the throat with his big hand. “Open it.”

The image of those large hands one day touching my petite Laureen nauseated me. I tried to back away, but he held me tightly.

“Hey, look. I’m sorry. I didn’t know the park wasn’t open yet. I’ll leave, okay?”

He abruptly threw me backward and grabbed the duffle bag, as I stumbled to the ground. He opened the bag and looked inside and pulled out the still-loaded Sig pistol. Then he placed his huge black ranger boot on my chest and pressed down hard, crushing me, forcing jagged-edged gravel pebbles into my back.

“What’s the gun for?” he demanded.

I could barely breathe as he pressed firmly on my chest. “H—hu—hunting.”

“Can’t hunt here in the state park, dude.”

He was pressing down even harder on my chest now, not letting me breathe.

“I saw you from the window get out of the back seat of my car and take off this raincoat and these here gloves. Now I want an answer before I call the Hana police.”

“O—okay, okay. Please let me up and I’ll explain.”

He let me get up, but stood right in front of my face as I tried to fill my lungs with air. There was no getting away from this guy.

“I’m visiting Hana with my girlfriend, Laureen Tanaka. We go to college in New York. Her mom is the pastry chef at the hotel, and her dad is the manager of Mr. Kreg’s papaya plantation.”

“Yeah, yeah I’ve seen ’em around. Don’t know this Laureen chick, though. Now what the fuck were you doing getting out of my car?”

“I came here to kill you, Mark.” The words just spewed out of my mouth, uncontrollably, without any thought of the consequences.

He grabbed my shirt with both his big hands and pulled me close, so close that I could feel his hot breath as he exhaled in my face. His eyes gazed savagely into mine. My knees wobbled.

“What the fuck ya mean you came here to kill me?”

“Ugh—”

“And how do you know my name?”

“You stole Laureen away from me in 1975, and I never saw her again,” I said angrily.

“Huh,” he muttered. His eyes dilated as he stared at me in disbelief, trying to comprehend the unimaginable words I just said.

“You married her in 1978. I’ve lived my entire life without her because of you,” I said accusingly.

“What the fuck are you talking about? I never even met this Laureen chick.”

“You will, and you’re gonna have two children. I came here to prevent you from meeting her.”

“Oh yeah, well if you came here to kill me, what stopped you?”

“I couldn’t take your life away from you and destroy your children.”

“Children—you crazy motha fuckin’ asshole. I don’t have any goddamn children.”

“But you will, with Laureen.”

“I’m gonna call the cops. You’re some kinda fuckin’ sicko!”

“I’m telling you the truth, Mark. Laureen Tanaka-Sanders, your wife, is going to die from breast cancer at the age of fifty-eight in 2010.”

“How do you know all this shit?” he said, loosening his hold on my shirt.

“I traveled back in time from 2043to try to change the past. That’s how I know. Just stay the fuck away from her.”

“Is she as fuckin’ crazy as you?” he cracked.

“Listen, do you think I would make up that she’s going to die from cancer?” I said.

He smirked. “I dunno know. Nobody can travel through time or whatever you said you did.”

“I’m telling you the truth. No one can time travel now, but in 2043 we can.”

He must have noticed the faint odor of marijuana coming from the open bag. He lifted it up to his nose.

“Okay, where’s the pot?” he demanded.

“I’ve been smoking joints all night,” I said timidly.

“That’s what I figured. You’re crazy fuckin’ high!” he sneered. “You’re one of those fuckin’ bastards who grow marijuana here in my park, aren’t you? ’Copters are always flying around looking for patches. That Hana weed is potent shit,” he said emphatically.

Another car pulled into the parking lot, and a woman, also dressed in a ranger uniform, got out and walked into the ranger office.

“I’m gonna keep this here gun,” he said, placing it in his leather belt. He threw the duffle bag at my chest and growled, “Now get the fuck outta here.”

“Please. Just stay away from Laureen,” I pleaded.

I turned around swiftly and started running down the path toward the Hana Highway.

He hollered after me, “Don’t let me catch you here again you fuckin whacko!”

 

*****

 

I stopped running when I got to the highway. A car stopped. The driver wanted to see if I needed a ride. I thanked him and said I wanted to walk. I didn’t know what possessed me to tell Mark the truth about what I came here to do, but I didn’t think he believed a word of it anyway. What really scared me was what if he went to Laureen’s parents, or even Laureen, and told them what I had said? What would I say? How the hell would I explain it? This could quickly spread around Hana, like red-hot molten lava, and embarrass her entire family. I couldn’t tell her I was high on pot, because she knows I don’t smoke that shit. Laureen would end our relationship for sure. I just had to hope Mark believed I really was a crazy, mixed-up pothead.

I walked the Hana Highway for miles and miles through the scorching tropical summer heat and humidity. I couldn’t wait until the end of August when we planned on returning to New York. Hana was a very beautiful and tranquil place, “heavenly” as they say, but I missed the excitement of Times Square and Broadway and good ol’ 42nd Street. I needed to hear the rumble of a subway train, the rattle of the taxis…

Hell, even after spending four or five weeks in laid-back Southampton, I needed to get back to the city and revitalize myself. I couldn’t imagine us living in Hana long term. Christ, there was nothing to do here. How did people make a living? How would we make a living? We didn’t go to college just to work on a goddamn papaya plantation. I could see us living in LA or San Francisco, where at least we could get jobs, have a career. Assuming, of course, we didn’t break up again like we did the first time around.

It was pretty clever of me to hide the bags of pot under the seat in Mark’s car. I’d always been rather mischievous, even as a kid. Time travel hadn’t changed that. Last November, Laureen and I were listening to the radio late at night in my dorm room when we heard that Ezra Pound had died. I always had a fondness for the American expatriate writers, like Fitzgerald and Hemingway, the so-called “Lost Generation.” Anyway, we were kind of bored so I said to Laureen, “Let’s go down to the Humanities Building and write Long Live Ezra Pound on all the blackboards.” She thought it would be fun, too. The next morning, I walked into my English Lit class and saw that the product of our mischievous deed was still on the blackboard. But the joke was really on me, when I learned years later that Pound was a zealous anti-Semite.

Now, I was out two hundred and fifty dollars for the gun and three hundred dollars for the pot, but that was okay. Before we left, I planned on calling the Hana police to tell them that the park ranger who drove the white VW Thing was dealing pot out of his car. Chuckling to myself, I thought, Let them bust his fuckin’ chops. God I’d love to see the look on Mark’s face then.

When I finally got to the papaya plantation, I was exhausted and drenched in sweat, still trembling from the encounter. I took the duffle bag and flung it into the dumpster in disgust.

 

*****

 

A few days afterward, on the flight home, Laureen and I didn’t talk much. I thought to myself that maybe it was a mistake to return to 1971. I was happy being back with Laureen again, but it wasn’t the same. She was the same person she was the first time around, but I wasn’t the same Jeffrey. It was unnatural to know the future. It was unnatural having two Jeffrey’s coexisting in my one body. I wondered if somehow she sensed that I was different, that I wasn’t the same immature, needy young adult she fell in love with the first time. Except part of me still was.

I never had the chance to see Laureen mature into a beautiful woman. I never had the chance to see her grow old. I never got the chance to share my life with her. The universe had once given me a precious gift and I squandered it. The Jeffrey and Laureen from the first 1971 were lost forever.

Except now, with the miracle of time travel, I had another chance. All those regrets that tormented me for the past sixty-eight years still lingered. It was ironic, but we were incompatible then and I realized that maybe we were incompatible now, too. Yes, I had changed some small events from our past, like making this trip to Hana, but did anything really change? There was something missing, but I didn’t know what. Obviously, my feeble attempt to kill Mark Sanders wasn’t the answer. I needed to see Dr. Gormley right away.

 

CHAPTER 46

 

 

 

August 29, 1971:

 

We arrived back in New York on Thursday, August 29th. I called Joe and arranged to go to the track on Saturday. I still had a few thousand dollars left, but I wanted to get a car and have money left for living expenses. This time the harness races were held at Roosevelt Raceway. We won over three thousand dollars. I told Joe that I would call him every few weeks and give him the winning horses and which bets to place for us.

I bought my first car, a Chevy Camero, which only cost twenty- four hundred dollars. Laureen liked the red one that was loaded with accessories, like air conditioning, sitting on the showroom floor. The first time around in 1973, we bought a new Plymouth Duster without air conditioning, and I swore I would never do that again. Of course, this time money wasn’t an issue. Then we stopped at my dad’s office to pick up our belongings from the storage room. He wanted to know where I got the money to buy a brand new car. I told him we used the money we earned working in Hana. We drove back to Southampton with all our belongings packed in the trunk and backseat. During the drive we discussed living arrangements for the fall and spring semesters. Laureen didn’t want to live on campus again.

She surprised me by saying, “I’ve been thinking about this since we had that talk in Honolulu, and I decided that I want us to live together this year.”

“I would like that very much,” I said, leaning over to kiss her.

I knew, of course, where we would be living, but we checked the campus bulletin board anyway and found the cottage for rent in Hampton Bays at 50B West Tiana Road, owned by Lucy and Bruno Fatino. Lucy was a secretary in the student center office and Bruno was a chef. The cottage was actually on Bellows Road, a dead end road filled with sand, along the back end of their property. When I parked in the Fatino’s driveway, Laureen look surprised and said, “Have you been here before?”

“No, why?”

“Because you drove here without any hesitation or getting lost, as though you knew exactly where you were going.”

“While you went to the bathroom, I checked the map,” I said, opening the glove compartment and removing the Southampton Town map. Then I handed her the notice from the bulletin board. “See, the directions say turn left on West Tiana Road, right after the railroad underpass, and drive a quarter mile to the yellow house on the right.”

The cottage was behind their house along with a separate studio apartment, but that was too small. The rent was only one hundred and fifty dollars a month, including utilities. There was a huge Ponderosa Pine tree in the front yard.

“The house is ready,” Lucy said. “You can move in today, but you’ll have to move out before Memorial Day weekend.”

“Can we take a look around?” I asked.

I hadn’t been in the cottage since the last day we moved out in May 1972. I did visit once in 1983 with Inez but just stood outside, and when I came here in 2043 it had been completely remodeled. There were two entrances, one in the front to the living room, and one on the side to the kitchen. We always used the side entrance. My heart was beating furiously as I entered the cottage again. It was exactly how I had remembered it.

Deja vu all over again.

 

 

The kitchen was spotless fully stocked with silverware, pots, and pans. I admired the immaculate sixties’ style chrome dinette set sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor. It would later become a mid-century collectible, but for now it seemed rather ordinary, matching the yellow painted walls. Blue Formica countertops glistened as the afternoon sun peeked in through the window above the sink. The chrome handles on the appliances, the faucet in the sink, and the metal frames on the kitchen chairs all gleamed.

The living room had two armchairs covered with an ugly brown material. Grayish green curtains hung on the windows. There was a small wooden couch with cushions against the wall. On the wall hung the same cheap still life framed painting with pears and apples. The photo of us standing in front of the Christmas tree flashed across my mind.

Then we walked into the bedroom. A double bed was positioned a few inches from the wall along with night stands on each side, to the right of the doorway set a dresser, and under the double window was the loveseat where Laureen used to like to curl up and read.

“So what do you think?” I asked.

Laureen smiled at me. “I like it. Let’s take it.”

“I do have one request,” Lucy said. “If my son Nick asks you, tell him you’re married, okay?”

“Of course.” I said, winking at Laureen.

We moved in right after signing the lease. But that same feeling I had seventy-one years earlier overwhelmed me, when the entire year seem to accelerate by at warp speed like a scarcely remembered dream.

Once again, this was one of the happiest days of my life. We took all the boxes out of the car and then went grocery shopping at the IGA store on Main Street in Hampton Bays. When we returned, we started unpacking the boxes. The first box was marked FRAGILE. I removed the masking tape and found several tschotskes wrapped in newspaper. The top items were the pipe wine cask and the metal candleholder.

I had purchased the candleholder at the import store in Southampton when I was a freshman. I lit it the first night we made love in my dorm last September, the first time around.

The pipe wine cask I bought during Thanksgiving weekend on Saturday, the first time around when Laureen, Hilary, and I went walking around Greenwich Village. We passed a liquor store, and I saw it in the window. These were the only possessions I had kept all my life, including her letters and photos. I still had them when I left in 2043. I placed the candleholder on the nightstand on my side of the bed, and put the wine bottle on the bookshelf to use as a bookend.

The next thing I unwrapped was Laureen’s music box.

I’d never forget the look of surprise on her face when I’d given it to her for our first Christmas in 1970. It was a handmade imported Viennese music box with decorative inlay. The last time I saw it was when I’d packed it up and sent her belongings back to Hana, sixty-nine years ago in September 1974. It had been stored in a box in the basement of this very house. I wound up the key and opened the lid. “A Time for Us” started to play. She kept her jewelry inside, along with my high school graduation ring on a gold chain. And on the bottom was that little folded yellow paper with the haiku I wrote for her dated October 21st 1970. That was the day we first declared our love for eachother, and the very same day she died in 2010.

How appropriate was it that I choose that theme song? When I had gone to Hana in December 1975, I told her that I wanted the music box back. I didn’t see it at her parent’s house, and I was very upset that she must have taken it with her when she moved in with Mark. I often thought about what happened to it all those years, even after she died. I always thought of that music box as a symbolic umbilical cord that tied us together through space and time. It was satisfying having it in our possession again as I placed on the dresser.

Next, I opened the box containing the wooden heart mobile we had bought last spring in Manhattan.

I was going to attach it to the ceiling above the bed but couldn’t find any tacks.

I unpacked the box labeled “books” and placed them in the bookcase. Next, I unrolled the posters we had in a shopping bag and looked around the room for a place to hang them. Laureen was in the kitchen unpacking the groceries. I yelled, “Inez, do we have some thumbtacks?”

She came into the bedroom looking surprised. “Who’s Inez?”

I could feel the blood rush into my face and thought it would burst.

“What are you talking about? I said. “I nee—needed some thumbtacks. To hang the posters.”

“I don’t know where they are. Maybe Lucy has some.”

“I’ll go ask her.” I said, desperate to get outside.

I walked out the front door and sat on the stoop. I couldn’t believe I’d called her Inez. I hadn’t thought about my wife since we accidentally bumped into her in the airport in LA waiting for the plane to Honolulu. I put my head in my hands and starting to cry, realizing how much I missed her. She died in 2029 at age eighty-six before time travel had been invented. For a while, after Laureen had died in 2010, I would lie in bed with my arms around Inez with tears in my eyes, guiltily grieving for Laureen. Now I was with Laureen again but missing Inez. My head started pounding, overcome by guilt.

I came back into the house after getting a box of tacks from Lucy. Laureen was putting our clothing into the dresser.

“You look upset. Is something wrong?” she asked.

“I’m just happy to be back here again,” I said, with another slip of the tongue.

“What do you mean, back here again?”

“I meant that I’m happy being back in the Hamptons again,” I said. “I have a splitting headache. I’m gonna lay down for a while.”

“I just put some aspirin in the medicine cabinet. Do you want some?”

“Please.”

I lay down on the bed after taking two aspirins and watched her as she neatly folded our shirts and placed them into the dresser drawers. I must have fallen asleep, because I had this weird dream in which I was giving my nephew Daniel, who wasn’t even born yet, my father’s old station wagon to drive.

It was almost dark when Laureen got me up to make dinner.

My brother, Norman, was going to die in 1983 from amyloidosis, a very rare disease, but there was nothing I could do to save him. When I left 2043, most cancers and diseases had been cured, but not amyloidosis. I was determined to prevent Laureen from getting breast cancer by putting her on a low-fat, high-carb diet, with vitamins, minerals, antioxidant foods, and regular exercise. Hopefully, I could also limit the amount of stress in her life.

We enjoyed our first dinner at the dinette by candlelight and a bottle of champagne. I made a low-fat version of Fettuccine Alfredo. Some of the ingredients like non-fat milk and low-fat cheese weren’t available in 1971, so I had to improvise. Laureen made a large salad at my insistence and I gave her a smaller portion of fettuccine, which she didn’t seem to notice.

“This is pretty good,” she said, sipping some champagne. “But since when do you drink champagne?”

“I guess it’s an acquired taste, like poi.”

She laughed. “You’re not trying to get me drunk are you?”

Twirling some fettuccine on my fork, I said, “You’ve never been drunk in your life.”

“Well, there’s always a first time.”

“Okay, what should we celebrate?”

“Let’s toast to us and our new home,” she said, holding up her glass to mine.

“I want to make love to you.”

“Jeffrey, in the middle of dinner?”

“Not here—in the middle of the bed,” I said, pushing back my chair. “Come on, we can reheat the fettuccine later.”

“You’re such a romantic.”

“You know you love it.”

“Yes I do,” she said, smiling, with an amorous look in her eyes.

“Grab the candles.”

I set up the stereo, still sipping some champagne. I was pleasantly drunk and put on a Ray Conniff record. Laureen looked a little tipsy carrying the candles into the bedroom.

We undressed and I held her close in my arms. The champagne on her breath was intoxicating. Then we made love by candlelight.

Thomas Wolfe was absolutely wrong—I was home again.

 

CHAPTER 47

 

 

 

September 3, 1971:

 

Istopped by to see Dr. Gormley while Laureen registered for her fall classes. He had a lot of questions for me. I handed him two bags of Kona coffee beans I brought back for him from Hawaii.

“Thank you for the beans,” he said. “How was your trip to Hana?”

“Well, it was interesting. I learned some things about returning to the past that I hadn’t counted on.”

“Such as…”

“Well for one, I tried to kill Mark Sanders, her future husband.”

“Jeff, you didn’t.”

“It’s okay. I couldn’t do it.”

“What stopped you?”

“I’m not really sure. I guess I’m not the murdering kind. I was going to do it, but I didn’t have the heart to take his life. And if I did, there is the possibility that Laureen’s children might never exist.”

“Maybe that was a blessing,” he said, picking up his pipe. Then he stuffed it with tobacco and lit it.

“You might be right. I don’t know. Also, I think that Laureen senses something different about me. She’s the same person I knew in 1971, but I’m really ninety-two years old. I have a whole lifetime of experience that she doesn’t have. I perceive things differently, and my responses are different than the twenty-year-old Jeffrey she once knew. I have the memory of who I was then, but I can’t behave the same way. I almost feel like her father and not her boyfriend. Does this make sense to you?”

“To tell you the truth, I’m still trying to grasp this time travel thing, but yes, it make does some sense. After all those events you wrote down occurred, the only logical explanation I could come up with is that you must really be a time traveler from the future, as you said. I couldn’t believe it. In some ways, I don’t think I wanted to believe it, but now I do. Maybe you can explain this. How is it that there aren’t two Jeff’s sitting here now, the Jeff from 2043 and the original Jeff from 1971?”

“Good question, Dr. Gormley. Scientists found that two individuals cannot occupy the same space in the space/time continuum. They called this phenomenon ‘time metamorphosis.’ The time traveler is transformed or ‘morphs’ into the younger version of him or herself, but retains the memories of his older self. Does that make sense?”

“Sort of. What about the people you left in 2043? What happened to them?”

“I really don’t know. I guess they still live in the future somewhere.”

“Obviously, in your time I already died?”

“Yes. Do you want to know when?”

“No! So if you hadn’t returned to 1971, I wouldn’t exist now?”

“That’s correct,” I said. “Think of it this way, Dr. Gormley. Today happened seventy-two years ago in my past. Let’s say I had an actual time machine and I came back here from 2043. That time still exists for the people who occupy that space in time. I’m no longer there because I came back here to 1971, so I occupy this space in time again. If I were to use my time machine again to go forward to 2043, your space in time would no longer exist because it already happened and you died. That’s the best way I can explain it.”

“Goodness, trying to grasp this—”

“I guess it’s like trying to grasp the concept of God,” I said. “It takes a leap of faith.”

“Yes, yes, it does,” he said, with a slight grin. “Now you see what I’m up against as a Priest. Do you believe in God, Jeff?”

“No. I never did. There are just too many horrific things that happen in this world for me to believe in a higher being. Your explanation of ‘free will’ in the universe doesn’t help either.”

“So things didn’t change very much seventy years from now?”

“No. We still have wars, murders, and terrible catastrophic events, like earthquakes and floods. We’ve made huge technical and scientific advances, but human nature is still the same. We live in a nano society now. Scientists can build machines at a subatomic level, even on a scale of molecules. For example, devices such as electronic circuits and transistors that you would find in a television set can now be built from single atoms and molecules, which are so small that you would need an electron microscope to see them. I still have the remnants of the microscopic nanomemory chips that were embedded in my brain when I was seventy-five. That’s how I can recall events and dates like a walking computer.”

“I guess Professor Danziger, in the physics department, would understand this better than I can,” he said.

“I don’t think so. His mind wouldn’t be able to conceive of these new concepts in physics. It would be like Galileo trying to understand how we got to the moon, when in his time the plane wasn’t invented yet.”

“I see your point.”

“I have to tell you about a really weird incident Laureen and I had during our layover at LAX. We went into a restaurant to get some lunch and sitting at the table across from us was my wife, Inez, and her sister, Virginia.”

“You’re kidding. What did you do?”

“I couldn’t help but stare at her. It was very obvious. Laureen noticed, and so did they. Laureen even told me to stop staring. They finally got up and left.”

“I hope you didn’t say anything to her.”

“No, of course not. I was flabbergasted.”

“I can imagine.”

“Before I left for Hana, I asked you if I should tell all this to Laureen, so what do you think now?”

“I’ve given this a lot of thought and my advice would be not to tell her anything just yet. However, if something were to happen that couldn’t be explained in any other way then—”

“Like when we went to the racetrack and I won a lot of money. She wanted to know how I did it, and I made up some story.”

“What did you tell her?”

“I told her I knew someone in the mob, who had connections with all race horse owners and jockeys, and fixed the races.”

“And she believed that?”

“I guess so. She seemed to accept it.”

I took a paper from my pocket, unfolded it, and gave it to him.

 

4th ~ Alaskan 727 crashes into Chilkoot Mountain, kills 109 (Alaska).

5th ~ Astros pitcher J R Richard debut, strikes out 15 Giants.

9th ~ 1,000 convicts riot & seize Attica, NY prison.

23rd ~ John Vermeers painting The Liefdesbrief stolen.

29th ~ Cyclone & tidal wave off Bay of Bengal kills as many as 10,000.

 

“I put together some more events that will occur this month just in case you doubted me,” I said.

“That wasn’t necessary, but thank you. You know, having this information…well, it’s very hard not to want to do something.”

“I know. The temptation is there, but nothing you can do will change anything.”

“But you called me all excited from Hana that you prevented that mid-air collision?” he said, looking exasperated.

“Yes I did. And sooner or later the airlines won’t believe all these phony bomb threats they’re getting.”

“But haven’t you also changed events in your relationship with Laureen?”

“Yes, I did change some minor things. We didn’t go to Hana in 1971. We worked here on campus for the Model Cities Program. What I’ve found so far is that changing minor events doesn’t seem to affect the space/time continuum. I was warned before I left 2043 that I might get sucked into a wormhole.”

“What would happen if I did try to prevent something from happening like this plane crash?”

“I guess you could contact Alaskan Airlines and warn them,” I said. “Think about it though, who would believe you? Another thing to consider—at some point the technology will be available to trace these kind of phone calls. Also, there might be a reason beyond just ‘free will’ or coincidence that these events need to happen.”

“I guess I could end up at the mental ward in Pilgrim State,” he said, trying to suppress a laugh.

“Yeah and both of us would have adjoining rooms. I believe there was a reason Laureen and I never got married. I think we were meant to meet and marry other people. She and Mark had two children, who wouldn’t be living in 2043 if they hadn’t married. Of course, it could just be coincidence or your explanation of ‘free will,’ too.”

“Did you and your wife have a happy marriage?”

“Yes, I was married to a wonderful person for forty-nine years, and I loved her very much. We didn’t have any children because of two miscarriages. When I met her, I was twenty-eight and ready to settle down. That was in 1979. She was also eight years older than me, so we didn’t have issues with immaturity and compatibility.”

“Were you sorry you didn’t marry Laureen?”

“Honestly, I don’t know. If she hadn’t been living with Mark in 1975, and we got back together, maybe we would have. But after I met Inez, I just put Laureen behind me and moved on. I mean she always had a special place in my heart. I hoped she had a happy life, and there were certain things that always reminded me of her, but it was only after she died that I started to have these terrible regrets.”

“Regrets about what?”

“How I wasted her love, my dreams—I wasted everything.”

“Jeff, I think you’re being much too hard on yourself. Would you marry her now if you had the chance?”

“No. I couldn’t, because I know how much her two children meant to her. If she married me that might change her future, even though I don’t know that for sure. The reason I returned to this time was to relive some of the happiest years of my youth. I wanted to experience again how she loved me. I knew that we lived together this year, and I could spend every day with her. I had thought about going back to 1974 when I put her on the plane to go home for the summer. If I had gone home with her, then I don’t know what would have happened. Maybe that’s why our relationship is so weird now, because I know how everything turns out.”

“I guess time travel has created a world of many new possibilities and dilemmas,” he said, raising his eyebrows.

“Yes, and paradoxes too, it’s fascinating.”

He glanced at his watch. “I have a faculty meeting at the Administration Building in five minutes. Let’s chat again soon.”

“Okay. I really appreciate your guidance. I won’t say anything to her now.”

 

CHAPTER 48

 

 

 

October 5, 1971:

 

Laureen and I settled into our new life together and started our classes. I decided not to get involved in student government like I did the first time in 1971, so I could spend more time with Laureen. I thought it best to take some classes to keep up appearances. The first time around, she didn’t get good grades, and I felt very guilty because our relationship was a huge distraction for her. I thought this time I should be more supportive. She was taking all science courses this semester, and it was too overwhelming for her.

One afternoon Laureen was reading my Newsweek on the window seat in our bedroom.

“Don’t you have work to do for your classes?” I asked.

“Yeah, I do.”

“So how come you’re not doing it?”

“I’ll do it when I’m ready, okay?”

“Why are you getting angry with me? I’m just trying to help.”

“’Cause you’ve been hounding me about it for weeks and it’s starting to get on my nerves.”

“I just want to see you do well,” I said. “What’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing, except I don’t need you to remind me every second what I should be doing.”

“So I shouldn’t say anything?”

“I think you should just concern yourself with your own classes.”

“But I care about you. I want to see you get better grades.”

“No, you’re suffocating me. You act like my father. Sometimes you act like a freakin’ old man.”

That hurt. Maybe it was time I told her the truth that I really was an old man. “I’m sorry, that wasn’t my intention. I think you’re neglecting everything because you don’t understand the work.”

“You’re right. I don’t understand most of it.”

“I wish I could help you with it. Why don’t you try and get some tutoring if you’re having so much trouble?”

“I’m beginning to think majoring in Marine Science was a mistake,” she said.

“It’s too late to change that this semester. You’re gonna to have to finish these courses, then change next semester.”

“I was thinking about going into education and getting a teaching certification.”

“That would be a good choice. I think you’d make a great teacher. You should look into the courses required and find an advisor. In the meantime, find someone to help you with your science classes.”

“I’m sorry I got so angry,” she said, staring at me with her beautiful brown eyes.

I went over and gave her a hug and a kiss. “It’s okay. I know you’re frustrated.”

This week marked the first anniversary since we fell in love. I went to the Southampton bakery and bought two cupcakes and a card to surprise her. Even though seventy-three years had passed, I remembered those three days and nights in my dorm room as if they did just happen last year.

 

*****

 

October 21, 1971:

 

I had tried all day to push today’s date out of my mind but I couldn’t. After dinner, we drove to the campus for a Literary Society meeting at the Administration Building. They were always held in the main room upstairs. It was decorated with comfortable plush armchairs and sofas waiting to greet visitors to the College.

The Literary Society met every three or four months. Professor William Peterson was the faculty advisor. He would socialize with people from the literary world during the summers when they flocked to the Hamptons. Previous guests to the meeting included Edward Albee and Budd Schulberg. Tonight’s guest was Maya Angelou whose autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, brought her international recognition and acclaim.

