Raising The Stakes On A Past Winner
The plan was to see if I could somehow establish contact with my deceased father via the leather flying jacket. If it was possible for that jacket to exist in two places at one and the same time, the past and the present, just maybe I could communicate with him. I could try putting the jacket on and see if that would transport me into the past as it seemed to have done earlier, but quite frankly that scared the hell out of me. God only knows what it would do to my mother and father. To meet up with an as yet unborn child of the future could very easily end in disaster. Instead I decided to write a short letter to my father and put it in the inside pocket of the jacket in the hope that he would find it and respond. I took hold of an old faded Basildon Bond notebook and an old biro and set to.
"Dear Jack Chandler
If and when you find this letter then please write at the bottom “Got It” and place it back inside the pocket where you found it. Thank you.
PS You can’t trust a fart."
The last line was something my father often used to say and just maybe it would serve the purpose of pricking his interest.
I then neatly folded the letter and placed it inside the inside pocket of the jacket. Then I fell back down on the bed and rubbed my chin as I sat thinking about what I had embarked upon. The thought occurred that whichever way this went it was teetering on insanity. I asked myself more than once if I was losing my mind.
The thought entered my head that what had happened earlier was just some imaginative yearning, a mental or psychological quirk, some rogue neurotransmitter running amok in my mind. Then again, nothing ventured nothing gained. And with that self justifying thought in mind I lay back on the bed and fell fast asleep.
Some hours later, before the five o’clock sunrise, my eyes eased open and due to the cloak of darkness that still shrouded the night I came to in a gentle way. Slowly I sat up on the bed and rubbed my eyes and lightly scratched my cheek.
I looked over to the still open wardrobe to see that nothing had changed except....the leather jacket was now facing the opposite direction, or was that too all in my mind? I gingerly made my way to the wardrobe and softly put my nervous fingers into the inside pocket to fish out the letter.
My hands were almost trembling as I held the Basildon Bond branded paper up to the soft moonlight that seeped through the old oak sash window. I breathed in deeply as I flipped the letter open to see written across the bottom...
“Got it. Now what?” Now what indeed, I thought to myself.
What’s more my father had chosen to date his response,‘January 3rd,1950’ as if it might somehow matter. As it turned out it mattered very much. 1950 was four years before my own birth, which made things a lot less complicated from more than one angle. There was no chance of me bumping into my younger self and since I hadn’t yet been born then neither had I been named.
This was more than I had hoped for. I had fully expected to find the letter devoid of any message from my father and I was quite prepared to write the whole episode off as a touch of over tiredness and grief provoked madness. The response changed everything. This was for real. Neither I nor anybody else had moved around in that room during the night. I needed to mull this over and consolidate my plan, a plan I never thought would come to anything. Now I was faced with carrying out that plan, whether I liked it or not.
As I sat downstairs in the kitchen sipping a hot cup of Earl Grey tea I started to go over once again what I now intended to do. The whole intent of this adventure was to try to change my father’s life ruining addiction to horse gambling. By spending every last penny he ever had, we lived a life of penury. And now here I was about to try to eliminate that habit with one crazy roll of the dice.
I had already taken the trouble to find out via the internet what horses came where in 1950. I found one horse rather aptly called ‘Old Leather Jacket’ which easily won his last race on January the fourth 1950. What was more, the horse won at good odds of twenty to one. With this I could win over my father’s confidence and hopefully execute my plan to perfection. I knew my father would not be able to resist what I had in mind to propose.
I took another piece of the Basildon Bond note paper and wrote......
“Aintree steeplechase, ten past ten in the morning, place five pounds to win at 20 to 1. Message me back after you collect your winnings.”
I knew that this seemed to be counter-productive to getting my father to quit blowing all of his money on betting on horses, but it was only the first part of the plan.
I once again placed the note inside the inside pocket, this time with a an old five pound note to cover the bet, and crossed my fingers that my father would simply follow my instructions and not spend the money on a beer with the lads. As it was early January the fourth, I would know in a matter of a few hours, hopefully.
I went downstairs to breakfast and sat with a mouth full of hot buttered toast and a heart and soul full of hope. If I was lucky my father would place the bet and message me back after he had won. Then it would be time to implement the next part of the plan.
I looked across the kitchen to an old piece of furniture that was both a dresser and a radiogram. A neighbour had gifted it to my mother many years ago after her elderly mother had died. As we were more or less as poor as a church mouse my mother gladly accepted and it served us well as a constant source of information and entertainment with news and music.
On her off days my mother would sing along to something like Sammy Kaye and Don Cornell doing ‘It isn’t fair.’ On her better days my mother would dance around the house to Red Foley singing an upbeat ‘Chattanoogie Shoeshine Boy.’
I got up and turned the old grammaphone on to see if it still worked. It did, after a fashion. There was lots of white noise and you needed to be ever so delicate twisting the tuner to pick up whatever station you could. I could hear all the sounds of my day accompanied by a great deal of static crackling, it was almost unlistenable. I just wasn’t in the mood to play with a recalcitrant tuner knob and turned the set off. Suddenly I had an idea.
I ran upstairs and flung open the wardrobe doors. I didn’t want to take dad’s old leather jacket just yet as it had some higher purpose to serve. However, if I could try on dad’s old wedding suit again.........
I ran back downstairs and put just the pinstripe blazer part of the the suit on. Then I turned on the radio gramophone again and began to search radio stations to see what came out. It was different than before that was for sure, it was all old fifties music interspersed with a Queens English commentary. It sounded like it could be the BBC Light Programme. Suddenly, I heard a noise at the door. Somebody was putting a key into the old Yale lock!