I sat back in my grav chair and sighed. I had witnessed so much history that I had come to believe in the fables about Miracles.
The greatest Miracle was the fact that there was what at the time was called a “United States of America”. I smiled. If someone in the past, especially early 21st Century, would have heard me repeat those words in a slight manner, they would have been ready to fight. What was equally an oxymoron; this was at a time that they would have been losing their rights, faster than any time in its history.
The world had evolved so very slow, so primitive in it’s thinking, so reluctant to think outside the box, it was, for the most part, The ME generation. Only it wasn’t just one generation, it had turned into a century. Trouble is, when thought patterns are allowed to replicate, that programs the DNA. Now you have multiple levels of habit and a more deep seated community for it to grow in.
Ahhhhh, quit thinking Jamie, it isn’t your job. Yours is to record history, accurately, thoroughly, with no disturbance to the leaves of time and the layers which they fall into.
The whole reflected set of thoughts was a flashback of the last weeks work. A double set of events, linked to a people that painted a painful picture of greed, vile, prejudice, and cruelty. Events that some of which were highly illegal, and horribly immoral.
OK, from the top. After Misha and I came back from the moon on Sunday, I found a message for my next week’s assignment. It read for the most part.
“Jamie, we need to have the period between 2016 and 2022, and the period of 1932 to 1936, USA recorded. Particularly, all history pertaining people of Hispanic culture. All records you can find copied and recorded. Do some digging for a couple of days and, oh yeah, brush up on your Spanish language, especially Mexican dialects.”
Misha and I had ice cream for dinner and hung on the deck till the setting sun behind us cast long shadows out over the city of Denver and the Great Plains beyond. Misha slipped out of her grav chair and came over and kissed me wetly on the lip. I licked my lips and mused.
“Umm, strawberry, yummy! I want all my kisses to be strawberry kisses from now on.”
She whispered, sexily, “Yaasss, it mixes so good with lime-vanilla. G’nite babe, the salt mines lie before, for tomorrow.”
“Yeah, salt mines…. g’nite love.”
I made a mental note to get some more personal recordings of especially the people in the thirties. I had done a job on the Great Depression of that period, it had to be a difficult time for even the sturdiest.
I leaned my grav chair back and opened videos of depression era 1930’s, dark grey pictures of dark grey men in ill-fitting suits and hats, with sour expressions, and a defeated look in their eyes. I did a side search for Mexican immigrants same period. My hologram blossomed into fields full of men women and children, picking cotton, oranges, apples, watermelons, and every other kind of food that grows. On and on it went as I deepened my search, not only videos but magazine pictures of what seemed like nothing but a people of labor. I muttered under his breath, “And who the F—-, would want to get rid of people that spend their lives working, and even more, why? For what reason?”
It had grown dark now. The lights out over the plains were dark, and Denver was beacon of light that could be seen from outer space. The air had chilled, time to call it a holiday well done. I stepped out my grav chair, and pressed the park button; it immediately drifted to the ceiling in a corner and hung there ready when needed. I turned and did the same for Misha’s chair, which promptly moved and parked itself next to mine.
The chairs had been a wedding gift from Misha’s parents. What a great piece of engineering! They would hang at whatever level you wished, at whatever level of firmness of cushion that you desired, and could set anywhere from straight up to full recline. The first day or so I found myself waking of a morning, still in my chair.
I had thanked her parents many times over. The company that manufactured them was in Fort Collins, just up the road. They were a by product of the latest disabled person’s mobility chairs, formerly know as wheel chairs. They had instantly gone viral on social media. And the company had grown rich.
By Thursday morning I had prepared myelf for the time jump. I had obtained permission to spend some overnights, and not return to my terminal at the end of his shift. I had to satisfy my personal questions about the times.
After log-in and time tether attachment, I pressed the button. I found himself just outside El Paso, Texas, May 17th, 2020. I stayed invisible for sometime, observing. Buses were coming in by the dozens. Someone mentioned the trucks need to go to the railroad terminal and load the people from the boxcars and bring them back to be processed. There was no processing, just people herded into cages, and then let out on the other side, to walk back across the bridge to Mexico. They were photographed and retina scanned, and fingerprinted, then turned out to walk over this huge bridge that formerly had been a highway filled with trucks transporting goods for both countries. But they had been closed weeks ago. Hmm, no chance of singling out anyone here to speak with, too much turmoil. Perhaps if I would just follow them into Mexico an occasion might arise.
I stepped out with a group headed west over the bridge over the Rio Grande. I stayed aloof until across the bridge, then as the crowd dispersed somewhat, I fell into line with an elderly gentleman and a man in his early sixties. At the end of the street was a plaza with benches and food vendors. The two men sat at a bench, the older gentleman seemed very forlorn, and totally exhausted. He had leaned on the other man the last block before reaching the resting spot. He patted the older man’s shoulder,
“It will be alright, Papa. Uncle Marcus said he would meet us before nightfall, and take us home with him. Wait here and I will get us some food.”
When he walked away, I looked around, and seeing myself alone, turned my visibility on. I stepped over to the bench near the old man, and sat down.
“Señor, are you alright?”
“What? Oh, si, I didn’t see you, until you spoke.”
“Pardon, I didn’t mean to startle you. You look exhausted, may I be of service?”
“Uh, gracias, but my son is here with me.”
“Oh, bueno. Have you traveled far today?”
“Si, they came to my home at four this morning. They took me and my son, and put us on a bus. I had no time to prepare food or to take my valuables, or even to call relatives.”
“Señor, how long had you lived in America?”
“Ahh, all of my life. I was born there. I have lived in America all my life except when I was but a nino. My father, in 1935, was forced out of the country in much the same way, when I was very small. He, too, had lived in America for years. He had a good job, he owned his own home. It was small, but we were happy. Do I know you? You seem very familiar to me, or perhaps I knew your family?”
My thoughts raced. How could the old man know me? I had never seen him before. Then it hit me. In my present time, he could not, but I will go to his past and meet his father, and it will be from that meeting will come his memory.
“Perhaps, sir, you may remember, I am not sure. We will speak of it more later. Your son is coming with food and something to drink, you rest now.”
“Señor, what are you doing here with my father? He has had very tiring day.”
“Yes, I know. We were just discussing that. He appeared very weak, I asked him if I could help him. He told me you would be back. I am very sorry for your troubles, it seems the world has gone mad, at least the United States.”
“Yes, it seems so. His brother will be here soon, to pick us up and take us to his home.”
At about that time a dark sedan pulled up. A man in his 70’s exited the vehicle and walked to us with a cane. He was wearing jeans and a western shirt.
“Luis! Hermano, what has happened? This is madness!”
He wrapped his arms around the older man, embracing him.
“Come, let us get you in the car, and take you where you can lie down and rest. Arturo, help your father. You, young man, would you please help? You are welcome to come along, this area might not be safe at night, with all this masses of people being forced in. Madre de Dios! I know not what is going to happen to us! Come, hurry.”
We all loaded into the sedan and a short drive later, pulled up to a rambling house in a rural area. Two dogs greeted us with barks and wagging tails, and two horses watched us from a board corral fence. A couple of goats munched bits of a small bush. Chickens wandered everywhere.
The younger brother, whose name was Marcus, climbed out and gave orders for us to get his brother out and bring him inside, and we followed his directions. As we entered a lady, perhaps in her late 50s or early 60, met us.
“Oh, Luis! What has happened?”
“Maria, turn down the covers in the day bed, and let us get Luis comfortable. Then we will talk,” Marcus ordered.
“Si Marcus, momento, por favor!”
Soon the older man was resting comfortably. Arturo, exhausted from caring for his father all day, collapsed on the couch in the living room. Marcus asked me to come into the kitchen and Maria would make us some food. I complied, thanking him. We sat down and had a early dinner of tortillos and frijoles with some type of peppers and meat that was delicious. I secretly wished that Misha might have been there.
I looked up at Marcus, “Gracias, Señor Marcus, Señora Maria, for your hospitality. Luis told me just before you came that his father was deported in 1935, when he was a small boy. Do you know why?”
“Si. Crazy gringo Politicians, and probably rich white men as well. It was all well before I was born. Luis is my half brother, his father passed away not too long after he was deported. Our mama remarried, she was younger than Luis’s father,” he looked at Maria, “much younger. Years later, since he was a citizen, he was able to return to Refugio. His mother stayed here, and met my father, and I was born. As I grew up, I never had much trust for the Norte Americanos, and so, that brings me to you. What is your business here?”
“Fair enough. Yes, I have some Mexican heritage, so springs my interest. But I also write for a Mexico City magazine, and I am a member of Amnesty International. I got myself deported to follow the story, and see if there is not a way of ending this travesty. My question to you; do you have any idea as to when Luis’s father was deported in the 30’s?”
“Maria, would you please bring me the big bible? I am a lucky man. I met Maria when I was in my 50’s. We fell in love and have built a simple but wonderful life together.”
Maria placed the large bible on the table before Marcus. He opened it and ran his finger down the page.
“Yes, he was taken at Refugio, on April 12, 1934 and sent to El Paso as well. It was vey hard for him, he was not as old as Luis but still, an old man.”