The meeting, which had lasted three hours, ended around ten o’clock. The night was clear when we arrived but now the campus was shrouded in a heavy fog. I thought it best to take Sunrise Highway back to Hampton Bays instead of Montauk Highway that was only one lane on each side and had some dangerous curves. The fog tonight was so thick and low that I could barely make out the hood of the car. If I wasn’t driving, I loved foggy nights. It distorted things all around you that should be very familiar making the world surreal.

I could tell Laureen was nervous so I assured her I would drive very carefully. There weren’t too many cars on the road, but it required intense concentration to make sure I didn’t drift off the highway, driving very slowly, no more than 35 mph. That’s when the impact of today’s date, October twenty-first, forced it’s way into my psyche. It was the day my beautiful sweetheart dies thirty-nine years from now. It is also the day just last year that I wrote the Haiku poem for her and told her that I loved her. Like the fog, it was surreal having both images in my head simultaneously.

I would never forget that day in December, 2010 when I Googled her name on my computer and saw her obituary. That was also how I found out her sister Diane had died in 1998, and her mother Elizabeth in 2006, and her father Shige in 2007. It was also how I found out that her family had moved to Las Vegas in 2008. I would Google her name from time to time, not that I was stalking her through cyberspace, but just to reassure myself that she was safe and sound.

We made it home safely and inched our way towards the house. The porch light hadn’t been turned on before we left. When we got into bed later, I cuddled up to her and held her tightly, so very tightly.

 

CHAPTER 49

 

 

 

November 11, 1971:

 

One afternoon, while Laureen was at class, our friend Jacob stopped by. I offered him a soda, and we sat down on the couch in the living room.

“I’ve had several conversations with Laureen and she is worried about you,” he said. “She tells me that there is something different about you and she can’t figure out what it is. I have to tell you that I’ve had that very same feeling.”

Jacob always had a smile on his face but I could see now he was genuinely concerned.

“Really. Different—how?”

“She told me about that day last May, when we shared the suite in Montauk Dorm. She said you were hysterical because you had a dream that you had lost her forever. I hope you don’t mind that she confided in me.”

“It’s okay. She doesn’t have many close friends she can talk to.”

“She was very upset about what you told her.”

“Yeah, well—it was very upsetting for me too. Why do you feel there is something different about me?”

“I’m not really sure, Jeff. One thing I’ve noticed is that you don’t seem interested in the same things from last year. You were very active in the student government. You had even become treasurer, and now Laureen tells me you dropped out completely.”

Jacob was right of course. I didn’t realize my behavior was so obvious. Not that I was trying to hide anything. It just seemed the best thing to do for Laureen.

“I did that so I could spend more time with Laureen and help her with her studies. She didn’t do well last semester. Why does that seem strange to you?”

“Her grades last year weren’t such a concern for you.”

“Well, now they are. When we went back to Hana this summer, I felt that I had a responsibility to her family to see that she did better.”

“Maybe that’s what I find so different about you. You never seemed to be very responsible before. You seem much more mature than I remember.”

“Well, is that a bad thing?”

“No, of course not. You know, I used to enjoy seeing you and Laureen having fun last year, being so in love with each other. When you had a fight, one of you would come to me for advice. The other thing Laureen has noticed about you is when you get mad at her there seems to be a tremendous amount of anger inside of you. She can see it in your eyes even though you don’t say anything. She never saw that much anger in you before, and she’s very concerned. She can’t understand where it’s coming from.”

“She’s never said anything to me. I’m not sure what you’re trying to say.”

“I guess what I’m trying to say is that you don’t seem to be the same Jeff we knew from last year. She also told me you hardly ever smile, and you don’t seem to have that childlike quality she admired in you.”

“That’s very intuitive, Jacob. I think that’s why I always liked you and why I always trusted you. What if I told you that you it’s true, I’m not the same person I was last year?”

“What changed you?”

I hesitated. Telling Dr. Gormley the truth about who I really am made sense, because I needed someone to help me cope with the forces, between those two Jeffrey’s trying to coexist, that at times seemed like they were pulling me apart. But he didn’t know the relationship between Laureen and I as intimately as Jacob. He was privy to that literally the first night we met—last year. Telling Jacob might serve a worthwhile purpose, if not right at this moment, then maybe sometime in the future. But Jacob wouldn’t be so easily convinced…

“I’m serious. I’ll prove it to you. You have to promise me. You can’t repeat what I’m going to tell you to anyone, especially Laureen. Promise me.”

“If you insist. I give you my word.”

“Swear on your holy book, In the Light of Truth.

“I swear.”

“What changed me is the last seventy-one years.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“The Jeffrey you and Laureen knew is now an old man of ninety-two.”

“I still don’t understand.”

“I’m not from this time, Jacob.”

“I don’t get what you’re trying to tell me.”

“Jacob, that day last May is when I came back—back from 2043.”

He released one of his huge Nigerian laughs.

Then I got up and went over to the bookcase and removed some papers I had typed up from inside Time and Again and handed it to him.

 

October 1971 Events:

11th ~ 60th Davis Cup: USA beats Romania in Charlotte (3-2).

17th ~ Judy Rankin wins LPGA Quality-First Golf Classic.

17th ~ Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Baltimore Orioles, 4 games to 3 in 68th World Series.

24th ~ Texas Stadium opens-Cowboys beat Patriots 44-21.

 

November 1971 Events

10th ~ Joe Torre wins NL MVP, Vida Blue wins AL MVP.

24th ~ Dan “DB” Cooper parachutes from a Northwest AL 727 with $200,000.

24th ~ Prison rebellion at Rahway State Prison NJ.

 

December 1971 Events

3rd ~ Indo-Pakistani War of 1971: India invades West Pakistan and a full scale war begins claiming hundreds of lives.

14th ~ Golden Gate Bridge lights out all night due to power failure.

25th ~ Worst hotel fire in history kills 163 at Taeyokale Hotel in Seoul.

 

He read what was typed on the page and gave me puzzled look. “What’s this supposed to be?”

“Just what it says.”

“How do you know what the scores are going to be? Are these your predictions?”

“No, Jacob. These events already happened in my life seventy-one years ago.”

“You’re talking in riddles my friend.”

“I don’t blame you for being skeptical.”

“And I’m supposed to believe this? I read in yesterday’s sports section that Torre and Vida Blue won the MVP.”

“Okay but you didn’t read about Dan Cooper hijacking a plane on the twenty-fourth.”

“See, Jeff, this is my point exactly. You never were this weird last year.”

“Time travel was invented in 2037. It was tested for the next three years, and in 2040 the government announced that seniors citizens over the age of ninety had the chance to go back in time and help save the economy that was collapsing from the strain of Social Security and Medicare, because people were living longer. I came back from 2043 to 1971 last May twenty-first.

“It wasn’t just some dream I had. It was real. I did lose Laureen forever. We broke up in 1974, and she married Mark Sanders in 1978. They had two children. I went to Hana in 1975, but they were already living together. Laureen died in 2010 at age fifty-eight from breast cancer. I never saw here again after I left Hana in 1975.”

“That’s quite a story, Jeff.”

“It’s all true. Do you think I would make up something so terrible as Laureen dying from cancer?”

“No, but—”

“You can check every one of those events, and you’ll see that they will all happen in the next few weeks.”

“So what you want me to believe is that the reason you seem so different now is because you’ve traveled in time back from 2043, when you were ninety-two years old?”

“That’s the truth. How else could I know all that? Even if these are just predications, they all wouldn’t be correct.”

“But these events from October you got from the newspaper.”

“No, I typed them months ago. If you want you can even check with Dr. Gormley.”

“Dr. Gormley knows about all this? Why didn’t you tell Laureen?”

“I wanted to, but I couldn’t. I thought she might freak out and leave me. The anger that she saw in me is from what happened when I went to Hana in 1975. I surprised her after a year and a half, and when I got there she was living with Mark Sanders. She treated me like I never meant anything to her, like I never existed in her life. I carried that anger for years. I guess I never forgave her for breaking up with me, even though I’m the one who really left her. If she hadn’t met Mark during that time things might have worked out differently for us.”

“If this is true, why did you come back to 1971?”

“Because I missed Laureen all these years and never stopped loving her. Then I had this chance to relive my entire life again, to be with her again, even though it meant giving up the few remaining years of my life back in 2043. Don’t get me wrong, Jacob. I moved on and met a wonderful person. We were married for forty-nine years, but Laureen was always my first love.”

“You’re probably right. Laureen would never believe this. I can’t say I believe it.”

“Ever since I came back, I’ve had this fear that I’m still going to lose her. I’ve tried to change things but—”

“You mean you’ve changed things from the past?”

“I’ve made some small changes.”

“Like what?”

“We never went to Hana last summer.”

“I—I remember you telling me you were both going to work for that Model Cities program on campus. That’s why I gave you a room in the suite until it started.”

“Right. And when I came back that day I changed our plans. Listen. We’re going up to meet a friend on Saturday at Roosevelt Field for the harness races. I’ve won a lot of money lately. That’s how we paid for the trip to Hana and the new car. Come with us and I’ll give you all the winners.”

“How can you pick the winners?”

“These races happened seventy-one years ago in my life, but they haven’t happened in yours. I researched all this stuff before my time travel trip. I have a nanomemory chip implanted in my brain. I’ll prove it to you. But you can’t tell anyone. Don’t forget your promise.”

“I gave you my word. How do you know Laureen died from breast cancer?”

“She died in 2010. I saw her obituary on the Internet.”

“What’s that?”

“We all have home computers by then. The Internet, in simple terms, is millions of computers from all around the world that are connected to one another. You can find out almost everything you want to know about people just by searching their name. You’re going to be known as Prince Jacob Akindele back in Nigeria.”

“Even though I’m very skeptical about all this, I really can’t imagine you’d make something like this up about Laureen.”

“I’m afraid it’s all true. You can’t tell her. Come by Saturday around 4 o’clock. You’re going to have to act the same around Laureen so she doesn’t catch on.”

“How does she think you’re winning all this money?”

“I made up a story that the races are fixed and we have an insider at the racetrack who’s giving us the information.”

“And she believes it?”

“I’m pretty good about making up stories.”

“Yes. You certainly are—”

“But this isn’t one I’ve made up,” I said. “You won’t doubt me after what you see on Saturday. We’ve already won thousands.”

He got up to leave. “I wouldn’t miss this for anything.”

I walked him out to his car. He gave me a hug.

“I’m glad you came by Jacob. I’ve been worried about Laureen, too.”

“I’m really going to be a Prince? That’s a very important person in Nigeria.”

“Yes. But don’t get a big head. And don’t you dare forget your promise to me.”

After he left, I sat back down and thought about what he said. I needed to deal with my anger, but how? I had Laureen back again, so why couldn’t I let the past go? What happened in our past hadn’t happened yet, and maybe it never would. I knew the time was coming when I would have to tell her truth. That really scared me.

 

*****

 

On Saturday, the three of us drove up to Roosevelt Field. Jacob was discreet with his conversation. When we arrived, I handed him a list of what horses to bet. Tonight was the last day of the three-month meet before the races returned to Yonkers. The track was jammed. We met up with Joe and quickly found four seats on the upper level of the stadium. Jacob had never been to the harness races before so Laureen had to tutor him on how to make wagers. The entire night he followed exactly what we did.

Winning these races had become routine by now. So much so that sometimes we didn’t bother returning to our seats to watch the race. After we made our wagers, we stayed near the betting windows and watched the race on TV monitors scattered throughout the track. Since I already had the winners of all the races, we were able to buy our tickets as soon as the betting windows opened avoiding the long lines. Most people waited for the last minute trying to figure out what horses to play based on the program information or from one of the many dubious tip sheets available. As soon as the race was over, it took several minutes for the cash in windows to open after the payouts were tabulated. We’d be the first ones waiting but with each of us at separate windows. After three or four races, we would go to another level of the track, so that the window attendants didn’t get suspicious seeing us cashing in winning tickets after every race.

Tonight had been another exciting evening cashing in on the winners. It was like stealing money from an open bank vault. I knew it troubled Laureen, but she went along with it anyway. I didn’t quite see it as stealing. Actually, I wasn’t quite sure what you would call it. Then in the parking lot, Joe took me aside.

“Did you notice some guys following us inside tonight?”

I was surprised by his question. “No, I didn’t. Are you sure they were following us?”

“I think so. This one guy was around us almost the every race.”

“Maybe we were being too obvious with our winnings.”

“I don’t know, but next time I think we shouldn’t all sit together,” he said. “What do you think?”

“Might be a good idea.”

Joe said he thought they could possibly be racetrack officials or even IRS agents, but he wasn’t sure. He suggested we avoid the track for a month or two and I agreed.

During the drive home, my mind was preoccupied by what Joe had told me. Unnerving thoughts quickly extinguished the euphoria of winning thousands of dollars. For the past seven months, I’d been overwhelmed trying to cope with my emotions. My brain already twisted, I didn’t need to add paranoia to the mix.

When we got back to Hampton Bays, I walked Jacob to his car.

“So how’d you do tonight, my skeptical friend?”

“I haven’t counted yet but I think I won over two thousand dollars. I can quit my job at Grant’s department store.”

“So do you believe me now?”

“As incredible as it seems, you’ve made a believer of me.”

He got in his car and started to close the door.

“Don’t forget your promise, Jacob.”

“In the Light of Truth—your secret’s safe with me.”

 

*****

 

January 27, 1972:

 

A storm hit today and dumped about five inches of snow on the ground. We were stuck in the house but luckily, I had the Sunday paper. I made us some hot chocolate. Laureen was sitting on the window seat reading and watching the snowfall. I was pretending to read on the bed, but really I just stared at her. She looked so beautiful silhouetted against the brightness of the snow outside. Today she parted her hair on the side, which I always preferred. It made her look much sexier.

I couldn’t take my eyes off her. I didn’t know if she noticed it, because she never said anything. I looked at her now and then remembered the photos on her daughter’s and her sister’s Facebook page when she was so frail before she died in 2010. I kept those photos on my virtual pod that I left back in 2043. It was so hard to look at them. It was like looking at death. Now she was only nineteen and absolutely radiant.

Then she startled me out of my trance.

“Why are you staring at me?”

“Can’t I stare at you?”

“No, it makes me nervous and self-conscious.”

“I was just thinking how beautiful you are and how lucky I am to love you.”

“I don’t feel beautiful today.”

“It’s how you feel inside that’s important.”

“After getting my grades yesterday, I feel like shit.”

“I know it sucks, but now that you’re switching to education, I think you’ll do much better. There’s nothing wrong with changing majors.”

“You’re probably right. I should have realized it before, but I was stubborn.”

“Want to go to the city next weekend?” I asked.

“What for?”

“I saw an article in the entertainment section. There’s a film revival at the Sutton Theater. On Saturday they’re showing two Ruby Keeler movies, and she’ll be there in person to talk about her and Al Jolson. On Sunday there’s a showing of The Time Machine.”

“Yeah, that would be nice,” she said, giving me a slight smile.

“We can drive up Friday night.”

“Thanks for making me feel better.”

“So it’s okay if I stare at you now?”

“No!” she hollered, laughing.

She crumbled a piece of the newspaper into a ball and threw it at me. I got up and kissed her.

“Let’s go out and play in the snow.”

 

*****

 

On Saturday we took the train from the Bronx to the Sutton Theater on Fifty-Second Street. I first went there in 1959 and saw The Mouse That Roared, which had always been one of my favorite movies. Tonight the line extended for two blocks, and I knew we would never get in. I grabbed Laureen’s hand and we made our way to the front, cutting in and out of the line. Nobody stopped us. When we got into the lobby, I got Ruby Keeler’s autograph. I was face to face with Jolie’s wife, or ex-wife. We saw 42^nd^ Street and Go Into Your Dance. Laureen had never seen Al Jolson on the screen before. She had only heard him on my records. It would have been fun to go back in time to see him live on Broadway when he was young. He really had to be seen live on stage.

On Sunday, we saw The Time Machine with Rod Taylor. During the train ride back to the Bronx I asked, “So did you like the movie?”

“It was kinda sad.”

“How was it sad?”

“The way civilization destroyed itself,” she said.

“That was the point H.G. Wells was trying to make. We’re a destructive race. Nothing has changed even now with Vietnam.”

“I know.”

“Would you like to travel back to another time?”

“I don’t know. I never thought about it.”

“I’d like to go back to the 1920s or ’30s,” I said. “Life was so much simpler then. I never felt like I belonged in this time.”

“But then we wouldn’t have met.”

“Now that would be sad. Being with you makes my life worthwhile.”

“I love you,” she said affectionately, squeezing my hand.

 

CHAPTER 50

 

 

 

March 23, 1972:

 

We just finished having dinner. Laureen had been grumpy and moody all day.

“What did you think about my idea to go to Washington D.C. during Easter break?” I asked.

“I don’t know, I haven’t decided yet. I got a letter from the Gross’s today inviting me to Springfield again.”

“I hope you’re gonna tell them you have other plans.”

“I have to think about it.”

“What’s there to think about? You went to visit them last year, and you’ve never been to Washington.”

“That wasn’t exactly an enjoyable trip last year,” she said.

“I ruined it for you and I’m sorry, but I’m tired of apologizing.”

“You ruined it for them too, you know.”

“Okay already, I ruined it for everyone.”

“You don’t have to get nasty,” she said. “Why do you always get so angry with me?”

“I just thought we had decided to drive to D.C. for Easter.”

“Maybe it would be good for us to have a break from each other.”

“Is that what this is all about? If we were married, would you need to take a break from me?”

“We’re not married. You act like you own me.”

“If being with you all the time is acting like I want to own you, then maybe you should go to visit them and I’ll just stay here by myself.”

“You could go home and hang out with your handball friends,” she said.

I got up and grabbed the car keys. “I’m going to the student center for a while.”

“Jeffrey, don’t be mad.”

“I’m not mad.”

“Yes, you are. I can see the anger in your eyes.”

“Okay, then I’m mad. I’ll be back later.”

I slammed the kitchen door behind me and drove to the student center. I usually played pool but started with the pinball machine. If you kicked it lightly, you could play for hours with the same quarter. I didn’t seem to have the touch tonight and went through eight quarters rather quickly

Maybe someone finally fixed the damn machine. After a short wait, I got into a pool game. I was walking around the table, sizing up a combination shot, when suddenly I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and saw Linda Pincus grinning at me.

“How’ya doin’?” she said.

“Good and you?”

“Managing.”

“I heard your mom passed away. I’m really sorry.”

“Thank you.”

“Let me finish this game and we’ll talk,” I said.

“I’ll be around.”

Even though I won the game, I left to find her. She was sitting at the snack bar munching potato chips.

“So what are you doing now?”

“Working at Macy’s,” she said.

“Will you be coming back next semester?”

“I don’t think so.”

“That’s too bad.”

“How are things with you?” she asked.

“Pretty good I guess.”

“Sounds like you’re not sure.”

“It’s getting late. I gotta get going,” I said.

“Can you give me a ride back to my hotel?”

“Which one?”

“Southampton Motor Inn.”

“Sure. Let’s go.”

It was just across the street from the campus, so I figured I would drop her off and head back home.

“Wanna come in a have a glass of wine with me?” she asked.

“I probably shouldn’t.”

“Come on.”

“Okay. Just for—”

“So you and Laureen are living together now?”

“Yeah, we rented a house in Hampton Bays from Lucy Fatino.”

“How’s it working out?”

“Well, we had an argument tonight.”

“So what else is new?”

“Yeah, some things never change,” I said.

She poured me a glass of Chianti and we sat on the bed.

“I heard you and Bruce Rabinow broke off the engagement.”

“It’s probably for the best. With my mother being ill and everything, it was just too much stress.”

“Are you just here for the weekend?”

“Yeah, I have to be back at work on Monday.”

She poured some more wine in my glass.

“So what are your plans?” I asked.

“I’m thinking about moving to Colorado. That’s why I’m working at Macy’s, to save up some money.”

“What’s in Colorado?”

“Just a change of scenery.”

Suddenly, she moved very close to me. “Kiss me,” she said.

I embraced her and we started to kiss.

“I don’t tongue kiss, remember?”

I pulled my head back. “What’s with you?”

“Just kiss me.” She poured more wine.

I was getting drunk. We kissed on the lips hard. Then she unbuttoned her blouse. She was braless. She had nice breasts with large pointy nipples. Then she got up and took her jeans and panties off.

“Get undressed. I always wanted you to fuck me.”

 

*****

 

Linda and I lived together in the Bronx for three weeks, the first time around, back in 1975, but I never got the chance to fuck her. I’d waited a long, long time for this. We lay down on the bed and had sex, but without tongue kissing it wasn’t very romantic. And without any feelings for her, it didn’t feel right. But I had too much wine to drive so I ended up staying the night.

This wasn’t the way things happened the first time in 1972. That’s what I couldn’t quite figure out. I had spent that night with Tisha Remkus but there wasn’t any sex or anything. She let me stay over her house because Laureen and I had an argument. An argument I purposely started. Tonight the argument with Laureen was real. I didn’t plan it. This time I didn’t expect what was coming because I changed something. Last semester I dropped out of the student government. So I wasn’t the treasurer, there were no meetings to attend, and there was no infatuation with Tisha Remkus.

But tonight—tonight I really screwed things up. I hated myself.

Linda got up early and took a shower. I got dressed and left without saying good-bye. When I got back home, Laureen was in the kitchen eating breakfast. I could see she was really pissed.

“Where were you all night?” she demanded.

“I, um…”

“I was worried to death. Where were you?”

“I ran into Linda at the student center and she asked me to drive her to her motel.”

“And?”

“We had some wine and I was too drunk to safely drive back.”

She was getting very angry now. “So you couldn’t call and tell me?”

“I’m sor—”

“Did you have sex with her?”

“I was drunk. Then she took her blouse—”

“I don’t want to hear about it!”

I went into the bedroom and sat on the bed. She followed me and began sobbing. She stood over me, screaming and pounding me with her fists. “How could you do this to me?”

“Laureen, I’m so sorry.”

She was hysterical now. I just sat there taking her blows.

“How could you? I hate you! “

“It just happened. You had sex with Andy one night last year, so you know it can happen.”

“You forgave me, remember? Or was this your chance to get even with me.”

“I wasn’t trying to get—”

“You’re just like your father!” she yelled. “I want you out of my life!”

She ran out of the bedroom and I just sat there. I heard the kitchen door slam loudly. She took the car so I was stuck in the house. She didn’t come back and I was getting anxious. Then about 9 p.m. the phone rang. It was Jacob.

“Laureen’s here. I just called so you wouldn’t worry.”

“Thanks. Is she okay?”

“She’s sleeping now. She’s exhausted. We had a long talk. You really made a mess of things this time.”

“Yeah. I know.”

“She wants to move out but I think I talked some sense into her,” he said. “I almost told her—”

“I should do it.”

“She’ll be back tomorrow. You’re very lucky to have her. She precious.”

“Thanks for taking care of her.”

He hung up.

Relieved, I went into the bedroom and got into bed. I thought about telling her the truth now. I was still asleep when she came in the next morning. I thought it was just a dream. She gently shook me and sat down on the bed next to me.

“Are you okay?” I asked sleepy-eyed.

“I spent all day yesterday after I left talking with Jacob.”

“Laureen, I’m so—”

“Let me finish. When I was driving to Jacob’s yesterday, I had made up my mind that was I going to break up with you for good this time. I was going to ask Jacob if I could stay with him until the end of the semester and then I’d go home to Hana. After I got there, I told him what happened. He asked me if I still loved you after this. I admitted I still loved you very much. He told me that I needed to forgive you. He said you’re only human and we all make mistakes. Then I told him about that night last year with Andy, when we had a fight and you went to the Bronx, and I called you to come back to Southampton right away.”

“I remember—”

“Just listen. I was upset at you, and Andy was just comforting me. I guess I lost control. I explained that you never yelled or got mad at me after I told you and you forgave me. He said men are different than women when it comes to having sex. Men can do it without having feelings for someone. I said I understood, because I didn’t have any feelings for Andy. He said not everybody is as fortunate as we are to find someone to love. He hasn’t found anyone yet.”

Then she recounted part of their conversation…

 

*****

 

“You know there was that time last year when I caught the flu and you and Jeffrey brought chicken soup and tea up to my dorm room for several days, and I thought how lucky I was to have such good and caring friends, and how lucky you were to have each other,” Jacob told her.

“Well, if you hadn’t invited me to your party that night last September we might have never met,” she said.

“I don’t think that was an accident or just a mere coincidence you two meeting.”

“What then?” she asked.

“I don’t know, but you’d be a fool to lose Jeffrey over this incident with Linda. She’s always had it in for you ever since that night.”

“Really? But once we all got to your house, he never even looked at me.”

“True. But she liked Jeffrey a lot and she was furious when you two starting going together,” said Jacob.

“I always wondered why she was so cold to me.”

“Don’t you see, this was her way at getting back at you both?”

“Jeez whada vindictive—”

 

*****

 

Strange, I thought to myself, recalling the events of that night, I never got the impression that Linda liked me so much or wanted to get intimate. “You know that old saying,” I said. “‘Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned.’”

“Yeah. But it’s not like you ever had a relationship with her.”

“No. As a matter of fact, a few days after the party, I went over to her room and she was cold as ice.”

I listened intensely as Laureen continued. “Jacob also said that I’m confusing sex with love, that sex is only of the body. It’s separate from the love that’s in your heart and soul. So I need to find it in my heart to forgive you too. Then he said something kind of odd, that I really had no idea how much you loved me. I asked him what he meant, but all he would say is that eventually I would find out.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“I know you’re not perfect, and I want you to be perfect. It’s my way of fantasizing our relationship and it’s not fair to you.”

Tears streamed down her cheeks. I started crying too and took her hand.

“I shouldn’t have hit you like that,” she said. “I didn’t mean it when I said I you were just like your father. That was a terrible thing to say to you because you’re not.”

“I deserved it.”

“I forgive you, but if you ever do anything like this again it’s over,” she said.

“There is something important I have to tell—”

I was ready to tell her the truth now but something stopped me.

“Do you want to break up with me?” she asked.

“No of course not. I could never leave you ag—I could never leave you.”

“Can we make breakfast?” she said. “I’m starved.”

“Whatcha wanna have?”

“Some bacon and eggs would be good.”

“Comin’ right up,” I said.

“What did Jacob mean that I had no idea how much you loved me?”

“This isn’t the right time.”

“Why can’t you tell me now?”

“I’ll tell you soon—promise.”

“Let’s go to Washington D.C. together like we planned.”

We hugged and kissed each other, then made breakfast.

 

CHAPTER 51

 

 

 

May 5, 1972, 5:00 a.m.:

 

We were sound asleep when bright lights coming into the bedroom window woke me. It was still dark outside. My first impulse was that there must be a fire except I didn’t smell anything burning. Then I heard loud banging at the door and a male voice yelled, “This is the FBI, open up!”

I jumped out of bed.

“FBI open up!” the male voice repeated.

Laureen got up and ran to the door. When she opened it, four men in black suits barged their way in. They flashed their IDs and badges at us.

“What’s going on here?” I shouted.

“Jeffrey Goldberg and Laureen Tanaka?”

“Yeah.”

“Get dressed, you’re coming with us,” demanded one of the agents. “You’re wanted for questioning.”

“Questioning for what? Are we under arrest?”

“You’re wanted for questioning.”

“We don’t do drugs,” I said.

“Get dressed,” he repeated.

Two men grabbed Laureen and put her into one car. The others put me into another car. They drove for about an hour and got off the Long Island Expressway at the Melville exit. It was just getting light now. About ten minutes later, they pulled in front of the FBI office. We were taken inside and placed in separate rooms. One agent sat me down in a metal chair. The other agent came back in with three cups of coffee. One of them sat down next to me, the other across the table from me.

“Thanks,” I said. “What’s the hell is this all about?”

