Moments in Time
Focus. I need to focus. I get easily distracted by airplanes and parachutes but there is no airplanes or parachutes in the middle of the desert. There’s one lizard. His name is Bob. No. I can’t think about Bob right now. Fuck Bob. I know that in many dialects “fuck Bob” has reached popularity. In the middle of the Arizona desert, a town called Brinkfort, the use of the “F” word when referring to Bob has now reached six. A French couple moved in two weeks ago. It’s hard to keep track of all the languages. There’s English. Irish (which is English with a little whisky). Spanish. Cuban Spanish. Some guy that doesn’t make pizza but is a mechanic in town speaks Italian, so Italian (and he doesn’t like Bob, either). And now French. So, Bob, is maybe feeling a little down but no one really sees Bob. Fuck Bob is just an expression that people use to refer to a lizard of no significance. Sometimes, I feel like Bob, thus I say fuck Bob because I think if Bob, the green and ugly lizard, wasn’t alive, I wouldn’t have to feel like him.
An entire town meeting (of sixteen people) was being held to determine the outcome of the current shootings. In this case, I need to especially focus because, I am a Deputy’s daughter. I am a blond deputy’s daughter which means that, typically, I am handed paperwork by policemen to copy, which I conveniently find new ways to shred or throw back in their faces. On this particular morning, the tires of the black and white Ford Van Sedan (what you might call a Sedan if its wheels were those of a Van and it’s engine that of a four-stroke vehicle) were punctured. The excuse on Mile’s face, Mile’s is the policeman’s bitch or secretary, was that it was the shooting. I came to the dirt first, then to the wooden platform then to the screen door and then to a room with desks on either side busy with policemen making phone calls.
Miles approached me right away. He was arrogant and short and had pee-wee Herman hair, which means neatly combed and cow-licked black hair, shiny enough to be reflective. He was ugly. “I meant to say to you, Aaron, that your father called.”
I looked at him with a smile and said, “My father called and?”
“Said he needed your report.”
“Right,” I said. I took the path between the desks to the Deputy’s office in the back. The boss was sitting on his chair, focused on signing pieces of paper that continued coming in and out of his office. He was a tall and muscular Cuban man with green eyes. He didn’t like me, said I was a troublesome type, always into the wrong type of guy. This was true but why didn’t he like me? It’s because I wore glasses, I think. I’m not saying I looked like Dariah but my vision gets blurry when I’m not wearing them. Besides, Dariah had black hair and was sort-of into books. “I need you to look over the desk, Aaron.”
“What’s up, boss?” I said, slapping him on the shoulder. He didn’t like that I had come close to him. He got up and said, “I feel so uncomfortable right now. Anyway, keep to your space, Aaron. Your father expects that report.”
“On the shootings.”
“The shootings of the night before?”
where people got killed and such with bullets, that one?”
“You been drinking, Aaron?”
“Yes, A lot,” I said. Then, I looked at the ceiling. It was hard not to stare at the light bulb which was flickering on and off.
“Yes, that’s a cause of the shooting, which also needs to be in your report, no later than the end of the day, Aaron.”
“In that case, I’ll tell you the truth, chief. I don’t remember anything. I may have been drugged.”
“But you were here all night. It was your shift.”
“It was not my shift,” I said. “It was Aaron’s shift.”
“That’s right, you’re Aaron.”
“Wrong Aaron. Another Aaron, maybe a boy Aaron.”
“Are you playing tricks with me? There’s no boy Aaron around here, Deputy. I suggest you get your act together and focus. Really see if you can recall what happened last night. A man died, for god’s sake.”
“I understand that it’s serious,” I said, really trying to sound sincere, “I just can’t seem to focus on yesterday, never could. I can only worry about today. Today is my thing; it’s what I do. Yesterday, well, that already happened. Sad, though. I think I knew that man.”
“He guarded you when you were younger.”
“Hmm, yes, Carl, the grocery clerk. Not the best man ever but yes he was good enough. Was into reggae a lot more than a white man should be.”
“He was Mexican, Aaron.”