“Thank you,” I replied. I sat back from the table and pulled a small note pad from my pocket and wrote down the time and date and place.
“Oh, yes, and what is Luis last name and what was his father’s?”
“His father’s name was Roberto Ramirez. Luis is also the same last name. Do you think your writing will help this evil thing?”
“Señor Marcus, I am sorry to say, I know not.”
I could not tell him that 5 years from now would see a huge change in politics. I also couldn’t tell him about the difficulties that lay in the future. I leaned back, and closed my eyes.
“Ah, young man, where is my manners? You are tired! Come, you can use my son’s room. He is away for the month, it is detached from the house. Follow me.”
I did so, and found myself in a roomy little bungalow just comfortable for one person. When Marcus left, I lay down on the bed that was covered with a big serape style cover. I looked around at the various possessions that belong to this young man. A soccer ball, pictures of Soccer stars, some beautiful dark eyed girls, a large framed document. Some older toys from days gone past. My eyes started to close. I roused myself long enough touch the side of my ring, a hologram popped up of the monitoring agent back at home in the 26th century. I told her I was just checking in, and all was well, would contact in about 8 hours my time. Then I slept.
My eyes, opened with difficulty. A strange trumpeting sound erupted several times outside my window, jarring me to life. I raised myself on one elbow. A cock was sitting on a low wall, about 20 feet away, notifying the world that the sun had once more made it light and food was to be served momentarily. I dropped back. What an interesting alarm clock. There was also baaa’s from the goats and nickerings and squeals from the horses.
I dressed quickly and wandered outside and back toward the main house. As I went I saw Maria and a younger woman coming from the barns. They had a bucket of milk, I thought, although I had never seen such a thing up close, and an apron of eggs.
“Buenos dias! This is my daughter, Angela. Angela, Señor… oh pardon! What did you say your name was?”
“Good morning. I am not sure I did, we were all very tired last evening. It is Jamie.”
“Ah, Señor Jamie, come to the kitchen, we are about to have breakfast.”
Minutes later, the 6 of us were seated around a big table of eggs and bacon and homemade hot tortillas, frijoles, a big dish of whipped butter, and a jar of honey, and a half dozen other dishes I didn’t recognize. Luis and Arturo seemed to be restored, but both had worried looks on their faces. Both faced an uncertain future this morning.
Luis said the blessing on the food, and closed it by saying
“And Father, protect these families that have been sent here, who have no family such as we have to help them in these trying times. Protect the little children, that have no bed this day to lay their head on, nor a hot meal like that which has been prepared here before us. For such we thank thee, Amen.”
Maria responded, “Yes, and how about those families that have no ties in Mexico, no family here? Some don’t even speak Spanish. How will they survive, what are they to do?”
There was no answer given. I asked Marcus how I might get back to the city, to get more information. He told me at 9 a bus comes by the end of the lane to his house. I walked down about a quarter to 9 to await. I contacted my terminal and told them I was leaving 2020 and going to 1934, and all was well. As I saw the bus go by, I did a time jump to April 11, 1934, Refugio, Texas.
It was quite warm at 4 in the afternoon in southwest Texas, even for April. There was considerable amount of activity, Sheriffs and deputies, and Border Patrol.
I popped into a barber shop, sat down near a fan. The warm breeze somehow helped. I asked the guy next to me, “Lot’s of activity going on, what is happening?”
“Oh, someone said they were going to raid some more Mexicans tonight or tomorrow, and send them back to Mexico.”
“Really?” I said.
I left the shop, nodded at the barber and said I would return later. I had obtained a small city map, and walked about a bit. Then, in a small neat cottage on the south side of the street, I saw a name on a mailbox, – Roberto Ramirez. Under a small, neatly trimmed, probably some kind of oak tree in the front yard, a young Mexican woman sat with a toddler, maybe 3 years of age. I walked by and stopped.
“That is a handsome young lad, what is his name?”
“Gracias, señor. His name is Luis.”
“Oh, that is a fine name. A man can grow old with a name like Luis. Gracias, señora.”
I turned and walked down the street. This was the right home. I would be back later.
About midnight I returned to the little home, this time invisible. I found a spot in the yard to sit and wait. I could hear neighborhood sounds around me. About 2 a.m., a small bus turned down the street, followed by 3 rattling Model-A Ford cars. As they stopped, men piled out, going to three different houses, the Ramirez house hold included. I had to clinch my hands on the chair arms I was in, to keep from running to warn them, but that could not be. A serious tear in time would be irreparable. They rousted the poor people out, no possessions, barely clothed, and loaded them in the little bus, women and children included. I watched as they drove them away, probably to San Antonio, to a railroad head somewhere. If they took them to Corpus Christie or Rockport they would be taken away by boat. But I knew that Luis and his family went to El Paso. I sighed, sat back in the chair, visably shaken. My ancestor’s country did this. I opened my communicator, Misha was on duty tonight. I was glad, I needed to see a friendly face.
“Jamie, what’s wrong? You look as if you had lost your best friend!”
“Worse, I have just seen the dirty underbelly of our ancestor’s country, and it makes me very sad.”
“Aww, I am so sorry. Wish I could come give you a hug.”
“Me too, sweetie. Maybe another day or two, then you can. I am sure I will still need it.”
I jumped time, and landed in El Paso again, different spot this time. I had to wait one more day before Roberto and his wife and little Luis appeared. I followed them, invisible, until they were in Mexico. They went to a big church and were taken in. I waited till evening, and everyone had relaxed. Then I turned visible and walked into the room, I walked over to the Ramirez family and spoke to Luis’s mom.
“Señora, I am so sorry they got you too.”
She looked down, tears in her eyes. “Si, señor.”
I squatted down and spoke to Luis. “Señor Luis, you will be fine. With a fine name like Luis you will live a good life. Señor Roberto, what will you do?”
“The priest has told us that there is a small farm outside of town, a man lives who has lost his wife and has need of someone to help him manage. We will go there tomorrow.”
I figured that I knew just the place he was speaking about. I jumped time 3 years later, appearing at the small ranch outside town. I walked up the shady lane to the rambling ranch house. A small boy, maybe 6, was playing in the yard. As I walked up his mother appeared on the shaded porch.
“Ah, señor! Como esta! How are you?”
“I am fine, señora. I am leaving Mexico, and I thought to come back and see you and Señor Roberto, and of course, Señor Luis, before I go.”
She melted in tears, then straightened herself. “Señor, Roberto passed away about 3 months ago. His heart was broken over what happened, he never recovered. The man who owns the ranch has let us stay. He has grown attached to Luis, so there is hope for us.”
I sat down in front of Luis, he looked at me with a frown.
“I know you, I have seen you before.”
“Yes, you have Luis. And you know what? You just might see me again before you die. Here I have something for you.” I gave him a tiny American flag, the sort that goes on a coat lapel. “Here is something to remember me by. Now, adios to you and you too, señora. You will not be forgotten.”
I walked back up the shady lane to the small ranch again, this time in 2020. Marcus raised his arm in greeting.
“Hola amigo, you return!”
“Si, but only to say goodbye. I am leaving Mexico, but felt I need to thank you one more time for your hospitality, and hope if I ever return, that I might be welcomed again.”
“Of course you will. It would be our pleasure, stay as long as you wish. Maria is calling me.”
I sat on the chair opposite Luis. I looked into his eyes, those sad eyes that had seen so much change over his 80 plus years.
“Luis, you said you thought you might have remembered me, is that true?”
“Yes, I still think I remember you.”
“Do you remember when you were but a small boy, someone gave you a tiny American flag?”
For a minute his eyes went blank, then a memory stirred and with it a puzzling look. He became confused for a moment, then he looked me in the eyes, and with a frown he said “I know you, I remember. How is this possible? It is you, you look the same, but how?”
“Luis, I came back today to tell you, that you don’t have to understand, but I want you to know, I wanted you to know, that the future holds such marvelous new things, and much better lives. Yes, there will be more trials as time goes on. But we will get there. Rest easy, sir, and enjoy your days here with a loving family. I must go.”
“Señor Jamie, are you from another world?”
“Yes and no. It is a very different world, but the same planet. I live in the 26th century, but don’t tell anyone that or they might think you are not right!”
“I won’t, thank you for telling me. If you can comeback sometime and tell me more, I would love to know. I have grandchildren and great grandchildren, and it would give me pleasure to know about their world.”
“I will try, sir, but this is very controlled thing we do, we must be very careful. Adios, Luis!”
As no one was looking, I smiled at him and touched my ring and faded slowly from his world. The peace on his face, and his smile, was worth it all.
At home that evening I sat overlooking Denver and tried to imagine what motivates leaders of countries to commit the horrors that they commit on the people they are supposed serve. In the 20th century the people on the right were screaming no open borders. They couldn’t accept that the left didn’t either. Borders must have control, but the right wing media made it seem to some that the left wanted them open. The left put little effort into understanding the rights opinions and beliefs, so it went on for centuries before we evolved enough to get it right. This history recording certainly helped. When the facts are put before you, well, it just makes a difference. Sure, some will always say nay, but over the last hundred years it has become less and less, and as we reach out across the galaxies and populate other worlds, the need gets greater to succeed.