“Do you know Joseph Bonomolo?”

I thought to myself, Oh shit. “Yes, sir. I know him.”

“Who else is involved?”

“Involved with what?”

“Stealing money from the New York Harness Association.”

“You’re nuts.”

“That’s a felony. You could all be facin’ fifteen years. Bonomolo confessed to everything. So how did you do it?”

“What did he confess to?” I asked.

“You call him each week with the winning horses. We want to know how you got that information and who else is involved.”

“I’m psychic. I can see the future.”

“Don’t be a wiseass.”

“I’m telling you the truth. If you want, I’ll give you some winners for tonight.”

“Oh really.”

“I’m not kidding. But how is that stealing from the New York Harness Association?”

“Bonomolo was picked up Saturday night in Yonkers with over three thousand in winnings. We’ve been watching all of you for months. Every cashier he went to reported back to the racing commissioner. He told us he won over twenty grand in the past six months without reporting it. So did you. Now, don’t give us this bullshit about being psychic.”

I was wondering how Laureen was doing in the next room. “Can I talk with my girlfriend? She has nothing to do with this.”

“Do with what?”

“Look, we’re just college students, okay.”

One them left the room and came back a few minutes later with a dozen donuts.

“Can I please talk with my girlfriend?”

“No!” shouted an agent.

Then another agent came into the room. “Your girlfriend confessed,” he said.

If I weren’t certain I was awake, I would have thought this was some kind of bizarre dream. Laureen must be scared out of her wits in the next room. It was fortunate that I never told her the truth about who I really was. Not that these morons would believe her since she had no real proof.

“Confessed to what?” I said. “We didn’t do anything.”

“She told me this Tony DeCurtis is giving you guys the winning horses. He’s in with the mob, and the owners and the jockeys all are in on the scheme too.”

“Listen to me, goddamn it, I told her because I didn’t want her to know the truth.”

“I have over thirty thousand in a bank vault,” I said. “How about if I return it?”

“I’m asking you again—tell us how you won all that money.”

This was getting me nowhere. I had an idea how to get out of this, but it was going to be risky. If it didn’t work, I might have to tell them the truth.

“Okay look. I’ll tell you guys everything, but first do me a favor. Give me pen and piece of paper.”

They handed me legal pad and a pen. I wrote:

 

To Jeb Magruder:

FBI agents are questioning me about remote viewing predictions.

I work with three other remote viewers, E. Howard Hunt, G. Gordon Liddy, and James W. McCord Jr.

PENDING TROUBLE AT DNC WATERGATE!! PRESIDENCY IN JEOPARDY!! NEED YOUR HELP!!

Jeffrey Goldberg

 

I tore the paper off the pad and folded it. “You can find Magruder at the White House. He’s in charge of the committee to re-elect the President. Please get this to him. It’s urgent!”

The agent sitting across the table from me grabbed paper, opened it and read it. “What’s remote viewing?”

“It’s a secret government project. They train people like me to forecast the future and revisit past events.”

“Look. I’m getting tired of your fuckin’ bullshit, pal.”

“Trouble at Watergate, whaddya mean by that?” asked his partner.

“Magruder will understand. You guys ever heard of E. Howard Hunt? He’s a former FBI agent, so is Liddy, and McCord,” I said trying to impress them.

“Never heard of ’em.”

“Hey wait,” said the other agent, “I think I’ve heard of Gordon Liddy.”

“See, I’m not lying. You can reach them all through Jeb Magruder. I’m sure you guys can get his number through the White House staff.”

“What does this have to do with betting on harness races?”

“Through remote viewing I can see the races before they’ve run. That’s how I know the winners. Here, I’ll write down tonight’s winners at Yonkers. First race is 7:30.”

I took the pad and wrote down:

 

 

1st race ~ Most Happy Fella

2nd race ~ Brett Hanover

3rd race ~ Rum Customer

4th race ~ Niatross

5th race ~ Albatross

6th race ~ Keystone Ore

7th race ~ Seatrain

8th race ~ Governor Skipper

9th race ~ Jade Prince

 

I shoved the pad to the agent across the table from me. Then the agent sitting next to me got up and grabbed me by the neck, lifting me out of my chair. He put his face right in front of mine. “You think this a goddamn fuckin’ joke, don’t ya?”

“Vince, don’t get rough with him. Leave him be.”

He let go and pushed me back down in the chair.

“It’s not a joke. I’m telling you the truth. And I’ll tell you something else,” I said. “This is so serious that the future and well-being of President Nixon is at stake.”

“Threatening President Nixon? Now you’re looking at thirty years, maybe even life!”

“I’m not threatening anyone, but the President is in danger. Magruder and Hunt will know what I’m talking about. Just get on the phone and read them the message I wrote. If you guys won’t do it, then take the note to your supervisor.”

“You’re not running the show here, pal.”

Then they both left the room, which gave me a chance to think. If this ploy didn’t work with these morons, then I didn’t know what I was going to do. Ten minutes later another guy came in wearing a blue suit, looking very distinguished. He was holding the note I wrote.

“I’ve just been briefed. Listen, Mr. Goldberg. You’re in some pretty hot water here. I don’t know if you’re high on pot or LSD.”

“I can assure you that this can all be cleared up if you just get my message to either Magruder or Hunt. What harm will it do?”

“I just can’t call the White House with this shit.”

“If you want to protect the future of the President, make the call. I don’t mean protect him from physical harm. I’m not making that kind of threat.”

“Why should I believe any of this? This is all gibberish.”

“You don’t have to, but if you contact those guys, they’ll believe it. I promise you.”

“Okay, let me see what I can do. But if you’re lying to me about all this, you’ll be under arrest and your girlfriend, too.”

“Can I see Laureen now? She knows nothing about this.”

“I’m afraid not.”

I thought Laureen would be going out of her mind by now. About two hours went by. They brought me a sandwich and soda. Around three o’clock in the afternoon the supervisor came back in. “You have a visitor.”

In walked E. Howard Hunt. He put his hand out. “Mr. Goldberg.”

“Hello, Mr. Hunt.”

“You know who I am?”

“I recognize you from your photos and from TV.”

“Really, never been on TV. I got your message and took a copter down here from D.C. What’s this ‘remote viewing’ crap,” he said, annoyed he might have made the trip for nothing. “Never heard of any secret remote viewing program.”

“Before we talk, Mr. Hunt, I think you should get the mics turned off.”

He took the ashtray that was on the table and threw it against the wall. Then he walked out of the room and came back a few seconds later.

“Okay, it’s between you and me now, son.”

He grabbed a chair, slammed it onto the floor, turned it around backward, and sat down with his arms crossed over the top of the seat back. Then he took off his fedora, which revealed a slightly graying receding hairline, and flung it on the table like a Frisbee. He looked about fifty or fifty-five with a long sharp nose and piercing blue eyes. He had wrinkles on his forehead and crow’s feet protruding from the sides of his eyes, and deeper wrinkles, Marionette Lines, on his face across from both sides of his nose to both ends of his mouth. Some people claimed these lines formed due to “disappointment,” and thus could also be called disappointment lines. There had actually been studies done over an extended time period that had shown that people who smile and laugh a lot tended to have less noticeable ones or none at all. He looked hard and tough and mean, as though he never had a childhood, never had many occasions in his life to smile and laugh, appearing out of his mother’s womb with this unpleasant demeanor.

 

 

“I know all about those meetings you and Jeb Magruder had, planning to break into the Democratic National Committee office at the Watergate Hotel. I know that McCord and Liddy are involved. I also know that two attempts have already failed.”

“That’s a nice fairy tale, Mr. Goldberg,” he said, looking uncomfortable as he shifted his body in the chair.

“It’s no fairy tale, Mr. Hunt. Otherwise you wouldn’t be here right now. So let’s not bullshit each other.”

“If this meeting did take place, how is it you know about it?”

“I’m afraid I can’t tell you that, and even if I did, you’d never believe me.”

“Try me.”

“I’ll tell you this: If you want my help to protect President Nixon from being disgraced, you’ll get me and my girlfriend outta here.”

“Hmm…I don’t know if I can do that.”

“Have someone call Hoover then.”

“Yeah, surrrre. What do you mean, the President will be disgraced?”

“Wanna know what I mean? Nixon’s gonna get impeached. How’s that grab ya?”

“Impeached for what? Inviting Elvis to the White House last year.”

“Okay, make jokes, but what you’re planning at the DNC will come back and bite the oval office in the fuckin butt—you, Dean, Erlichman, Halderman, and Nixon, too. Your plans are safe with me, but a smart reporter at the Washington Post will find out, because you guys botch the break in, and he’ll blow the lid off the whole thing. I even know the break-in is going down in June. So if you want to save your ass and Nixon’s, too, you get me out of here now.”

I’m not telling the bastard how the burglars got caught or that I know about the White House tapes, which is what really fucked them up the ass. Let them go to hell.

He took out a cigarette and lit it, never taking his beady, little eyes off me. He took several deep puffs then put it out on the table, leaving a burn mark. Beads of perspiration formed on his forehead. He removed a handkerchief from inside his suit jacket and patted his brow lightly.

“Convinced now?” I said.

“Anyone else know about this?”

“Why, so you can kill us?”

“Not a bad idea,” he said, cracking an uneasy smile.

“Yeah, well forget it ’cause I’m the only one who can save Nixon’s ass.”

“I gotta make a call,” he said and walked out of the room. He returned about five minutes later. “Deal,” he said. “Give me a number and address where I can reach you.”

I wrote down our address and handed it to him. Again, he left the room. A few minutes later, Hunt returned with the supervisor, who said, “I’ll have an agent drive you home. Sorry about the misunderstanding.”

I shook Hunt’s hand. “Thank you.”

“I’ll be keeping tabs on you, Goldberg.”

“I think you’ve already been doing that.”

Laureen was waiting outside the room. When I walked out, she ran over and hugged me. Her eyes were bloodshot and she looked very tired and scared. I whispered in her ear not to say anything.

As we were leaving, Hunt said, “That list of horses you picked tonight—”

“Check with Vince he’s got the winners.”

 

CHAPTER 52

 

 

 

Later That Night:

 

An FBI agent drove us back to Hampton Bays. I whispered to Laureen not to talk in his presence. We sat in the back seat. I tried to hold her hand, but she wouldn’t let me. She was really pissed now that we were finally out of there. I knew I would have to tell her everything after what happened today, but I wasn’t sure how. What if she didn’t believe me? How could you believe someone who told you they traveled back in time from the future? I never told my parents, or even my brother, Norman. There was no point in telling them. Sure, I told Jacob and Dr. Gormley, but I wondered sometimes if they really believed me. I also told Mark Sanders and he thought I was just high on pot.

He dropped us off around 8 o’clock. As soon as he drove off, Laureen grabbed the front of my shirt, jerking me forward against her body. It wasn’t an affectionate encounter.

“What’s this all about, Jeffrey Goldberg?” she said, snarling at me with indignation. “They wanted me to tell them about you and Joe, the mafia, illegal gambling—what kind of trouble are you in, damn it?”

“I’ll tell you everything, I promise. Let’s get some dinner first.”

“How the hell can you eat now?”

“So shoot me, I’m hungry. All I had today was a donut and some coffee.”

I was hungry, but I also needed more time to think. We got in the car, drove the mile over to the Hampton Bays Diner, and sat down in a booth. We both ordered hamburgers and chocolate shakes.

“I tried to get in to see you, but they wouldn’t let me,” I said, trying to appease her. “I’m really sorry you got dragged into this.”

“I hope you have a very good explanation.”

“Let’s not talk about any of this here,” I said, dropping my head in my hands. “Wait until we get home.”

We shared a slice of cherry pie for dessert then drove home.

“Okay, Jeffrey. Let’s hear it,” she said, slamming the front door.

I took her by the hand, led her into the bedroom, and sat her on the bed, trying to figure out where to start, how to start.

“I’m waiting,” she said.

“What I’m going to tell you is the truth, I swear on my grandfather’s grave. Do you remember that day last May, in Montauk Dorm, when I woke you up told you that I lost you forever? That I couldn’t find you, and I started crying?”

“Yeah, I remember. You were very upset. Said it was a bad dream or something.”

I took deep, slow breaths that sucked the moisture from my mouth and lips, unable to form the words, petrified of what I was about to say.

“It wasn’t a dream. It was real. I lost you for my entire life. For sixty-nine years to be exact.”

“What do you mean you lost me for sixty-nine years? I don’t understand.”

“Laureen, this is going to be hard for you to believe, but I’m not the same Jeffrey you first met in September 1970. I’m really ninety-two years old.”

“Wha—you’re crazy.”

“I’m not crazy. You even said I acted like an old man. I traveled back in time last May from the year 2043.”

“Stop this!” she shouted. “Just stop it!” Her face turned bright red, enlarging the veins in her neck. She started shaking all over. Her fingers curled into fists. “Stop with your lies and bullshit fantasies.”

“I’m not ly—”

Give me the keys!” she screamed.

She was up in an instant running for the front door.

“Please,” I begged. “I’m not crazy—”

“I had enough aggravation today,” she said, standing in the open doorway. Her left hand on her hip, right arm stretched stiff, palm up, “I want the keys. I’m going to Jacob’s.”

“Just listen to me. Jacob knows—”

“Knows what?”

“What I’m trying to tell you. That I’ve traveled back in time. This is the second time in my life I’ve lived through this year.”

“Bullshit!”

“I’m telling you the truth. That day last May. I came back to you from the future, from 2043. That’s why I could pick all those race winners. I already knew what horses won. That’s how I got the money to go to Hana and buy the car so we wouldn’t have to get jobs.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“Why do you think the FBI let us go?”

“I don’t know. Why?”

“Because I told them something about President Nixon that’s going to happen in August 1974, that’s why.”

“What’re you talking about, 1974? Jesus Christ, you’re really fuckin’ nuts!”

“Nixon’s going to get impeached because of the break-in at the Watergate Hotel, but he resigns first. Only President in history to resign.”

“And they believed you?”

“Yes, they did. That’s why we were there so long. Waiting for Howard Hunt.”

“Who the fuc—”

“He’s the one who organized the break-in at the Democratic—”

“I don’t believe any of this crap. You’re just trying to cause us to break up or something—”

“No, I’m not.”

“Gimme the keys I’m leaving.”

“Just hear me out,” I said, pulling the keys from my pocket, hoping she wouldn’t take them. “If you still want to leave after that, I’ll give you the damn keys. Please.”

She stood there hesitating, looking at me like I was a monster. Then she closed the door and sat down on the living room couch.

“Do you want to know whose going to win the World Series this year?”

“I don’t care!” she hollered.

“Oakland A’s are gonna beat the Cincinnati Reds in seven games, that’s who.”

“So, big deal.”

“When we were in Hana last June, It was June sixth, and I prevented a plane crash that would have killed fifty people.”

“No, you didn’t.”

“Would you believe Dr. Gormley and Jacob if they told you the same thing?”

“You told both of them you traveled back in time and they believed it?”

“They did. I gave them proof. That time Jacob went with us to Roosevelt Raceway—I gave him a list of all the winners before we got there. He said he won two thousand dollars.”

“We’ve been living together for almost a year and you never told me any this before tonight,” she said, looking exasperated. “But you told them!”

“I wanted to tell you, but I couldn’t. I wanted to tell you many times—”

“Then why didn’t you?”

I went over to the bookcase, pulled out Time and Again, and handed it to her. “Take out the papers inside,” I said, pacing.

She read what I had typed on the pages.

 

May 5th ~ Alitalia DC-8 crashes west of Palermo Sicily; killing 115.

May 7th ~ 26th NBA Championship: LA Lakers beat NY Knicks, 4 games to 1.

May 6th ~ 98th Kentucky Derby: Ron Turcotte aboard Riva Ridge wins in 2:01.8.

May 7th ~ Betty Burfeindt wins Sealy LPGA Golf Classic.

May 10th ~ Overloaded South Korean bus plunges into reservoir, killing 77.

May 11^th^ ~ Boston Bruins win Stanley Cup.

May 11th ~ Giants trade Willie Mays to Mets.

May 13th ~ 115 die in nightclub atop 7-story Sennichi dept store (Osaka Japan).

May 15th ~ George Wallace shot & left paralyzed by Arthur Bremer in Laurel, MD.

 

“So what’s this—things that are supposed to happen this month?”

“That’s right.”

She looked up, her expression more terrified than furious, her mouth agape. “This plane crash tomorrow—can you stop it?”

“I could try but it means calling in a bomb threat. If I tell them what I’m telling you, no one would believe me.”

Her body quivered. “How can you know…”

“I know, because these things already happened in my past. But they haven’t happened in this time, in your time, yet.”

“Jeffrey, I’m sorry, but I can’t believe. I mean—there’s no such thing as time travel.”

“Calm down, okay. I’ll try to explain. I lost you forever when I let you go back home for the summer on June 5, 1974. You never came back. I didn’t see you for the next year and half. Then I went to Hana in December 1975 to surprise you for Christmas—”

“I told you once I was going home for good after I graduated.”

“When I got there, you were living with your boyfriend Mark Sanders. You told me you were engaged, so I left after New Year’s. You married Mark in 1978. You had two children…Then I moved to—”

“You’re just making this up.”

“I moved to California in 1977. I met my wife Inez in 1979, and we got married eight months later.”

“Why are you trying to hurt me,” she said, wiping her eyes, choking back tears.

“I’m not trying to hurt you.”

I felt like any second now she would make a run for the door, and I would lose her again forever. What could I say that would convince her without hurting her feelings?

“Do you remember last summer when we were changing planes at the airport in LA, waiting for our flight to Honolulu, and we sat down for lunch? And there were three women sitting at the table across from us. Two of them were Japanese, and I was staring at the one with the glasses. Remember that?”

“Yeah, yeah. I remember. You embarrassed me the way you stared at them.”

“Well, that was my future wife, Inez. I was shocked to see her.”

“I’ve heard enough already—”

“Think about what I’m telling you. I know what horses were already going to win. I wrote down all these events before they’re going to happen this month. I ran into my future wife. I know who you’re going to marry. I know the names of your children. I know when you—”

“I don’t want to hear anymore,” she screamed, covering her ears. “You’re scaring me with all this.”

“Everything I’m telling you is true, I swear.”

“This is insane. Have you been taking drugs behind my back?”

“You know I don’t do drugs.”

“I just don’t understand you,” she said, shaking her head.

I stood there nervously, giving her some space to take it all in. She studied me with her dark brown eyes, staring at me, like she couldn’t grasp the enormity of what I’d been telling her. A judgment was coming about me, about us.

Finally she said, “Let’s just say what your telling me is true. How did you come back here from…when was it?”

“2043. Seventy-one years from now.”

“Why did you come back here to 1971?”

I sat on the couch and took her hand, moist with sweat. I took some deep breaths to collect my thoughts. She tried to jerk it away, but I wouldn’t let go.

“I came back here because I loved you—all those years.”

“But you said you were married. Didn’t you love your wife?”

“Of course, but after you died—”

“When did I die? How?”

“I was heartbroken. I had terrible regrets and guilt because we didn’t get to share our lives together. When you got on that plane, on June 5th 1974, I’m the one who left you. Months later when I realized how much I missed you, it was too late.”

“We broke up?”

“Yes.”

“How come?”

“I wanted my freedom. I stilled loved you, but I thought we both needed some time to grow up and mature. I had to get some things out of my system—and you had your reasons, too.”

“But how did you go back in time?”

“Time travel was discovered in 2037. Then in 2040 the government set up a program for people over ninety years old to go back in time and relive their life.”

“Why?”

“Because with all the new advances in medicine, so many people were living past age one hundred. Most diseases, like cancer and heart disease, had been cured. Even aging had been slowed down. It was putting a huge drain on Social Security and Medicare and the economy. This was the solution for the government and for people who wanted to relive their past.”

“You said after I died—so you know when I died?”

I hesitated, hoping she wouldn’t ask. How could I tell her she died so young, at fifty-eight, from breast cancer? Better to lie.

“It’s not something, anyone—you should know.”

“This crazy conversation is scary me to death,” she said.

“You lived a long and happy life, and you had two beautiful children you were very proud of.”

“Did we ever see each other again?”

“No. The last time I saw you was on New Year’s Eve in 1975, at midnight, during the fireworks. I tried to kiss you. I whispered in your ear that I loved you and I would always love you, but you just ignored me. While I was there, you treated me like I never meant anything to you. Like you never loved me.”

“Jeffrey, I could never—”

“You wouldn’t look me in the eye or let me touch you. You broke my heart. All these years, I blamed you, because you met Mark. But it was my own fault. I could never forgive myself.”

“Is that why you always seem so angry at me?”

“I think so. I wasn’t aware of it until Jacob told me you confided in him about that. It hasn’t been easy living with all these memories from the past. I’ve been carrying that anger inside of me for sixty-eight years.”

“I’m sorry for you. I’m sorry you’re so hurt, but I don’t have these memories like you.”

“That’s all I could take with me, my memories and my feelings. Do you believe me now?”

“I don’t—I don’t know,” she said, gawking at me, contemplating who I was, what I was.

“I wouldn’t make this up. I know it’s hard to accept.”

“What about the people you left in 2043?”

“I’m not sure. When we went to see The Time Machine a few months ago—in the movie, Rod Taylor, who is H.G. Wells, had an actual time machine. I don’t have that kind of machine. But when he got into the time machine to go to the future, he left his present time, and everyone in his past, like Alan Young, had already lived their lives and died. Does that make sense?”

“Sort of.”

“Then that scene when he comes back, about twenty or thirty years later, and Alan Young is an old man. So in my future, in 2043, where I came from, the college doesn’t even exist anymore. It’s all boarded up by then.”

“Where did you and your wife live?”

“We lived in San Diego.”

“I stayed at Scripps Institute one summer when I was in high school.”

“I know. I’ve seen you wear that tee-shirt.”

“I want to believe you, but do you have any other proof besides this list of events?”

“No. I couldn’t take anything with me. Even if I could take my virtual pod it wouldn’t work here, in this time.”

“What’s a…”

“It’s how we communicate in 2043.”

“Jeffrey, this is making my head hurt.”

“Let’s do this,” I said, hugging her. “We’ll go to the service at the windmill tomorrow and talk with Dr. Gormley.”

“I’m just so confused right now. My head is spinning. I feel like it’s going to burst any minute. I wish I could—”

“I know. I know. I don’t think I would believe it either.”

“I’m sorry I got so mad. I just wish you had told me all this sooner.”

“I wanted to. I even wanted to tell you when we were in Hana.”

“I had this feeling. You’d been acting really weird. I thought maybe it was a mistake living together.”

“No, no. It’s me. I have all these memories and feelings from my older self. In my head. I’m trying to cope.”

“Jeffrey, I want to—if it’s really true, I’m glad—I’m glad you came back,” she said, embracing me.

“Me, too. I missed you so much,” I said.

“I love you.”

“I love you,” I said, squeezing her tightly.

“I’m exhausted. Let’s go to bed.”

“You go,” I said. “I gonna drive down to the gas station and call the airlines.”

“Why not use our phone?” she asked.

“I don’t want to take the chance the call could be traced.”

“I hope you can save those people.”

“We’ll see. You go ahead to bed.”

 

*****

 

I felt relieved to finally tell her. It was hard keeping the truth from her for so long. It might not be a question of whether she believed any of it, but could she accept it? The reality of it might be too hard for her to bear.

I drove down to the twenty-four-hour Shell gas station across from the Hampton Bays Diner. I called information to get the number for Alitalia Airlines in New York. All I remembered was that the plane was going to crash today. I didn’t have the details about the flight or even the flight number. The woman who answered the phone had a thick Italian accent. I told her that a suicide terrorist would be on board one of their DC-8 flights today with a bomb and it would explode over Sicily killing everyone on board. She started screaming at me in Italian so I had no idea what she was saying. I didn’t know if should hang up or what. Finally, a man got on the line also with an Italian accent. He said Alitalia Flight 112 crashed tonight killing 115 people. At 10:23 p.m. I hung up. I had forgotten that Italy time is three hours earlier than New York time. The plane crashed at 7:23 EST while we were being driven back home from FBI headquarters. When I got back, Laureen was already sound asleep. I didn’t want to wake her and give her this bad news after she already had such a rough day.

 

CHAPTER 53

 

 

 

May 6, 1972:

 

Iwoke up early and went outside to get the paper. It was a beautiful spring day in Hampton Bays. All the trees and plants in the yard had bloomed. I could hear Lucy’s son, Nick, shooting some baskets in the backyard. I picked up the paper on the lawn. The headline in bold print read, Alitalia DC-8 Crashes West of Palermo Sicily, killing 115.

I took out the last package of Kona coffee Laureen’s mom had sent us from Hana, ground the beans, boiled some water, and ran it through the Melitta filter. It smelled so good. Then I put some frozen waffles into the toaster and woke up Laureen.

I gave her the paper when she came into the kitchen. “I called the airline last night after you went to bed but the plane had already crashed. It happened while we were being driven home last night. I tried but it was too late.”

“Oh my God,” she said. “I thought it was all just a dream.” A look of horror transformed her pretty face. What I told her would happen was now reality. “Those poor people. Can’t you prevent these things from happening?”

“No, I think they happen for a reason, but I don’t know what it is,” I said. “And if I try to prevent every tragedy that I know is going to take place, I’ll go crazy.”

“I’m scared, Jeffrey.”

“I know. It’ll be okay,” I said, pouring her coffee. “We’ll get through this together.”

“Do you think that guy from yesterday, what’s his name, could have stopped the plane? Would he have believed you?”

“You mean Hunt? I don’t know. The thing is I didn’t tell him the exact truth about me. I gave him just enough morsels about the future and about Nixon and the Watergate break-in that he had to believe me, but I didn’t tell him that I knew because I was a time traveler.”

“Why?”

“Can you just imagine what the Government would do if they got their hands on someone like me.”

“I don’t want to.”

“Laureen, there are a more things I need to tell you. That incident with Linda—well, in the first 1972 something different happened. I purposely picked a fight with you so I could leave and go to the student center. I had a crush on Tisha Remkus, and I knew she would be a there for a student government meeting. Afterward, I asked her if she could put me up for the night. I don’t know what I was thinking. I followed her home and we talked for a little while. Then she told me she had an early class and had to get to sleep. She took me to one of the rooms and said goodnight. I never made a move on her and nothing happened. In the morning, she knocked on the door to get me up. I got dressed and thanked her. As I walked out to my car, I saw Jacob drive up. I was shocked to see him. He asked me what I was doing there, so told him we had a fight and I just spent the night here. Then I drove home. You were waiting for me when I got back, and you were extremely angry. I told you where I spent the night, and you went ballistic on me, hitting me with your fists.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Don’t you see? Because I changed some things since I’ve returned, that resulted in a slightly different future. I wasn’t treasurer of the student government, like the first 1972, so there was no Tisha Remkus crush.”

“I’m really hard trying to grasp all this.”

“The other thing I wanted to tell you is that in the first 1971 we didn’t go to Hana. We both worked for Model Cities and went to Canada in August like we planned. But I changed that. This time I wanted to go home with you, meet your family, and share that experience with you. Does that make sense?”

“I guess so,” she said, still looking slightly confused. “I treated you so badly when we were there.”

“You had no way of knowing any of this.”

“Jeffrey, why did we break up?”

“I’m not sure I know the answer to that question even after all these years. You never gave me your reasons, so I can only guess, but I think you were afraid you might end up unhappy like my mother. I never wanted to break up with you. During the spring semester in 1974, we seemed to drift apart. I had this very strong urge to experience other women and even ‘swing.’ I mean, I still loved you very much, but I thought we both needed some time to grow up and mature. Some of that intensity and passion that we feel now wore off. In the first 1971, our relationship wasn’t exactly ideal. We would argue a lot, mostly over nonsense. I think I just took you for granted and thought you would always be there. All I know for sure is when I put you on the plane on June fifth I was happy to be free. It was something I had to go through. I thought you would wait for me.”

“What did you do after I left?”

