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What would happen
if history could be rewritten as casually as erasing a blackboard?
Our past would be like the shifting sands at the seashore,
constantly blown this way or that by the slightest breeze. History
would be constantly changing every time someone spun the dial of a
time machine and blundered his or her way into the past. History,
as we know it, would be impossible. It would cease to exist. Michio
Kaku - Hyperspace
1: Lebanon, Ohio
Summer - 2019
Warren rounded a bend on the trail at an easy jog. The sun was
sinking behind a cluster of purple clouds; a summer storm was
about to break.
was fine. She liked running in the warm rain, unless electricity
crackled across the sky. Lightning bolts rarely struck people, but
not rarely enough for her to risk her life. Her love of the
outdoors aside, if the heavens started crashing, she would take
cover inside the farmhouse and jog on her treadmill, as boring as
that might have been.
middle-school, fitness had been a constant in her life. Back then,
for an extra push when she trained with the cross-country team,
she would picture old-fashioned movie slashers chasing her. It
didn’t really make her run any faster, but it took her mind from
the relentless pain in her belly, especially when the team climbed
steep hills, and her imagination made the monotonous running way
she turned thirty a few years ago, she’d started a new running
program, right after her parents passed away and she had healed
sufficiently from hip surgery. Though she had been promoted on the
Cincinnati police force, and physical exertion was usually less
needed as a detective than as a patrol officer, she noticed the
young female recruits who joined the department always seemed to
be in terrific shape. She used the newbies as motivation to
accelerate her own workout program; no rookie
was ever going to outrun her on the track, or out-lift her in the
gym, not if she could help it. Besides, hard running was good for
her hip rehab. And the pain in her joints served as an adequate
distraction from the rest of her life, at least some of the time.
rain sprinkled and she paced through it. The droplets felt cool
against her face, bare arms and legs. Running in the rain was at
least one way to feel closer to nature. She smiled through the
gathering shower and powered forward. Her hip barely hurt, her
legs were strong and still had a lot left this evening. Let’s
see how fast I can go.
glinted from inside a few farmhouses as she strode over the dirt
trail across the rear boundary of her neighborhood. Much of this
section had been overbuilt in the last twenty years, but many of
the original farmhouses still stood untouched, and the Mayberry-like
feel remained in a few spots. It was nice, in this world of
relentless renovation, some things from her childhood still had
rounded the final corner of the trail before the path leading to
the back of her property branched off to her right.
incredible boom shattered the air.
jerked to a halt and shot her arms up to cover her head.
that was loud.
lightning had exploded right above her. She needed to find
shelter, started ahead through an abrupt downpour but halted
again. Something darted onto the trail in front of her. She wiped
the rain from her eyes. It was a
dog, a small black-and-white mutt. Probably lived in one of
the houses close by and got stuck outside in the weather, just
like she had.
took one step closer. “Here, boy.”
dog stopped, turned to her.
breath caught in her throat. Poor thing was missing one back leg.
She moved closer.
dog stood on the path and glanced from side to side, again and
thinking about the dog being vicious, she approached, got a foot
from the dog then bent her knees to the ground. “What happened
to you, boy?” She gingerly reached over and touched his
dog stretched out and shook the water from his short fur. After
steadying himself, he gazed at her with puppy-dog-brown eyes. He
inched forward and pushed the top of his head against her hip.
sudden burst of tears streamed down her cheeks and mixed with the
rain as she gathered the black-and-white dog into her arms and
pulled the little guy as close to her pounding chest as she
possibly could. “Doc? Doc! It can’t be...”
dog licked her face and wagged his tail as if he’d just found a
Time travel used
to be thought of as just science fiction, but Einstein’s general
theory of relativity allows for the possibility that we could warp
space-time so much that you could go off in a rocket and return
before you set out. Stephen
2: Mt. Adams, Ohio
squinted through the morning sunlight, tightened her grip on the
dog leash, and stepped off the curb into the narrow Mt. Adams
cobblestone street. She angled toward the sidewalk patio of Evangeline’s Tea House where the man she’d been searching for
was purported to hang out on Sunday mornings. It was already 70
degrees, but a persistent shiver tingled in her hip and down her
leg. She took a deep breath and forged ahead.
just parked her battered Jeep that she normally hated navigating
up the steep hill from the valley to Mt. Adams. There was almost
never anywhere to park, and she resented the aura of chic
trendiness this once quiet and unassuming residential community
had become. Its lofty perch that overlooked the Ohio River had
something to do with the inevitable upscale changes. At least
parking hadn’t been an issue today, as many of the fashionable
clothing and jewelry shops that dotted the rehabbed urban
landscape had yet to open.
in this hilly, sequestered community, with the little
black-and-white dog at her side, felt quite pleasant, except for
the familiar twinge she felt now and then around her right hip.
She used her free hand to re-adjust the holster and pistol under
the left arm of her jacket to make sure it was secure, and
continued forward. She passed only a few joggers on her way toward
the tea café.
she caught sight of a man across the street, she slowed her pace.
