The Once and Future Creep

Some say Paul lost his mind in that cell, but I know better. Paul found something in solitary those sixty days. He came back to the world with few words but many thoughts. When we met him the next week for visitations, he was sort of gone. He had this breathless determination that overtook him. It was like he was walking cross country through tall snow; he was going home. After five years, he finally got there.

We were happy to have him, back but he’d often still have that distant look about him. He could stay with us a while, but he was just visiting. He’d go someplace else and leave his body in the room. He would be laying in his room eyes wide open, covered by a sleeping mask. I don’t think he ever slept exactly. Understandably, he was hard to employ.

One day while we were sorting socks, he came back. I didn’t even know he had left but then again that was six months after parole. Everyone had long since given up tracking his mental roundabouts. He was more efficient at work when he was gone and I had the habit of talking to him in this vacant state. I would learn to regret this.

“How long do you think I have, you know before it’s my time?” My small talk was somewhat morbid.

“Until 2040, Christmas decorations are still up. Your wife has a beautiful voice but she can’t sing Amazing Grace, it’s just too hard.” He spoke half here.

I stood dumbfounded.

“So you’ll still be alive?” By my estimate that would make him north of a hundred.

“I am yes.” He shrugged. “Guess I don’t get to die, maybe that’s punishment enough.”

Suddenly he snapped awake, realizing what he had said.

Paul had been reliving the actions that led him to his incarceration. Downtown and full of whiskey, he had started himself an altercation. Someone had the gall to poke him in the shoulder. Paul answered in kind with a stiff jab. The two got into it quick and before five minutes had passed the stranger was dead. The poor man had died for the great sin of not owning a watch.

“Geez, I’m sorry kid.”

I accept his apology with hopes that he wouldn’t breach the subject again.

My guess is Paul had nothing else to do in solitary so he faced his demons. He went back and forth so many times that he started to forget when was the start and when was the end. He had broken his own personal time. 2040 and 1987 were the same time, just different places. I could be wrong, but he had about eight headlines predicted with dates and everything. It was to the point that we simply asked him to stop reading the newspaper.

I don’t talk to Paul anymore, on top of the future sight he has a bad habit of spoiling books and movies. We email so he can appropriately tag his messages. Whenever I get to stuck thinking about the winter of 2040, I remember the events of September 11, 2001. Paul had told me that some 300 people would die in a plane crash headed to New York City. The actual events were obviously quite different. It’s the most disturbing sort of hope I think I could conceive.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Evelyn
    Sep 04, 2011 @ 21:21:02

    I think this is a great idea, but its kind of confusing.


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