“I worked as a counselor in a day camp that summer and had a crush on another counselor. I got the last letter from you on July twenty-eighth, and when we spoke on the phone in September, you said you weren’t coming back. I don’t think we actually broke up, though. We never communicated with each other after that. Then in the fall, I did my student teaching and worked for Encyclopedia Britannica. I fooled around with a few women but never got into a relationship. Then I moved back to the Bronx and got involved with Linda again, but for only a month or so. I was already thinking about going to Hana, but then my grandma had a heart attack and I had to wait until she recovered. It was during this year that I lost you. Maybe if I had gone to Hana with you, or gone sooner, things might have worked out differently. But who knows? By then it was December, so I thought I would surprise you for Christmas. When I got there, you were working at the Hotel Hana Maui. When you first saw me, your complexion turned white and you said, “I’m engaged to be married. What are you doing here?”

“You’re kidding.”

“I wish I was.”

We finished our waffles, took our coffee, went into the bedroom, and sat on the window seat. She sat across from me and put her feet in my lap. She had such pretty toes.

“This is fascinating, Jeffrey. What happened next?”

“I stayed with your grandmother and then left after New Year’s.”

“And where was I during this time?”

“You were living with Mark.”

“Mark! Mark who?”

“Mark Sanders. I guess he lived in Hana.”

“But I don’t even know that person.”

“That’s because in 1972 you haven’t met him yet.”

“So happened to you after that?”

“I went back to New York and started gambling at the harness races. I was going every night. I also went to prostitutes for sex. I was very, very depressed. Then in 1977, I moved to California and got a job teaching third grade. I even called your mother once in 1977 and asked about you, but she said you were still living with Mark. This was when I started ‘swinging.’ I dated a little but never met anyone I really liked until I met Inez in 1979.”

“The Japanese woman we saw at the airport?”

“Right. I think you married Mark in 1978.”

“Don’t tell me about that!”

“Why?”

“I don’t want to know about him. Did you ever try contacting me again?”

“I wrote you a letter in September 2000. You wrote me back, but I don’t think you wanted to hear from me anymore by then.”

“Why did you write to me after all those years?”

“It was the thirtieth anniversary of our meeting. I just wanted to share some of the memories of the good times we spent together when we were young. I mentioned some in my letter, but you didn’t want to acknowledge them. Also, I wanted you to forgive me.”

“Forgive you for what?”

“For not being more supportive of you with your studies. I knew how important it was for you to get good grades and I let you down.”

“Now, I’m beginning to understand some of your weird behavior this year. You were trying to make up for what you believed was your responsibility.”

“I guess so.”

“But, Jeffrey, I’m the one who’s responsible for studying and getting good grades. Not you.”

“I know but maybe I should have set a better example for you.”

“Please don’t blame yourself. Did you and Inez have children?”

“No. She was eight years older than me when we met. She had two miscarriages, and then she couldn’t get pregnant again so we just gave up.”

“I—I’m—sorry. I’m sorry you didn’t have any children. Were you and Inez happy?”

“Yes, we had a good marriage. We hardly ever had an argument. It was very different from our relationship, but I think that’s because we were both more mature when we met and I was ready to settle down.”

“I’m glad you were happy.”

“The thing is I loved her in a different way than I loved you. You were my first love, and I don’t think I ever really got over you or stopped loving you. You were always in my heart. After I learned you died, I was heartbroken. Part of me died with you. Then you came to me in a dream. Even though we didn’t talk in the dream, I knew that you loved me and you wanted me to let you go, so I could have some peace, but I couldn’t.”

“Do you know how I looked when I got older?”

“I only saw two photos of you when you were probably in your fifties. You still looked very beautiful.”

“You’re just saying that.”

“No, I mean it. Of course you filled out a little bit, which is normal, as we get older. You also had short hair.”

I couldn’t bear to tell her that I had seen photos of her on Facebook just before she died.

“Gosh, I can’t imagine ever having short hair. Where did you see my photos?”

“On my computer. That’s how I found out you died.”

“How did I die?”

“Sshhhh,” I said, placing my forefinger on her lips. “You had a very long, happy, and fulfilled life.” I started to cry.

“It’s okay, Jeffrey. I’m here now,” she said, leaning over to caress my body.

“I know, it’s just that I missed spending my life with you. I missed how you loved me.”

“I promise I’ll never leave you again.”

We got up from the window seat to wash the dishes.

“What’s it’s like in 2043?” she asked.

“It’s a lot different from now, but in some ways I prefer the way the world is today. Life’s much simpler. I mean, all the technological advances are wonderful, but instead of simplifying our lives I think it made things more complicated.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, cars drive themselves. Computers are as small as a pack of cigarettes. They can even understand your thoughts. The country is very overcrowded because people are living longer. It’s like comparing 1900 with 1972. No one living back then could have imagined a man walking on the moon. In 2043, we have colonies on Mars. The good news is that baseball is still the same, and the Yankees won a lot more World Series.”

“Please don’t tell me any more.”

She walked into the bedroom. I heard “A Time for Us” playing from the music box. I heard the lyrics in my head.

 

…And with our love through tears and thorns

We will endure as we pass surely through every storm

A time for us, some day there’ll be a new world

A world of shining hope for you and me…

 

She called from the bedroom, “Jeffrey!”

I walked in as she was winding the music box again.

“I forgot to put my necklace on today, would you put it on for me?” She’d worn the black pearl necklace every day since I gave it to her last June for her birthday.

“Turn around.”

“I will never stop wearing this as long as I live.”

I attached the clasp and then kissed the nape of her neck. She turned around and tears were rolling down her cheeks.

“Why are you crying?”

“Because what you told me was so sad. I wished there was some way I could ease your pain,” she said.

“But this year has been so wonderful just to be with you again.”

She lay down on the bed still crying. I lay down next to her and started to cry, too. She crawled on top of me and started to kiss me all over. I tasted her tears as I kissed her lips. She was getting me all horny now. I always liked it when she initiated sex. We got undressed and made love.

I must have dozed off on top of her. She gently nudged me off.

“I really believe you are from the future now,” she said. “You couldn’t be making all this stuff up.”

“I wanted to tell you, but Dr. Gormley didn’t think it was a good idea.”

“Jeffrey. Let’s get married now. Right away.”

I was astounded hearing her say that. I thought about asking her to marry me when we were in Hana last summer. It’d been my hope ever since I returned, even before I returned.

“I can’t let you marry me. I mean, I’d like to marry you but…”

“But what?”

“Because I don’t know how getting married to you would change your future or mine. Your whole life revolved around your two children. You even wrote me how proud you were of them. What if you never gave birth to them?”

“I don’t care. I don’t want to know about next year, or next month, or what’s gonna happen an hour from now. I can’t live like that.”

“I know what you mean. This past year has been both a blessing and a curse. But are you willing to risk it?”

“I don’t want to lose you. I promised you I would never leave you,” she said emphatically.

“That was before you knew all this time travel stuff.”

“I don’t care about this Mark guy or having his children. I only love you.”

“But I love you too much to take that away from you,” I said.

“That should be my decision, not yours,” she said.

“We can’t.”

“Why don’t we talk to Dr. Gormley about it?”

“I don’t know.”

“Please. I want you to be my husband. I want to have your children. You gave up the last years of your life to come back and be with me. You told me you missed me your entire life. I want us to be together forever.”

“Believe me I would like that, too, but I can’t risk changing your future or your children’s future. It’s even possible they wouldn’t exist in 2043.”

“Just think about it,” she said, kissing me.

She turned over and went to sleep. I thought about the four years that we were together the first time. Whenever I brought up the subject of marriage, Laureen was always very evasive. When I’d asked her if she would you marry me someday, she would never give me a straight answer. I think she knew in her heart, as did I, that we weren’t suitable for marriage. She would say things like, “I’m not ready to get married now,” or “I’m not getting married until after I graduate.” I didn’t think she wanted to hurt me with the real reason.

Of course, I never seriously asked her or got a ring, and I never told her what was in my heart. I didn’t think I could admit it to myself. I knew we would never marry, even though I couldn’t imagine my life without her. If we did marry now, maybe I would finally have some peace.

 

CHAPTER 54

 

 

 

Sunday, May 7, 1972:

 

We attended the non-denominational service at the windmill with Dr. Gormley. He said we should stay afterward and we could talk.

“What can I do for such a lovely couple?”

“I told Laureen everything, Dr. Gormley. We were picked up and interrogated by the FBI about the harness race winnings,” I said.

“What did you tell them?”

“I made up a story about how I knew which horses would win. Then I warned them about something that was going to happen to Nixon in 1974. Someone flew down from Washington and got us released. But I didn’t tell them I was really a time traveler from 2043.”

“And I wanted to know what was really going on,” Laureen said.

“Do you believe what Jeff told you, Laureen?” Asked Dr. Gormley.

“At first I didn’t and I got really mad. But then, after he explained everything and showed me what was going to happen this month, I realized he couldn’t be making this up. He tried to prevent a plane crash in Italy but it was too late.”

Dr. Gormley took a pipe off his rack and reached for some tobacco. “Mind if I light up?” he asked. We both nodded. “Believe me, I also looked for some rational, logical explanation.”

“Laureen wants to get married right away,” I said.

“Jeff, it’s important for me understand why the two of you broke up in your past,” he said.

“Well, I was immature, selfish, self-centered, possessive, manipulative, and a conniver. I’ve always been that way even as a child—”

“No Jeffrey,” Laureen interrupted. “I could never love someone like that.”

“And I fell in love with this beautiful, sweet, loving person, who has a good heart. But I also had this very strong desire to experience other women. I’m so ashamed to admit this, but I had this sexual compulsive disorder, but I didn’t understand it then.”

“What do you mean?”

“I had an addiction to sex and pornography,” I said. “It started before we even met. I tried to hide it from her.”

Laureen looked at me puzzled. I could tell she was very embarrassed.

“Do you still have those urges?” asked Dr. Gormley.

“Not really. Since I’ve returned last May, I’ve been able to control it. I think it has something to do with the older Jeffrey morphing with my younger self. “

“What are you talking about?” Laureen asked with a puzzled look on her face.

“I haven’t explained that part to you yet. It’s how time travel affects your body.”

“There’s something else that’s even more troubling, Dr. Gormley,” Laureen said. “Jeffrey seems to have a lot of anger—anger toward me. And it scares me.”

“All that anger, I still have inside—knowing how our relationship ended. It’s because I left you for sex. I could never forgive myself,” I said. “I’m angry because I know the future, all the terrible things that are going to happen. I know when my brother dies, I know when my father dies, when Laureen dies. I can’t do anything to prevent these things. Time travel has been a blessing. Being with Laureen again has been a blessing. But knowing everything, it’s been horrible. We’re not meant to live like that.”

“You’re right. We’re not,” said Dr. Gormley.

“I could tell something was tearing him apart inside. I thought it was my fault,” said Laureen.

“It’s not your fault. I was trying to cope with the memories and old feelings. All I had left from our relationship were some letters you sent me in 1972 and 1974 and about sixty photos. I saved your creative writing book from the class you took last year with Professor Matz. And the little toy soldier we got last year when we went to see The Nutcracker. After you died, I would read your letters, look at the pictures, and cry. Certain days always reminded me of you, like New Year’s Eve, when we watched the ball drop at Times Square, and every birthday I ever had reminded me of my twentieth when you surprised me with that chocolate cake. I came back here with all the memories, experiences, and emotions of a ninety-two-year-old man. That’s who you’ve been living with this past year, a ninety-two-year old man inside this twenty-one-year-old body.”

I started to sob. Dr. Gormley handed me a handkerchief. Laureen moved her chair close to mine and held my hand.

Dr. Gormley turned to face Laureen. “Why do you want to marry Jeff now?”

Before she could answer, I interrupted. “We can’t. It might change her future. She might never marry Mark Sanders and give birth to her son and daughter.”

“Do you understand what Jeff is saying, Laureen?”

“Yes. I don’t want to know about Mark or his children. I could never love him. I love Jeffrey, and I want us to be together,” she said adamantly.

“Jeff, do you want to marry Laureen?”

“Of course, I do, but—”

“So if you the two of you married now, what are the possibilities?” asked Dr. Gormley, nodding at me.

“Well, Laureen might never meet Mark and have their children. And I might never meet my wife Inez. Maybe nothing will change in our future because the past already happened.”

Dr. Gormley looked at both of us. “I’ve been doing some research on time travel for several months. I found some articles and papers at the Princeton library. They’re affiliated with St. Joseph’s where I received my Jesuit degree. Quite frankly, I don’t understand the physics. Michio Kaku, a physicist, wrote several of these papers.”

“Michio Kaku. That name sounds familiar,” I said. “Let me think for a second. I saw it once on my virtual pod. I think he was involved with the time travel program. His protégé, uh, Dr. Sklare, yes that’s the one, Dr. Arnold B. Sklare is the one who invented time travel.”

“That may be more than just coincidence. Turns out Kaku is a visiting professor of theoretical physics at Princeton, so I decided to contact him. He explained to me that if time travel were possible, which it’s not, he emphasized, it would allow for the existence of alternative universes. Of course, this is all speculation on his part.”

“What does that mean—alternative universes?” I asked.

“It means that if someone traveled back in time to their past, they would leave one universe and reside in another universe, and both universes are completely separate.”

“So are you saying that my existence here in 1972 created another universe somewhere else?” I asked.

“According to his theory. Obviously, I didn’t tell him about you, but he was curious about my interest. I told him we’ve been discussing time travel in my philosophy classes and students are raising lots of questions I can’t answer.”

“I don’t understand any of this,” said Laureen.

“So what harm would it do if the two of you married?” asked Dr. Gormley.

“Before I left 2043, I met with my Temporal Space/Time advisor. Her name was Margot. We discussed this very thing. She told me that if my wife and I had children and grandchildren living now, and I returned to 1971 but didn’t marry my wife, then their very existence would be at risk,” I said. “But if Michio Kaku’s alternate universe theory is correct that would mean nothing I do here in 1972 would affect the people in the universe I time traveled from.”

“This explanation may answer some of the questions you had, when you called me from Hana, after preventing that plane crash. You saved those people from dying last summer but you also knew that those same people died in the first 1971,” said Dr. Gormley.

“Yes. That’s why it appeared to be a paradox,” I said.

“Are you following this, Laureen,” asked Dr. Gormley.

“I think so. If Jeff and I marry now it would change our future here, in this universe, but it might not change anything in the universe he left in 2043?”

“Correct. But if Dr. Kaku’s theory is wrong then it’s possible that your children would never exist if you married Jeff,” said Dr. Gormley. “Can you accept the possible outcome?”

“Yes, I do.”

“When Jeff first told me back in September that he was a time traveler from 2043, he told me that I had already died. I asked him, ‘Then the only reason I’m here now is because you time traveled back to 1971?’”

“And I said yes.”

“Laureen, the same holds true for you because, according to Jeff, you had already died, too.”

“I haven’t thought about that,” she said. “It’s too scary.”

“I only bring it up because it means, you and I, we both have a new life ahead of us, just as Jeff has again,” Dr. Gormley said. “Unlike Jeff, we don’t have any of those memories or knowledge of the past and the future that he already lived. I guess what I’m trying to say is that—you and I have free will. You and I can make decisions based on the here and now, this moment. You and I are not tethered like Jeff is to that other reality or that other universe.”

“So that frees me up to live the life I want in this time, in this moment, not some moment I lived in Jeff’s past. I can create my own future, our own future,” said Laureen.

“Precisely. Well, Jeff, I guess it’s up to you then.”

“I know that millions of seniors time traveled before I did, and I never heard of anyone’s relatives vanishing or suddenly ceasing to exist. They couldn’t keep that a secret. According to what you just told us, the people who traveled in time, like me, might be living in completely different universes from the ones we came from.”

“That’s the decision you’ll have to weigh,” he said.

“Would you marry us, Dr. Gormley?”

“Of course, I would. It would be my honor.”

“Can we use the windmill?”

“I don’t think that would be a problem.”

“Thank you, Dr. Gormley,” I said. “You’ve been a great help.”

Laureen got up and gave him a hug. “Thank you.”

“God bless you both,” he said.

Holding Laureen by the hand, I stood with her in front of the windmill. “I love you so much. Let’s make it official.”

 

*****

 

Later That Day:

 

We drove into Southampton and had lunch at Silver’s Luncheonette on Main Street. Then we walked to Jobs Lane Jewelers to pick out wedding rings. On the way back home, we started to make out a guest list. My brother Norman and his fiancée Judy were getting married on the twenty-eighth, so we needed to pick a different weekend. When we got home, Laureen called her parents to tell them the great news.

After she spoke to her mother I asked, “What did she say?”

“She was kinda shocked at first, but then she sounded very happy. My dad went out fishing. She’ll talk with him when he comes back. She wasn’t sure if they could leave so soon. Oh, and she said to give you a big kiss.”

Then I called my mom.

About three hours later, Laureen spoke with her father.

“What did he say?” I asked.

“He’s not sure why we’re rushing, and they’re not sure they can get off work on such short notice. He and Mom will check and get back to me.”

“I hope they can come.”

“Me, too.”

Her mother called back the next day and said the earliest they could be here was the following week.

“If you want to have the wedding next weekend it’s okay.”

“No. You should have your mom and dad here.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. I’d like them to be there. Anyway, we’ll have more time to prepare if it’s on the twentieth.”

“I love you,” she said, giving me a hug.

“Are you sure you want to go through with this?” I asked.

“Yes. I’m sure. Are you?”

“I never came back here with the intention of marrying you. I really didn’t know what was going to happen with us. I just wanted to be with you again, even if it was going to be for the same four years. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I want to spend my life with you.”

 

CHAPTER 55

 

 

 

May 8, 1972:

 

The aroma of bacon permeated the house. We were in the kitchen making BLT sandwiches for lunch when we heard a loud knocking. Laureen went to see who was at the door.

“Jeffrey, they’re back!” she screamed from the living room.

I ran to see who it was. Standing at the door was an imposing man dressed in a black suit wearing dark sunglasses. I saw several black cars and a limo parked in the driveway.

“Mr. Goldberg.”

“Yes?”

He flashed his ID and said, “Eugene Fernandez, Secret Service. The President would like to speak with you, sir.”

“Uh, the President? What President?”

“President Richard M. Nixon, sir.”

“President Nixon wants to speak with me?” I said in disbelief.

“Correct sir.”

Here?”

“Yes, sir.”

“This a joke, right?”

“No, sir. May I come in first to secure your residence?”

“Uh, I guess so.”

He entered the living room and then proceeded to the kitchen and bedroom. “Do you have any weapons in the residence, sir?”

“No.”

“Everything looks fine.”

He went outside and walked over to the limo. I saw Lucy gawking. I heard her yell, “Jeffrey what’s going on here?”

They kept her from leaving her backyard. The limo door opened and I immediately recognized Richard Nixon.

I poked Laureen. “Can you believe this?”

She just stood there with her mouth wide open. Nixon walked slowly through the yard with another man, who I recognized as John Dean, and approached the door. He extended his hand to me.

“Mr. Goldberg, glad to meet you. I apologize for barging in on you like this,” he said, shaking my hand with a firm grip.

“Uh…that’s not a problem, sir.”

“And who is this lovely lady?”

“This is my girlfriend, Laureen Tanaka.”

He extended his hand. “Miss Tanaka.”

“It’s an honor, Mr. President.”

“Where are you from, Laureen?”

“Hana, Maui, Mr. President.”

“Yes. That’s a very beautiful place. Mrs. Nixon and I have been there on several occasions visiting Charles Lindbergh.”

“Please, come in,” she said.

“Thank you.”

“This is my Chief Counsel John Dean.”

He shook our hands.

“Smells like bacon. I apologize if we interrupted your lunch,” said Nixon.

They each sat down on the armchairs and we sat on the couch across from them.

“Just made BLT sandwiches. Uh—how can we help you, Mr. President?”

Dean looked at me. “We were briefed by Howard Hunt. You expressed to him some very serious concerns regarding the president’s political future. Mr. Hunt felt that the information you had was of vital interest to the nation.” He proceeded to take out a small pad from his jacket. “Mr. Goldberg, you told Mr. Hunt that you had knowledge of a break-in at the Democratic National Committee Office Headquarters located in the Watergate Hotel that will occur on June seventeenth. Is that correct?”

“That’s right.”

Dean continued. “And this event would eventually implicate several members of the White House staff, including Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman, G. Gordon Liddy, Charles Colson, John Ehrlichman, and myself. Is this true?”

“That’s what I told him,” I said, looking straight at Nixon.

“How could you possibly know this?” asked Dean.

“May I show you?”

“I’d be most interested,” said Nixon, looking anxious.

I got up and went into the bedroom. I returned to the living room and handed Nixon a typed list of events from May first through May thirtieth 1972. After Nixon read it he handed it to Dean sitting in the chair next to him.

 

1st ~ 97th Kentucky Derby: Canonero II wins.

2nd ~ Sandra Haynie wins LPGA Dallas Civitan Golf Open.

3rd ~ Erich Honecker succeeds Walter Ulbricht as East German party leader.

3rd ~ Pulitzer prize awarded to John Toland (Rising Sun).

8th ~ Joe Frazier beats Muhammad Ali at Madison Sq Garden.

9th ~ 23rd Emmy Awards: All in the Family, Jack Klugman & Jean Stapleton.

9th ~ Sandra Haynie wins LPGA San Antonio Alamo Golf Open.

15th ~ 97th Preakness: Canonero II wins.

18th ~ Stanley Cup: Montreal Canadiens beat Chicago Blackhawks, 4 games to 3.

19th ~ USSR launches Mars 2, 1st spacecraft to crash land on Mars.

24th ~ A commuter bus plunges into Panama Canal, killing 38 of 43 aboard.

25th ~ USSR performs nuclear test at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalitinsk USSR.

27th ~ 23rd Walker Cup: Britain-Ireland, 13-11.

27th ~ UCLA wins NCAA basketball championship.

28th ~ USSR Mars 3 launched, 1st spacecraft to soft land on Mars.

30th ~ US Mariner 9 1st satellite to orbit Mars launched.

30th ~ Willie Mays hits his 638th HR, sets NL record of 1,950 runs scored.

 

Nixon looked up at me. “I don’t understand. What this is?”

“Mr. President, these are events that will all occur this month.”

“How can you—”

“Excuse me, sir,” Dean said abruptly, interrupting Nixon. “Are you some kind of psychic, Mr. Goldberg?”

“No, I’m not a psychic. But I can tell you without a doubt, with one hundred percent certainty that Frazier’s going to beat Ali tonight. I’ve got $25,000 on it. You should put some money on it, too, Mr. President.”

“Jeffrey, are you nuts?” Laureen blurted out.

“Uh, the President doesn’t bet, Mr. Goldberg.

“Now hold on there, John,” Nixon said, smiling softly. “That’s not entirely true.”

“Besides it’s illegal to bet on boxing in the New York State,” Dean said.

“But it’s not illegal in Vegas,” I said. Then I whispered to Laureen, “Relax, will ya. Joe went to Vegas. We’ll double or triple our money.”

“This doesn’t impress me,” Dean said. “Anyone could predict these things and be correct maybe fifty or sixty percent of the time. I mean it’s no secret that Canonero is the favorite to win the Preakness according to all the papers, and UCLA is practically unbeatable.”

“Let me explain,” I said. “I’ve been able to do this since I was a child. I call what I do “Remote Viewing.” That is, I have this ability to experience objects, events, and people from a distance. I can see objects and events in the past, present, and in the future. I can view persons, places, and things, even gather information that are far away—the next room or around the world. Remote viewing has nothing to do with being psychic. But I can use this ability to accurately predict any future event. It’s like a real life time machine.”

“I think I understand what you mean by “viewing,” said Nixon, still looking a little perplexed. “But what do mean by “remote?”

“Okay, when I remote view an object or a person or an event, I get the sense of actually being there. I’m not limited by time or space. I can see and hear the event or person, even if it’s 20,000 miles away, in the past, or ten years from now. Is that clear?”

They both looked at me in amazement. Dean started to say, “Sir, I think this person—”

Nixon put his hand up. Then he looked at Laureen. “Do you believe this, Miss Tanaka?”

“Yes, sir, I believe him. He even prevented a plane crash last year.”

“Is that so,” Nixon said, gazing at me.

“Yes. On June sixth. I hope I won’t get into trouble, Mr. President, but I called Hughes Airlines at LAX and said there was a bomb onboard Flight 706—”

“Jeezus Christ,” said Dean.

“After taking off the plane was scheduled to make a stop in Salt Lake City on the way to Seattle. It was going to collide with a U.S. Marine Corps F-4B Phantom II over the San Gabriel Mountains near Duarte at an altitude of 15,500 feet. The pilot of the jet and forty-nine passengers on the Airwest flight would be killed. Near the Bakersfield Flight Service Station, the crew of Phantom jet decided to deviate east from their flight plan to avoid heavy air traffic in the Los Angeles area. Lieutenant Phillips would be forced to climb to 15,500 feet because of deteriorating weather conditions, which he did. Except that Flight 706 wasn’t there because it was delayed so the plane could be inspected for a bomb, thanks to me. If you have someone check with the controller’s at the Marine Corps Air Station in El Toro they will have a record of this maneuver. The time would be approximately 6:10 p.m.”

“John, did you get all that down?”

Dean nodded. “Yes sir.”

“Look into the incident,” demanded Nixon.

“How do you expect us to believe this nonsense?” Dean said.

“Because I’ve already ‘viewed’ these events. I was able to ‘view’ the collision and stopped it. I promise you each one of these events I typed on that paper will happen in the next few days and weeks. As far as I’m concerned, they’ve already happened in my life. Mr. President, I don’t mean any disrespect, but instead of facing possible impeachment by the House, you choose to resign on August 9, 1974. You’ll be disgraced from office. The only president ever to resign.”

Dean looked at me with contempt. “President Nixon resigns because of this break-in at the DNC headquarters that you mentioned to Hunt?”

“That’s right,” I said. “The irony is that you were re-elected for a second term anyway. You didn’t need any of the information you might have gotten from breaking into the DNC office.”

“Sir, I won’t stand for this!” exclaimed Dean. “This loon is implicating you in a goddamn crime!”

“Calm down, John. Just calm down dammit,” Nixon said, holding up his hand to silence him.

“And what information is that?” Dean asked skeptically.

“Mr. President, in July you will authorize the creation of a ‘special investigations unit,’ later nicknamed the ‘Plumbers,’ to root out and seal media leaks. Its members will also be involved in several illegal activities working for the Committee to Re-elect the President, including the Watergate break-in I mentioned earlier. Hunt, Colson, and Liddy are part of this group. Their intention is to bug DNC Chairman Larry O’Brien’s office so they can listen in on his phone conversations and find out what tactics they plan to use against you before the election. There are also documents in his safe that have a lot of information on your illicit dealings with Howard Hughes that have never been released and could prove to be extremely embarrassing to you.”

Dean looked at Nixon. “Mr. President, do you have any knowledge of this?”

“I have had some preliminary conversations with Haldeman about such a unit, yes but—but certainly not anyone breaking into the DNC.”

“Sir, I have to advise you—”

“Not now, John!” Nixon hollered.

“You can’t let them go forward with this break-in at the DNC,” I said. “The fatal mistake you make, which will eventually lead to your resignation, is covering up that you or your staff had knowledge of these operations and stonewalling inquiries made by the FBI, a special prosecutor, and Congress. Mr. President, I also know that you have a voice-activated tape recorder in the oval office and secretly tape phone conversations. I can also tell you that two Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, will expose the scandal based on information from a highly placed, secret FBI informant.”

An awkward silence filled the living room.

Then Dean said, “Mr. President, he could have overheard this in some bar for all we know.”

Nixon sighed. “I don’t think so, John. Not even you know I have a hidden recorder.”

“Now that you know what’s going to happen during the next two years, you have the ability to save your presidency,” I said.

Nixon looked me straight in the eye. “Mr. Goldberg, if what you say is true, then I would like you to come to Washington as a special advisor.”