“That explains a lot,” Aaron said, “Especially the spicy tuna. Hmm, well, that’s one mystery solved, chief.”
away… to your office. I expect a legit
As I turned from the air-conditioned office that smelled of Pinesol and sweet harbor-tree musk cologne (now on sale at your local mall for 5.99), I noticed that there were black sedans parked outside. “What’s that?” I asked the chief before leaving.
“FBI. They’re very curious to know what happened last night as well. As is everyone. All this mess is clouded in mystery. With you not remembering what happens between twenty-four hour periods, a missing murder weapon, no blood at the scene, a hole in a man’s chest and the paramedics saying that he wasn’t drained of his blood. They said he began to bleed once he was already in the coroner’s office. You need to explain to me how that happens, Aaron. One little clue would help. Also, the fact that there’s no fingertips or video. It clearly occurred last night. He had a ticket stub from the theatre and yet… nothing on the camera’s. The only thing I did see on the camera was you, stumbling drunk, arguing with a dead lizard.”
“Oh,” I said, “Did Bob die? No wait, Bob was alive, chief.”
“Get out of my office.”
It was true. I could not remember yesterday. It wasn’t even short-term or long-term memory loss. It was everything lost. Yesterday might as well be a cloud in the sky. Yesterday is a hiding thief. All my yesterdays, stolen. I do remember my first love, though, if only because he had given me a pendant. It reminded me of him…literally. He’s not around anymore, having moved to another city and found someone much taller and prettier but he was nice enough to leave me the “token”. It literally said every morning at six a.m. “Hey, it’s me, your first love. Oh, wait, not…well, I kissed you first and touched your left boob, then you shot me in the leg. I live in another town now with a prettier and taller girl but I was nice enough to leave you this token, as a reminder, of course. Ouch, by the way.”
I shot him in the leg. He didn’t need to remind me of that. My dad said to me this morning that I will remember it all, since it’s not me losing my memory. He told me, um, this morning that it was a predicament with time. I don’t know how he explained it at the time but it made sense but it had to do with skipping instances in time, not memory loss. It seemed like fiction to me, to make me feel better. I went with it with many “uh-huhs” but I didn’t care. Today, was a new day like every day, I guess. Literally, they were all new days. How was today different though? I didn’t understand. Today, I wanted to focus, that’s what made it different.
Things that I did remember: I remembered Bob. I remembered Miles but who could forget Miles? He was the living embodiment of a childhood actor. Ah-ha I remembered some people from television from way back when like Pee-wee Herman and Dariah but I don’t remember what they did in their shows, just their faces. Were they a duet or something? Why did I only remember those? I remembered Bob, though, that was important. The chief said that I was arguing with Bob near the time of the shooting. Then, I remembered… a flash of lightning. A flash of lightning… hmmm. Why did that make so much sense?
I was not drunk. I was wet. It had rained. Rain has something to do with video. The camera’s go out in the rain because of the circuits. Some idiot must have overlooked the time skips. Wait, just like me. I overlook time skips all the time. But I remember now! I wasn’t arguing with a lizard. I was arguing with a man holding an umbrella. Carl didn’t want to get off the road and you couldn’t see him because the rain had covered him from head to toe and he was wearing all black. Why didn’t he want to get off the road, though? Oh, he was drunk, which explains why I…hmm what does it explain. In any case, I stepped back into the chiefs office.
“What is it now, Aaron, back with some excuse?”
“I remember, chief.”
“You, what now?”
“I remember but not all of it. Carl was struck by lightning, that’s why he had a hole in his chest and no blood. He, it was raining I think and the lizard was alive but I wasn’t talking to it. I was talking to Carl, who was drunk but I don’t know how that fits.”
“It fits because you thought you were drunk last night, Aaron, don’t you remember saying that to me two minutes ago?”
“I was in your office two minutes ago?”
“Very funny, what’s going on? How is it that you now remember something and before you didn’t remember anything and you don’t remember being in my office just two minutes ago?”
“I don’t know,” I said.
Then, I jumped forward in time.
“I don’t know,” I said. The chief looked at me and said, “You just told me everything, how you saw Carl get hit by lightning.”