I kicked my grav chair back, and drifted away, thinking of a little ranch outside of San Antonio where they served real Mexican food.
I had just finished two long weeks of grueling duty covering various wars in 19th century and early 20th century America. The Boer War, The Spanish American, some Chinese conflicts, and lesser squabbles in Eastern Europe. I took my first day with my girl and flew to Switzerland and played for the day. We went to Rome for dinner and were back home in our townhouse overlooking dinner by 12 midnight. After two weeks of the archaic, slow methods of the last two weeks, it just felt good.
I awoke the next morning to the bright Colorado sunrise peeking through the blinds she had so thoughtfully drawn. She had to work today. I stepped out onto the deck and looked down at the air traffic arriving and leaving the huge metropolitan area. A slight zoom flicked by my face. I turned. A ruby breasted humming bird was feeding on a trumpeting flower on the ledge of the deck. Then there was another, and another. I walked back into the house and dug out the feeder and mixed up a sugar water mix and went back and hung it on the hanger above the rail. It took less than 5 minutes until it had a half dozen customers were flitting about, chasing, having dog fights that would impress our very best light fighter aircraft that practiced daily north of Colorado Springs. I smiled and went back inside, making a mental note to refill the feeder later.
As I entered, the holophone buzzed and my boss rose from the floor and formed. He turned to me and spoke.
“Jamie, I realize you are off for a few days, but sometime ago you turned in some records for 2016 and 2017 about some political stuff, right?”
“Yes, I did. Were they alright? No one mentioned them afterwards?”
“Oh, uh, yeah, they were fine. Do you remember anything about the period from being there? A mood or anything?”
“Well, the one in ‘16 was during a big election. It seemed pretty passionate. The other seemed quite tense, if I remember right.”
“Well, ok. Uh, look, go ahead and take your break. You earned it. If you have any spare time, pull up some records on 2018 to 2020. The council has some concerns about a section of history. When you come back, we would like you to explore it.”
“Ok, enjoy your time, see you later.” He spiraled down out of sight.
Hmmm, that was interesting. Wonder why? Oh well, too nice a day to spend it inside. I fixed a bit of breakfast, dressed, grabbed my helmet, and went to the garage. I had just bought the new hoverbike, the Air Bandit. I donned the helmet, dropped the visor, and stepped across the seat and sat down and gripped the handle controls. My thumb found the start button, and as it recognized my thumbprint, it found its voice. “Where to, Jamie?”
“I would like to go to Rocky Mountain National Park today. And take a scenic route.”
“Very well. Stand by until I file a flight plan and set a tracer signal. Ok, we are set. Are you comfortable? Please hold the control handles firmly, but allow me to navigate. Alright, if you are ready.”
“We are off.”
And with that, with a hum, we lifted off the floor. The garage door opened, and we were out and down the road until we intersected US-285. We turned right and somewhere just after Conifer we lifted to about 500 feet and turned due north. Our speed increased to just over 100mph. It seemed no time that we passed over the sprawling resort town of Estes Park. We held our altitude, and turned a bit more northwest, and our speed decreased to about 60mph. We continued up the side of the mountains. Soon we reached timberline, and then the broad expanses of the Park.
“Uh, take me down, and lower the speed. I would like to slowly cruise and see what wild life is about.”
“Ok, Jamie. We are going to sightseeing mode.”
For the next hour we slipped silently over the tops of deer, and elk, and moose. And then below us a big grizzly bear reared on his hind legs and waved at us.
“Uh, record that if you will.”
“We got him.”
Grizzly’s had been reintroduced to Colorado in the mid 21st century, along with wolves. There was a bit of a controversy about it but the objections died out. The population had been kept under control with new ways of teleporting the animals. If one got too familiar with humans, he was whisked away to a more remote area. After a while I had soaked up enough nature for one day.
“Ok, back to Denver to the Federal Archive hub on Larimer Street.”
“Larimer Street it is.”
It was only a half hour ride to my destination. We landed in front of the tall building that contained most of the history records from the past, or at least copies of them.
“Jamie, I took the liberty of linking with your communication device. When you are ready to leave, just call me. I installed an App, you will see it when you open. I will have it up and waiting for you. Enjoy your visit.”
With that my Air Bandit lifted and turned to the parking garage. I went inside, found a table with a holomonitor and asked for records from 2018 thru 2020. I slipped my ear-buds in and clicked on remote speakers. As holographic pictures starting in 2018 started unfolding, I listen to various news broadcasters relating their versions of the events. The first thing I determined was that the individual elected President, a Donald Trump, was the center of a large controversy. The two factions, a right and a left, held very different views of the same events. That concerned me. How could the same people, all citizens of same country, from the same schools, the same general environments, have such different ideas? It was perplexing. There were basically two different media systems. CNN and MSNBC and even CBS and ABC were mostly left, with different degrees of zeal. Fox News was totally right, and quite fanatic about it. Still, you couldn’t use that imbalance to determine right or wrong. The President did have some odd habits, such as in wee morning hours he would broadcast his thoughts from his communications device rather than through press briefings as other leaders had done through the years. A strange habit, at a strange time of day. I listened to some of his talks. He had a habit of praising himself, something I had not seen other Presidents do from flashing back on their talks.
I pulled up some speeches from 2016 and 2017. He seemed obsessed with building a huge expensive wall across the entire southern border of the United States, and he was ridiculed for it by some and praised by others. Interesting.
Almost from the first, the social media platforms were alive and on fire with warfare between citizens. Oftimes friends becoming enemies, and it even reached into family circles, causing unrest and huge stress on relationships.
2017 and 2018 saw huge catastrophic natural disasters in America. Floods, fires, storms, hurricanes – all costing lives and billions of dollars. Violent shootings in schools and public places became common. In 2017 I had witnessed the man crashing his car into protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia. Huge hate groups began to surface and to publicly display themselves. And it just all seemed to grow like a cancer. As the midterm elections approached, both sides prepared for battle, using whatever media and tools they had to defeat the other side. The left – the blue side – predicted a blue wave of successes that would take the House of Representatives and Senate back from the controlling right. At the same time, there were right wing donors and politicians refusing to run for a next term. It looked like the blue could be right, but the right were running strong TV ads, berating the left and stirring the right conservative base to vote and fight back. This looked interesting.
I popped my earplugs back in my pocket and went outside I opened the app for my sled and pressed return. When I approached the curb, it landed about ten feet in front of me.
“Ready to go Jamie?”
“Yes, I am. Let’s go home.”
Thirty minutes later, we arrived home. My ride parked itself in the garage, and settled down to earth.
“Have a good evening, Jamie.”
I took a long shower on the deck, and filled a bowl with some good Colorado sativa, and took a hit.
“Music,” I said, “Play list three.”
The room filled with a digitized techno orchestra number that took me away. I lay on my air chair for an hour or two listening to music, thinking about what I had read earlier. It was a time in history that seemed to be blank in our records. It seemed that the media and the newspapers quit reporting for a time. No one spoke of it. I would read more tomorrow. My three more days off looked good ahead. Besides, I was very stoned. I had not been able to do that in a while.
“Jamie, you awake? I mean, you look lovely there all naked and delicious on your little anti-grav, but I am starved.”
By the time she had finished her sentence I had returned from sheer bliss.
“Hi Misha. You could always get naked and join me. There is room for two, if you stack us right.“ I giggled.
“Oh you bum! You have been stoned! I thought I smelled it. Nope, you will have to wait till later. What do you say to Tex-Mex?”
“Oh, yeah. Where?”
“Why, Austin, of course. You silly.”
I dressed in a hurry. Misha undressed showered and redressed in about the same time. 30 minutes later we were walking into Trudy’s off the strip in downtown Austin. After fajitas and frijoles, tortillas and queso, with a couple of margaritas each, we were still home in time to catch the ten o’clock news. After all that food, sex was out of the question. We drifted off to sleep with the sounds of a Mexican love ballad filling our house.
“Misha, the boss wants me to do some recording in America between 2016 and 2020. Have you heard anything about that?”
“Hmmmmm. Only that someone said there was some policy disagreements with the council, and someone said they didn’t want a repeat of 2019. Didn’t understand the implication.”
She was brushing her teeth and telling me all this, but I did get it.
“Wow. I read a bit yesterday afternoon, there was a real contested election in 2016. Ok, I will read some more today.”
As soon as she had breakfasted and vanished out the door, I opened my viewer and called up fall of 2018. The first thing that popped up was a headline that the left had not taken the House or Senate, and the country was in an uproar. People were screaming about a fixed election, threats were being levered to both sides from both sides. Then, strangely enough, news seemed to quit being reported. CNN was embroiled in several lawsuits. Its anchors almost in house arrest for fear of their lives. A bomb went off at Fox News Headquarters, taking them down for a few days. Wow, no wonder no one spoke of this. Now I couldn’t wait to get back to work. I went to DC the next day and went to the Archives. Still seemed to be quit. Then I found this letter from a lady in California, in 2021, addressed to a sister back east.