“Mr. President, I would like to do that as long as Laureen and I can finish the semester. I can come at the end of the month. Would that be acceptable?”

“Yes, that would be fine.”

“May I keep this list?” asked Nixon.

“Yes, I have another copy. I assume this will be kept in the strictest confidence, Mr. President?”

“It won’t go beyond my eyes. Right, John?”

Dean nodded. Then he wrote something on the pad and handed it to me. It was a phone number. “You’ll have direct access to me.”

“Can you arrange accommodations for us?”

“No problem,” said Dean.

They both got up. “Thank you, Mr. Goldberg,” Nixon said, shaking my hand. He turned and walked out the door.

I grabbed Dean by the arm. “They’re all going to get convicted and go to prison—including you.”

He didn’t respond.

After they drove off I said, “Well, Laureen, if you ever had any doubts about what I told you, I think this proves it.”

“I can’t believe this is really happening. But why did you make up that stuff about remote viewing?

“Because—Well, just imagine if they knew I was really a time traveler.”

“They’d lock you up.”

“No. I think maybe they’d use me to defeat all their enemies, or conquer the world, or something even worse.”

“Do you think they believed you?”

“What choice do they have? I guess we’re about to change history.”

 

CHAPTER 56

 

 

 

Our Wedding Day, May 20^th^ 1972, 11 a.m.:

 

Our wedding ceremony was scheduled at four o’clock in front of the windmill. We got up and had a light breakfast. We kept it small, inviting only twenty-one guests. Jacob was my best man, and Hilary was Laureen’s bridesmaid. My father insisted on paying for the wedding. The reception was held afterward at John Duck’s Restaurant.

This year had gone by faster than the first 1971-72. Even if we didn’t get married, it was worth giving up the last few years of my life in 2043. I had nothing there anyway. Everyone I knew was dead except for my nephew Daniel. His mom and dad were getting married next weekend.

While in the bedroom, getting on our clothing for the ceremony, I sat Laureen on the bed, took her hand, and looked her in the eye.

“You’re sure you want to go through with this?” I asked.

“Why do you keep asking me that?”

“I guess I’m afraid you might change your mind,” I said.

“More than anything in the world. I want you—I want us to be happy.”

“Spending these last twelve months with you again made me happy.”

“I wish you had told me the truth in the beginning. There were times I treated you so mean.”

“It’s okay. You didn’t know. Believe me, I wanted to tell you but I was so afraid you’d think I was crazy. Also, I wasn’t sure if I could change anything. I had even been warned before I left not to change any events in my past. When I did make some changes, like the two of us going back to Hana last summer, I had to make sure something terrible didn’t happen. So far nothing bad has happened—as far as I know.”

“I think I understand your dilemma,” she said.

“Sometimes I wonder what our lives would have been like had we gotten married the first time. When you’re twenty years old you think you have all the time in the world, but you really don’t. I even had this fantasy that one day we might get back together. I used to check on the Internet that I told you about, to see if you had become a widow.”

“And if I did, what would you have done?”

“I don’t know, but I don’t think I could have left Inez.”

“I wouldn’t have let you,” she said. “I’m glad that you found someone to love you.”

“You would’ve liked her. She had many of the same qualities I love about you.”

She thought for a second. “I was wondering—did you ever think about going back to a different time in your past?”

I was surprised she asked me that. “Yes. I thought about going back to when I first met Inez in 1979.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“We had been married forty-nine years. We had our time together. You and I only had those four years. I figured it out—we had about 1350 days together. I also thought about going back to 1974 when we started drifting apart, even back to June fifth, when you flew back to Hana for good, but I didn’t know what would happen. I knew that if I came back to 1971, we were going to spend the next year living together. Even if nothing changed, I would still have this time with you again.”

“Things are beginning to make sense to me now,” she said.

“What do you mean?”

“The day we came to look at this house. You already knew where it was, because we lived here in your past. And you did call me Inez.”

“I couldn’t believe I did that. I guess it was a subconscious slip of the tongue.”

“Do you miss Inez?”

“I won’t lie to you. I still love her and miss her even now. It was very strange, because I loved her and a part of me always loved you, too. It tore me apart. I was living in two different worlds, the present and the past. I could never seem to let you go. I even kept the all letters you wrote me in 1972 and 1974.”

“Maybe you should have destroyed them.”

“I couldn’t. I just packed all your letters and photos into a box.”

“What did I write to you about?”

“You went back to Hana for the summer in 1972 and 1974. You wrote me about what you were doing, and how much you missed me, but by 1974 we had starting drifting apart. I think you had already decided not to come back to Southampton. I should have never have let you go. I should have gone with you to Hana.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“I told you. I wanted to be free so I could experience other women. I still loved you, but I thought we both needed some space. I never thought that you would meet someone else right away, or maybe I just didn’t care anymore. Also, I wasn’t ready to settle down yet. I found out too late that having sex with someone you don’t love is meaningless.”

“You have to forgive yourself,” she said.

“I never could forgive myself for letting you go. I regretted that my entire life. You were the only person who ever touched my soul. When I put you on the plane on June 5,1974, I felt glad to be free so I could fool around. Then after a year and a half, I finally realized how much I really loved you and missed you, but by then it was too late. After I found out you died, I needed to go to a therapist to help me deal with my grief. She wanted me to destroy all the photos and letters but I just couldn’t do that. Then she suggested I write a goodbye letter to you. It took me four days to write. It was gut wrenching. I cried the entire time I was writing it, and even when I read it years later.”

“Maybe I shouldn’t know about all this.”

“I want you to know what’s in my heart. One of the regrets I have about the first time was that I didn’t share those thoughts and feelings with you. I always kept my feelings inside. I blamed you because we broke up. For thirty-five years, I held that anger inside of me. While I was writing that goodbye letter in 2010, I came to a realization. I came across a poem you wrote in your writing class in 1971. Here, this one—” I took her composition book from the shelf and opened it to the poem.

 

For Jeffrey

IF

 

If you want to leave me

Go, don’t hesitate.

Don’t think of hurting me.

For the sorrows of your parting,

Will be like thorns piercing my body.

But do it now, leave me.

For as time is delayed,

The thorns grow much sharper.

And the wounds that they leave

Will be much deeper.

 

If you want to leave me,

Go. I shall cry but it will be better.

For the tears that I shed

Are only water to cleanse my wounds.

And after I cry,

My wounds will be clean.

And then it will soon be healed,

Leaving hidden scars, which in time will be forgotten.

 

If you want to leave me,

Go. For as you close the door behind you,

I will remember the times,

Which we were able to share.

Yes, that once you were here with me.

And we laughed together.

We played together.

We made love together.

We cried together.

We talked together.

We sat in solitude together.

We worked together.

And that we were together.

 

If you want to leave,

Go. For when I see you

Flying free among the trees like a caged bird set free,

Gliding in the wind,

I will be happy because you are free.

So, as you can see,

If you want to leave me,

Then go be free

From me.

Let it be.

For this way we will be happy together.

Not separately.

 

“I remember writing that poem last year,” she said.

“Now after all these years, I finally understood what happened to us,” I said. “I’m the one who left you. I left you to be ‘free.’ I left you the day I put you on the plane to go home, June 5, 1974. You didn’t leave me. How could I let you go after you gave me all the love in your heart? This poem was really a premonition on how our relationship would end.”

“Jeffrey, maybe it was meant to be that way?”

“I don’t believe in meant to be. We’re not born with everything that’s going to happen to us in our lives written in stone. I believe in free will. I made a bad decision, or series of bad decisions, because that’s who I was then. I was very immature and I had these compulsions I couldn’t control. If I had made different decisions, things might have worked out differently. If I could have one day of my life back, it would be June 5, 1974. I should have packed my bags that morning and gone with you. If I had gone back to Hana with you, maybe we would have stayed together. If I had been a more mature, stable person, then maybe we would have gotten married. But I can’t change the person I was back then.”

“But you have changed. You got a second chance. Let the past go. I promised I would never leave you again. Now I understand what Jabob meant when he said I really don’t know how much you love me. Today you will be my husband.”

“And today you will be my wife.”

“I want you to promise me something, Jeffrey. Please—please don’t tell me about my future.”

“Why?”

“I don’t want to know about next year, or next month, or what’s gonna happen an hour from now. I can’t live like that.”

“I promise.”

“I’m glad you came back to me again. It’s getting late. Let’s take a shower together and get ready.”

We got up and embraced each other.

She took me by the hand and led me into the bathroom to shower.

“Part your hair on the side for me,” I said.

“Okay.”

 

*****

 

We drove to the college around four o’clock. Hilary was already at the windmill to help Laureen get into the Hawaiian wedding gown her mother brought. Jacob arrived soon after and I gave him our wedding rings.

“I never thanked you for taking care of Laureen during that incident last month with Linda. I really screwed up.”

He smiled. “Jeffrey, my friend, I just tried to help her understand that she still loved you and you loved her. That love you have for each other was very precious.”

“Well, this wedding wouldn’t be happening now if it wasn’t for you.”

“Just love and honor her with all your heart and soul.”

“I will.”

Guests began arriving. My parents arrived along with Grandma, Norman, and Judy. Then Laureen’s parents arrived. They brought leis from Hana for us. Her mom placed one around my neck and hugged me. We introduced them to my family. Finally, Dr. Gormley arrived and we introduced him to everyone.

We wanted a simple ceremony. I placed the gold wedding band around Laureen’s finger and she placed one around mine. Dr. Gormley pronounced us man and wife, and then we kissed. Both our mothers cried.

Then I just waited and held my breath, admiring my beautiful Hawaiian bride. Once again, I had changed the past. I changed our lives in a major way and the universe was still here. All those years of regrets seemed to flow from my body. The old Jeffrey was finally at peace.

Later at the reception, my brother Norman toasted to our happiness, and Laureen’s father offered a toast, welcoming me into their family.

We arrived home around ten o’clock, joyously exhausted. I had bought Laureen a little wedding present that I hid in the desk drawer. It was in a thin square box wrapped in wedding paper.

When I gave it to her, she was surprised. “I didn’t know we were getting wedding gifts for each other.”

She opened the little box and removed the 45 record. It was Johnny Mathis’ recording “The Twelfth of Never.”

“I just want you to know what’s in my heart. Today fulfilled the dream of two lifetimes.”

“That’s very sweet. Play it for us.”

I put the record on to play continuously.

“May I have this dance, Mrs. Laureen Goldberg?”

“That’s Mrs. Laureen Tanaka-Goldberg.”

“Excuse me. Mrs. Laureen Tanaka-Goldberg. Well, at least I don’t have to refer to you as Ms anymore.”

I held her closely in my arms. She rested her head on my shoulder as we danced.

After the record played several times, I turned it off. She took me by the hand and sat me on the couch.

“Jeffrey, my handsome husband, I know how much you tormented yourself all those years about leaving me and how you came to Hana when it was too late. I married you today because I love you, and I want us to be together always. Now, I want you to forgive yourself and have some peace.”

I looked into her soft, seductive, beautiful, brown eyes. “Yes, after today I’m finally at peace.”

“I am your wife now. I want you to make love to me.” I took her hand and we went into the bedroom. “Put the record on again.”

We undressed. I caressed her long hair with my fingers and stroked her soft naked back.

“It was a beautiful wedding,” she said.

“Yes, it was.”

I kissed her all over, enjoying her moans. Later, I cuddled up tightly next to her, with my right arm under hers, placed my hand between her breasts, and fell peacefully asleep.

 

CHAPTER 57

 

 

 

June 3, 1972:

 

Laureen and I finished the spring semester. She enrolled in a summer school class and on June second, I drove to Washington D.C. I met Nixon privately in the Oval Office without John Dean this time, as I had requested. I was very nervous about having a one-on-one with the President of the United States, but I was resolute in what I had to do. Having met him just last month when he and Dean visited us in Hampton Bays, I wasn’t at all intimated.

When I arrived and was announced, Nixon cordially greeted me at the door. He wore a dark blue pin-striped suit, white shirt, and a red tie embroidered with the American flag, his wavy hair combed back. The room was impressive. The walls were painted a creamy white, and a very large plaster medallion of the Presidential Seal adorned the ceiling. Numerous flags were positioned around the entire room.

“Good to see you again, Mr. Goldberg. I was apprehensive that you might not show up,” he said, inviting me to sit in a gold-colored upholstered armchair on the other side of his desk. Nixon turned and sat down in a swivel chair behind a massive dark wood stained desk that was completely empty except for a phone, pen, and yellow legal pad. “Would you like some coffee, or tea, a soda perhaps?” he asked congenially.

“No, thank you, I just had breakfast. Mr. President, you might want to shut off that recording device. Those things have a way of coming back to haunt you.”

“I forget it’s even running,” he said with a wry grin. He looked down and turned off a switch under his desk. “Congratulations on your marriage to Laureen. She’s a very lovely young lady.”

“Thank you, Mr. President.”

Behind him were three massive floor-to-ceiling windows with gold-colored drapes and valance. On the table in front of the windows stood two matching lamps, a photo of first lady Pat with their daughters, Julie and Tricia, and in the center of the table stood a large bronze bust of Abraham Lincoln.

“Mr. President, do you have any doubts now about my “remote viewing” abilities?”

“You convinced me. Every event on that list you gave me happened just as you said it would.”

“That’s good, because I intend to save you and your Presidency from impeachment and disgrace.”

“Sounds like they finally found a way to get me.”

“Well, before I get into that, here is what I would like from you,” I said.

“I’m listening,” he said, gazing at me intently.

I leaned closer to him. “I would like a salary of four million dollars, Mr. President. Not all at once, but a million dollars a year over the next four remaining years of your term in office. In return, I will advise you on future events I have ‘viewed’ that will occur during this time.”

He looked at me with astonishment, taking several moments to ponder what I said.

I turned my head to break his stare, absorbing the magnificence of the Oval Office. A deep blue carpet covered the entire floor, rimmed with stars inlaid along the edges. A large presidential seal, also surrounded by stars, was inlaid in the center of the room.

When I turned back to face him, his body had stiffened and his complexion turned red. “That’s a lot of money. I didn’t expect you to blackmail me, Mr. Goldberg.”

“I don’t think its blackmail, Mr. President. After all, I have knowledge that no one else in the world has about the future. There are a great many things you wish to accomplish for the nation and the world. Instead of leaving a legacy of disgrace, you can be re-elected and fulfill you term in office as one of the great presidents of the twentieth century.”

I could tell I hit a nerve. He smiled gently. “If I agree to your terms, will you remain here in Washington?”

“No. I want to go back and finish my degree at Southampton. You can contact me any time, and I will come here whenever you find it necessary. I’m at your disposal.”

“I guess that’s fair. I’ll have Dean make the arrangements,” he said. “It’ll have to go through the ‘black ops’ accounts.”

“Thank you, Mr. President. Now let’s begin with this DNC operation. You need to have Liddy and Magruder scrap the entire plan. The burglars will get caught during the break-in, which will result in a very nasty investigation. After two years of wrangling with special prosecutors and Congress, you’ll be threatened with impeachment and eventually resign. The risk of proceeding is far too great. I can assure you that you will be elected for a second term later this year anyway.”

“So what you’re telling me is that if there is no DNC break-in, then I will be re-elected and will serve out the entire four years.”

“That’s correct. I would suggest that you have a meeting with your Re-election Committee staff and make it very clear to them that the operation is dead. With all due respect, I have to advise you to conduct your presidency without employing any of these dirty tricks. If one of your staff recommends some action that is illegal or questionable at best, fire them immediately. You don’t need people like Liddy and McCord on your payroll.”

“I’ll have to think about that. You don’t understand—it’s how politics works,” he said. “In this town everyone is out to get you, even people in my own party.”

The phone rang and he excused himself to answer it. I got up and walked over to the massive fireplace that graced the wall at the north end of the room. Two large beige-colored couches were near the fireplace facing each other across the room from Nixon’s desk. Two ottomans stood directly in front of the fireplace. I was admiring the painting of George Washington that hung above the fireplace mantel when he hung up the phone and said, “That was Pat. Sorry about the interruption.”

“Another thing Mr. President, you shouldn’t be so damn paranoid. That’s a flaw in your personality that you need to control. Not everyone is out to get you. As a matter of fact sometimes your friends, like Attorney General Mitchell, who are willing to engage in illegal activities for your benefit, can prove more harmful than your enemies.”

“Uh…you’re a very astute young man. Pat has been telling me that very same thing for years,” he said, letting out a loud laugh.

“I’ve prepared a list of the events that will occur for the remainder of 1972. I trust that having this knowledge will help you make the best decisions for the country,” I said, handing him the envelope. “But before you open it, I have to warn you. Don’t be tempted to intervene. Even though I’m forewarning you about the Watergate Scandal, you shouldn’t try to prevent tragedies from taking place, no matter how many people might die, or try to influence social or political events from occurring, even if they are contrary to your beliefs or detrimental to the country.”

“But what about preventing this break-in at the DNC then?” he asked.

“I think saving your presidency from disgrace is a risk worth taking. Don’t you agree?”

“Of course.”

He opened an envelope and browsed through the list of events, jotting down some notes on the yellow pad. As he wrote, I briefly turned to my right and noticed a large stunning photo of the earth taken from the moon that hung on the wall above a large sofa table near the Rose Garden windows.

“That’s a beautiful photo, Mr. President.”

“Yes. It was a gift from the Apollo 11 astronauts. It helps me put things in perspective. You know how far mankind has—Good Lord! ‘Arab Terrorists murder eleven Israel athletes at the Olympic games on September 6.’ Those fuckin’ bastards. We have to stop it!” he said, angrily pounding his fist on the desk.

“We can’t and we shouldn’t, Mr. President. This is exactly why I don’t share this knowledge with anyone. ‘Remote Viewing’ can be extremely dangerous if it gets into the wrong hands. The truth is I don’t know what the long-term effects would be if we meddled with these events I’ve ‘viewed.’ It’s very possible we could actually make things worse. In this case, perhaps precipitate a Middle-East war. There very well might be a higher purpose in the universe as to why these events happen that we can’t possibly know or understand.”

“No, no we can’t have that. You drive a hard bargain, Mr. Goldberg.”

“One last piece of business, Mr. President. You need to dump Agnew from the ticket immediately, before the GOP convention in August.”

“And why should I do that?” he asked indignantly.

“Because Agnew, at this very moment, is under investigation by the United States Attorney’s office in Baltimore on charges of extortion, tax fraud, bribery, and conspiracy. In October, he will formally be charged with having accepted bribes and resign from office. If you want to save yourself the embarrassment, then do what I recommend and let the GOP know you’re not going to put him back on the ticket.”

“Right, well you’ve made your point. We’ll have to let the Party dump him. Frankly, he’s not my kind of person, but I’ll have to appear to defend him. That’s what people expect me to do. Don’t you think?

“Sure. I’m just telling you what will happen, but ultimately the choice is yours. You might want to think about replacing him with Gerald Ford.”

“So far everything you’ve told me has been accurate. I guess I’ll have to take you word on this, too. But why Jerry Ford?”

“He’s well-liked and respected by both parties. This business with Agnew is going to get ugly. Ford as your VP will help calm things down. Now I will leave you to this business of the nation, Mr. President.”

I got up and we shook hands.

“When will you be back to Washington?” he asked.

“Why don’t I come back during winter break, after you’ve been re-elected, unless you need to see me before then? At that time, I think we should discuss how to put my knowledge of the future to use for the good of the country. I have some ideas I want to run by you.”

He escorted me to the door. “That should be very intriguing.”

“Oh, by the way, you’ll win by a landslide.”

 

CHAPTER 58

 

 

 

Hana, June 1974:

 

Laureen graduated Southampton in May after completing her student teaching. Her parents flew out from Hana to attend the ceremony and stayed for the entire week. They were so proud of her. When they came for our wedding they couldn’t stay too long, so this time we took them all over New York City. Then in June we flew to Hana for the summer after packing up all our belongings and storing them in my father’s office.

We celebrated our second wedding anniversary by renewing our vows in front of Laureen’s family and friends at the Hotel Hana Maui. I’d noticed a very positive change in our relationship soon after we married. I attributed this to the fact that we had finally made a commitment to each other, something we never did the first time. All of the petty, never-ending arguments and childish bickering seemed to just disappear. I also knew I had to control my compulsive sexual behavior and I openly discussed it with Laureen. She agreed to be helpful and supportive, so I discarded all the porn magazines and went for counseling to control my sexual compulsions.

One afternoon, while Laureen was helping her dad at the papaya plantation, I needed to pick up some things at Hasegawa’s General Store. Just as I was leaving the store with an armful of groceries, I ran right into Mark Sanders. He was wearing a khaki-colored park ranger uniform with the wide brimmed hat.

His large, imposing body stood in front of me, blocking my way. “Aren’t you the guy that I took the gun away from a few years ago?”

“Uh, uh…”

“You gave me some cockin’ bull story about traveling back in time and how you wanted to kill me.”

“Uh, I don’t remember that. I must have been high on pot.”

The bag of groceries flew out of my arms, as he pulled me by the collar over to his car. “You fuckin’ bastard, I got busted for that pot that you ditched in my car.”

“Hey, I’m really sorry, but I was a pothead then.”

“Lucky for you the Hana police let me go when I explained what happened.”

“Look, I’ve been clean for a couple of years now.”

“I should have just killed you right then and there when I had the chance,” he said. “No one would have been the wiser.”

“Well, uhhh…”

“I heard you married Laureen Tanaka,” he said, his voice calmer, letting go of my collar.

“Yeah, we got married two years ago.”

“What was that bullshit that I stole her from you and married her and we had two children?”

“Hey, I was fucking delusional and paranoid from smoking so much pot.”

“So I was right. You were growin’ a weed patch in the park?”

“Yeah, but not to sell, just for myself, that was potent stuff, too.”

“Then what was the gun for?”

“Uh, just in case someone tried to rob me. Like I said, I was paranoid. I didn’t mean to get you in trouble.”

“Jeez. That was the craziest thing I ever heard about how you came back from the future to prevent me from marrying your freakin’ girlfriend.”

“Well, those drugs can really fuck up your mind.”

“I guess so. You’re not acting weird now, though.”

“I told you I’ve been clean for two years. Laureen said if I didn’t get off the drugs she would leave me so I went into rehab.”

“Well, everyone in Hana knows Mr. Tanaka. He’s a real hard worker and so is Mrs. Tanaka—their nice people.”

“Yes, they’re a wonderful family.”

“Hey dude, sorry about the groceries,” he said, walking away.

“Don’t worry ’bout it.”

Someone had picked them up and left them in front of the store. In a strange way, I felt sorry for Mark. But it also got me thinking about Inez and how I would never be in her life.

 

*****

 

We returned to New York at the end of August. Now it was time to decide where we wanted to settle down. Laureen really wanted to return to Hana but that was too far for me to travel to D.C., especially if there was some emergency. We agreed on California since it was half way between both destinations. We stuffed everything that would fit in the car and along with Jolie and drove to Los Angeles, arriving just before Labor Day. We stayed in a motel near LAX while we searched for an apartment.

I liked Westwood Village from the very first time I saw it in 1977. It was still very quaint and hadn’t become commercialized yet. We drove around, looking for furnished apartments for rent and found one on Hilgard Avenue, a quiet residential street. It was a small building with apartments on two levels. Most of the renters were students attending UCLA. The only one available was a one bedroom on the second floor. The rent was two hundred and ninety-five dollars a month with utilities included. The first thing I noticed was the ugly thick brown and white shag carpeting. The kitchen was small and narrow, but the living room and bedroom were quite large. Fortunately, small pets were permitted if I paid an additional fifty-dollar security deposit. We moved in the following day. Westwood was very similar to Southampton Village. Small, one-of-a-kind shops lined by sides of Westwood Blvd. There were numerous restaurants and five bookstores.

Southern California is where I would build my real estate empire. I enrolled in some introductory courses at the UCLA extension. I recommended Laureen try to get a job at Pinecrest Schools in Van Nuys. The very place I got my teaching job in September 1977, the first time around. I told her the pay wasn’t great but it would be better than teaching at a public school. The drive took about 20 minutes depending on the traffic. They offered her a job teaching second grade. We also purchased a second car for me, a new, sporty Ford Pinto 3-Door Runabout, with the medium bright blue metallic exterior and light blue interior.

During the Christmas holidays, we drove to San Diego and stayed at the Hotel Del in Coronado for the entire week. It was the first time I had been back since I left in May 2043. Returning was very emotional but I needed to research some of the vacant land properties I would eventually be purchasing. I couldn’t help but think about Inez and wondered if she would ever have anyone in her life.

 

CHAPTER 59

 

 

 

January 15, 1974, Westwood, California:

 

Laureen was watching the ten o’clock evening news on KTLA with anchor Hal Fishman on Tuesday, January fifteenth. I sat next to her on the sofa reading an exciting book on buying vacant property. I think the sports segment was on because I heard something about the Laker game. Suddenly, they interrupted the sports and switched back to Fishman who had breaking news.

“This story just came off the AP wire,” he said. “Wichita, Kansas. The bodies of four people believed to be family members where found earlier this evening in a suburb of Wichita, according to Captain Paul Dotson of the Wichita Police Department. Preliminary details are sketchy. The victims have been identified as Joseph Otero, age 38, his wife Julie, age 34…”

Fishman paused needing to catch his breath before continuing. He was reading from a paper that was handed to him and instead of the teleprompter. “And two children ages, 9 and 11. An older child age 15 returning home from school found the bodies and notified a neighbor who called police. Investigators are stunned by what appears to be a daytime, execution style, multiple murders in such a quiet neighborhood. Investigators remain at the crime scene still combing for evidence.”

 

 

Fishman looked up from the paper into the camera. “We will continue to follow-up on this story as soon as new details become available. Now back to Keith Oberman with sports.”

“Oh my God. Oh my God,” I screamed, jumping up from the sofa startling Laureen and Jolie. “I know who killed them.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I know who killed that family.”

“How? How do you know?”

“Because I downloaded it. Wait. Let me think. The guy’s name is Dennis. That’s it. Dennis. Uh, uh, I can’t remember the last name.”

“Whaddya gonna to do?”

“I don’t know yet. Shit. I can’t remember his last name.”

“You said you down—downloaded it?

“Yeah, from my virtual pod. You see when I became eligible for the time travel program I thought it would be a good idea to have a vast knowledge of everything that took place from 1971 to 2043. Then I thought, what could be more valuable than information since I couldn’t take any object or device from my time back to the past. So I went back into the archives and transferred all that information like books, newspapers, TV broadcasts, everything, from my virtual pod into my nanomemory chip. That’s how I knew all the harness race winners.”

“Jeez, you’re freakin me out.”

“Here give me your hand.”

I took Laureen’s finger and felt for it just under my hairline near my right ear. “There. Do you feel that little bump?”

“I think so.”

“That’s where the chip had been implanted,” I said. “It was removed before I left. Then when my body morphed during time travel, the laceration must have healed, but still left that tiny scar. Anyway, I would attach a cable from the microchip to my virtual pod and the data would get transferred directly into my brain. Is this making sense?”

“Not really.”

“Okay. Let’s say you want to transfer a song from one tape recorder to another. So you put the two side by side and hook up a mic. Then you play one tape recorder and set the other on Record. It’s the same concept but instead of tape recorders we used computers and microchips and nanomemory implants. I didn’t have to read or listen to all the archives, it just got downloaded into my brain.”

“All these events that you had in your head are what you’ve been typing out.”

“Right. Mostly the important ones so I won’t forget. I thought having all this information like the race winners and the real estate developments would help me earn a living so I could concentrate on doing other things. But I also thought it might be very useful, especially if I got into a jam, if I could prove I was a time traveler.”

“That’s how you got us of out of that mess with the FBI,” exclaimed Laureen.

“Yep. And that’s how I got on Nixon’s payroll. Shit. I still can’t remember that guy’s last name.”

“Try not thinking so hard. Maybe it’ll come back to you?”

“Laureen, this guy was a serial killer. He terrorized the residents of Kansas and taunted the police and FBI for three decades. He called himself the BTK killer.”

