Passing Time a short story

Passing Time

“Pass that.”
“Oh…here you go,” I hand over the spliff.
Sanford, a monk of a man, puffs on the joint held loose between his plump Vienna sausage fingers.  He blows smoke out, followed closely by a thunderous cough.  He smiles and repeats, puff, blow, cough, and smile.
“I think I’m forgetting something…maybe someone or sometime?” I ask.
“Yeah, sometime, that sounds right,” the little bald man hands me the weed.
I feel the warmth of the smoke roll down my throat, hacking as I exhale.  There is pain, but only a touch before I smile, aware of the high.  We share the remainder of the rolled bliss.  Puff, puff, blow, cough, smile, pass, and repeat.
We rock in our seats, laughing out loud with tears streaming down our cheeks.  Friar Tuck’s eyes look like the surface of Mars, red with redder lines crossing it like rivers.  His face fills with blood from the stain of hysteria brought on by THC.  Drug-induced joy.  Medicated but functional we will share the day searching time for that sometime I had somehow forgot.
Bouncing about from today’s print of yesterday’s news to a September disaster.  Bounding back over hanging chads and the first march to Bagdad, we laugh high as time flips and flies ever backward.  The moon landing…Kennedy…air raids over London…turn of a century…spinning back, cackling like hyenas with full bellies we turn to slow the speed as we approach the last place we had been.  The first place to search for the time we had misplaced. 
Here we are in another time.  High as a kite in a New England wind, we find ourselves sitting on steps outside a hotel in Chicago.  The year is eighteen ninety-three.   The World’s Fair is in town, and for a smoking man, this makes for a good year.  We had been here many a time, including last night’s last high.  Thinking about it now, I suppose I might have been baked enough to have left behind sometime.
Down two streets, make a left, down one more then make a right, and there are the brilliant lights beckoning the stoner to their call.  The hobbit of a man and I approach slow, searching the horizon for the glow of time.  Intently, we strain our eyes to search every pixel of the air, every particle’s sub-particles of space, for the signature shimmer of sometime lost.
Nothing so much as shone out of the vast skyline, above and around the Emerald City with Ferris’s wheel.  Sanford and I turn in unison like choreographed dancers, and shrug.
Back over the blocks, into the hotel lobby, into a room, first one they offer.  Pull the curtains, light a pipe, and spin back over years past.
Lincoln shot…bloody war…White House burns…Redcoats march...Newton passes away…Galileo on trial, we spin quickly and slam on the brakes skidding to a halt, breaking into the wrong year.
“Overshot again,” I say as I spin a dial, push the forward button, and swiftly pump the brake twice, landing soundly on the spot in time I intend.
September in London, fifteen ninety-nine, we find ourselves between two wooden buildings.  The smell of horse dung hangs thick in the night air.  Across the street, from where Sanford breathes hot breath in warm waves down the back of my loose-fitting shirt, we find the global theater.  Again we strain to see between painted cloths hung from the roof bearing SHAKESPEARE’S Julius Caesar and the crowd packing into the building with their thundering voices bellowing into the air.
Nothing is found.  Back to the alley, and back to the rearward slide, through pages of places inked to the collective memory of all generations that will come thereafter.  These moments we come and go from without much concern.  That is, until sometime gets left behind.
Jumping long strides along the timeline, wondering about time lost between each stoppable moment.  Mankind has lost so much from lack of record.
Sputtering to a stop, shaking slowly past Crusaders dying in Nicopolis…burial of Wycliffe…resting on Saint George’s Day 1374 in an empty hall of a large English castle.  Around a corner, Chaucer is being granted a gallon of wine a day for the remainder of his life.  Oh what sweet tales he must have told the king.
“We’ve stalled,” Sanford says with a huff.
“Out of fuel…here try this,” I pull a brick of dried green bud with small red hairs from a compartment near my feet, and hand it to the stubby man.
  Sanford tosses the block into a small incinerator under knobs and flashing lights.  I twist the backward lever, turn a knob, push a button, and we blast off toward our last stop.  The first moment in time witnessed on yesterday’s trip through history.
Laughing, tears running from Martian eyes, Sanford stares out a small round window at the past that sails by.  I giggle at a king dancing in the rain.  We fling through the past at the speed of a shot put thrown by Hercules.  There goes Hannibal over the Alps.  See Nero playing his lyre while Rome burns.  Grab the handle to the brakes, both hands and pull.  Decrease speed, slow, and ease to a stop.
Together Sanford and I step though transparent walls into the streets of Jerusalem.  Maroon sky overhead swirls with shimmers of grey.  Solemn, we climb a small hill.  Through the crowd beyond the crucified, we peer into the horizon, searching as if for Waldo.
“Something in this time is different.  Look at his face.  The one in the middle, it’s changed.  No one weeps.”  Sanford was correct, so I glare with all my might, searching.
Suddenly the glimmer of the lost time twinkles into view.  Our search complete, we sigh in unison.  Smile and snatch the piece of past from the backdrop of this time.  A time held precious by so many.  Altered?
Heads held low, whispering prayers, Sanford follows me back to our machine.  We adjust the dials for the return to our home, our time, where the keepers call us the travelers when they’re not calling us junkies, dope heads, or wastoids.  It’s like the chiefs to keep the tribesmen down.  I wonder about the world and how one moment in time can change the direction of time forever.
Sanford has traveled through time with me since my first high, my first jump in time.  You could say he is my mentor.   He has taught me all of the perks traveling offers, the smoke, the wonders, and the laughs.  He has also helped me understand the importance of keeping the past straight. 
We must hurry now before we burn up the little remaining bud we have.  Without the dried flower, our trips would cease.
“Which one was it?” Sanford asks.
I glance down to the small silver disk held flat in the palm of my hand.  Sanford flips the forward lever.  I read the date stamped on the disk.
“It’s an important one.  It’s a birth,” I sigh, relax, and light my pipe.

© Copyright 2011 Shain Knowles

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