A friend is carrying this letter to you. He has kin near where you live. He has been given permission to visit his brother in a re-education camp near there. He won’t be able to stay, as he feels he will be watched the whole time. I just wanted you to know that we are well. It is hard, with all the embargos and tariffs on goods. We can’t sell any of our almonds and we can’t seem to be able to buy very much food. We raise what we can. I can’t tell you when we last ate meat. Oh, well, yes I can. Jason trapped a big old scrawny jack rabbit and we made a stew out of him. Barely was enough for the four of us. I miss you, my sister. I hope this country can get fixed again. But I don’t know if it ever will. Be careful, my sister. Don’t trust anyone, not even those who were friends of yours before.
I love you.
OMG, what has happened?
Monday morning dawned bright and beautiful on the front range of Colorado. I was sitting patiently waiting for my boss when he walked into the room.
“Good Morning Jamie.”
“Good morning. I am ready to go on this one. I did some research. This period is almost as dark as the Dark Ages. I think I want to go to election day 2018. That seems to be a key point.”
“Ok, run the mission the way you want. You know we trust your judgement.”
An hour later, I was sitting in Houston, Texas in one of the outlying burbs. It was November 6, 2018. It was plain to see dissention in the air. Lots of people at the polls. Some being turned away for various reasons. That I didn’t understand. I bounced from city to city around the country, seeing mostly the same scene. Hard to tell who was voting for whom. People mostly silent, tight-lipped even.
I skipped forward until the next morning to view the results. The research was right. California and Colorado, Vermont, and other states won their seats, but it was not enough. The Senate and House of Representatives still held the majority. Little changed. The pundits and media hosts like Chuck Todd and comedians like Bill Maher were furious. The left had just expected everyone else to turn out and vote and had stayed home.
Skipping through time, I watched the President gaining more power. Two more ultra conservative judges were placed on the Supreme Court. The country was at odds with Germany, England, France, Canada, Mexico, China, and even Russia, like an island in an angry sea. Embargos had been thrown up against us. America’s GNP fell like snowballs rolling off Mount Reiner, gaining momentum every day in it’s downward plunge. Huge amounts of funding was going to the military, yet the military seemed to not get any stronger. But the ones who won the contracts got richer. If you were black or Hispanic, it became dangerous to leave your home at night. Hordes of young white men roamed the streets en mass, maiming, even killing the unlucky one who fell in their path. True, gangs of blacks and Hispanics, even Asians, tried to organize, but when they did the police joined against them or the National Guard was sent out to suppress them.
By the fall of 2020, it was a country basically under military law. The press was for the most part silenced. Only some pirate radio’s, and in a couple of cases webcast television news tried to fight back.
Trump and his followers had done what no one else had been able to do. They stopped the wheel of progress. Most leftist Congressmen and Senators were forced into resignation. America was a third world country. Men in white shirts and red caps roamed the streets armed accosting citizens, requesting identification. If they resisted, they were beaten.
Farmers were shut down almost coast to coast. They couldn’t sell their goods on a world market anymore. The President had raised the tariffs so high that other countries would not buy their goods. The factories were silent. Starvation raised its ugly head. Public schools were empty all across America by the end of 2021. The elite sent their offspring to charter schools and programmed their little interior computers the way they wanted them to think. Now the average children would not be educated, and that would spell America’s doom.
The highways and bridges all across America were in great dis-repair. As I watched this tableau unfold, I was in total disbelief.
Trump had died early in ‘21 before he could take his second oath of office. He had a massive heart attack, and died sitting on his pot at 4 o’clock in the morning while texting.
Pence was made President in his place. He changed nothing, but he gave the churches permission to delve into politics. Roe vs. Wade was revoked, and abortion was considered a Level 1 Felony.
The rich got richer for a while. Then, sometime in 2022 late in the fall, the rich became divided. The politically rich became obsessed with the business rich, and started finding ways to take from them. It was about that time some rightwing leaders started appearing. They started movements all over the country to reform the Republican Party. Oh yeah, they caught flack. And lots of it. A few met with the same type of assassinations that some Russian defectors suffered in 2016 and 2017. It was a slow movement, but the fire was kindled all over Europe, and then in America. They were men of vision, much the same kind of men that had inspired America in the 18th century. They organized, they conspired. And, when the election in 2024 was a landslide to the right, with none opposed, revolution was born. Congressional leaders, professors from colleges, journalists, had been tucked away in re-education centers in Dallas, Atlanta, Springfield and Nevada started losing prisoners. They started disappearing and re-appearing in Mexico and Canada. The old people that had parents who had told their children how bad the starvation was in 1929 remembered. People on the right who had voted Trump in to start with and who had been tea-partiers finally saw the error of their ways. They finally saw how bad they had been lied to. I think they become more angry than the left who had fought against Trump in the first place. It is hard to admit you were wrong.
America was uniting. But how to overthrow a country that was living under martial law? A beaten working class, a middle class stripped of its tools.
It was in summer of 2025 when the governor of Texas, an ex US Senator, was the first to fall. He met the displeasure of the ruling class. It was a secret thing. Then, two members of the Senate met a similar fate. It was told it was treason. The men who took their places were unknown.
President Pence was involved in a case where he was accused of adultery with a 17 year old girl, daughter of a single mother employee at the White House. It took a while to take him down, but it happened. Mind you, all this happened behind closed doors. Pence had never taken a Vice President. He termed the office useless. The office fell on the new Speaker of the House, Dan Reynolds. He had run on a republican ticket from Colorado, a fairly newcomer to politics.
Other leaders fell during the next few years. Still, it remained a Republican leadership. Sometime in 2031, new faces sprung up all across America. In some places they were red, in others, Democrats were voted back for the first since 2018. People had started being released from the re-edu……. concentration camps.
After the Election of 2032, Congress convened and the President addressed it. The long banished press was invited to televise it.
When President Reynolds rose to speak, the crowd listened.
“Fellow Americans. This is going to be a long evening. And it will be an interesting one, you can count on it. First of all, as of this moment, all laws passed and signed, all Presidential Decrees put into effect, and all tariffs on our products produced in America after 2016, are null and void. This is the point where America went astray. It is past time to undo the wrongs, and it should be delayed no longer!”
There was a thunderous clamor from the Congressional Hall.
“I would like all of you in our lawmaking body, who are with me, please stand.”
Over ¾ of the legislative body rose to their feet and cheered. Those of the old body looked around in dismay.
“Fellow Americans, to borrow a phrase, we start today to take our country back. Sanctions against countries that were once our friends are now relived. There are going to be great changes made. Term limits for Congress, for the Supreme Court. Stringent tests for anyone seeking public office. We seek to reorganize, away from a presidential office to a council of three, with the two houses of congress as a balance. No longer will either the left or the right be allowed to dominate the offices of power. They must be balanced. Restrictions will not be placed on business as to how much a citizen can earn, but at intervals they will be called on to be of service to their country. So many new idea, are in the making. Education; business is going to take on the responsibility of education, to train the generations for what they will need to move forward. Educators will be chosen from the highest levels of our leadership. Strict separations of church and state. Strict separation of state and business. No more will a corporation be considered an entity with the rights of the individual. It will take time to come back. We are on our way forward, and we WILL LOOK BACK. For history is what shows us the right path!”
Another thunderous ovation erupted; even those seated the last time were on their feet. That night, for the first time in 14 years, there was peace in America. The concentration camps were opened and the guards sent home. Strangely enough, that night was a full moon. America was reborn.
This tour of duty had taken me 3 days to watch. But I went home that evening to Misha and we sat on our deck and watched a full moon rise over the Great Plains and I told her the story of what had happened in those terrible years early in the 21st Century.
My studies over the next weeks revealed atrocities to rival Nazi Germany, Red Russia during the Cold War, and other dark times in history. Even comedians such as Bill Maher, Jimmy Kimmel, Alex Baldwin, and others were brought to court and sent to concentration camps and in some cases never survived. Experts believe that America was set back 50 to 75 years. And it wasn’t just America. Progress worldwide suffered comparatively. I gained a new faith in people though. Regardless how bad it gets, things can be changed, when people find cause and unite for it.
I walked out of one of the jillion little shops carrying jillions of over priced items in the Galleria Shopping area in Houston. As I stepped into the muggy air, your mind first says, “Oh, how tropical”, then realization kicks in and you think, hell this not the tropics, this is Texas. I couldn’t help thinking how much more uncomfortable this must have been 3 or 4 centuries ago before we got the technology to minimize atmosphere conditions in high traffic metro areas. Some smart person realized how much easier crowd control would be if people didn’t have to wear coats or heavy clothing in public areas. We had so many bombings in the 21st century that it was necessary to be able to screen everyone. Then it was decided after that, that it would more pleasing esthetically to not have to be bundled up in high traffic areas. Anyway, I am getting away from my story. My thoughts trailed a bit farther back. What was this place like in the early nineteenth century? Why did they want to come here and build their homes? It could not have been a very welcoming atmosphere for those early adventurers. So, my new assignment; Project Texas, to record the history, and maybe take a bit different path than the conventional history books. But first we must finish Misha’s shopping, have some ethnic food – who knows what that might be – then a couple of hours laying on the beaches a couple of miles south of the city. After all the big meltdown of the latter part of the 21st Century, you didn’t have to journey to Galveston Island as you did in those early days.