“BTK?”

“Bind, Torture, Kill.”

“Did they ever catch him?”

“Not until 2005 after he murdered ten innocent people.”

“Can’t you call the police in Wichita?”

“And what would I tell them? I don’t even know his last name.”

“Why did he kill these people?

“I think it had to do with power and control, and fulfilling his sexual fantasies.”

“What kind of sicko kills young kids?”

“He was sick yes, but he wasn’t insane. He even led a perfectly normal life. He had a job and was married and had children of his own.”

She sighed and shook her head. “Can you take Jolie out? I gotta get to bed. I have work tomorrow.”

“I think he’s going to kill someone again soon. I’m going to have to concentrate and try to recall what I had learned about this guy.”

“Then what?”

“I don’t know?”

I took Jolie out for his walk, all the time wishing I had my virtual pod. I could tell Laureen was very anxious. It upset her whenever I talked about the future, even if it only pertained to our investments. She was adamant about not knowing about tomorrow until she actually lived it. When I came back in, I gave Jolie a treat then sat down at my typewriter.

I used the technique I’d been taught by Dr. Charles Matz during one of my writing classes. He called it automatic writing. He described it as writing automatically without thinking about what you will write. The technique was used in various forms of therapy and in writer’s workshops around the world in which the writing material doesn’t come from the conscious thoughts of the writer. The writer’s hand forms the message, and the person is unaware of what will be written. It involves opening oneself up to not only one’s own subconscious but also to spiritual beings and entities who might have some positive information and wisdoms to share. Although I was skeptical about the spiritual beings and entities, I tried to keep an open mind.

Dr. Matz had developed a series of exercises to help aspiring writers become more proficient with automatic writing. My problem with writing was that I was always very critical of what I wrote down on paper, even so far as censuring the thought when still in my mind. I had mixed results with automatic writing, but I lit up my pipe to relax and started typing, hoping to come up with the killer’s last name. After writing what I thought was a bunch of nonsense for over an hour, I was stunned by what I found on the page…

 

John Wayne Gacy

William Bonin

Richard Ramirez

Ted Bundy

David Berkowitz

Jeffrey Dahmer

Charles Ng

Angelo Buono/Kenneth Bianchi

 

What was my subconscious mind trying to tell me? These were all serial killers who had murdered and tortured dozens and dozens of innocent people, including children, during the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s in different parts of the country. I had remembered their last names but not the BTK killer’s. I took the paper out of the typewriter and hid it inside The Man Who Folded Himself.

Exhausted, I went to bed.

 

CHAPTER 60

 

 

 

January 16, 1974:

 

In the morning, after Laureen had gone to work, I found the Los Angeles Times still inside its plastic bag on the kitchen table. I opened the paper and found the article in the National News Section. It was basically the same story that was on the evening news, except for a few more sketchy details…

 

Joseph, 38, was found lying face down on the floor at the foot of his bed. His wrists and ankles had been bound. His wife, Julie, 34, lay on the bed, bound in similar fashion. Nine-year-old Joseph II was found in his bedroom lying face down on the floor at the foot of his bed. His wrists and ankles were also bound. Downstairs in the basement, Josephine, 11, was discovered hanging by her neck from a pipe. Police have been very cautious about revealing the details of the murders. What they did say was that all four of the victims had been strangled.

 

Frustrated, I still couldn’t remember the killer’s last name, even after going through every letter of the alphabet. But I did recall one extremely pertinent bit of information. The killer had worked for a local security company installing alarms.

I quickly dressed and took Jolie out for a quick walk. Then I drove over to the library in Brentwood on San Vicente Boulevard. That was the largest public library outside of the main library downtown. In the time before computers, most large libraries kept the yellow and whites pages from the major metropolitan areas of the country. I found the yellow pages for Wichita but it was the 1972 edition. I searched first under Alarms but there were no listings. Then I searched under Security Services & Systems and found two pages of listings. There was also sub-listing under Burglar Alarm Systems.

I looked around to see if any library staff was close by before quietly removing those pages, then folded them up and stuffed them into my jeans. When I got back to the apartment, I spread all the pages out on the kitchen table. There appeared to be a lot of duplicate listings but after going through all of them, I didn’t recognize the one where he’d been employed. I picked up the phone and dialed the first listing, A-American Home Security. A woman answered. I asked to speak to Dennis but she said there was no one there by that name. The second listing was ADEX, same result. Third listing Accurate Security Pros also had no Dennis employed. Fourth listing was ADT Alarm Monitoring and Home Security. A woman answered, “Good afternoon ADT.”

“Can I speak to Dennis please?”

“You’ve reached the answering service. Everyone’s out in the field.”

“I’ll try back later.”

“Can I take a message?”

I hung up. I called all the other listings in both sections but still no Dennis. It was one o’clock here and three in Wichita. I made some lunch and took Jolie out for another walk. I tried calling ADT at two but the answering service picked up again. I called again at four p.m. This time a man answered.

“ADT.”

I hesitated. If this were him what would I say?

“ADT.”

“Uh…can I speak with Dennis?”

“He’s still in the field. Can I help you?”

“Well, a…my neighbor said he installed an alarm system in their house. I like to get that same one installed.”

“Okay, what’s your number?”

“I’m not calling from home right now. I’ll call back tomorrow. They didn’t give me his last name.”

“Rader. Ask for Dennis Rader.”

“Thanks.”

That was it! Dennis Rader. I was ecstatic and congratulated myself for some exemplary detective work. But if I had hoped getting his last name would unlock more details about him or his crimes I was mistaken.

It occurred to me that I had written down the results of fifty-two weeks of harness race winners as soon I had arrived back in 1971. I wondered if the problem I was now having, recalling details of events that I had downloaded, was because the information had been erased from my memory. It was possible that only a remnant of the nanomemory chip still existed in my brain after the morphing. But that data should still be in my subconscious. So how could I access it? I got the LA yellow pages out from the closet and looked under Hypnotherapists. Just as quickly I slammed the book shut deflated, realizing I had no idea how I would explain to one of them the help I needed. I couldn’t just walk into their office and say I’m trying to remember things about a serial killer that will happen in the future.

Jolie started barking and running around, indicating that Laureen was coming down the hall from the elevator. I opened the door and he ran to greet her. I kissed her. “I got it. I got his last name. Dennis Rader.”

“So what are you going to do?” she said, not appearing too impressed.

“I haven’t figured that out just yet.”

“Jeffrey, I’ve been thinking about this all day. This guy is very dangerous. I don’t want you to get involved.”

“I understand how you feel but I can’t do nothing.”

“Why can’t you go to the police?”

“And tell them what? I don’t have any proof.”

“It is possible he’s not even the killer?” She asked.

“I guess it’s possible but…so far everything else from the past up till now has happened.”

“No, not everything. Remember we broke up about now according to what you told me,” she said

“That’s because I changed some things.”

“How do you know something didn’t get changed with him?”

“I guess I don’t.”

“Okay, then let the police handle it.”

“What if I can get proof it was him?”

“I want you to do something for me. Call the Wichita police tomorrow and tell them what you know. Can you do that?”

“All I know right now is his name and where he works.”

“That’s more than they have to go on now. Please.”

“All right.”

“Thank you. This has been stressing me out all day. I even yelled at my class today which I’ve never done before.”

I was right about not showing her the automatic writing from last night. She’d really get pissed. This was something I had to do on my own. After Laureen had gone to bed and I had taken Jolie out for his evening romp, I sat in front of the typewriter and made another attempt at automatic writing. All I got tonight was gibberish. Except for three words. I almost missed it because in between the self and hypnosis was the word induced. That was the answer—self-hypnosis.

Next morning I walked over to Brentano’s on Le Conte the largest of the five bookstores in Westwood. I went over to the self-help section looking for books on self-hypnosis. I found three books: The New Self-Hypnosis by Paul Adams, Methods and Uses of Hypnosis & Self-Hypnosis by Bernard Hollander, and Self-Hypnosis by Laurance Sparks.

After purchasing the books, I went to the back of the store to the public phone near the restrooms. I dialed 411 and got Rader’s phone and address, then I asked for the number of the Wichita Police. Several customers entered the restrooms so I waited until they left. I didn’t want anyone to overhear my conversation. Then I dialed the police and an Officer Greiner answered.

“I have some information about the Otero murders.”

“Hold on please, I’ll transfer you.”

“Homicide. Lieutenant Dotson.”

“I have some information about the Otero murders.”

“Can I get your name?”

“The killer is Dennis Rader. He works for ADT. He lives in Park City at 6220 N. Independence Street.”

“How do—”

“His last name is Rader. R. A. D. E. R.”

 

*****

 

Laureen wanted to know what was up with the books. So I explained that I was having difficulty remembering facts about events that I had downloaded to my brain but had never written down. She seemed to accept my explanation. I knew that if this marriage were going to work, I would need to keep certain things from her about the past and the future, if only for her own piece of mind.

I waited anxiously, watching TV and scouring the Times for news that the Wichita Police had found the killer and arrested Rader. But there was nothing. Something Laureen said continued to plague me. What if it wasn’t Rader who committed the murders?

In the meantime, I had read all three books and started to implement some of the self-hypnosis exercises and techniques. Much of it involved relaxing my mind and body through deep breathing exercises. After proper relaxation, I would start giving myself the suggestion repeatedly, that I would recall all the facts I had once remembered about Dennis Rader. Then I would get up from the couch and sit at the typewriter. Each day that I practiced the exercises it was easier for me to relax. I also became more proficient at automatic writing. One positive result of all this was that I quickly noticed was that my inner critic seemed to have retreated.

After about two weeks, and almost a hundred pages of gobbledygook, I became very frustrated. I decided to take a break and give my mind a few days to rest. What was once a sensational news story about the Otero family murders all but disappeared. The libraries didn’t carry the Wichita Eagle, that city’s largest paper, so each day I drove over to the newsstand on La Cienega Blvd to get it. What became of the tip I phoned in? Rader didn’t exactly match the profile of a sadistic killer. After all, he had a good job and was married. He would also have no apparent motive for killing this family.

I knew there was information lodged in my self-conscious mind that would help stop Rader, one way or another. One fact I did remember about BTK is that he spread his murders out over a long period of time. He got part of his thrill from stalking his victims. That meant I had some time but I didn’t know how much.

 

CHAPTER 61

 

 

 

February – March 1974:

 

One month after the murders, the Eagle ran a follow-up story hoping the public would provide the police with more tips. The City of Wichita, including relatives and friends of the Otero’s, offered a reward of ten thousand dollars for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer or killers. It seemed the police had very little in the way of clues or motives. Police Chief Floyd Hannon told the Wichita Eagle: The way in which family members were slain indicates a fetish on the part of the assailant. But there were also nagging details about the case that the police didn’t want to discuss. The article did mention that three individuals were questioned for the Otero murders. Was one of them Dennis Rader?

Late that night, after inducing self-hypnosis, I sat at my typewriter. I’d manage to write only two paragraphs, mostly mumbo jumbo. Except one word stood out—semen. Bingo! That was the fetish. That’s what the police didn’t want to discuss about the case. Semen had been found throughout the house, and it appeared as though the killer had masturbated on some of the victims, although none had been sexually assaulted. Sure, the police collected his semen at the crime scene but forensic DNA analysis wouldn’t exist for decades. How could I prove with one hundred percent certainty it was him? And if I could prove it what would I do then? There was still this nagging feeling in my gut that time was running out.

The floodgates to my sub-conscious mind had been opened and, throughout February and March, fragments of information about the BTK killer began to emerge from deep within my psyche. Much like the infamous Zodiac Killer in San Francisco, Rader sent taunting letters to the newspapers and police demanding media attention. He suggested a number of possible names for himself, including the one that stuck—BTK. After the Otero murders he killed six more women between 1974 and 1991. In the meantime, he and wife Paula raised two children and he continued to work for ADT until 1988. Rader was a member of Christ Lutheran Church and had even been elected president of the Congregation Council. He was also a Cub Scout leader. Still, all of this information about him wouldn’t help prove anything at this point in time.

One evening in late March, after Laureen had gone to bed and Jolie had been taken for his walk, I lay on the couch and within only a few minutes achieved a state of deep relaxation unlike any other episode since I first started inducing self-hypnosis. Suddenly, I found myself leaving my body—floating…telling myself I was safe…floating…

I hovered above a courtroom on Monday June 27, 2005, officials and family members of BTK’s victims had gathered in Sedgwick County, Kansas Courthouse for what was supposed to be the start of Dennis Rader’s trial, the suspected BTK killer. But instead of jury selection and opening arguments, those at the courthouse witnessed Rader plead guilty to all ten counts of murder and then matter-of-factly describe in grisly detail how he had committed the murders.

 

 

As I watched Rader describe Kathryn Bright’s murder, I moved my physical body from the couch to the dining room table and began typing…

 

*****

 

Judge Gregory Waller: All right Mr. Rader we will now turn to count five. In that count, it is claimed that on or about the 4th day of April, 1974, in Sedgwick County Kansas, that you unlawfully killed Kathryn Bright, maliciously, willfully, deliberately, and with premeditation by strangulation, stabbing, and inflicting injuries from which she died on April 4th, 1974. Can you tell me what occurred on that day?

Dennis Rader: Well, the uh, I don’t know how to exactly say that—I had many, what I called them, projects. They were different people in the town that I followed, watched. Kathryn Bright was one of the next targets I guess that I would indicate.

Judge: How did you select her?

Rader: Just driving by one day and I saw her going into the house with somebody else and I thought ‘that’s a possibility.’ There were many places in the area, College Hill, they’re all over Wichita but anyway, it’s just a selection process. I worked toward it. If it didn’t work, I just moved on to something else. But in my selection process, stalking and trolling, you go through the trolling stage and then a stalking stage. She was in the stalking stage when this happened.

Judge: All right sir, so you identified Kathryn Bright as a potential victim?

Rader: Yes, sir.

Judge: What did you do then here in Sedgwick County?

Rader: On this particular day?

Judge: Yes.

Rader: I broke into the house and waited for her to come home.

Judge: How did you break into the house?

Rader: Through the back door—east side.

Judge: All right, so you waited for her to come home? Where did you wait?

Rader: In the house. Probably close to the bedroom. I was trying to figure out where I’d be if they came through.

Judge: All right. What happened then?

Rader: She and Kevin Bright came in. It was about 2pm. I wasn’t expecting him to be there. Come to find out, I guess, they were related. At the time I approached them and told them I was wanted in California and needed a car basically the same thing I told the Otero’skind of eased them to make them feel better. And proceeded to…I think I had him tie her up first and then I tied him up or vice versa. I don’t remember right now.

Judge: Let me ask you. You indicated that you had some items to tie these people with. Did you bring these items to the Oteros’ and to this location?

Rader: The Otero’s I did. I’m not really sure on the Bright’s. There was some—when I was working with the police—there was some controversy on that. Probably—more likely I did not. If I had brought my stuff, used my stuff, Kevin would probably be dead today. I’m not bragging on that, it’s just a matter of fact. The bonds I tie can’t be broken. It may be the same way with Katherine. It just got out of hand.

Judge: All right now, you indicated that you believed that you had Kevin tie Katherine up. Tell me what happened.

Rader: Okay. Well, I really can’t remember, judge, whether I had him tie her or if Kathryn tied him up. Anyways, I moved her to another bedroom and he was already secure there by the bed. I tied his feet to the bedposts so he couldn’t run. I kind of tied her in the other bedroom and then I came back to strangle him and at that time we had a fight.

Judge: Were you armed with a handgun at that time also?

Rader: Yes, I had a gun.

Judge: What happened at that time?

Rader: Actually, I had two handguns. Well, when I started to strangle him, he broke his bonds and jumped up. So I pulled my gun and shot him. I hit him in the head. He fell over. I could see the blood. As far as I was concerned, I thought he was down and out. Then I started to strangle Kathryn. We started fighting because the bonds weren’t very good and so back and forth we fought.

Judge: You and Kathryn?

Rader: Yeah we fought. I got the best of her and I thought she was going down, but then I could hear some movement in the other room. So I went back and Kevin—No, no—I thought she was going down and I went back to the other bedroom where Kevin was. I tried to re-strangle him, he jumped up, and we fought. He turned at that time and shot me, because he got the other pistol that was in my shoulder here. I had my magnum in my shoulder.

Judge: In your shoulder holster?

Rader: Yes, I had my magnum in the shoulder holster. The other one was a .22. We fought at that point in time and I thought it was going to go off. I jammed the gun, stuck my finger in there, and jammed it. And I think he believed that was the only gun I had. I either bit his finger, or hit him, or something and got away, then I used the .22 and shot him one more time. I thought he was down for good that time.

Judge: All right, so you shot him a second time.

Rader: Yes, sir.

Judge: What happened then?

Rader: I went back to finish the job on Kathryn and she was fighting me and, at that point in time, I had been fighting her and then I heard some—I don’t know whether I was, basically, losing control. The strangulation wasn’t working and so I used a knife on her.

Judge: You say you used a knife on her? What did you do with the knife?

Rader: Yes, I stabbed her. I think I stabbed her either two or three times either here or here. He pointed to his sides.

Judge: You are pointing to your lower back.

Rader: Yea, underneath the ribs.

 

 

Judge: And your lower abdomen. So after you stabbed her, what happened?

Rader: Actually, I think that at point in time it was a total mess because I didn’t have control of it. She was bleeding. She went down. I think I just went back to check on Kevin or at that same time I heard him escape. It could be one of the two. All of a sudden, the front door of the house opened and he was gone. Oh, I’ll tell you what I thought. I thought the police were coming. I heard the door open and I thought, you know, ‘that’s it.’ Then I stepped out there and I could see him running down the street so I quickly cleaned up everything that I could and left.

Judge: All right now, Mr. Rader. You indicated that, at the Otero’s, you had a mask on. Did you have a mask on here?

Rader: No, no I didn’t.

Judge: All right, so what happened then?

Rader: I tried—I already had the keys to the cars and I thought I had the right keys to the right car. I ran out to their car—I think it was a pick-up—I tried the key but it didn’t work. At that point in time, he was gone, he was down the street. I thought, ‘yeah, I’m in trouble,’ so I tried it. It didn’t work so I just took off and ran. I went east and then back toward the WSU campus where I parked my car.

Judge: All right, so you had parked your car at the Wichita State University campus?

Rader: Yes, on the campus, uh-uh.

Judge: How far away was the Bright’s residence?

Rader: I parked at, what was it Thirteenth? Let see, they were on Thirteenth. What is it, Seventeenth? Yea. I was just about one block south of Seventeenth where I left the car. There’s a park there. I left my car at the park and then I walked to Thirteenth, to the Bright’s residence. So I basically ran back.

Judge: All right so, you were able to get to your car and get away?

Rader: Yes, sir.

 

*****

 

I floated back into my physical body giving myself the suggestion again and again that I was safe…I was safe…and it’s almost time to begin to come back now—and just before I do—remember that next time I choose to relax in this way, I can relax more quickly…more easily…more deeply…each time I choose to relax in this way…so now just begin to come back to full waking consciousness…as my energy levels rise…I feel more alert…starting to move and stretch a little…and open my eyes, feeling refreshed, alert and fully awake, as if I’ve just had a deep, refreshing sleep.

I removed the last page from the typewriter. Before my eyes was the proof I needed, the horrible details of Kathryn Bright’s murder on April 4, 1974. What do I do now? I got up to look at the calendar attached to the refrigerator door. Thursday the fourth was ten days from today. I couldn’t call the Wichita Police with this information. But I could call Dr. Gormley tomorrow and ask for his advice.

I called him immediately after Laureen left for work. I tried his office first but there was no answer. He had given me his home number when we moved so I dialed it.

“Hello Dr. Gormley, this is Jeff. How are you?”

“Very well and you?”

“I’m good. Did I catch you at a bad time?”

“Not at all. And how is your lovely wife?”

“Laureen is fine. Thank you.”

“I’ve missed our little chats since you’ve moved.”

“Yes. Well. That’s why I called.”

“Something wrong?”

“Not exactly, but I’m in a quandary.”

“I guess that’s nothing new for you,” he said.

“No, but this is literally about life and death.”

“Oh.”

“Let me ask you a question. If you could travel back to the past and kill Hitler when he was a child, would you do it?”

“I see you going to put my philosophical and religious beliefs to the test here.”

“I’m afraid so.”

“It’s not an easy question to answer. For example, we discussed in my office a few years ago the possibility that time travel might create another universe. If I went to back to kill Hitler, how would I be sure that child would become the same Hitler we know from history?”

“I see your point. Okay then let’s say you traveled back to 1938 and it was the same Hitler. But Germany hadn’t yet invaded Poland or started the mass extermination of the Jews. If you had the opportunity, would you kill him?”

“If I could be certain it would save tens of millions of lives, then the answer is yes, of course. Now, Jeff, may ask why you’re asking me these questions?”

“Do you remember back in January, it was on TV and in the newspaper, about a family, that was murdered in Wichita?”

“I think so. Why?”

“The killer murdered the father, mother, and two young children.”

“Sounds vaguely familiar.”

“I know who the killer is.”

“I see. You recognized him from your past.”

“Yes.”

“And you called me because you want me to condone your killing him?”

“Yes.”

“What does Laureen think about all this?”

“She doesn’t want me to get involved.”

“See I knew you married a smart lady. She’s given you excellent advice.”

“I did what she wanted and called the Wichita Police. I gave them his name and address and where he worked.”

“And what happened?”

“Absolutely nothing. I buy the Wichita Eagle every day and they never arrested him. I think they may have questioned him but I can’t even be sure of that.”

“Do you know for certain this person is the killer?”

“No, but I know for certain when he’s going to kill his next victim—April fourth.”

“How is it you know that?”

“I type out his confession after he was caught in 2005. I know the exact time and place.”

He sighed. “Holy Mother.”

“Yeah.”

“You should contact the police again and let them handle this.”

“I can’t do that. I wouldn’t be able to protect my real identity.”

“You told me once that you weren’t the murdering kind.”

“I know but this is different. This guy is going to kill and torture six more people over the next fifteen years.”

“Jeff, it’s not your place to save these people,” he said. “As evil as this man is, he’s not Hitler.”

“That’s true, except tell that to their families.”

“You called for my advice and here it is. Don’t get involved. Think of Laureen and why you came back here.”

“I came back to be with Laureen again but also to do more positive things with my life.”

“And I’m sure you will. But this is out of your league.”

“Thank you. I appreciate your help,” I said.

“Take care, young man. Give Laureen a hug for me.”

“I will. You take care, too. Bye.”

I took Jolie out for his walk then made breakfast. I didn’t know Kathryn Bright. I didn’t know what she looked like. But I knew nine days from now she would die a horrible death.

 

*****

 

Later That Day:

 

I drove to the Bank of America on Westwood Blvd and withdrew five hundred dollars. I got on the 405 and headed south to Rosecrans where I made a left and headed east. Then I made a right on Wilmington. That put me in the heart of Compton. I had been reading in the Times how the Raymond Street Hustler Compton Crips had been responsible for several gang wars with rival Compton gangs over the local drug trade. I needed to get an unregistered handgun. One block past Alondra I made a left onto West Raymond Street. It was a residential area made up of old, rundown, single-family homes probably built during the Second World War. Every house had metal bars on the windows and doors. Graffiti covered the walls and sidewalks down both sides of the street.

 

 

I drove two blocks and made a U-turn stopping in front of the Raymond Street Park. I moved over to the passenger seat, so I wouldn’t have to get out of the car, and rolled down the window. I could hear the sound of children playing from within the park. Several young black women sat on benches with baby carriages. The neighborhood seemed relatively safe but it was still the middle of the afternoon. I waited for some teenagers or adults to pass. An old black man crossed the street, approaching my car. As he passed I asked if he knew where I could buy a gun. He ignored me and continued into the park. During the next half hour I asked three more people the same question but they all said no, all of them looking at me suspiciously.

Then I took out a ten-dollar bill and folded it. A middle-aged Hispanic man walked by. I handed him the money and asked if he knew where I could get a gun. He also said no and handed me back the bill. Finally, I saw an older black man, holding a bottle, stagger up the street toward the park. I motioned him to the car.

His eyes were blood red and he stunk. “Wud’s up, bro,” he said.

“Know someone who can sell me a handgun?” I said, handing him the money. He quickly put it in his shirt pocket.

“You’z shouldn ougtha be aroun’ here aking for dat,” he said, with a heavy ghetto accent. It took me a couple of seconds for my brain to translate what I heard.

“Yeah, but I need to get a gun.”

“Yo can git um at the gun store in Inglewood.”

“I can’t.”

“I’m gonna give you’z some frien’ly add vice for yo mon-eey bro. Best be gittin yo white ass outta Compton here before yo git whacked.” He took a long swig from the bottle of whisky then offered it to me, which I declined.

“Can you help me get a gun or not?”

“See, here’s da way it works. Give me a name of someone you’z lookin’ for cause den maybe I kno you notta cop or narc.”

“Do I look like a cop?”

“How’z the hell I’m I’z suppos to kno?”

“You know anyone from the Raymond Street Crips?”

“Is you that stupid, mistah, or what? You’z way outta yo league messin with Hustler Crips. Run inta one of dem nasty bro’s and ther gonna find you dead inda trunk of dis here nice car.”

“I gotcha. Keep the money.” I felt sorry for the guy and was going to give him ten dollars more, but I figured he’d just buy another bottle of booze.

“Danks. All rightee did,” he said patting his pocket.

 

*****

 

That turned out to be a waste of time and ten bucks, I thought, driving back to Westwood. I guess I was lucky to get out of there with the rest of my money. I couldn’t take the chance of buying a registered gun. Not with all the cops and possibly the FBI on this case. When I reached the airport exits on the 405, the northbound lanes were bumper to bumper so I got off and took Sepulveda to Wilshire. By the time I pulled into the carport, Laureen was already home.

Over dinner she asked me what was going on with Rader. I told her that I had called in a tip to the Wichita Police but nothing came of it. They had apparently questioned three individuals but I didn’t know if any of them was Rader. I also told her I had remembered more details about the case, except it still didn’t prove that he was the killer. After dinner, we took Jolie and walked over to Stan’s Donuts on Weyburn, while I debated with myself whether I should tell her more. I really hated keeping things like this from her and it meant we couldn’t discuss them.

Laureen made a pot of the Kona coffee her mom sent us to have with our donuts. Jolie knew we bought something sweet and scrumptious and was all excited, his tail wagging so hard I thought he might take off. I ripped off a piece of the chocolate glaze and he snatched it out of my hand. After he licked my fingers I went to the bookcase, took out the pages I typed last night, and handed them to her.

 

CHAPTER 62

 

 

 

Wednesday March 27, 1974:

 

Laureen waited until after dinner. Sitting next to each other on the couch, she began reading. “Were you actually there for this trial?” she asked.

“No.”

“Then how is it you remember such details?”

“It’s a long story,” I said.

“You didn’t time travel back there did you?”

“No. I don’t have a time machine remember. I traveled back there in my mind.”

What?”

She laid the pages down then picked them up, laid them down, and picked them up again, her curiosity piqued. After she finished she said, “That was horrible. See, Jeffrey, this is why I don’t want to know about the future. How do you keep from going insane?”

“All this has taken its toll on me.” I’ve become obsessed with this guy, Rader, I thought.

“What are you going to do?”

“I don’t know. I can’t show this to the police.”

“But it’s what happened.”

“Yeah, it happened in my past and it’s going to happen again eight days in the future. But how do I explain that to them?” I almost blurted out that something was going to take place in 2001, at the newly opened World Trade Center that would make Pearl Harbor look like a fireworks display. But I stopped myself. “All I know is Kathryn Bright is not going to die next week. Maybe I can warn her and her brother?”

“But that would be changing something. If he doesn’t kill her, he might kill someone else that you don’t know about and can’t stop,” she said.

“That’s a good point. Then somehow he has to be stopped.”