“I remember only Carl,” I said. What was going on? I only saw the red-haired man and his umbrella. I didn’t see anything else, not the clues that the chief said I gave to him and not the things which he needed me to focus on. I couldn’t focus.
Then, the first rain drop hit me in the eyes. I looked up at what used to be a clear blue sky. Gray and black clouds descended upon us. Carl took his umbrella and sheltered me from the rain. “What is going on?” I asked Carl.
“It’s the Black Witch,” Carl said, “She’s after you.”
“Because you can manipulate time, Aaron.”
“Is that why I can’t remember anything?”
“No,” Carl said, “That’s why you do remember. Remembering is not the important thing. Now, focus.”
I tried to do as Carl said. He looked weary and nervous. I saw the black witch coming from across the way into the small dirt-road. She was driving a black and red vehicle, a corvette. She had on a red dress and a black tiara like a princess. She was perhaps, sixteen or maybe older with that smug look on her face. “You are the reason why the world must end?” The black witch asked.
“I don’t know what you’re saying right now,” I said, “I was barely conscious two minutes ago and then I remember describing the death of Carl, Carl?” I looked over my shoulder. The umbrella hung there in mid-air but Carl wasn’t holding it, nothing was holding it. It dropped onto the street when I noticed it. Wearing only my black sweater and a pair of loose blue jeans, I got soaked instantly. Blue and white streaks of lightning lingered in the sky.
The girl got out of the corvette, having been seated this whole time with one hand on the wheel. The air around her seemed to separate the water from her body. Nothing touched her being. “It’s a trick of the mind, Aaron,” The black witch said. She waved a hand and the corvette turned to brown dust that was instant mud in the rain. It made a splashing sound as it meshed with the rain. Now, that the reality had hit, the smell of mud lingered in the air. The black witch smelled like nothing but I was afraid of her. I shivered visibly as the rain pounded in the streets and began to muffle the sound of our voices.
“Are you going to kill me?” I asked her.
“Yes,” The black witch said. “Right in front your guardian.”
“You didn’t think that a powerful time sorceress would leave her castle in the sky without a guardian, did you? You’re so out of your time, Aaron or should I say…. Melissa? Frankly, I’m tired of playing these games. I wish you’d remember already but I am glad you do not. It would break your heart, if you did.”
“But if that’s true, where is he, then?”
“You mean your lizard? He’s dead. I made sure of that.”
“Bob was my guardian?”
than that, he was your link to the human reality, that’s why when I killed him,
you changed time for me. It’s not fair,
to be able to change the rules that way.
What kind of crazy person are you?”
The lightning now danced in small circles around my feet. “It’s going to start slow, the electrifying feat but soon the whips of lighting will mingle with your skin like new veins and then, at the heart, that’s when they grip your core and singe it free of this nightmare.”
She was true to her word. The lightning balls became thinner like tiny ropes and they crawled their way into my jeans burning through them to my skin. I could see my clear white skin turn blue from my feet up but all the lightning did was tickle. It felt like a shower of feathers on the skin. I had to close my eyes to remove it from my mind. However, before they reached, my heart… I forgot. I forgot the human world.
My eyes turned green. I no longer needed my Aaron glasses. I had Melissa’s true sight. I could see my past but not only that, I could see the past of everyone. I could see my chief’s past, my lizard’s past, my old boyfriend’s past. I could see the past of those who had passed away. I could also see part of the future, the part which I had already lived. In the past, I had a sister named Rebecca with black and green hair who liked to wear dresses, red mostly. We loved each other a lot and lived under the same roof inside a castle where we played in the garden every day under the care of our servant Robert, otherwise known as Bob the lizard, because his hand had been turned green by one of Rebecca’s troublemaking schemes. She was trying to make a flying potion and Robert stopped her just in time or she would have been turned into a frog. Robert was turned back into a human by their father, who died of old age but he couldn’t turn him all the way back so Robert kept a green hand. I could hear my father telling me to sleep soundly and that some day I would remember it, that I would remember it all. A tear escaped my eye.
Rebecca, the black witch, laughed. “You still crying, Melissa?”