We were back in Denver by late afternoon, and home in the western suburbs before dinner. I found a comfortable place while Misha was doing her thing. I called up my information center and had a re-enactment scene holo-gramed for me. There wasn’t much available. I read through some of the period recorded histories, glanced at some auto-biographies and some old photos, etc. I thought to myself the clothing was probably really uncomfortable in that environment.
I buzzed the Archival center and hailed Dan, my supervisor, and had him look at some of the material and told him of my idea. He gave a “thumbs up” and said he would see me tomorrow. I started to do more research but Misha called and said the deliverymen for the new VR Pod had arrived to set it up. By the time we got it situated, set, logged in and our profiles set-up, it was time for dinner. As we ate, mostly some leftovers from out day in Houston and the Gumbo we had delivered from the take out service of a restaurant we had visited, and watched the news, guess what? One of the really big super hurricanes that happened these days was bearing down on Houston. We had heard nothing of it all day we were there. But they would be prepared, they always were.
We spent the rest of the evening in our pod together. It was really wild. You could set up any environmental past or present situation and have it happen. We rode race cars, went through crashes, flew in military aircraft experiencing air combat. We actually did several of those, doing the 1920’s type aircraft then the 1940’s. Then finally late 20th and early 21st. The pod was great. We experienced the G’s you would feel in tight turns, the dizzying speed that things happened with. We rode in horse carriages and trains, and canoes on fast rivers. By the time we got to bed, she just looked at me and smiled. “Jamie, thing may not be good for our sex lives!” I grinned back, “It has been a long day.”
Next morning, after security checks and background review, I was ready to start. We had experienced a security breech the month before and a person had gotten into our unit and was about to go somewhere back in time when security caught him and arrested him. We now know the dangers that someone could do by going back and causing serious tears in time. The results could be catastrophic and impossible to repair.
Somebody once said, “And on the eighth day God created Texas.” It was probably a Texan who said that. It is not really true. Texas was not created to be simply Texas. It just happened as a series of events over several decades that came to that state of existence. Those early immigrants came to a place that had land. The Spanish gave them grants and they, like being the Anglo-Saxons that they were, simply used the land and prospered and said ok, we did it and now it’s ours. They came from all over to Texas – Tennesseans and Kentuckians, settlers from Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia. Oh yeah, there were Germans and Irish, Scotch and French, all looking for a place to live and raise their families.
I made my decision to start with the start of the Revolution, or at least the first semi organized battle, such as it was. I made my appearance Sept 29th, 1835 near the small settlement of Gonzales, on the Guadalupe River. Almost the same time of the year as we visited Houston. It was quite different, still warm, but much dryer. I was questioned as I rode in as to who I was and where I came from. I gave a name and said I was looking for a place to settle my family, and had just left Hendersonville, Tennessee 3 weeks before. I was accepted immediately and informed that the Mexican Army was about to try to take back a cannon that they had formerly given to the town as protection against the Indians. They had appeared at the town, but fording would have been difficult there, so they had moved up river for a better fording place.
The Mexican Army was currently up the river, but probably had already figured out the Texians were killing time gathering re-enforcements.
To me it was really interesting that the cannon that was given to Gonzales had actually been spiked. In other words, a metal spike had been driven into the ignition hole so the cannon couldn’t be fired. But by now the local blacksmith had drilled it out and it was now useable. They loaded it with scrap metal to be fired.
Castaneda, the Mexican Officer, had been very sympathetic to the Texians. He didn’t like the governor’s attitude, but was duty bound to take the cannon.
On the evening of September 1st we crossed the river on the west side and moved cautiously through the fog till we were supposedly opposite the Mexican Army. As daylight was coming on, our pickets moved out and were fired upon by the Mexican sentries. A skirmish ensued, and it lasted about 18 minutes. Our side fired upon the Mexicans and they began retreating almost immediately back to Bejar,(San Antonio). Texas had won it’s first battle, it’s Lexington. But it was far from over. Indeed, blood was yet to be spilt. Only one Spanish Soldier fell at Gonzales.
Settlers started arriving in what was to become Texas in the sixteenth century, with the Spanish and the French then the Spanish again. Colonies were established and failed. Some destroyed by native Americans, some by disease, and others just the hardships of living there. But in 1821, when Mexico gained independence from Spain, she opened her doors to emigrants from the United States. She probably didn’t consider that these people had just attained their freedom from European rule less than 50 years before, they weren’t about to give it up.
Not everyone that came stayed. Young Samuel Bowen was one. He left pretty quickly. His brother William would come later in ’35 and be a huge part of the Revolution, and stayed.
In the coming weeks Sam Houston would be chosen as the leader of the Revolutionary Army and would come to Gonzales and gather an army. I would spend some time here, but not for now I returned to my century with a whole new feeling for the wide open sky of this wild new world, with wild brave men and women who were willing to deal with a harsh world filled with dangers from both man and beast, as well as gaining freedom from yet another foreign government.
This is on the first chapter about Texas.
She is old now, 97 in fact. But I can remember when that was not so. It was way back, I was just a babe. It was a time of great worry.
You see, we were in the midst of a great war. People had great concern, you see, for about 30 years before we had fought “the war to end all wars”. Now it was happening again.
During that first war our country was not in any real danger. It wasn’t like Ol’ Kaiser Bill was going to jump on ships and come conquer America. No Siree, that would never happen! But now, people I knew went about their daily tasks with a furrowed brow. It was an uncertain time. You see, Nazi Germany had been raising hell in Europe for a spell. Our citizens didn’t want to get involved in it. Stay isolated they said, no sending our boys to fight and die for no reason at all. Then, on the other side of the world, Japan was spreading its armies throughout Asia and the islands of the South Pacific. Still, it didn’t bother us none. It was nigh about that time that I came on the scene. I want you to know, I just didn’t burst forth into the midst of humanity, streaming the glories of heaven from behind me like a comet shooting through the night sky. No, I was born about five o’clock in the afternoon one spring day, in a small rural community of northeastern Arkansas. I really don’t think many other than family and maybe a few neighbors was aware of my arrival.
I was born in a two story house on a cotton farm belonging to the father-in-law of Earnest Hemingway. Life in my community was not glamorous or upscale by any means. My family had come through the Great Depression. Indeed, they had not entirely shaken off the bonds that had been thrust upon them by the shackling force that had held America in bondage. Money was very short. My dad’s folks had come to this place only a few years before, and my mothers only a few years before that. They were trying to find a way to survive just a bit better.
Now the Dogs of War howled about them from both sides of the planet. Concern crept even closer. Just a few months after I was born Hitler invaded and conquered Poland, and reports coming from China had been grim to gruesome for at least two years. Still, America persisted to not involve itself.
Then, 76 years ago tomorrow, as I sit and write this narrative, early on a peaceful Sunday morning, the fingers of hellfire rained down on paradise. The Japanese struck Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. I won’t add to the volumes that have been written or the pictures taken of that holocaust. One only must raise your head from your smart phone and search a bit to hear that story.
But even though that island was shaken and rocked by explosions and blasts, the greater damage was that America was shaken for the first time since the War of 1812. America was attacked on its on soil. No longer did the vast oceans that protected our borders enough. We were vulnerable. Our children had no guarantee of safety in their play or at school. Our homes could lie in harms way. Now parents were afraid, children were afraid. It showed on their faces.
This was my beginning in life. I was two years old. Now the call went out. And young men and women answered that call – Army Navy, Marines, Air Corps, Coast Guard – their ranks needed to be filled. And they were filled.
That lady I spoke of at the start of the narrative, well, she came our house one day when I was less than a year old. She was driving her father’s car, a Model A Ford. He never drove. I probably never knew the reason why she visited, maybe it was just to visit my mother. After all, she was her baby sister, my mother being the oldest child. As she backed the car out she backed it into the potato patch and it stuck. My father came out and put his shoulder to the car and pushed her out enough until she was on her way. I don’t know if that was the same day that she took the picture with me in her arms or not. Maybe.
Some months after Pearl Harbor her older brother, my uncle, enlisted in the Army.
By now things were getting serious. Things that was normal to have access to were suddenly limited, rationed, scarce. Gasoline was one. Many auto parts became impossible to obtain. Tires were hard to get. Sugar, alcohol… the list was long. That furrowed brow became deeper. Much of our farming was done with horse drawn equipment. We did have a tractor, an early thirties Model H John Deere. But there was the fuel, it was rationed. I can remember by now the shortages. Being country people we, to use the expression, “made do”. Dad and Grandfather would take to the woods. And they were such grand woods then; ancient, virgin forests, set in very swampy land, but full of the bounty of nature. They would find bee trees. Then, on a cool day, we would pile into a steel wheeled farm wagon and pick our way through the woods and the mud. We would park the wagon some distance from the bee tree and the men would take a two man cross-cut saw and saw it down. They would open it up and come back with tubs of fresh raw honey. Then they would go back and take a box hive and catch the queen bee and install her in her new quarters, usually leaving it for a few days until all the bees found their new home. Then they would go back and plug it, put it in a wagon, and haul it home. We usually had around fifty or a hundred hives of bees. I got stung all the time as a kid.