He sat at a table behind a wrought iron fence that separated Evangeline’s
patio from the sidewalk. She felt a sudden pressure in her chest.
man was quietly handsome. He wore a gray Fedora and sat at a small
bistro table. He perused a newspaper, probably the Sunday edition
of The Cincinnati Enquirer, folded in his hands. A ceramic teacup
rested in a saucer on the table. His appearance was exactly as he
had been described, even though her source had last seen him more
than five years ago.
halted at the fence. “Doc, sit.” The dog sat at her heel. She
had no idea how to start a conversation with the man whose eyes
just rolled up at her.
This is a mistake. There’s no real reason to believe this
stranger might have the answer to my questions.
all the hours she had considered approaching him, she had planned
what to say, but no words formed in her mind, and she simply stood
there, her mouth halfway open. The melody of a song from the 60s,
a ballad by The Beatles, distracted her as it echoed softly in the
the man said. His eyes were sharp, sky blue, and they studied her
from behind a pair of wire eyeglasses.
He stood and removed his Fedora.
saw he broke the six-foot mark.
man rested his newspaper atop two others stacked on the table.
“You are not an
acolyte, not a follower of my books.”
took a breath. “I’ve read both.”
you carry neither with you...for my signature on the title
have a Kindle, and I’ve never been much into author
blinked. “You are not
an investigative journalist.”
How do you know?”
carry recording equipment, or perhaps a writing tablet at the very
least. You hold nothing this fine morning, except for the canine
glanced down at the dog by her side. “Curious. You said
I unwittingly run afoul of law enforcement?”
Oh, no. Why?”
this be an official visit?”
studied him. “Have you seen me before?”
must know I’m a cop. That’s what you meant.”
gestured with one open palm at an empty chair. “Please. Join
blinked several times, and then stepped through a gate in the
fence. The small three-legged dog followed at her side. as John
Lennon’s soft melodic voice accompanied them. Seated in the
proffered chair, she gazed at the man standing on the other side
of the table. He had short-cut dark brown hair highlighted by a
few touches of gray at the temples. Clean-shaven and properly
neat, he wore pressed tan dress slacks, brown tie shoes, a
long-sleeved white shirt buttoned all the way up, no tie, and a
me for barging in on you like this.”
welcome pleasant conversation.”
glanced around and adjusted her position on the chair. “It’s
nice here, as if this place were lifted from a quaint English
sat and placed his Fedora atop the newspapers. “I visit this
lovely establishment each Sunday.”
nodded. “Thank you for, well, for talking with me. I wasn’t sure how you might react.”
is, as they say, no problem.”
folded her hands in her lap and squeezed them together; they
pulsed with an insistent tremble. The small dog stretched up and
rested his front paws on her thigh. His nose sniffed at the
Doc.” She patted his side. “Down.”
dog glanced at her with those puppy-dog browns.
Not for dogs.”
paws slid from her thigh and he curled up on the concrete beside
fellow,” the man said. “Intelligent.”
nodded. “We’ve become friends.”
different song began from hidden speakers. This time it was Because
I Love You, by The Dave Clark 5.
I order tea for you, or perhaps a scone, Miss...Miss..?
Sorry. Warren. Jessie Warren.”
extended his hand across the table. “I am pleased to meet you,
took his hand. His fingers gripped hers with a gentle strength.
I, and as you must know, am Wallace Brewster.”
Warren, I have two questions.”
did you manage to locate me?”
cleared her throat. “I started with the usual online
searches...but nothing popped up.”
server in her early 20s appeared tableside with a ceramic teapot.
She had a blond ponytail and sported a black apron with Evangeline’s
embroidered across the front. “Mr. Brewster? More hot water?”
waitress carefully poured steaming water into the small teacup.
She completed her refill and faced Jessie. “May I bring you
Grey, please.” Jessie noticed the man gaze at her as if he were
studying a scientific formula on an old-fashioned chalkboard.
waitress smiled. “Certainly.”
a dish of water for my dog, please.”
waitress nodded and glided away.
course,” Jessie said to Brewster, “my search was stymied when
I was looking for Alice Victoria Carroll.”
squinted at him. “A man who writes under a female
pen name is not unheard of, but still odd.”
to protect my privacy.”
obviously my precautions
had some flaws.”
chuckled. “The authors of blogs about you never believed Alice
Victoria Carroll was your real name. The speculation was you
pieced that name together, the Alice from Alice
in Wonderland, and
Carroll from, well, the author.”
found herself tumbling down a rabbit hole.”
story gave me the creeps when my mother read it to me. I don’t
know why it’s thought of as a classic for kids.”
down a rabbit hole has taken on metaphorical implications for many
authors who followed Mr. Carroll. The metaphor serves as the
inspirational focus for many stories, transport to another world,
and unintentional involvement in circumstances beyond control of
so, your search..?”
only real clue I had was your publisher. I figured somebody at
Putnam must know how to contact you.”
receive an occasional email from them. They ask if I’m writing
another novel.” He smiled. “And direct deposit is a marvelous
you writing another book?”
idea is germinating.”
song, This Diamond Ring,
by Gary Lewis and the Playboys began to play.
