Back In Time, by Jon Moray
The city was kissed with beautiful weather that included a warm glowing sun and a gentle breeze that could summon goose bumps. Jerry Miaro took full advantage of this present from Mother Nature and went for a stroll down the long avenues. Jerry was on a lunch break from the pressures of his job filled with deadlines and boring meetings that challenged his ability to stay awake.
While walking and catching glimpses of the sales of each store he passed, he came across a shop that sold vintage items from years past. The shop was called “Back In Time,” and the storefront was littered with aged toys, dolls, magazines and movie posters to entice window shoppers. Jerry was hooked enough into entering the shop, scaling the three steps down to the entry door. He went in, setting off a train sound that set off an alert each time a customer arrived. He looked around and saw a magazine rack full of old media for both genders, from Life to National Geographic to Cosmopolitan. He spun the rack slowly with mild interest and moved along toward the counter on the right where he was greeted by an old man dressed like an accountant from long ago, clad in suspenders and a visor.
“Good afternoon, young fella, what can I help you find?” the old man asked.
“I’m not looking for anything in particular, the toys and the magazines in the storefront was what piqued my interest.”
“I believe you can find something in here for anyone close to your heart, perhaps a newspaper covering an important event?”
“Well, now that you mention it, my father was a World War II buff. Do you have any newspapers covering that war?”
“You’re in luck my friend. It just so happens I have one vintage paper that chronicles D-Day, June 6th 1944. The old man made his way from around the counter and motioned Jerry over toward the other side of the store that spanned, what looked like, an endless display of newspaper racks.
The old man started from the far left and slowly walked along pointing at each column of newspapers as he went along. “Ah, let me see, the Great Depression, World War I, the World’s Fair…there it is, the events from D-Day dated June 7th, 1944. He picked the paper up, rubbed each side as to insure its’ aged texture and handed it to Jerry. Jerry mimicked the same motions with his own hands while he studied the headline. “I’ll take it. How much?”
“Let’s see. Considering the fact that the newspaper is authentic and it is a collector’s item and it is commonly sold on auction sites online for thirty five to fifty dollars, I guess I could let it go for five dollars.” The man said with a sparkle in his eyes and a smile to match.
“Sold,” Jerry announced, as he followed the old man towards the checkout counter. The cash register was a vintage one that mimicked the sound of a typewriter. A distinct ding at the return announced the opening of the change drawer.
“Five dollars and thirty five cents please.” Jerry rifled through his wallet, produced a twenty, and eagerly handed it to the proprietor.
The old man withdrew a ten dollar bill, four singles, two quarters, three nickels and placed it into Jerry’s palm, while whistling as if he was summoning birds.
Jerry noticed the dollars were vintage and upon closer inspection noticed the year on the ten-dollar bill was that of 1934. The one-dollar bills all had a silver certificate seal on them. The pennies were dated from 1924 to 1941, all with the wheat back design.
“Wow, this money goes way back. Are you sure you want to give me this change? I mean, aren’t these valuable?”
The old man continued his smile and replied, “Perhaps, who knows, I don’t pay too much attention to the value of currency.”
“Okay. Thanks. My dad is going to love this. Have a nice day sir,” Jerry said, pleased with the transaction while mentally questioning the old man‘s sanity.
“Enjoy your trip back in time,” cheered the old man.
Jerry nodded and headed toward the exit thinking how odd the old man appeared to be. He opened the half glass door with an open cloth shade when he was overwhelmed with a blurring feeling as if he just experienced a thrilling roller coaster ride. He quickly shook off the effects and scaled the steps up to the sidewalk.
He lifted his head and barely recognized the street scene surrounding him. Nothing was what it was before he entered the shop. Vintage Fords, Plymouths and Oldsmobiles parked and moved about, honking of horns provided an audible ear sore that made Jerry wince. Residential buildings with exterior fire escapes and laundry hung out to dry replaced the business district from his time. Most of the humanity creeping the sidewalks aggressively puffed on their cigarettes and was dressed in non military rationed colors such maroon, gray and beige. Women clomped around in wooden pumps and wedged heels. Men sported V-neck sweaters, shirts with wide lapels and pants that narrowed at the ankles.
Unbelieving and skeptical of his sanity, Jerry turned and stepped back down to the shop only to find the shades shut and the door locked. Confused, he surmised the only thing to do was to venture about town for a while. He marveled at the sudden time warp that took him back. A kid selling newspapers on the corner confirmed the same day as his newspaper. He began his stroll down the street. He couldn’t help but stop and admire a hunter green colored Ford with wood paneling on the sides. He tilted his head and peered down the front end of the vehicle running his hand along the rounded contours of the hood.
