Jerry A. G. Ericsson
© Jerry A.G. Ericsson 8/23/00
I was walking past my neighbor Jon’s garage the other day, when I saw his son Little Jon working away on a strange looking conglomeration of wires, and steel. I couldn’t resist stepping inside to check this sight out.
“Hey Little Jon,” I said, as I walked through the open overhead door, “Nice looking piece or work, what is it supposed to do?”
“It’s a time machine.”
I walked around the machine, and checked it out. There were wires running here and there, and out one side stuck the old 386 IBM computer I gave him a couple of weeks ago when I was cleaning out my storage shed. In the middle of the machine was an old office chair, the kind with arms and a low back that turns round and round to raise or lower the seat. The seat and back were covered with duct tape, probably covering up old wear and tear holes from years of sitting.
“Does it work?” I asked, scratching my balding head.
“Works just fine!” bragged Little Jon. Sent my cat Chuck back to 1869, and brought him back just fine.
“Sent any people?” I asked trying to suppress the smile, which was forcing itself on my face.
“Sent Mr. Olson, but I didn’t get it quite right, he ended up in 2010 Denver, and a suburb of Chicago.”
“Two places at once? That must be quite a trick.”
“Not a pretty sight” replied Little Jon.”
“Sent anyone else?” I asked with a chuckle.
“Sent that friend of yours from Portugal, America or Americo or something like that to 2100, he wanted to check out the wildlife or wild life, I didn’t quite understand what he was saying, he has that accent you know.”
Now this got my interest, Americo had come to America to visit, and I was going to show him around the mid-west when he suddenly disappeared . That was why I was outside to begin with.
“Twenty-one-hundred,” I said, “Now that might be interesting, can you send me there to see how it is going?” I asked, trying to humor the little fellow.
“Sure,” He said, “just have a seat on the chair and I will adjust the timer.”
I sat on the old office chair, as I was getting tired of standing anyhow, and watched as Little Jon twisted a dial, then pushed a couple of buttons, and typed something on the old keyboard of my ancient 386.
Then the room began spinning, and everything went blurry then faded to black.
When it became light again, I was walking through a small park in a little town. All was quiet and peaceful it reminded me of the small town I grew up in back in the ‘60’s. Soon I came to the main part of town, again it was nice, peaceful. I happened on to an old man, who was walking down the street toward the outskirts of town, holding the hand of a small boy. Both were carrying fishing poles and tackle. I stopped and asked the old fellow if he had seen my friend Americo.
“Sure have,” he replied and spit tobacco on the ground away from my feet. “Saw him go into the barber shop.” He said, nodding up the street indicating where the barbershop was to be found.
“Thanks,” I replied, “Taking your grand-son fishing?” I asked.
“Not my grand-son, just the boy assigned to me.” He replied, and the two continued on their way.
I walked the two blocks to the BarberShop, to find my friend Americo. It was so quiet, then I noticed that there was no automobile traffic, people were walking, couples strolling hand in had, old men walking with small boys, old ladies walking with young girls. Everyone appeared so happy, almost like there wasn’t a worry in the world.
Then I came to the BarberShop, and walked in through the door. There was my friend Americo sitting in the barber chair, getting a haircut, and smoking a huge cigar. (I think it was Cuban by the smell.)
“Americo!” I said, sitting on one of the chairs in the waiting area. “Just had to come and see how you were getting along in the twenty-first century.
“Just fine my friend.” Said Americo, “Been having a wonderful conversation with the Barber here.”
I looked over the barber, he was a typical barber, kind of wide in the middle, not a lot of hair on top, with a wide handlebar mustache. Then I looked at the haircut that Americo was receiving, and decided that this fellow wasn’t much of a barber.
I noticed that there were no mirrors in the shop, now after seeing the haircut that Americo was getting, I could understand why.
“Finding out about the wildlife Americo?”
“Well, I was looking for the wild life, but our friend the barber has been telling me about the wildlife around here, seems that wildlife is thriving in the twenty-first century.”
“You got here by a time machine, like your friend here?” asked the barber.
“Well yes,” I said, “Don’t you find that unusual?”
“Nope,” he said, “Been time machines for most a hundred years now, since a young fellow named Little Jon Brandberg made the first one. Oh there was that one incident where the first guy got his head sent to Denver and his body to Chicago”
Now I was getting interested.
“Well what about wildlife, have the animals managed to survive the awful predictions of our time?”
“Of course they have. Why you can go hunting any day, there are more deer and bison then you can shake a stick at. When you kick up a flock of passenger pidgins, they flock so thickly that they block out the sun. There are seasons for duck, goose and dinosaurs. You can fish for anything from palled sturgeon to northern pike. Why since the invention of the time machine, you can go on a hunt for most anything you want. In fact I was just out hunting saber tooth tigers last week.”
“What happened to make your town so peaceful?” I asked.
“Why, since we drove all the lawyers out, and the barbers took over the world, it has been very peaceful.” He explained.
“What about the Internet, has that survived the century?” I asked with interest.
“No, you see people got more and more involved in the internet till no-one ever left home, except to get their hair cut. That is how we barbers came into power.” He said, you see, we began to whisper into the ears of everyone who came through our doors, how the world was going to fast, and the lawyers were ruining the world. After five years, the internet collapsed, and it wasn’t long before the PC’s were all dispatched by laws enacted by the world Barber College. Then just for good measure, we banned televisions, just so they didn’t take the place of the PC’s.”
“What about crime, is there still crime in the twenty-first century?” I asked, as things looked so peaceful.
“Nope, crime is a thing of the past. You see we began to see that men and women were working hard every day just to put bread on the table. Children were left alone, and without supervision, they turned to crime. What we did was to assign each small child a foster grandfather or grandmother, who takes the child in hand, and teaches them the things their parents don’t have tome to teach, such as right from wrong, and how to catch a fish, or shoot a deer for the freezer.”
About this time he pulled the drape cloth off Americo, indicating that the haircut was done.
“How much?” asked Americo.
“Just two-bits.” Said the barber.
Americo tossed him a quarter, and together we left the barbershop.
“So, Americo my friend what say we take one of those hunting trips, see if we can bag a deer, and I will show you how I prepare my famous jerky.”
“Why not!” said Americo, “After all we came here to see about the wildlife, or was it wild life, oh will no matter.”
We took the local time machine back to 1825 on the great plains of North America, in what is now North Dakota. Our hunt was very productive; Americo shot the biggest Mule Deer I have ever seen. Regrettably, I had to make the trip home, as my wife needed me to drive her to her mothers. I took the same time machine back.
Suddenly, I was back in the same chair in Jon’s garage. Little Jon was still punching things on his keyboard.
“Thanks for the ride, it was great!” I said, as I got up to leave.
“No problem, by the way, sorry about what happened to your friend, but I think I got the bugs out of the machine now.”