 

*****

Laureen went to bed at ten o’clock. Later I watched the news on KABC then switched to Channel 4 to watch the Tonight Show. Guest hosting was Don Rickels who was hilarious. By midnight I was already so relaxed I quickly reached a deep state of hypnosis. Then I went over to the typewriter on the desk, inserted a blank page and began typing. Over and over, and over again the same words…

You’re out of your league. You’re out of your league. You’re out of your league.

Dr. Gormley and my drunken black friend from Compton both said that very same thing, albeit in different verbiage. I realized maybe that was a message I seriously needed to heed.

 

*****

 

Next morning I walked over to Westwood Camera and purchased a telephoto lens for my Yashica. Then to Skyway Travel on Broxton where I purchased plane tickets to Wichita and D.C. with a return flight from D.C. to LA.

I returned to the apartment and called John Dean asking him to arrange a meeting with Nixon for Sunday or Monday. He wanted to know the reason for my hasty visit. I replied, “Would saving the lives of innocent people be sufficient?” Then I asked him to arrange another meeting for me. When I told him, with whom he expressed considerable dismay.

After Laureen got home from work, I explained my plan to fly to Wichita and meet with the police, then proceed to D.C. to visit with Nixon. She worried I was going to confront Rader but I assured her that I had no intention of doing that. Relieved, she helped me pack for my nine a.m. flight and insisted on driving me to LAX. But I told her I could take the airport shuttle bus so she wouldn’t have to drive from LAX to Van Nuys in rush hour traffic. She wanted to know what I was going to tell the Wichita Police. I told her I would think of something on the plane. The truth was I had no intention of going the police but I didn’t want to alarm her. I called the shuttle service and arranged a pickup for seven-thirty a.m.

 

*****

 

We were up early so we could have breakfast together. Laureen said she would take Jolie out before leaving for work. I could tell she was distressed so I reassured her I wouldn’t confront Rader, which was the truth. She waited with me outside for the shuttle bus to arrive. It was a few minutes early. I told I would call later that night. We hugged and kissed each other as we said goodbye.

The plane departed ten minutes after nine. Arrival time in Wichita was one-thirty p.m CST. I spent most of the flight trying to concoct a believable story that I could tell Laureen about my illusory meeting with the Wichita police.

The plane landed at one forty-five. I rented a car from Avis then got a room at the Holiday Inn. My first stop was to 3217 East 13th Street N, Wichita, the residence of Kathyn Bright. No cars were in the driveway so I assumed she wasn’t home at the time. I parked across the street and took photos of the front of the house from the car. Then I got out and walked to the rear of the house, making sure no one saw me, and took photos of the backdoor where Rader had gained entry. I knew her brother Kevin didn’t live there although on the day of the murder he had gone with his sister to the bank.

My flight from Wichita to D.C. was at eight p.m. the next day. My plan was to park outside Rader’s home before he left for work in the morning and take some close-up photos. I called Laureen in the evening to update her. She was anxious to hear what I told the Wichita Police. So was I?

“I’d been thinking about it since last night,” I said. “By the time the plane landed I decided it would be impossible to explain to the police what I knew without jeopardizing my true identity.”

“What about warning the Bright’s then?”

“Same problem, too risky. Can you imagine what would happen to us if the world knew I was a time traveler from 2043? We’d be hounded relentlessly day and night. Not only that but we’d be in constant danger. When we have kids they wouldn’t be safe either. That’s no way to live.”

“Jeffrey, you promised me you wouldn’t confront him.”

“And I’m not going to.”

“So then what are you doing there?”

“Surveillance.”

“What for?”

“I’ll explain when I get home. Call you from D.C. tomorrow. Love you.”

I had no idea what time Rader would be leaving his house since it was Saturday. So I picked up a bagel with cream cheese and some coffee at a 24-hour convenience store and parked across the street from his house at 6220 N. Independence Street. It was still dark outside when I arrived at five a.m. At five-thirty someone tossed the paper onto the driveway, from a car driving slowly down the street. Around 6:30 some lights came on inside the home. Half hour later, Paula his wife came out, picked up the paper, and went back inside. Rader finally emerged from the house around seven-thirty with his wife following.

I had already adjusted the telephoto lens on the front door. Rader was wearing a dark blue work shirt and pants, probably Dickies. He had the ADT logo below the pocket on the left side of his shirt. I got off two or three good shots of his face before he turned and, surprisingly, opened the car door for Paula, then two more shots as he walked past the rear of the car to the driver’s side. Since I had plenty of time, I headed over to the ADT office at 3450 North Rock Road to see if I could get a few more close-ups. He arrived twenty minutes after me but parked in the back of the building. I waited fifteen minutes then did something extremely foolish.

The ADT Security office was located on the bottom floor of a commercial building. I opened the door and walked in expecting to find several employees. Rader was sitting at a desk the sole employee present. Two small separate offices were off to the side but glass enclosures revealed they were dark and unoccupied.

Rader looked up with surprise. “Can I help you?”

“Yes, I’m interested in having a security system installed in my home.”

“Well, uh…the office is closed today. I’m just here doing some paperwork.”

“I see. Would be possible to get a sales brochure?”

“ADT doesn’t use sales brochures. This is just the dispatch office we do all the sales and service in the field.”

“Can you set up an appointment for me?” I asked, approaching his desk.

He wasn’t overtly friendly and, at first glance, seemed perfectly harmless. But then you’d never suspect that he recently murdered four people, including two young children, and was about to murder the young woman he’d been stalking for five days. He was clean-cut and quite good-looking, but you could also detect a certain grimness in his face. Now, in his late twenties, his dark hair was beginning to thin.

“Sure thing,” he said, pulling out an appointment book. “What day did you have in mind?”

“We’re just moving into the new house. How’s about next Friday the fifth?

“I have a slot at noon. Between the consultation and installing, we’re looking at about three hours.

“What’s involved in the consultation?”

“I inspect your entire residence, including windows, entryways, and basement area. Everything is customized based on your security needs,” he said with authority. I’ll also explain our new monitoring service.”

“Sounds like just what we’re looking for,” I said. “The wife’s been concerned ever since those murders a few months ago.”

“Can’t say it hasn’t helped our business,” he said coldly. “Now can I get your name and address?”

“Uh, Hanks, Tom Hanks. N. Tara Lane, that’s near the Wichita Country Club.” A random street I recalled passing several miles from Kathryn Bright’s house.

“And the number?”

“Oh yeah I guess that would be helpful. Uh, 1134 N. Tara Lane. Still not used to the new address.”

“I’ve got you down for Friday, April fifth at noon.” Then he got up, walked around the desk, and stood directly in front of me. A predatory coldness seemed to emanate from within him. “Mr. Hanks,” he said, extending his hand. “Dennis Rader.”

We were about the same height so his beady black eyes were only inches from mine, except when I tried to make contact they instantaneously darted away, unable to bear the weight of my gaze. If the eyes are truly the windows of our souls, what I saw in his was cold, dead, and evil. They were the eyes of the monster that dwelled within him, hidden from the world behind his good-natured looks and quiet demeanor. I didn’t want to touch that hand. The very hands he used to strangle the Otero’s. He continued to stand there with his hand extended. The look on his face was awkward and confused, realizing he was losing control by my unwillingness to shake his hand. His facial muscles began to twitch ever so slightly. A hint of rage began to manifest but he managed quickly to thwart it. I wanted him to know in his gut that I knew—knew his diabolical deeds.

He finally withdrew his wretched hand. I smiled slyly, if only to perturb him more by my weird behavior, and said, “We’ll look forward to seeing you next Friday, Dennis.”

I returned to my hotel, knowing that he knew that I knew.

 

CHAPTER 63

 

 

 

Sunday March 31, 1974:

 

Iarrived at Dulles at twelve-fifteen a.m. and took a cab to Blair House where I was expected. Having been up since four the previous morning I was exhausted. I gave Laureen a quick call to let her know I was in Washington. At eight a.m., the phone rang. It was Dean calling to tell me the meeting had been set up for today at two o’clock.

“Look for him on a bench near the Eternal Flame,” he said.

I thanked him and went back to sleep. I was up by noon, showered, and ate Maryland crab cakes for lunch in the dining room. At one thirty-five, I walked outside and asked the doorman to hail me a cab. It was a clear cloudless day but the air still had the crispness of early spring. I directed the cabby to drop me off at the Visitors Center and I walked the short distance to the Kennedy Gravesite, carrying a heavy black attaché case.

From a distance, I saw Hunt sitting on a bench on a hillside above the gravesite, holding a Styrofoam cup in his hand while puffing on a cigar. He wore a fedora but not the same one I remembered. When he saw me approach, he said, “Well, well. Never thought I’d lay eyes on you again.”

“I think the feeling is mutual,” I said. There was no shaking of hands just a silent nod to sit on the bench.

“I never got a chance to thank you. That list of harness race winners proved very profitable.”

“Glad you were able to cash in.”

“That was a pretty neat trick. I could see why they hauled you and that cute friend of yours in for questioning.”

“We’re married now.”

“How’d you do it, Goldberg?”

“Do you know who really killed Kennedy?” I asked.

“Is that what this is about?” he said agitated.

“No. Then don’t ask how I did it.”

“Fair enough. John didn’t say why you wanted to meet me other than it was urgent.”

“I need you to kill someone.”

He released a loud guffaw that echoed throughout the little valley that had been sculptured out of the hillside. Half a dozen visitors milling around the Eternal Flame looked around in dismay, trying to determine the cause and direction of the strange noise—not a sound they’d expected to hear in this sacred location.

 

 

“Searchlight put you up to this, right?” He grinned. A rare expression for Hunt that actually made him appear more sinister.

“Whose Searchlight?”

“Nixon’s codename.”

You have killed people?”

“Maybe I have. Maybe I haven’t. Why can’t you do it yourself?”

“The CIA trained you for clandestine operations. That would include eliminating someone. I’ve never even held a gun.”

“You’re assuming an awful lot there, fella.”

“Perhaps.”

“Just outta curiosity who’s the target?” He asked.

“The guy’s name is Dennis Rader.”

“Okay, so what’s with him? Did you get yourself involved in some sort of love triangle?” he said, smirking.

“Did you read about those four people from one family who were killed in Wichita last January?”

“Yeah. Mother and father and two kids.”

I sighed. “The Otero’s.”

“So?”

“He tortured and strangled them. He hung the little eleven-year old girl by the neck while she begged for her mommy. And on Thursday, around two p.m., he’s going to kill a twenty-one year old student, Kathryn Bright,” I said. “He’s going to bind her and stab her and shoot her brother in the head.”

“Jesus fuckin’ Christ, Goldberg, where in hell do you come up with this stuff?”

“He named himself BTK. Stands for bind, torture, kill. He’s gonna murder six more people and terrorize Wichita for the next thirty years.”

“Just call the Wichita Police.”

“I phoned in a tip. Gave them his name and address and where he worked. Nothing came of it. Except I read they interviewed three people but I don’t know if he was one of them.”

“Did you tell them about this supposed incident next Thursday?”

“I can’t.”

“Why’s that?”

“Look. This guy is pure evil. You’d be saving—”

“You look, Goldberg. I got a wife and kids to think about. In certain circles, people—people like you—know I work for Dick,” he said, puffing the cigar. “If I got messed up in this and got caught, he could be implicated. After all, isn’t that what you and I were trying to avoid back then.”

“He’d be a sitting duck for you. He breaks into the backdoor of the house and waits for her, maybe an hour or two. She arrives with her brother around 2 pm. I took photos. Got close-ups of Rader and the girl’s house, front and back.”

“Awfully sure of yourself, uh?”

“There’s twenty-five thousand in the briefcase. Half now. Half—”

“Fifty.”

“How will I know when it’s done?”

“You’ll read about it in the paper.”

“Deal,” I said and handed him the attaché case.

“Deal,” he said.

“Forgot to mention. Rader’s carrying two guns.”

“Great. Anything else I should know?” he asked, peeking inside the case.

“The film’s inside,” I said. “What if I need to reach you?”

He removed his wallet from his jacket and took out a card. It just said E. Howard Hunt on the front. He turned it over and wrote down a series of numbers: 011 + 49 + 228 + 5360714. Then handed it to me.

“Where’s this?”

“Germany. Just call that number. Tell them you want Eduardo. You’ll get directions.”

“How will I get you the cash?”

“We’ll meet in LA.”

“You know where I—”

“You’ve got secret service clearance remember. That’s where I come in.”

“I got the perfect spot,” I said, smiling.

We got off the bench in unison. When we reached the Visitor Center, he said, “Ever see Casablanca?”

“Of course. Plenty of times,” I said.

“Remember the last line?”

“I donno, sort of.”

“Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” he said, in a poor Bogart imitation.

“You’re right about that, Eduardo.”

“How many more?”

“Eight. Except for one in Washington there’s plenty of time.”

We never did shake hands but that was okay. I actually found myself liking Hunt. But could I trust him?

 

*****

 

I met briefly with Nixon later that night after he and Pat had dinner. He was having a bad bout of phlebitis and was in a rotten mood. I whispered he should turn off the recorder, which he did. I informed Nixon of an enormous outbreak of tornadoes that would strike the central parts of the country between Thursday and Friday, killing over three hundred people. I gave him a list of the thirteen states that would be hardest hit, with the worst destruction occurring in Xenia, Ohio. With advanced warning, it was possible to save many of those lives.

His mood shifted dramatically from subdued to a state of controlled panic, realizing the impending disaster. Disregarding the pain in his legs, Nixon abruptly rose from his chair and anxiously paced about the Oval Office. We agreed that the governors of each state should be notified immediately along with the Red Cross, the National Guard should be mobilized, and probably the best way to inform the public would be to issue warnings on TV and radio. He was about to get on the phone to call his Chief of Staff Alexander Haig, when I stopped him.

I told him there was another situation that required his attention. I handed him the January sixteenth edition of the Wichita Eagle I had brought with me. He recalled reading about the murders in the Post. I explained to him that unless Rader was stopped he would go on to commit six more heinous murders over the next twenty years. I told him that I had targeted seven other individuals who would torture, rape, and murder dozens and dozens of innocent men, women, and children in the coming decades.

He stared at me intently. I went on to say that these seven monsters typically resembled normal humans beings, who like Rader, despite being married, having a good job, and no criminal background, were adept at disguising their true malignant nature. He seemed puzzled about how he could help. I told him I had devised a plan but it would require his financial assistance. He asked how much. I told him half a million and his eyes lit up. Then he asked what the money was for. I said he would have to trust me and it was best that he didn’t know any of the details. He said he could arrange it through Bebe Rebozo, a wealthy banker and long time confidant, who in the past had provided him with covert funds, including my own. I requested that the money be channeled through a Swiss bank account. He said he would have Ehrlichman handle it. I thanked him and told him he might want to get a copy of Eagle next Friday and Saturday.

Impatient to see Laureen, I caught a red-eye flight back to LA. She played hooky so we could spend the day together, mostly in bed.

 

CHAPTER 64

 

 

 

Friday April 5, 1974:

 

After Laureen left for work, I drove to the newsstand on La Cienega. I couldn’t wait so I rifled through the Eagle, even though I was parked in a red zone. My heart was pounding. The story was in the Local News Section.

 

Unknown Man Found Shot Dead in North Wichita Home ~ By Stan Herlihy

 

Officers responded to a 9-1-1 call of a shooting at 3217 East 13th Street N, Wichita, where they found an unidentified male lying in the bedroom at 2:56 p.m., police said Friday night. He was pronounced dead at the scene, the victim of an apparent gunshot wound. Police received no reports of gunshots in the area prior to arriving. No arrests have made been made, and police have no suspects as of this evening. The unknown person was described as Caucasian around 30 years of age. Police are interviewing the two residents found waiting outside the home, but said they are not considered suspects. The police department continues to urge residents to secure their residence while away, and to activate burglar alarm or surveillance devices if so equipped. Residents should report behavior that is unusual or suspicious by contacting the Wichita Police Department.

 

I pumped my fist in the air for success. I speculated that Hunt had waited until Rader broke into the house before confronting him just to be sure. It was also possible that Hunt had gained entry earlier and was waiting for Rader. I dumped the paper in the trash.

Saturday’s Eagle had a follow-up story.

 

[* Police Identify Man Found Dead in North Wichita Home ~By Stan Herlihy *]

 

Police have identified the man found fatally shot inside the home at 3217 East 13th Street Friday afternoon as 29-year-old Dennis Rader, authorities said late Friday night. An autopsy is scheduled for Saturday morning. Rader was an employee of ADT Security and lived with his wife in Park City. Wichita Police are releasing few details pending further investigation. However, a police source told this reporter that the victim might be responsible for other crimes.

 

I wondered how they figured out it was Rader? Did Hunt phone in a tip? It must have been quite a shock to Paula when police showed up at their house and said her husband was dead. They must have identified him on Friday based on this story. Are they linking him to the Otero murders? But how?

The Sunday Edition broke the story.

 

[* Man Found Dead in N. Wichita Home Friday Linked to Otero Family Murders ~By Stan Herlihy *]

 

Dennis Rader, the man found shot dead Friday afternoon at 3217 East 13th Street has been linked to the unsolved January 15^th^ murders of four members of the Otero Family. Wichita Police Chief Floyd Hannon provided the following information:

On Thursday April 5, at 2:49 p.m., Wichita Police Department officers responded to an emergency call regarding a man who had been shot. The caller indicated that the man was lying on the bedroom floor of the residence located at 3217 East 13th Street, North Wichita. First responding Third Distict Patrol Officers located the body of a male subject suffering from what appeared to be a single gunshot wound. The victim was later identified as Dennis Rader, white male age 29, of 6220 N. Independence Street, Park City was pronounced dead at the scene.

The resident of that location, along with another family member who found the body, told homicide investigators they were not acquainted with Mr. Rader. It was presumed at the time that man might have been in the act of burglarizing the residence when he was shot. Homicide investigators have yet to determine a motive, nor have they been able to identify any of the suspects involved. Detectives have been canvassing the area in an effort to locate additional witnesses. An autopsy by the Sedgwick County Coroner’s Office determined the cause of death to be single gunshot to the head, believed to be from a 9mm gun. Crime scene investigators have been unable to locate the shell casing.

Investigators found a typewriting note protruding from the mouth of Mr. Rader. The note reads:

ROT IN HELL DENNIS RADER.

REVENGE FOR THE MURDERS OF JOSEPH, JULIE, JOSEPH JR., AND JOSEPHINE OTERO

At the autopsy, the coroner along with homicide investigators found the following items on Mr. Rader: Magnum revolver in a shoulder holster, .22 caliper gun in his waistband, 7 inch knife, and Swiss army knife. Investigators now believe that Mr. Rader had broken into the 13^th^ Street residence through the backdoor with the intent of targeting the female occupant as his next victim.

Serology tests showed the semen left at the Otero murder scene matched Rader’s blood type. Investigators are continuing to match evidence found at both crimes scenes. Capt. Paul Dotson said that Officer Gary Greiner had received an anonymous tip on January 17^th^. The caller provided the name Dennis Rader, his address, and place of employment. An internal investigation is under way to determine if any action had been taken on that information. Several suspects had been questioned in the Otero case but Mr. Rader wasn’t one of them. Homicide investigators are theorizing that a member of the Wichita Police Department may have been responsible for Mr. Rader’s death.

 

I knew at some point that Laureen was going to want to know what happened to Rader.

Eduardo called on Monday. Said he would arrive at LAX on Tuesday at eleven a.m. with a three-hour layover. I gave him a location just a ten-minute drive from the airport. An accident caused some heavy traffic on the 405 south making me ten minutes late for our twelve o’clock rendezvous. I parked in the lot by the entrance gate and observed Hunt at the top of the hill standing by Jolson’s statue, smoking a cigar and wearing his customary Fedora.

 

 

We greeted each other but didn’t shake hands.

“You a fan?” he asked.

“Ever since I saw the Jolson Story,” I said.

“Saw him perform at a USO show during the war.”

“Funds were transferred the other day.”

“Good. Want to hear the details?”

“Sure.”

 

*****

 

“I parked down the street from Bright’s house. Observed Rader around noon walking slowly past the house down the block, then he turned and walked back. He looked around before going to the back of the house. He was crouched down like a catcher trying to jimmy the lock on the backdoor using one of the tools from a Swiss army knife, when I snuck up behind him.

“Pressing the muzzle of the gun against the back of his head I said, ‘Don’t turn around. Keep your hands on the doorknob or I’ll blow your brains out.’

“Rader tensed and said, ‘I uh…I got locked out.’

“‘Hurry up and get the door open,’ I said.

“Still crouching he pushed it ajar. ‘Stay down there and hand me the knife,’ I said. ‘Now get your arms up over your head. Then get up very slowly.’

“I jammed the muzzle into his back. ‘Move,’ I said, entering the house closing the door behind me.

“‘Who are you?’ he asked.

“‘Shut up.’

“We crossed the kitchen into the living room then down a short hallway until we found the bedroom. He edged forward until he came up facing the wall, then I back away. ‘Keep those arms up and turn around,’ I said.

“‘Who the fuck are—‘

“‘That’s not important,’ I said, backing up until I stood about ten feet in front of him. ‘Keep those arms up above your head, bring your hands together, and interlock your fingers. That’s a good boy. Now put them behind your head.’

“‘What’ya gonna—’

“‘Shut the fuck up,’ I yelled.

“‘Turn around, slow. Keep your back to the wall.’

“Rader’s face was red, brimming with rage.

“‘Now get down on your knees.’

“He hesitated, fixing his tortured eyes on me, before complying.

“‘Pleeease…’ he whimpered.

“‘Shhh. Don’t like cowards who murder children,’ I said calmly. ‘Now I’m going to send you to hell.’

“I waited for a verbal response but he just scowled. Then I shot him in the forehead. His head violently recoiled backward, slamming into the wall. Then, as if in slow motion, his body slid down against the wall to the floor.”

“But nobody heard a gunshot?” I asked.

“Used a silencer. I took his Swiss army knife and stuffed it in his pocket. Removed the little note I typed and placed it in his mouth, then I left.”

“Yeah I liked that little gesture. What about your fingerprints on the knife?”

“Wore surgical gloves.”

“Why’d ya have him do all that stuff with his hands?” I asked.

“Simple. You have the target back up against a wall instead of standing in the middle of the room so he can only move in three directions not 360 degrees, less opportunity to outflank you. Then you get him on his knees and he’s rendered virtually harmless,” Hunt explained methodically. “Interlocking the fingers with the hands behind the head makes it more difficult to quickly reach for a weapon. It also minimizes the skull from exploding, spewing out brain matter.”

“Wow. Never woulda thought of all that. Couldn’t you just have him lie face down on the floor?”

“I want to look at the person before I end their life.”

“Hope you don’t mind the questions?”

“You’re paying.”

“Why’d you keep telling him to shut up?”

“Didn’t want him yakkin’ away. You know about the little wifey, then the mother. Then begging me. Its gotta be impersonal.”

I had been right about selecting Hunt, I thought, he was able to kill without compunction.

“Well, next target’s going to strike again on Wednesday the seventeenth,” I said.

“Where?”

“Female student at Central Washington State College. Not that I want to tell you how to go about your business but uh it’s gotta be done before that,” I said. “Waiting till the night of the seventeenth is too unpredictable. He abducts her from the campus. What if you can’t locate him?”

“I’ll decide that. Who is it?”

“Ted Bundy, 4123 Twelth Avenue, North East, Seattle. Drives a bronze VW Bug.”

“What’s the deal with him?”

“Bundy ultimately confessed to 36 homicides between ’74 and ’78, but the true total remains unknown. All young women in their early twenties. Youngest victim was twelve. He’s already attacked three women, murdered two of them. His first victim survived but with severe brain damage.”

“Let me guess, another good-looking guy no one would ever suspect.”

I sighed. “Seems to be a pattern.”

“I can’t figure you, Goldberg. Ran background checks on you as far back as your daddy’s service in the Seabees. Couldn’t even find a freakin hanging toenail,” he said, displaying some pent-up frustration. “You’re palsy-walsy with Searchlight. You know all this fuckin shit about these guys. You know Bundy’s gonna kill all these women that he doesn’t have a clue about yet. Doesn’t seem natural to me. Promise me something, will ya, promise me one day you’ll tell me how—”

“I’ve already got that day picked out Eduardo.”

“Is that so? You and Laureen must—”

“Leave her of out of this!” I demanded. “Forget about me and let’s get back to Bundy. I don’t have any photos.”

“I’ll take care of that. My ass is killing me sittin’ here,” he said getting up.

We walked down the hillside to the parking lot. I offered him a ride to the airport but much to my surprise he declined.

 

*****

 

Driving home, I ran through the last part of that conversation about me and alarm bells went off in my head. Hunt was never going to stop trying to figure me out. He was tenacious. It was in his blood. Maybe he hadn’t called me from the airport either? How did I know he wasn’t here in LA the entire time? He said ‘you and Laureen must’ before I cut him off. Must what? Why’d he bring her into this?

Terror replaced the blood running through my veins. Imagine the power he would have if he knew I was a time traveler from 2043. That motha fucker had access to every covert listening device ever invented. He also had the means to use them. He must have shrugged off our first encounter at the FBI office three years ago, when I revealed my knowledge of the White House Plumbers and their scheme to break into DNC headquarters at the Watergate, as some kind of weird fluke. After our second encounter at Arlington, when we made our little deal, that certainly must have roused his suspicions about me. And now…now I knew he’d stop at nothing. Trying to figure me out would consume him. No doubt, he knew where we lived. Could his trip here to LA also include bugging our apartment? He wouldn’t have to do it himself. He could just solicit someone from the FBI’s office. Heck for all I knew, someone might have done just that during our meeting.

I pulled into our carport in the rear of the building. We were on the second floor so the only way someone could enter through the windows would be to use a very long ladder or rappel down from the roof, but they would risk being seen by neighbors. That left the front door to our apartment. I went upstairs and started looking around. There were plenty of places to hide a bugging device. I had no idea what I was even looking for or if bug-detecting devices existed yet. Also, how did I know if our phone was being tapped? Then it occurred to me who would know all about these things.

I got the yellow pages and looked under Private Investigation Services. There were three pages of listings. On the last page, a large display ad for The Investigators caught my attention. But then I thought, how would I explain to a PI why our apartment might be bugged? No, there was a better solution. If Hunt wanted to bug the place and tap our phones, let him. I’d make sure he’d never learn the truth about me. Perhaps I could even concoct some plausible disinformation in the same way that many believe the government does with UFO phenomena. At this point, I still felt confident that Hunt probably had nothing on me, otherwise he would have confronted me by now.

I gathered all the typewritten notes about future events I had in the apartment and placed them in manila envelopes. Just in case it was possible Hunt had the means to access our Bank of America accounts, I walked over to the Wells Fargo Bank on Wilshire and Glendon and rented a safe deposit box there. From this day forward, any conversations I had with Laureen regarding time travel, past, present, or future, would have to be outside, even the car wouldn’t be safe. Any phone conversations with Dr. Gormley, like the one we had about two weeks ago, would have to be made on a pay phone.

But there was an even more consequential issue to consider. Should I break my deal with Hunt? After Bundy was eliminated, that still left six other serial killers. Based on what I had just learned from Hunt, perhaps I could handle the least dangerous ones, like David Berkowitz, by myself, and leave the most ruthless, like Ng and Ramirez to Eduardo. Of course, that would mean I’d have to kill them myself, but then, these people only disguised themselves as human beings.

Laureen arrived home at four o’clock. We took Jolie and went for a walk. I told her that Rader had been killed. She asked me by whom and I said a former CIA agent. She asked if it was the guy from the FBI office and I said, yeah, Hunt. She wanted to know if he could be trusted and I said I wasn’t sure, but from now on all our conversations about time travel would have to be outside the apartment.

As far as she was concerned, she’d be content never to discuss the past and the future ever again. She added that after she read what Rader had done to that family and was going to do to that student, he got what he deserved. I didn’t mention Bundy or the others, hoping she’d be satisfied this was all behind us.