We had large gardens and truck patches. We raised hogs and cattle. We always had plenty to eat, we raised it all our selves. I remember my dad rolling his cigarettes out of a Prince Albert can, Lucky Strikes were too expensive.
June, 1942 brought the assault on Normandy. Omaha Beach, Utah Beach, you have heard the stories. The valor, the slaughter, the bloodshed, the victory. But with those stories came to the telegrams. Mothers waiting, wives holding on to lives while their young husbands fought thousands of miles from home. All were affected. Dinner tables held that unspoken, maybe spot of vacancy. Then the telegram would come. Another hero had fallen. But to the family it was a husband, a son, a brother, an uncle. He would never again sit at his place at that table again.
Sometime in late ‘44 I was in my 5th year. I was playing on the porch of our little shotgun house when a black ‘39 Ford pickup truck hurriedly crossed the bridge into our yard, off the dirt road that ran from US 62 down to just passed my grandfather’s house and dead ended. It was our neighbor Virgil. He hurriedly got out and approached the house. I remember his face. He wasn’t laughing or teasing me as he usually did. My dad stepped out of the house and greeted him.
He then told my dad they had gotten one of those telegrams. Their son had been killed, and he needed my mother to go down and sit with his wife Bertie or Birdie, I can’t remember for sure. Men of that era didn’t fall apart easily. They held on to their emotions. But his face displayed his grief and heartbreak. He just needed someone, a lady, to stay with the mother while he went to rally the other kin. I didn’t really understand, but I remember hours later Mom worrying about Berlon, her brother, and the brother of that teenage aunt I spoke of earlier. She was out of her teens by now. He was in Germany now, and was at the doorstep of the Ardennes Forest, and the Infamous Battle of the Bulge.
It was our family’s habit was to go to town on Saturday afternoon, and it was then they would read the public lists of casualties. The years have erased the memory, I can’t remember if it was posted or in the local newspaper. But it seemed to be sobering, and in many cases, I remember tears. Lots of tears. It seems that during the winter of ‘44 and ‘45 not much news was received from my uncle, but he must have suffered horribly. It was so cold, they lived in the snow in foxholes. He was a company cook. On Christmas Day, 1944, he and his teammates cooked Christmas dinner for their troops. Late in the afternoon some Brass walked into their area, and told them to put it away, there was no one left. The cooks grabbed their rifles and headed to the lines, but were called back and there was no use. Many years later the old lady, my aunt, told me that story, as told to her by her brother when she asked him why he would never sit down and have Christmas dinner with his family.
There was simplicity about the people of the forties. They were patriotic, they were for the most part God-fearing and religious. Those young men that started volunteering in ’41 were serious about giving for their country and for their families. Many of them had fathers that had fought in the teens during the first war. I remember them very well. I believe they deserve the designation of “The Greatest Generation”. Not many are left today, but those who still cling to life have a dignity about them that is missing in our society. Somewhere, somehow, it became a casualty of time. It was a vestige of honor.
Most of my memories of those days were less affected, but still, I remember, and sometimes something comes along and triggers a thought long forgotten, like Virgil and Bertie, and countless others that became missing during those days that a young boy might not have been aware of at the time. I remember the walks on dirt roads to my grandparents, and other children’s houses close by. I remember going to church on Sunday morning in a small country church set in a grove of trees. All the roads were dirt or if not, were graveled. The autos were simple. Many literally wore out during the war, and sat until plants quit making war materials and started making auto parts again. I remember the little ‘36 Ford 4 door sedan that was ours, sometime probably in the later years of the war developed an engine knock that became increasingly worse. Finally, it was pulled under an oak tree in the front yard. A block and tackle was attached to the engine and it was lifted out and somewhat disassembled. The knock was repaired by placing pieces of bacon rind under the rod or main bearing caps and tightening it down. It worked.
In fall of 1942 my baby sister was born. I don’t remember much about that but it seemed that my mom had less time for me. I spent a lot of time with my Grandmother, my father’s mother. She told me stories, let me help her bake, and help her in her flower garden. My life during that time never seemed dull. It was full of kid stuff; walking in the pastures and field roads, always watching out for snakes. There were lots of copperheads and cottonmouths where I grew up; an accepted way of life. I played in the woods across from our house. I was Tarzan, and it was my Jungle. I chewed the gun from the sweet gum trees, I ate the wild ‘possum grapes.” I ate persimmons and paw-paws and hazelnuts. It was a great place to grow up.
I don’t want our America to ever be in that situation again. But even today we sit on a bed of quicksand, supported only by a thin crust and large jolt could plunge us into that abyss again. If it happens it won’t be like Viet Nam, or Iraq or Afghanistan. It could even be worse than the days of our time of desperation – the years of World War II.
Two nights ago I watched a movie called “Ithaca.” It prompted me to write this. You should watch it.
~~~Larry Murley, December 6, 2017~~~
August 20th, 2516. Denver, Colorado.
Fall is in the air. I can smell it. The carefree days of summer are drawing to an end, well, at least for the present.
It is wonderful to live in a time that you can visit other seasons when desired. Yes, there are restrictions. The rank and file can’t be allowed to tear through time and wreck the future. But it can be done.
I am sitting in the park at the State Capitol, looking at statues of the state’s founders and heroes of the past. A thought occurred to me. I enjoy looking at these symbols of days gone by. I wonder, do others? A quick scan through the archives and a particular date in history pops up. August 12, 2017. A year short of 500 years ago. As I read, history unfolds before me. It says in a controversy over a statue, three people were killed and 15 wounded. I must find out. I headed for the Record Archives on Larimer Street.
An hour later I stand at the Intersection of 4th and Water Street in Charlottesville, Virginia. I keep well to myself, listening to the yelling and cursing of people. It is an unnerving place. It lacks the discipline and order of a wartime battlefield. It is more hideous in that respect. I wait for some time, knowing full well the event that was to occur at this spot.
Finally, I hear the roar of a 20th century automobile engine, then a metal rending crash and the two cars facing me across the street shoot out into the street. I then see a grey sports model sitting against the back of the second car. People have been knocked asunder, one man head over heels flying. Then the grey car accelerates backward, and a man who had jumped on the back beating it with a stick is caught between it and a parked vehicle. How tragic! No one could look on this without seeing it done with murder and mayhem in mind. I now want to see how this will affect the future.
My next stop is the Washington Mall, one year later. I find a comfortable place and set to do my favorite thing – people watching. I strive to determine the personality and the character of the citizenry as they walk among the reminders of the United States Founding Fathers. Fathers are telling children, “Oh, that is Abraham Lincoln, he was born in a log cabin” or “That is George Washington, he could not tell a lie.” As I watched, a young man in his late fourties came and sat near me. He was dressed like a man who spent his time outdoors. He was lean and physically fit.
He looked at me and said, “Afternoon, it is a warm one today.”
I answered, “It is indeed. Do you come here often?”
“Yes, I come here every year on this date.”
“Really? You like our country’s capitol that much?”
He leaned back and laughed, then became serious. “No. You see, on this date in 1968 my father was killed in Viet Nam. He had gotten a pass and my mother met him in Hawaii. And I was a result of that meeting. She came home, and he went back. Two days later he was dead. I come here every year on his birthday to touch his name on the Wall at the Viet Nam Memorial, and thank him for being who he was.”
For a moment I could feel emotion welling in my breast. It touched me.
“Thank you for sharing that with me. I am sorry for your loss, but I am impressed by your character. He would be proud of you, I think.”
“I hope he is. I worry that the memorial will continue to stand. There are people out there who want it torn down, because it was a very unpopular war.”
“Do you think this is a continuation of what happened a year ago in Virginia?”
“I think it is. I don’t understand why though. Well, maybe I do. But it is still just so difficult to understand why things can’t be left alone.”
“You think maybe there might be great-grand children who look up at those statues and remember stories handed down of the personal lives of those men.”
“Yes, I think so. I think it a slippery slope. You know, even now, I will talk to someone about my father, and either I get a “I don’t know anything about Viet Nam” or “Those soldiers were murderers and baby killers.” I seriously have to contain myself over that last one. No one is perfect, and that goes for those men on those old statues as well.”
“Do you think things have improved over last year?” I asked.
“Maybe, in some ways, but generally no, I don’t. We still have the Right pulling this way, and the Left going the other. I really wish I had some hope it will get better.”
“Look, my name is Jamie. It is a pleasure meeting you. What is your name?”
“Oh, excuse me. Bradley Douglas, just call me Brad.”
He reached to shake my hand but I pulled back. He looked puzzled.
“Brad, before you do that, I have something to tell you. It may be hard to believe, and may shock you, but I can prove it.”
“Alright” he looked warily at me.