I smiled. She had noticed my green eyes, so I took my glasses off and flipped my hair. It was frilly and in curls from the traveling lightning.
“Why are you smiling, Melissa, don’t you know that lighting will burn you soon enough?”
“Pop quiz,” I said then added, “Sister.”
Rebecca’s tiara flew from her head in an attempt to chop my head off with magic. It was too late. I had my power back. Everywhere, time stopped. The lightning crawling at my thighs, now revealed by the lack of courtesy from the lightning, paused. It still burned blue but it was un-moved like a broken clock. “Which is faster lightning or time?”
“Why didn’t I stop, then?” Rebecca asked. I grabbed her tiara from mid-air and placed it on her head.
“Silly,” I said, “It’s because you never moved.”
When I woke up the next morning, Rebecca was jumping up and down on the bed. “What the hell happened, why am I like this?”
“Oh, that? It’s like my dad said, ‘I will remember everything.’”
“But I can’t make things float.”
“Yea, you lost your magic when you regained your conscious self. You gotta go to school, focus on that.”
“What about magic?”
“There’s plenty of magic in this world.”
“What about real magic?”
“That’s what I meant. Now, me? I gotta go to work. You, young lady, should learn to respect your elders, school in Brinkfort will be a good start. They still use rulers for discipline.”
Rebecca never understood what I did for her. I just made her brain remember how to be a sixteen year old. Remembering wasn’t after all about the mind but about manipulating time. I went to work with my hair down and no glasses. My eyes had turned normal human green and my blonde hair was soft and curly. I went to visit Carl’s mother. Carl answered the door. The tall red-headed twirty-something man greeted me at the door. “Sorry, um, miss?”
“Carl!” I uttered, excited. I was wearing my deputy uniform and felt embarrassed at the momentary relapse. “I think I owe you an apology. It was family business, you understand right?”
“Even the lightning, miss?”
I blushed, “I didn’t take that away from her, though I probably should.”
“So, why didn’t you save Robert, miss? Why save me?”
“I can’t let my love for you expire, Carl. I shot you in the leg but we can look past that, right?”
“Didn’t you get my message, Mel—I mean, Aaron?”
“You found someone prettier than this?” I asked, displaying my form to him. He looked deeply into my green eyes and said, “No. It’s you. I found you.” He opened the door and revealed a copy of me, the me that was the old me with the glasses, that forgot a lot, that used to play games and get drunk and eat chips on the couch. It was the same thin me but with glasses and brown eyes and not wearing pink like I was but a black sweater and blue jeans. “Hey, it’s me,” She or I said to me from Carl’s couch, “Hi, me,” she said, smiling, “I’m just kidding. I’m your twin sister, Vanessa. I’m the reason why the chief got confused earlier. You here for Carl, right? He’s cute but, yea, taken, check out the ring, it’s real silver, cha-ching, anyway, nice to meet you, sis or whatever time-skipper, some junk Carl always makes up but you are real pretty, not what I expected…at all, wanna come in play, drink, have some chips?”
“Well,” Carl said, “Sometimes, your father, he liked to play with time and with your mother at the same time, which resulted in…?”
“Me having a twin sister?”
“Multiple twin sisters,” Carl said, “I just managed to marry the one.”
“Who married the others?”
“Not anyone in Brinkfort,” Carl said. “But if you look at the chief’s current girlfriend….she’s the black-haired version of the current you.”
“Don’t tell me, my other twin is with Miles.”
“No, most of the you that are you, only come to me and really dislike Miles for some odd reason. There’s only four of you. The fourth one… is…um… more promiscuous.”
“She’s a what now?”
“Likes to share.”
“She the who?”
“Really likes her job, if you know what I mean.”
“I remember all of the world’s past but I don’t know for the life of me, what you are trying to say to me….at this moment.”
“Good,” Carl said, quickly and closed the door.
Had I just saved the day, only to be out-done by my less active sisters, who it seemed had taken a turn
for the better when it came to romance, well, except for that last one, who apparently had the perfect
job? It was okay, I guess, but Bob had died. I so feel like dead Bob.