I drove to New York.”
gazed at her.
your editor’s office, flashed my badge, and gave him my best
steely-eyed stare. Sometimes that works better than my badge. I
stretched the truth a bit and told him I was investigating a
murder.” She pushed a few strands of her auburn hair from across
her forehead. “And eventually—”
told you my name. And location.”
said he met you once, about five years ago, but remembered enough
to give me a pretty good description. He told me of your real
name, Brewster, your strong accent, and said he thought you lived
around here and frequented this tea café on Sunday mornings,
though he couldn’t be sure you still lived in Mt. Adams. It had
been so long ago.”
nodded. “I suppose all secrets find their way to the surface,
given enough time and a beautiful pair of eyes, if you will pardon
me for saying so.”
was struck silent by the unexpected compliment. She composed
herself and leaned slightly forward on her elbows. “You knew I
was a cop.”
the moment you saw me.”
I that transparent?”
blinked. “You are not as I expected.”
did you expect?”
pale recluse, rumpled, overweight.”
shrugged. “From the movies, maybe, a genius writer, hidden away,
shunning public acknowledgement.” She stopped and studied his
expression. “But you look nothing like that at all. Nothing.”
learned something else about you...when I was online.”
internet is truly amazing.”
I searched for Wallace Brewster, one sleepless night about a week
ago, I uncovered many men of Scottish descent named Wallace, or
Brewster, but none were you.”
grinned. “Who is probably the most famous Scotsman in all
smile started at the corners of his mouth.
I discovered that David Brewster, in the 1800s, was probably the
most famous scientist from Scotland. Invented the stereoscope, one
of the first successful attempts at viewing objects in 3D.”
am familiar with Sir David’s accomplishments.”
so, just as you cobbled together your pen name, you did the same
with the name you are using now, which, I imagine, cannot be your
real name either.”
raised his teacup to his lips, took one sip then carefully placed
the cup back on the saucer. “Sound reasoning, indeed.”
don’t seem upset that I found you.”
feel something important
has brought you here today.”
that, Miss Warren, is my second question.”
gazed at him while reaching to the back pocket of her pants and
pulled out her phone. After she pressed at the screen several
times, she turned the screen so he could see it. “I took this
studied the glowing image. “A lovely home.”
rural area, I see. A farmhouse?”
Thirty-five miles north of here.”
historic inn is there.”
froze. “The...Golden Lamb?”
seemed taken by the surprise on her face. “Are you all right,
gathered herself. “Yes.”
I was about to say, I have dined at The Golden Lamb. The food
is excellent, and the inn’s surroundings seem untouched by
set the phone face-up on the table. “This farmhouse is the only
place I’ve ever lived, Mr. Brewster. My grandparents built it
when they were in their 20s. The farm has always been known as The Warren Place by everybody in the community.”
Brewster didn’t say anything.
reached inside her blazer. She pulled out a small square of
crinkled photographic paper and placed it face-down on the table.
The back of the paper was yellowed with age. “Look at this. Tell
me I’m not crazy, Mr. Brewster.”
leaned back in her chair and waited as Brewster gazed at her
look at it.”
edged his hand forward, pinched the corner of the paper, and
flipped it over. One glance at the photo shot him instantly to his
feet. His chair scraped backward across the concrete patio floor.
know.” She took a long breath. “That is my place, Mr.
Brewster. My farmhouse. And those two people on the front porch
rockers are my grandparents when they were young.”
man and woman sat beside each other in rocking chairs on what
appeared to be the same farmhouse porch as the one on the screen
of Jessie’s phone. The two of them smiled at whomever was behind
lowered himself back onto his chair as he gazed down at the sepia
and Nancy Warren,” Jessie said. “As I told you, they built
that house and lived in it the rest of their lives. My parents
bought it from the estate.”
brought his eyes up from the photo. “The image on this paper is remarkable.”
He shifted his eyes from the old photograph to the image on the
phone. “I have no doubt this is the same house, but this old
picture must’ve been taken at least fifty years ago.”
sat unframed on the farmhouse mantle when I grew up. My parents
kept it there as a tribute to my grandparents. Look at it very
The extraordinary factor
is what else is in this
bit her bottom lip and waited for him to make the connection.
that extraordinary factor is what has inspired you to find me.”
don’t know if it’s possible, Mr. Brewster, but I need to know
what you think.”
shifted his focus back to the photo on the table, at a young
farming couple, smiling, apparently happy, reclining in their
rockers. And between them sat a dog.
same three-legged dog that was at this moment lying on the
concrete floor at Jessie Warren’s feet.