“I am from the future, from the 26th century. And I can tell you most assuredly it will get better. Not before it gets worse, but in the end the country survives and prospers. Here, now try to shake my hand.”
I held out my hand and he reached for it. And of course his hand passed through mine. He looked shocked.
“You aren’t kidding, are you! What are you that I can’t touch you? Do people like you not have bodies?”
I laughed. “Yes, we most certainly have bodies. But right now I am a projection, a hologram, if you wish. People of your day have viruses and bacteria that we have no immunity to. So we project ourselves.”
He laughed. “Oh, that is marvelous! Tell me more! What is it like then?”
We sat and talked for an hour or more, until the sun started setting. The rays flowed over the capitol building and lit up the lofty spire that is the Washington Memorial.
Brad sighed, “There were even people who wanted to strike against that, because Washington had slaves.”
“Brad, since you come here every year I am going to visit you from time to time, you can bring me up to date with the yearly events. And I will tell you about the future.”
“Jamie, this is a lot to process. But yes, I would like it very much.”
So that is what I did. Of course, I didn’t wait through those years, I simply skipped time. But every year I met him was something new. He would take the glimpses into the future and go and educate himself in new ways. His mind expanded, he grasped the new concepts. He started writing. First just articles, then books. He took his family history – his father’s heritage – and he elaborated on it. On my 10th year return, it was an older man that greeted me. I had not found him in the last two years. He was excited to see me.
“Jamie, I have something to show you.” He pulled the ID lanyard from around his neck, and held it up to for me to see. Beside the picture was the name – Senator Bradley Douglas.
“Oh! Congratulations Senator Douglas!” I smiled at him.
“Oh, you still call me Brad. But I have someone for you to meet.”
“I hope you don’t mind…” He beckoned to a young lady, probably in her early forties. She smiled and started toward us. Her red hair fell down on each side, framing her face and falling to her shoulders. She wore a green dress, more like a business suit, but well tailored to fit her figure. She had smiling green eyes. They focused on me as she approached.
“Megan, this Jamie. Jamie, my wife Megan.”
“How do you do Megan? I am sure Brad has told you that I can’t shake hands with you. But nevertheless, I am pleased to meet you.”
“Yes, he did. I am surprised, you look very young. I confess, I did not know what to expect. Actually, I was ready to have him committed the first time he spoke of you. Would you please extend your hand anyway?“
I did and she reached forward and her hand passed through mine. There was a slight gasp.
“Jamie, Megan works in the National Archives. I thought perhaps it would be nice if you two met. You both obviously have a love for history.”
“Yes, Megan, we will have to talk at some point as to what my mission is and some of the experiences I have had. But for now, Brad, tell me, what have I missed?”
“Well, if you remember, we had that brief war with North Korea. It has taken years, but the people of that poor country have risen from the military regime to a type of democracy that seems to be working. Once the embargos were released, their resources were in demand. They were and are a hardworking people. We are still having problems with the Islamic radicals, but the moderate people of that culture have taken it upon themselves and will ultimately win. The pendulum swings, as you have told me many times. Our own government is a good example of that. It seems difficult as always to find leadership that doesn’t cater to its own agenda. Can you give me any tips on that? You have told me what your government is like, but not how we get there. By the way, how much older are you now than when I first met you 10 years ago?”
I smiled. “Only a few days. But your question of how the government gets there, I cannot answer that question for you without some permission. Maybe next time. It seems you have much to work on anyway.”
We sought out a table and chairs nearby. In somewhat exclusion, I showed them bits and pieces of the lifestyles in the 26th century. We watched social media discussions of the era ten years ago, and decided that most of the people on it were not emotionally or psychologically mature enough to use something that powerful. We would watch people debate. Many of them would latch onto an idea, either their own or someone else’s, and continually to elaborate on it. Mostly to just make someone else think they are smart, to boost their own ego. Seldom they would they ever try to see another side, even though that person might be more experienced or more familiar with the subject. Funny part is, those same people would never have said the things are called others the names they called them in person. Brad said it reminded him of the letters his dad had wrote to his mom, telling of how the VC would lie in wait in the dark in ambush. We had a good laugh about that. Social media, being a jungle, where mean spirited people could ambush others without having to show their own face.
Life didn’t change a lot over those next years, people didn’t evolve much. Evolution is a slow process, and it only enables survivors, and those willing to adapt. I saw Brad and Megan over their years. I couldn’t help them much. But I think just knowing it would eventually work out when people lost their infantile natures, when they lost that disabling trait of the ‘Me’ generation, and became a ‘We’ generation, it had to become less self, and more selfless.
One day, about 15 years later their time, I walked to the Mall and saw Megan sitting alone on the steps near the Capitol Building. When she looked up at me I knew. She didn’t have to speak.
“Come, Megan, let’s go.” Soon we were walking down along that slab of granite that was faced with over 58,000 names. We walked to the panel that bore the name of Brad’s father. Megan looked up and reached and traced the letters with her long slender fingers. At that moment a ray of sunshine broke through, and lit that section of panel. We looked at each other, and tears came to both our eyes. Yes, Brad had found his dad, and he just let us know. I said good bye to Megan that day. I wished, for the first time, I could have physically hugged her. But it is what it is.
I had lost a friend, and I would have miss him. And no, I wasn’t going to cheat and skip around through time. It just wouldn’t be same. And life goes on. I am not sure I would have done well living in the early half of the 21st Century.
There is a factual error, purposely inserted in this story,
Hint—— “Had it happened this way, it would have been something new under the Sun.
May 26th 2519, my birthday. I have had friends popping in all day with their best wishes. Now the afternoon sun is dropping behind the Rocky Mountains, as I recline in anti-grav lounger in my garden overlooking the great plains, stretching out to the east.
A slow moving air barge moves slowly up the front range at about 300 feet above ground. It is noiseless. Already, below it, the darkening landscape is broken only by the lights from drone-taxis, bringing home the tech-workers from Denver. The sun reflects off the cargo containers filled with necessities to provide the great city sustenance for a few more hours. There will be others to follow.
It set me to thinking though (what a Gemini does best, or at least most). It is so easy now with the anti-grav technology to move our goods where needed. Back through the centuries, it was mans greatest challenge. They either had to provide with their needs by making it themselves, or growing it themselves, or they had to have it brought to them.
In the early days of America where I had visited a number of times, I had noticed the ships on the docks, unloading goods from wherever they had sailed. Then the endless lines of carts and wagons, pulled by countless horses, mules and oxen. You would have had to have been there to have realized the stench from that energy source. I had watched the wagon trains behind the armies in both the Revolution and the Civil War. I witnessed and recorded General Bragg’s train as he retreated from Perryville, Kentucky in October of 1862. I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was 50 miles long! The first wagons, had bivouacked three nights before the last wagons started. Amazing… how inefficient. Then came the river boats and then the trains over the years. Now we put them on a deck the size of a city block, catalog the locations of items, and float them wherever we need them. And they are unloaded robotically and dispersed by drones to their end address.
Tomorrow, when I return to work, I will document more on this subject. But for now, Misha has just stepped from her shower and my mind is suddenly else where.
Monday the 27th I stepped from my drone taxi in front of the Archive Center on Larimer Street. I looked up toward the top of the tall tower to glimpse the blue sky before I entered. Who knows what the weather would be like where I was going.
After briefing and morning checks, I told my chief what I had in mind. He thought it a good idea, and upon my return we would perhaps refine the editing and cataloging.
My first stop was Jerusalem 32 A.D. The great Roman Empire was occupying this desert world. How would they move their supplies, and what would they export to that world and what would they import to it? I dressed in a worn woolen robe, tied with a course belt. No one seemed to take notice of me on the crowded streets. Up ahead on a hill stood the Temple. I had to stop. There were no known paintings of it. I had to marvel at its splendor. Not large when compared to modern edifices, but majestic I think was the word. But what I wanted to see was market items, convoys of whatever kind. I walked to a corner of a broad street and turned left, when suddenly a Roman soldier stepped in front of me and said something that I totally did not understand. I speak neither Latin or Yiddish and had forgotten to turn on my translator. He made to grab me, and I stepped back, smiled and skipped an hour forward. Of course he was gone, and thoroughly confused, I’m sure. I found the market and walked slowly through, looking at the hundreds of items, many of which I was surprised to see. I recorded everything, including the smells. A new technology had just been developed that allowed us to do that. It was quite nice to be able to capture the smells of the past, in most cases, not all.
After leaving the market I decided to travel to the seacoast at Caesarea Maritima, a seacoast city built by Herod. Just as I turned to the west a group of men were approaching me, talking amongst themselves. I watched them. They were so animated in their conversations. They were talking with their hands, gesturing, walking backwards, gathered about the one young man who appeared to be either their leader or at least the center of their attentions. He was a bit taller than the others, well built, probably did hard labor to develop his shoulders and upper torso. He was dark complexioned, curly hair, a beard. As we came abreast of each other he stopped and looked intently at me. He seemed to study me, I could almost feel him in my head. Then he smiled, a warm smile, seemingly full of mirth, almost as if he knew me. He bowed slightly, turned and continued on his journey. I turned and watched him go. I knew instinctively who he was. I turned back to the west.