“Hey Mac, are you through feeling up my car? Beat it,” barked the car owner, sarcastically.
“Sorry,” Jerry replied, and moved along quickly to avoid further confrontation.
He continued on with the feeling he has just discovered another planet, looking wide-eyed about as to not miss the landscape of the era. He was unfamiliar with the pace of the city streets as evident of all the people that bumped into him, only to receive profane filled responses.
“Hey, Mister Pinball, how about a shoeshine?” asked a teenage boy, wearing checkered gaucho pants held up by gray suspenders.
Jerry looked down at his scuffed oxfords and was immediately convinced he was in the market for a decent shoeshine. Before he could answer another kid interrupted, “Hey Mister, if you want a real shoeshine, go see Jake Miaro. He is the best in town, not this clown.”
“Get lost, Snothead,” the shoeshine boy attacked back, with a hurl of his polish brush. The heckler managed to elude the aerial attack and skipped off laughing.
“Maybe some other time,” Jerry finally answered and began to make a beeline for the heckler with anxious wonder as to whether the Jake Miaro he made reference to was his dad. His dad was born in ’32, so that would make him 12 years old. He caught up with the boy and tapped him on his shoulder.
“Excuse me. Jake Miaro, where can I find him?”
“Go three streets up and make a right onto Third Avenue. I saw him earlier. He’ll be happy to see you. Business hasn’t been good lately,” the boy said, pointing Jerry in the right direction.
“Thanks,” said Jerry, and began to walk quickly up the street. He couldn’t believe the coincidence of this fantasy of time travel with the opportunity of actually having a conversation with his dad when he was a boy. Along the way he pondered how to handle the situation, what questions to ask. He tried to remember what he knew about his dad at that age, which wasn’t much, except that he had to drop out of school to help his Mom make ends meet. Jerry turned the corner onto Third Avenue and saw a boy about age twelve reading a magazine while sitting on steps leading up to a tenement. Jerry couldn’t tell if this was his father. The pictures he has seen of his dad were when he was very young or as an adult. As he neared his heart accelerated and his eye twitched with uncontrollable anticipation.
“Excuse me, are you Jake Miaro?” asked Jerry, in a stutter.
“Am I in trouble? I didn’t do nothing,” Jake fired back, defensively.
“Oh, no, you are in no trouble. I was told you were the best shoeshine boy in town and as you could see my shoes need a good polish,” Jerry said in a calming voice.
“Yeah,” said Jake, blandly.
Jerry sat beside Jake for a moment before Jake rose to prepare his shoeshine tools.
“How is your Mom? Phoebe right?” Jerry asked, to remove all doubt of his suspicions.
“You know my mom?” asked Jake, skeptically, since he had never seen this man before in his life.
“Yes, very nice lady. Very loving of her children.”
“Yeah,” replied Jake, again blandly.
Jake began his toil by wiping away excess dirt from the toes of Jerry’s shoes.
“I’ve never seen shoes like this before, Mister.”
“They are a new design…worn, but new.”
“They are like none I have seen before,” Jake muttered, puzzled at his new customer. Kids his age were pedaling bicycles on the sidewalk. The sounds of their enthusiastic laughter brought a slight frown to his face. Jerry noticed this and remembered how so much of Jake’s childhood was lost due to working to help provide for a family that consisted of his mom, three brothers and two sisters. Since he was the oldest Jake filled the void of his dad who left the family to return to his native country.
“It’s tough having to work at your age, isn’t it?”
“It is very admirable of your sacrifice to better the people around you, your family.”
Jake continued the service by applying black polish on his brush and going to work on Jerry’s left shoe. Jerry stared at his dad’s facial features careful to turn away when Jake felt the eerie feeling he was being stared at. There was silence for a moment that made Jerry desperate for another conversation starter. He noticed Jake looking at his cell phone holder hooked to his belt. Jerry decided to remove the cell phone to see what kind of reaction he would get. Success, as Jake’s eyes widened in awe of this foreign object.
“What’s that?” Jake asked, excitedly.
“It’s a phone. A phone that can take pictures, believe it or not.”
“A phone with no wires? Who are you, Captain Future?”
“Captain Future, Man of Tomorrow,” Jake said, pulling out a rolled up Captain Future magazine from his back pocket. He handed it to Jerry to peruse. Jerry flipped through the worn pages. “Captain Future, what a laugh,” Jerry joked to himself.
Jerry handed the cell phone to Jake to inspect. He managed to figure out the phone activated with a button on top revealing a portrait of a boy in a Little League uniform.
“Who is that a picture of?” asked Jake, still in amazement that he was holding something beyond his imagination.