 

CHAPTER 65

 

 

 

April 18, 1974:

 

The doorbell rang around eleven a.m. I looked through the peephole and it was the mailman. He had a certified letter for me. I signed for it and went inside examining the envelope. The return address was Ed Sullivan, Post Office Box 3041, New York, NY 10018. Odd, I thought, opening it. Ed Sullivan. But inside was a newspaper article from the Seattle Times dated Sunday April fourteenth.

 

Seattle Murder Victim Presumed Poisoned ~

By Seattle Times staff

 

The body of a man discovered in his Seattle apartment, at 4123 12th Ave. NE about 10:30 a.m. on Friday, may have been the victim of cyanide poisoning. Theodore Robert Bundy, 28, a law student, was found dead, under mysterious circumstances, lying on his bed. Police say the apartment manager called 9-1-1 when he and a friend of the victim’s went inside to check on the man, who hadn’t been seen for several days. No evidence of violence was reported at the scene.

Seattle police are trying to unravel the mystery after finding a box of Barton’s candy beside the man’s body. Three pieces were missing from the box. Police also detected the faint odor of almonds around the body. High doses of cyanide can shut down body cells, rendering victims unconscious in ten to twenty seconds and death within minutes, leaving the appearance of death by cardiac arrest.

Officers responding to the 9-1-1 call also found a notecard, inside the lid of the candy box, written in what appeared to be a women’s handwriting. The note read, “Dear Ted, Sorry it had to end this way!”

Police are speculating that Mr. Bundy may have been involved in a love triangle turned deadly. In addition to the box, a paper bag wrapper was found in the trashcan. There was no return address but the postmark was stamped Seattle. Police have been interviewing friends and family members. A spokesperson for the family said that once the coroner releases the body to the family it will be cremated.

 

Very cleaver of you, Eduardo, I thought. And that note—perfecto! I wondered if he sent the package through the mail or delivered it himself. Since there was no return address, it would be risky to mail a box of poisoned candy, just in case it got into the wrong hands by mistake. But if he personally delivered it, perhaps posing as a postman, he surely would have worn gloves and that would have seemed a little odd. Well, maybe that was a chilly day in Seattle. I had the funds transferred to his bank, then a few weeks later, I called the number in Germany he’d given me and left a message that I’d be in touch, but it might be a while.

My first target would be John Wayne Gacy. I had until August of next year before he would kill seventeen-year-old John Butkovitch. That would give me plenty of time to get a handgun and silencer. Gacy lived in Chicago and sexually assaulted and murdered at least thirty-three teenage boys and young men between 1972 and 1978. He buried twenty-six of his victims in the crawl space of his home.

 

*****

 

One night in June after inducing self-hypnosis, I started automatic writing again. I was inspired by something I had typed during that session. The idea was to write a novel based on the BTK murders. I had taken numerous creative writing classes at Southampton but hadn’t found anything that got my creative juices flowing, until now. The plot would involve actual facts about the BTK murders and how Rader was eventually captured, after eluding law enforcement for thirty years. Rader’s narcissism created an inner need for recognition of his perceived brilliance. It also created a need to engage the police and further demonstrate his criminal mastery. This ultimately led to his downfall. It wasn’t until 1978 that Rader sent a letter to television station KAKE in Wichita, claiming responsibility for the murders of the Oteros, Shirley Vian, Nancy Fox and Kathryn Bright. He suggested a number of possible names for himself, including the one that stuck: BTK. Since Eduardo had just whacked Rader, the acronym BTK remained unknown.

Using the combination of self-hypnosis and automatic writing, I had been successful recalling facts and events about these real crimes I had downloaded to my memory in 2043. The title of my first novel would be Bind, Torture, Kill. Obviously, names, dates, and locations would all be changed. My second novel would be on Ted Bundy, The Vampire Next Door.

And I already had an idea for my third novel. The protagonist, a gritty cold case detective for the D.C. police department named Walter Carter. He was recruited to join a secret government project that invented a time travel apparatus in 2020, the year Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald was to be paroled. They want Carter to return to February 1970 and find out who really murdered his pregnant wife, Colette, and daughters, Kimberly and Kristen. I could use my knowledge about the case, his conviction, prosecutorial misconduct, and DNA evidence to weave an intriguing plot. Even now, fours later the case was still getting a lot of publicity. Laureen thought my ideas for these novels were fantastic.

 

*****

 

July 15, 1975:

 

I was completely engrossed writing my BTK novel, when I realized that two weeks from today John Wayne Gacy would murder another teenager. Gacy had started his own construction business, PDM Contractors in 1972. The business undertook minor repair work, such as landscaping, pouring concrete, and remodeling.

One of Gacy’s employees, seventeen-year-old John Butkovich, would disappear on Wednesday the twenty-ninth. Butkovich had recently left Gacy’s contracting business after an argument over back pay he was owed. Butkovich’s parents urged police to check out Gacy, but nothing came of it and the young man’s disappearance was never solved.

Gacy had already killed two teenage boys and would eventually be convicted in 33 murders. He buried 28 of his victims in shallow graves under his house and garage. He would be executed in 1994. I still hadn’t purchased a gun and my paranoia with Hunt had subsided. I called the number in Germany Hunt had given me and left a message. He called two days later. I gave him the number of a public phone around the corner on Westwood Blvd and asked him to call there in 15 minutes. He didn’t question my reason. I ran over and waited for his call. I gave him the “target.” I told him I had thought about eliminating him myself and he replied, “You’re outta your league, Goldberg.”

Ten days later, I received a certified letter. This time it was from author Truman Capote. Inside was a clipping of an obituary notice from the Chicago Tribune announcing the untimely death of John Wayne Gacy, Jr., who had died from a sudden heart attack at age of thirty-three.

Hunt’s next “target” was David Berkowitz. Berkowitz and I attended Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx, but he graduated in 1971. He would kill six people, wound nine, and terrorize the New York metropolitan area for a year, starting with his first victims in July 1976. I gave Hunt his address on Pine Street in Yonkers and a description of his car, a 1970 four-door, yellow Ford Galaxy.

 

CHAPTER 66

 

 

 

January 19, 1977:

 

Iarrived at the White House for my last meeting with President Nixon scheduled for ten a.m. Today, I’d be meeting with Nixon and President Elect Jimmy Carter to complete the final briefing in the transition of power before the inauguration tomorrow. Nixon had kept my status a secret from his Carter until now. Nixon hadn’t taken my warning fours years ago to drop Agnew from the ticket. Agnew resigned on October 10, 1973 pending criminal charges for tax evasion and taking bribes during his tenure as governor of Maryland. Nixon did select Gerald Ford as his VP to replace him. And history repeated when Ford lost to Carter in the next Presidential election.

When I entered the Oval Office, Carter was already at the desk. The renovation had been completed a few weeks ago and all Nixon’s belongings were gone.

“Jimmy, this is Jeff Goldberg,” Nixon said. “He’s been a very special advisor to me for past four years. Actually, he’s been my top secret confidant.”

I noticed the frown on Carter’s face when Nixon said, “top secret.”

Carter stood up and approached me to shake my hand. “Nice to meet you, Mr. Goldberg.”

“Likewise, Mr. President. Please call me Jeff.”

“Jeff, I will let you explain,” said Nixon.

I opened the lock from my metal briefcase and removed a loose-leaf binder, with the label FYEO on the cover. I handed it to Carter. He opened it to the first page that read Significant National and International Events 1977-1978.

His mouth was wide open when Nixon turned to him. “Jimmy, everything in there will occur with one hundred percent certainty. That’s been my experience working with Jeff.” Then he turned to me. “I guess you’d better explain it.”

Carter turned and looked at me with shock and anticipation in his eyes.

“Mr. President, I’m a remote viewer. I have the ability to perceive events in the future. I’m not a psychic. I actually view these events and gather information. I’ve been working with President Nixon since 1972 and, without going into specifics, I saved his Presidency from disgrace. You see, without my interference President Nixon would have resigned in 1974—”

“Better listen, Jimmy,” Nixon interrupted. “What he’s telling you is the absolute truth.”

Carter stared at me with a look of awe and skepticism.“This is only for one year.”

“I expect that you will see the accuracy and value in my remote viewing capabilities and keep me on the payroll.”

“Does anyone else know about this?” he asked.

“Only my wife is aware of my remote viewing powers,” I replied.

“I haven’t told anyone, not even Pat,” Nixon said. “That’s why I said top secret.”

“So what am I supposed to do with this information?” asked Carter.

“Jimmy, I just used it to stay on top of things that might get out of hand,” Nixon responded. “I knew in ’73 that Saigon was going to fall in April ’75, so I pulled our forces back to limit the damage. It probably saved thousands of our troops. I couldn’t implement a unilateral withdrawal at the time without raising a lot of red flags. Get my point.”

“Umm, sure,” mumbled Carter.

“Mr. President, you have to be willing to let history take its course without interfering,” I said. “What I mean is that if even if some terrible tragedy is going to happen, don’t attempt to stop it. As I told President Nixon, there may be a reason that we can’t comprehend. I have changed some minor events in my own life, and so far, only good things have resulted. The biggest event I altered was saving President Nixon from impeachment, and so far that doesn’t seem to have affected the space-time continuum.”

Carter looked overwhelmed, slumping in his chair.

“Jimmy, I’ve been paying Jeff one and half million each year for his counsel out of black ops funding. I strongly recommend you should continue to use his services.”

That’s nice of Nixon to give me a raise, I thought.

“Yes. I can see how valuable this can be,” said Carter.

“The most significant event that will occur during your Presidency is going to happen in 1979,” I said. “This event will have ramifications for the U.S. and the Middle East well into the next century. There is going to be an Islamic revolution in Iran, and we’re going to lose them as allies. The new Islamic leader is going to be Ayatollah Khomeini. He will overthrow the Shah and also take over the embassy in Tehran, taking all personnel hostages. Fortunately, there won’t be any casualties but the incident will be extremely embarrassing to the country.”

Carter sat up and seemed emboldened at having this knowledge. “What would you recommend we do?”

“Khomeini is going into exile in France in 1978 to escape the Shah’s secret police. I think this would be the best time to get him. My advice would be to authorize the CIA to terminate him, but make it seem like a natural death. An assassination would be way too controversial. Over the next few years, you should probably form some strong alignments with moderates in the country, so that when the Shah falls from power, it doesn’t fall under Islamic rule. I will prepare some more documentation on the Islamic Revolution so you’ll know how best to proceed.”

“I don’t know how comfortable I am arranging someone’s death for political purposes, even if it’s an enemy of the U.S.,” he said with a deliberate southern drawl.

I realized that there was a huge difference between Nixon and Carter. Nixon was a shrewd politician. He could channel his paranoia into achieving a positive result. Carter had lofty expectations to make Government more “competent and compassionate,” but economic woes such as inflation and high interest rates resulted in a recessionary downturn. Overall, his presidency was a failure. He was unable to generate confidence and optimism while he was in office.

“If you don’t take him out, then you won’t stop the revolution, that’s the bottom line,” I said. “It has far-reaching effects beyond just Iran. There is going to be a horrible war between Iran and Iraq that will kill over a million people. Even Israel is going to be terrorized by Khomeini, and you will also see the day when Iran has nuclear weapons.”

Nixon cleared his throat. “Sounds like the sensible thing to do, Jimmy. You have some time with this before you need to act. In the meantime, you can see how events there unfold. Also, if you have any doubts, which I’m sure you do, you’ll get a better grasp of this once you see that every event Jeff says will happen, actually does.”

Carter turned to Nixon, pointing to the binder. “I assume you keep this in the private vault you showed me?”

“Right.”

The meeting lasted about an hour, during which Carter wanted to know more about the specifics of how remote viewing actually worked. I only provided him sketchy details as I did with Nixon. By the time I left, I had the distinct feeling that I wouldn’t be back anytime soon.

 

*****

 

The Next Day:

 

Hunt and I met at Dulles Airport before my flight back to LA. I handed him three manila envelopes marked I, II, III. Inside envelope I were the details for his next “targets.” Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono were cousins. They were called the Hillside Strangler by the press because they committed their crimes in the hills above Los Angeles.

They kidnapped, raped, tortured, and killed ten girls and women ranging in age from 12 to 28 years old during a four-month period starting with their first victim October 18, 1977 to early 1978. They lived together at Buono’s house at 703 East Colorado Street, Glendale, where he ran an auto upholstery business out of his garage.

Inside envelope II were details on Jeffrey Dahmer. He currently lived with his father in Bath, Ohio. Dahmer murdered seventeen men and boys between 1978 and 1991.

And inside envelope III were details on William Bonin, the Freeway Killer. He would rape, torture, and murder of a minimum of 21 boys and young men in a series of killings spanning between 1979 and 1980 in southern California. Bonin was also suspected of committing an additional fifteen murders.

I told Hunt there were two more left on my list one for 1983 and the other in 1984. He chuckled and said that was good because he was getting too old for this kind of action.

 

CHAPTER 67

 

 

 

August 16, 1977:

 

While vacationing in Southampton for the summer, I arranged for physicist Michio Kaku to join us for a weekend.

 

 

He was a professor of theoretical physics at the City College of New York. In 1974, he co-wrote the first paper on string theory. String theory, or as Kaku referred to it, the “theory of everything,” was a relatively young science at the time, that included such unusual concepts as superstrings, extra dimensions, and even alternative universes. Physicists like Kaku were hopeful that string theory would unlock one of the biggest mysteries of the universe, namely how gravity and quantum physics fit together. Dr. Gormley wrote Kaku a letter on my behalf, saying that although I wasn’t a physicist, I had information that would be vital to his research with superstring theory, quantum field theory, and even time travel. Of course, he couldn’t resist. He was going to be an ally to make certain that time travel was indeed invented again in 2037.

Dr. Kaku arrived for our meeting and joined Laureen and me for a pleasant informal dinner on the patio. Afterward, Laureen excused herself so we could talk privately.

I started out by asking, “Dr. Kaku, do you believe that time travel to the past is possible?”

He looked at me quizzically. “According to Einstein, it’s not. However, in string theory it is theoretically possible, but not with our present technology. Why do you ask?”

I lifted my metal briefcase onto the table, opened it, and handed him the same binder I gave to President Carter, but slightly revised. It also had the label FYEO on the front.

“Please open it and read.”

“What does FYEO mean?” he asked.

“For Your Eyes Only,” I said.

He opened it and read aloud, “Significant National and International Events That Will Occur 1976-2001.”

He looked up at me, smiling. ““Verrrry interesting, but…” he said, imitating the popular catchphrase of the German soldier character from Laugh-In. “This is a prank right?”

“No, I’m dead serious Dr. Kaku. Please continue reading.”

He read through to the last event: “The World Trade Center implodes after two airplanes hijacked by terrorists crashed into the towers, killing 2,900 people on September 11, 2001.”

“You see why this isn’t a joking matter,” I said.

“So how do you know all this?” he asked, looking stunned.

“Because I’m a time traveler from 2043. Tomorrow an earthquake and tidal wave will hit the Philippines killing 8,000 people.”

He started to get up. His hands trembled as he held the binder and then tossed it on the table in front of me. The expression on his face tensed and turned very serious as if he couldn’t believe, or didn’t want to believe what he just heard. Then I could see the anger in his wide eyes.

“If someone put you up to this—” he barked.

“I’m here from 2043 because of your work, because you and one of your protégés, Dr. Arnold Sklare, will be instrumental in the invention of time travel. I thought you would like to know that.”

“Well yes, of course, but—”

“I will prove to you beyond any doubt that I am a time traveler. In the folder, I explain the circumstances of how time travel was invented and used starting in 2037. I also provide you with the details of my experience at the Space/Time Manipulation Center, but I can’t give you the physics behind it all.”

He looked down at me. “But these disasters—how do you cope having this knowledge?”

“I try not to dwell on the tragedies that I know are inevitable. Instead, I try to focus on how to use what I know about future events for the good of society,” I said. “And in some extreme cases it has even meant—well, I won’t go there.”

He stared at me intently then sat back down.

“So why are you telling me this?”

“Unfortunately, you weren’t alive when Dr. Sklare invented the procedure to manipulate the space/time continuum in 2035.”

“Huh.”

“Your research laid the foundation that helped make time travel possible,” I said. “I want to be sure that time travel gets invented in 2037, again. Hopefully, you can experience time travel yourself.”

Nodding his head in agreement, he said, “As a physicist, that would be akin to proving that God exists. But as you already told me I didn’t live to see its implementation.”

“That can be changed, Dr. Kaku.”

I went on to explain as best I could that time travel technology had something to do with wormholes.

“I can only tell you that I traveled back through time in a wormhole.”

“Impossible! That’s just not possible. You’d be crushed by gravity.”

“I guess you and Sklare must have found a solution to that problem in the future.”

I described to him the world of 2043, and about nanotechnology and nanochips. How I time traveled, and why I came back to 1971. But I didn’t tell him about advising Nixon and Carter.

We arranged to meet again the next day.

The devastation from the earthquake was already on the news. I could see that Michio was both shocked and saddened by what we watched on TV. He sat at the table, shaking, with his head in his hands.

“Jeff, what good is time travel if we can’t prevent this things?”

“No one can prevent an earthquake,” I said.

“True. But we could warn people,” he said.

“Even if we tried, I doubt anyone would believe us. We can’t play God, Michio. Or, maybe we can.”

“What do you mean—maybe we can play God?”

“Let’s just say I’ve intervened in ways that ultimately saved many, many lives.”

“You know, Jeff, as a physicist I can grasp the concept of time travel, but as a member of the human race it boggles my mind. Knowing the future can be a dangerous thing.”

“I agree, but it can also be used to achieve great things for humanity,” I said.

“Have you considered forming a secret society with people from religious, economic, scientific, and political backgrounds to consult with on how to best use this knowledge?” he asked.

“I’ve given it some thought, but I think the fewer people who know, the better. I have only shared this knowledge with a select few I know I can trust and can offer me guidance when I need it. I don’t think this would be an easy thing for people to keep to themselves. I also fear for my personal safety as well as my wife and family, if you catch my drift.”

“Yes, yes of course.”

“I’ve followed you over the years as you have become quite famous. I feel that you have excellent judgment and a good heart. I believe I can trust you. I know that the advancement of science is your passion, but what society does with it is another story. Of course, that applies to controlling the atom as well.”

“That’s true. I lost family in Hiroshima,” he said.

“I also know that your parents were placed in the Tule Lake Relocation camp during the war. My wife Inez, before I time traveled, was born in Manzanar.”

“Have you attempted to change anything, you know, in your past?” he asked hesitantly.

“Yes, I have. Hopefully, only in good ways,” I said. “I can change your past, too, Michio.”

“Some very popular theories, among us physicists, are that if a time traveler were to change the past, it would result in parallel universes. Others believe the space/time continuum could possibly collapse, or that the past cannot be changed because any attempt would create a paradox,” explained Michio.

“Well, so far it hasn’t collapsed since we’re still here, and as far as I know I haven’t experienced a parallel universe. I’m not sure I would know it even knew if I did. Haven’t encountered any paradoxes yet either,” I said, grinning.

“But you don’t know how these changes you’ve made here would affect your own time?” he asked.

“I can’t go back to my own time, since I don’t have any actual time machine.”

“Then you are living in a parallel universe, because the time you came from theoretically still exists.”

“So are you saying that once time travel became possible, that proved the existence of parallel universes?”

“That’s correct. Oh my goodness, Jeffrey, you sitting right here, at this very moment in time and space…I have the proof,” he said, clasping his hands enthusiastically.

“What does it mean if there are parallel universes?” I asked.

“I’m afraid I haven’t yet formulated those theories, but now I’ll get to work on them.”

“Michio, you died in a car accident during a bad storm. Before time travel was invented. Your death can be avoided. At the right time, I will give you the specifics, so you can take the proper precautions. If I were you, I wouldn’t leave the lab that night.”

“And when would be the right time to tell me this?” He asked.

“It will be my gift to you when I’m certain that you followed your destiny.”

“So, if I decide to become a carpenter tomorrow—then I’ve changed my destiny.”

“Perhaps, but the final breakthroughs were accomplished by your protégé, Dr. Sklare.”

“And hypothetically, if I were to kill Dr. Sklare?”

“Somehow, I don’t think that’s in your nature, but you mustn’t utter a word of this to him.”

“No, you’re right, and neither would be abandoning physics, especially after what you’ve told me.”

“You have many theories to prove and books to write. And you will head the government program researching time travel.”

“So please, tell me about the future.”

“Where should I start? In the next century, virtually all diseases will be cured and people will live well over one hundred years of age. Cars will drive themselves, and everyone will have a virtual computer…”

 

CHAPTER 68

 

 

 

December 5, 1977:

 

After renting the apartment in Westwood for three years, we purchased Al Jolson’s former house on Louise Street in Encino. However, our dog, Jolie had been acting a bit strange since we moved in. Sometimes he would bark when no one was around and I wondered if he sensed Al Jolson’s spirit. I knew I felt his presence.

I made the decision that it would be necessary to intervene in Inez’s life. I wanted to make sure that she found someone to love and take care of her. I thought it best not to tell Laureen about my plan. I didn’t know if she would approve of my plan or not, but it didn’t really concern her. Besides, I didn’t know where Inez worked or lived when we moved to LA three years ago but now I did.

I drove down from the Valley to Paul Revere Junior High in Brentwood. I needed to speak with Joe Coleman, my brother-in-law—the first time around. Although based on what Michio Kaku recently told me, Joe would have been my brother-in-law in the universe I left. While waiting for him in the teacher’s parking lot, I saw Inez and her sister Virginia walking to their cars after school. Since Inez and Joe had no idea who Laureen and I were, it would be impossible to arrange a double date with us to get a romance between them started. Anyway, they already knew each other. I devised a plan but it required I take the risk and tell him the truth. When Joe walked past my car, I got out and approached him.

“Excuse me, Joe Coleman.” He turned and looked at me and probably thought I was the parent of one of his students. “My name is Jeff Goldberg. You don’t know me, but I have to speak to you.”

“How can I help you?” he asked.

“Well, it’s really more about how I can help you,” I said.

Looking confused he took a step back. “What do you mean?”

“Is there someplace we can talk in private?”

“I guess we can use my classroom. Everyone should be gone by now.” I followed him to the classroom. He unlocked the door and asked, “Which one of my students does it concern?”

“I think you might want to sit. Joe, do you remember that TV show from the late ’50s called The Millionaire?”

“Yeah so what about it?”

“Well, Joe I want to give you a million dollars.”

“Really?” he said sarcastically.

“Really,” I said.

“And what do I have to do for it?”

“First let me explain.”

“I’m listening.”

“In 1980 I married Inez Ikkanda.”

“The Inez who teaches here?” he asked, looking bewildered.

“Yes.”

“What do you mean in 1980 you married Inez?”

“The last time I lived in 1980 I met Inez and we got married. You even attended our wedding.”

“Is that so? I’m sorry, but I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”

I handed him a type paper that read:

 

Superbowl XII, January 15, 1978. Cowboys beat Broncos 27-10. Randy White and Harvey Martin named MVPs. First quarter score Cowboys 10, Broncos 0. Second quarter score Cowboys 13, Broncos 0. Third quarter score Cowboys 20, Bronocs 10. Fourth quarter score Cowboy 27, Broncos 10. Jeff Goldberg 213-277-2471.

 

“What does this have to do with anything?” he asked impatiently.

“You could make a ton of money with this information,” I said.

“That’s if I believed any of it.”

“Watch the game,” I said.

“But it still doesn’t explain about you and Miss Ikk—I mean Inez.”

“Right. I tell ya what, Joe, watch the game next month, and then give me a call and we’ll talk some more. In the meantime, you might want to hop on a quick flight to Vegas and put a few thousand on the Cowboys.”

“Thanks, but no thanks. I don’t gamble.”

“That’s fine. Just do me one favor don’t discuss our meeting with Inez. Promise me.”

He got up. “This is a joke, right? Howard put you up to it.”

“It’s not a joke, Joe. I have a bankbook here with your name on it. There’s a million dollars in the account,” I said, handing it to him.

“Even if this is for real, you still haven’t told me what I have to do.”

“Let’s discuss that at our next meeting. Promise me you won’t say anything to Inez or Virginia about our meeting, otherwise this is null and void.”

“Okay, okay, already, I promise. Now can we get outta here?”

 

*****

 

Joe called me on Sunday night after the game and agreed to come by the house the following weekend. When he arrived, we went into the study.

“Nice house,” he said.

“Thank you. It’s Al Jolson’s former home.”

“Really?”

“Can I get you some coffee or a glass of wine?”

“Coffee is fine.”

“Be right back.” I brought in a tray with coffee and cream and two slices of chocolate cake with frosting.

“I know you have a thing for chocolate cake. It’s homemade,” I said.

“And how do know that?”

“Don’t worry I’ll explain, enjoy.”

“So did you have anything on the game, Joe?”

“No.”

“Too bad. I won over a hundred grand in Vegas. It’s all going to our charities, of course,” I said handing him slice of cake.

“I told you I don’t gamble. But I did watch the game and everything you wrote happened.”

“Would you be interested in a sure thing then?”

“That depends. Ummm, delicious cake, nice and moist.”

“Thank you, my wife made it.”

“I thought you were going to marry Inez Ikkanda?”

“I said I had married Inez the last time I lived in 1980.”

“Oh, yeah, that’s right.”

“Let’s get down to business, Joe. The Superbowl score was just the tip of the iceberg. What if I told you which stocks to invest in over the next thirty years and where to buy property that would make you millions?”

“And how would you know that?”

“I know, because I already lived through that time. I saw this Superbowl already, too. I know you like chocolate cake and that you divorced Debbie a few years ago. I know you’re taking accounting courses right now and plan on leaving teaching to become a CPA.”

He looked at me with astonishment. “That’s all true. If this is a practical joke, it’s going too far.”

“I can assure you it’s not.” I went to the safe, took out a sheet of paper, and handed it to him.

“Joe, these are some of the major events that will take place this year.”

He read it. “Are you some kind of psychic?”

“No, I’m a time traveler. I came back to 1971 from 2043 to relive my past. I married Inez in 1980 and she died in 2029 at age eighty-nine. We were married for forty-nine years.”

“This is all very confusing,” he said.

“Time travel was invented in 2037. I came back to 1971, because my wife, Laureen, who was my college sweetheart, died of cancer in 2010 and I wanted to save her. Even though Inez and I had a long and happy marriage, Laureen was my first love. We got married in 1972 this time around, and now that changes the future for Inez.”

“So—if you got to travel back in time, how come I didn’t?”

“Because you died before time travel ever existed.”

“Umm. So what does all this have to do with me?”

“I want to be sure that Inez will have a happy life. She’s a wonderful person, and since I won’t be in her life this time, I don’t want her to meet some jerk or maybe no one at all. She likes and respects you, and I know you would take good care of her.”

Joe looked at me with astonishment. “This is insane. I can’t believe this. You actually want me to have a relationship with Inez Ikkanda?”

“Yes, but that’s not all. I want you to marry her. That’s how you’ll get the million dollars, Joe. I’ll see to it that you guys are set for life financially. It will be my wedding present.”

“First off, I never thought of Inez as other than a friend. I mean she’s a nice person but—anyway, she would never go out with another teacher from Revere. And I don’t think she believes in arranged marriages either!”

“It’s very possible your perception of Inez could change after you go out a few times. She is a wonderful person. She’s intelligent, caring, and she has a good heart. I’m sure if you’re persistent, you can get a few dates and see what happens. If things don’t work out, well then, you have nothing to lose.”

“I really can’t believe we’re having this conversation,” he said, shaking his head.

“Just start off with something casual, like maybe a double date with Virginia and Howard or whomever. You’re gonna have to go slow with her anyway, because she’s never been in a relationship before.”

“Don’t tell me she’s a virgin.”

I told him so many things about Inez that only another man would appreciate. He blushed, but I could see it excited him. He said he would try to arrange something and would keep me informed. I didn’t tell him that he had also been my brother-in-law by marrying Inez’s younger sister, Irene. I figured Irene, who had no problem meeting guys, would eventually find another mate.