The road to Caesarea was to the northwest. I knew from my research it was about 75 miles. Too far for anyone to walk, a good two day ride by horse back, maybe a week with loaded pack animals and carts. Still, I wanted to see as much of it as possible. The only way to do that was too scroll through time. In other words, fast forward myself. I had never done this before, but the effect was extraordinary. I traveled at about 20 times a human’s normal rate of walk, excluding nighttime as I knew no one would be moving. At this rate I would be virtually invisible, and simply create a breeze in passing. I stopped from time to time to take note of convoys. It seemed everything going to Jerusalem was military. But large convoys were observed making their way to the port. Jars of wine, olive oil, oil lamps of clay, slaves and riches too numerous to mention. I spent a night of the local time in the desert. I didn’t sleep much but I was blown away by the night sky. In a world with little artificial light, the magnificence of the heavens was astounding. I made the trip in two days. I watched the ships being loaded. I confess I would not have wanted to journey out on the sea in one of those little tubs. Brave men, those 1st century seamen. The evidence of trade was there.
Now to skip ahead. Where to next?
Henderson, Kentucky, May 1819. A Steamboat lies along the shore of the Ohio River. It one of the first. As I stand watching, a crew of men run to the water, board the boat and quickly cast off into the river and head down stream. Shortly some more run to the river’s edge and look downstream, toward the already disappeared steamboat. It was John James Audubon. He had sold the boat, but was paid with worthless paper money. The buyer absconded with it anyway. The story is much longer, perhaps someone else can tell it in the future.
That was the early start to river-boating. Interestingly enough, when they loaded the boat to go back up river it didn’t have the power it needed to pull a load up stream.
I hung out on the river for several years, skipping through time, watching the American west spread down the rivers and cities spring up all up and down the Mississippi. Then, in 1862, the big steamboats took up the task of transporting the troops during the Civil War. Some of them were armored and became gunboats and fought fierce battles. But that is much too long a subject for this narrative.
Then the railroads took up the loads along with the boats, and the American west came alive. It seemed so quaint in comparison with my present day high tech logistics, with our interplanetary shipping techniques. Yet everything must have a beginning. Each thing a birth, a coming forth from need, oft-times accompanied by pain. Then the struggles of the first steps, then finally to run and take large bounds. When I logged back into my center, I had a good story, I thought. I wondered about that young man back in Judea. Could he have seen all this in my mind when we met? Is that why the smile? I will always wonder.
My life. My life has taken a complete change. You ask why? Well, up until a few months ago, I lived in the present. I worked mostly service jobs. In the 26th century service jobs make up about 95% of the job market. Technology, a great deal of it robot technology, has completely dominated manufacturing, mining, agriculture, travel, logistics, and other occupations that for centuries took a large part of population to accomplish.
For several centuries, once this trend started to develop, it created mass havoc in society. Politics fumed and fussed and blamed and excused themselves as to what the opposite party was doing to the employment lines. When, in truth, it was neither’s and both’s fault. It was just the bi-product of progress. Another view of human evolution.
Then, a couple of centuries into this ‘progress’, caste systems evolved. The lesser educated and the financially deprived were put onto a dole. It didn’t take long for that to cause a world of problems. In my opinion, it was what caused the political system that had governed America and, somewhat, the rest of the nations on the planet to fail. Some had seen it coming for a few decades, and kept trying to warn us. But the past dies hard, and change comes even harder. There had, for almost all of written history, been two forces that sought to lead the world. One was the Conservative, and the other the Liberal, and they were labeled many different things throughout history. But essentially, they were the forces of government. They came from basically the people who rose to power, and from the way they were wired mentally. I won’t place good or bad labels on either. So many things effect DNA in humans. Not only the hereditary DNA that is passed through generations, but the effects of environment and the learning trauma that each of us experience from infancy to adulthood and beyond. All these things help to shape that conservative wiring or that liberal wiring.
So how do you get unbiased leadership? Well, it is simply using a method of selecting those legislators by grade level, instead of common election. Bright minds that want to work in that field are taken from the top levels of students. Select your leaders much like one would select a secretary of the army – one who is knowledgeable of the military. Do it by vetted knowledge and proven ability. No one person having absolute power. A governing body of 13, of equal power, each with checks and balances.
But they must be vetted for the way they lean, most of all. Rather like the Supreme Court of the United States should have been. Except they gave the right of choice by whatever side was in power. That sure sounds like a good idea doesn’t it? Someone didn’t understand balance. You put a spinning wheel on an axle that is true and center. Then you spin it and there is no sound, no vibration. Yet if you were to set that axle just a fraction of an inch off center, the whole things rattles and vibrates and makes a great degree of noise. And if spun at much speed, will fly apart and destroy things around it. A simple example of physics. No one thinks to follow that same path in our governing body.
Ok. So, on this train of thought, I decided to select history episodes to test my thinking. First on my lists was Rome. That mighty Empire based on 7 hills in Italy. Through it’s history it was able to advance civilization by many great leaps. Yet, finally, it leaped itself into decay. What went wrong? It had a royal leader, and a Senate. Should that not create a balance? It should have. But no, the rich held all the power. And the royal, became a God.
I zipped through time. Nothing even came close during the Dark Ages. I found some of the semi primitive tribal societies came close in many ways. Yet they had not evolved to the point of advancing their technology, thereby limiting themselves in advancement. So many things, so many variables.
The older Oriental systems, mostly based on exalted royal families with advisers, served as dynasties simply because they were alright for the period of time in which they existed. So we see a pattern.
The people wanted a supreme leader, someone they could look up to. Someone they could praise, if they had good fortune, or blame if their life came to naught. But they also thought it would be a good idea if those leaders had counselors. So they would choose them. But here again, the only ones usually chosen were the rich. Because in many cases, they were the only ones that had the time and resources to hold those positions. The poor person was to busy feeding his face, or keeping shelter over his head.
Power corrupts. You give many people a tiny bit of power, and right away they will search for a way to increase that power, and expand its territory. You must take away the ‘power over’ and stimulate ‘power together’ or ‘power with’.
As I searched the centuries of kingdoms and nations and empires, I realized many of the governments were replicas of their religions. When they allowed their religion too far into their government, they soon failed.
Then, near the end of the 18th century, the United States of America broke off from its parent monarchy. They proceeded to try a democratic society, maybe a democratic republic. This would be fun to watch. Here is a coastal shelf of people that have lived, within much of their lifespan, under a monarch somewhere. Now they had freedom.
Now, remember, no one has ever had a freedom before. No one knows how to drive it. Just imagine if you had never had one. So you work real hard and you go down to the freedom dealer and you buy you a brand new one with stars and stripes, and blue all the way across one side, and it is so cool. And you close the deal, and they hand you the keys to a brand new freedom. What do you do now? Well, you go sit in the driver’s seat and crap, how do you start it? There is no ‘King’ button to get it going. And all those levers to switch – labeled treasury, and law enforcement, and military, and trade, and labor for the masses, so they can feed themselves. And there is no handbook.
Well, that is what those Americans had to deal with. They found that that glue of those states that held it all together, well, that stuff wasn’t worth crap. The slightest bit of heat and stress and the states started splitting. The cost of that is written in their history in Bold Tall type, covered with blood. They found right away that their Conservatives and Liberals had separate camps, and stood strong against the other side. By being allowed to live in separate camps, they never were able to learn to live with each other, to eat each other’s food, wear each other’s boots, to see the other side of the thing. This became a pattern for them. Oh, it worked all right most of the time. The pendulum swings to the left and to the right.
Remember that pendulum is at it’s strongest in the midst of it’s swing. When it is reaching it’s peak either way, it becomes slower, and weaker, then starts picking up speed and strength as it starts the other way. Another lesson in physics. Another lesson learned. The power is in the center.
At the beginning of the 21st century they suffered some experiments in governing the nation. It took a while, but they got it straight again. Then, about 30 years later, fell off the wagon again.
Most figured that is was the couple of decades that children were reared with no discipline, and no rules. Others said that they had become too fixated on themselves. Every 30 years or so some of the generations won’t rise up to accept the responsibility, and growth becomes retrograde. Probably just the span of time of the swing of the pendulum.
The truth of the present can always be found in the past, and the secret of the future can always be guided from both the past and the present together.
It took us another two, maybe three hundred years to be able to see this, but we did. We saw that we need to govern the length of the swing of the pendulum. We came to know that to do this was to limit the power of the liberal-conservative influence. It is still there, it will always be, for it is humanity itself. Only the robot sees no black or white (although many of our artificial intelligences do have that talent now, they evolved as we did).
It is comforting to see how far we have come. It is life changing in itself to be able to travel through the ages, and see how the mentality of mankind has changed. It has taken over my life, as it has for many others, who have been called ‘Almost Angels’. We have been able to see the creation of man up to our time.
We talk about it at work sometimes, after spending hours in another day. What will be next? Where are we headed now?
Well, this is where I leave you for today. Misha has a dinner planed for us on the Mediterranean coast in Spain in a small fishing village. I am supposed to meet her there in 5 minutes.