“It’s a picture of my son, your gr…,” he stopped short from revealing the kinship between them.
“You say it takes pictures?”
“Yes, sit down beside me a moment, maybe I can take a picture of us,” Jerry said, pondering whether the phone could work some of its’ functions. He leaned in towards Jake, held the phone out at arms’ length and pushed the button, but nothing was captured. The phone had died. Jake shook his shoulders at the notion of a phone without wires. Jerry returned the phone to its’ holder while Jake stood to finish the shoeshine
“So, how much is this service going to cost me?”
“That’s all? That’s the cost? How cheap?”
“What did you expect to pay?”
“I was expecting a lot more. Tell me, Jake, what is the most money you have gotten for a shoe shine?” asked Jerry.
“A dollar. The man was half drunk.”
Jerry laughed heartily. “I might be able to beat that record. After all it’s been said you are the best in town.”
Jake finished off the right shoe. He wiped his brow with his wrist. “All done,” he announced. Jerry leaned to one side to reach for his wallet in his back right pocket. He opened up the wallet and surveyed the bills he received from the old man. He then remembered the Kennedy half-dollar he always kept in the zipper part. He took the coin out, flipped it up and caught it before handing it over to Jake. Jake looked at the coin and read the year, 1965.
“You are from the future?” Jake shouted, while ogling at the coin.
“Perhaps,” said Jerry, focused on Jake’s awed expression.
“You know when the war will end? Who the next president will be? Space exploration?”
“I want to know about the future but I am afraid. It is probably best that I don’t know,” said Jake, while folding up his rag.
“You are probably right, Jake. I have a tremendous urge to tell you some things that happen in the future but I know I shouldn’t.”
Jake’s eyes searched the concrete pavement back and forth as if the ants were playing tennis. He bit down on his bottom lip and fretted. Finally he mustered up the courage to ask a question.
“Sir, I just want to know one thing, if you can tell me,” Jake stammered.
“I will try, Jake.”
“Will I be able to provide for my family, my mom and my brothers and sisters?” asked Jake, somberly as if expecting a less than favorable answer.
“Young man, you will be a great provider. You will provide and you will be appreciated for all your sacrifice. You are appreciated already, by me,” said Jerry, patting Jake on the shoulder. He wanted so much to hug his dad.
“I’ll make a deal with you, Jake. I will trade you that new age coin for this ten dollar bill.”
“A ten dollar bill? Why, mister?”
“Because good people deserve a break and I am fortunate enough to give back,” uttered Jerry, teary eyed.
“You’ve got a deal, sir.” They exchanged the legal tender and nodded to seal the deal.
“What are you going to do with your new found fortune?”
“I’ll do what I have to do, provide for my family.”
“Provide for your family, of course,” said Jerry, in disbelief from not knowing the answer.
“Oh…I almost forgot. I bought this newspaper just for you. Have it, it’s yours to keep.”
“For me? Just for me? I wanted to read about what happened yesterday. Uh, Thanks again.”
“It’s time for me to go back now. Thanks for the great shoeshine. You’ll never know what it means to me,” expressed Jerry, fighting every emotion not to reveal his identity to his dad.
“Bye mister and thanks Captain Future.”
“Take care, Captain Provider.”
Jerry gave a wave and took a few steps away before turning back and whispering, “I love you dad.” He then took off like a little kid running away from a fire he had started. Jerry found his way back to the shop where his trek started and stepped down into the store. The shade was opened and the door was unlocked. The old man was at the magazine rack passing a dust brush over the printed media. He stopped when he saw Jerry re-enter the shop.
“My trip back in time was awesome. How did you do it, how did you manage to send me back in time?”
“It was all in the newspaper and your liberation of mind. I knew you fit the type the minute you walked in. It looks like you got the paper to your dad, not the way you expected, but this shop is called “Back in Time,” said the old man, with a gesture as if he just successfully executed a magic trick.
“Thanks a million. I got a lot more than what I bargained for when I stepped into this place.”
“I’ve got to get back to work. I will be back in real time when I exit those doors, won’t I?”
“Absolutely, one time travel trip to an able customer. Wait, I have a parting gift for you,” the man spun the magazine rack and pulled one off the rack.
“For you, my friend,” said the old man, as he handed over the magazine.
“Captain Future, Man of Tomorrow,” Jerry laughed out loud, joined by the old man.
Jon Moray has been writing short stories for over four years and his work has been published in several online markets. His current writing goal is to publish a collection of fantasy genre stories inspired by his dearly departed father’s abstract paintings. When not working and being a devoted husband and father of two, he enjoys playing basketball and training for marathons.
5 readers love this story!
Tags: family, Jon Moray, science fiction, time