Iron Out The Bugs
"Iron Out The Bugs"
When my son James, who moved in with me after
my wife passed away eight months ago, told me
he had invented a time machine, I didn't believe
him. I considered time travel to be nothing more
than science fiction. When he continued to pester
me to try it out, I reluctantly agreed. He took me
to the garage where there was a rectangular metal
contraption sitting in the corner with a leathere
seat, a few levers and little else.
"What do you want me to do?" I asked as I glanced
at my wristwatch. The Survivor show would air in
fifty minutes, and I didn't want to miss it.
"If everything works the way planned, I'll have you
back here in fourty five minutes," he said. "I'll
iron out the bugs if it doesn't work the way I want
I stared at James for a few seconds. He was a man
of medium height with a full black beard and
shoulder length hair. The eldest of my three children
he was an engineer at the aircraft plant. He was
a brainy fellow, but I doubted the thing sitting in
the corner would take me anywhere.
I sighed heavily as I seated myself in the thing
as instructed. "Where am I going?"
"I don't know," he replied. I'm hoping it will
transport you somewhere you are familar with."
"That sounds crazy as hell," I grumbled. "Let's
get this over with so I can go to the house and
I pulled the lever on the left as I was told, and
when nothing happened, I was about to inform
james that his latest idea wasn't going to work
when my ears popped as the garage was engulfed
in a brilliant white light followed my total
blackness. When my vision cleared, I was
standing on a dimly lighted stree outside of a two
story stucco building called the Gold Crown
where fourty six years earlier I met Alice, my
I wnt inside and glanced over the crowd until I
saw Aliced sitting at a table under a florecent
light that made her long blond hair shine like
spun gold. She was seated next to a dark haired
young woman whose name I couldn't recall. I
considered going to the table and ask her to
dancer with me, but then I didn't think she
would want to dance with a skinny old bald man
with glasses. Then it occured to me that she
would she me the way I looked when we first
I strolled across the dance floor and up to her
table. "Hello, my name is Mark MacGowen, and
I would like to dance with you," I said as I
extended my hand to her.
She looked up at me with those big blue eyes I
remembered so well. "I'm Alice Jargan," sh
as she shook my hand," and yes, I'd love to
dance with you."
I tood her hand abd led her out onto the dance
floor as the five member band played a waltz.
I took her in my arms as we glided across the
floor. It had been eight years since I last held
her in my arms, and I wanted to plant a kiss on
her full lips, but one doesn't do that with a girl
you just met.
We dated for six months before I asked for her
hand. We were married in a church ceremony
three months later. I had moved out of my
parents house a year earlier when I started
my construction and had a small apartment
where we lived until we started looling for a
house when Alice became pregnat with James.
James never married, but Ruth and David
married after college and blessed us with five
I escorted Alice back to her table and glanced
at my wristwatch to see that thirty five
minutes had elasped since my arrival. "I have
to leave," I said. "I have to meet someone. I
hope to see you again."
"I'm here every Tuesday and Friday night," she
I left the building and stood on the nearly
deserted street as I waited for James to take
me back home. Within five minutes, me ears
popped followed by the white light and blackness.
Instead of being in my garage I found myself
standing on the edge of a willow and hedge
on the bank of a river. I swore under my
breath at Jmes since he had promised to have
me back home in fourty five minutes. It was
then that I recognized the winding river as the
Walnut where my friend and I had spent many
a summer day fishing. I walked along the edge of
the river. I rounded a curve and saw two boys
sitting on the river banks with the lines of their
canes poles in the water. I reconized them as
Tyler Maxwell and myself.
"Are you having any luck," I asked as I walked
up to them.
Tyler Maxwell looked up at me and shook his
head. "So far we've caught one small channel
which we threw back in the water."
My younger self asked, "Are you having any luck?"
"I haven't been fishing," I replied as a large
leather back turtle stuck it's head out of water
nears the boy's lines. "I'm just out here enjoying
I gazed at Tyler, a tall, slender boy with blond
curly hair and dark piercing eyes and recalled
that he and I had formed a pact that we would
be friends forever wherever life took us.
Unfortunately, one year would pass before his
body would be found near here. He had been
savagely beated and stabbed. I was devasted
by his death. There was never no explanation
as to why he was killed, and the killer or killers
had never been brought to justice.
"I'll be an my way," I said. "Hope you boys
catch a big one."
"Have a good day, mister," my younger self
As I walked along the river thinking about the
good times Tyler and I had, my ears popped
followed by the light and blackness. I was
standing outside my Granfather's and Father's
blacksmith shop where a large pile of pipe and
scrap metal lay. I walked to the open door to
see my Granfather and Father busy sharpening
plow hears the farmers had brought in.
"What can we do for you?" my Grandfather, a
tall, muscular bald man asked.
"A buddy and I were thinking about going into
the blacksmithing business," I said. "I would like
to look around and get some ideas."
"It's hard work," my Grandfather said,"but you
can make a good living at it."
"You planning on giving us competition," m
father, a man of mediun height with black hair
asked as he pounded on the nose of as red hot
"The shop won't be anywhere near here," I
said. "We haven't decided where we'll set up
shop. but it won't be anywhere near here."
"Well, you're welcome to look around," my
Grandfather said in voice that sounded like
wheels grinding in gravel as he prepared to weld
what appeared to be a broken rake hitch.
I walked around the shop as I vaguly
rememberedf the forge which is a furnace where
metal is heated and wrought into shape along
with the smaller tools of the trade. My
Grandfather worked at the bunsiness until he
suffered a stoke and died. MY father worked
there until he suffered a heart attack and died
while I was in high school. My mother sold the
shop and continued to work as a nurse until she
was forced to retire because of dimentia. My
sister, Ellen, by then a widow, cared for her
for five years before she passed away.
As I was leaving, my Grdfather said. "I've
been working this job for thirtty years, and if
you need any advice or help, let my know."
As I walked down the street, I hoped that James
would get me back to the garage. Suddenly my
ears popped followed by the light and blackness,
and I found myself standing on a hillside in front
of a dense forest that over looked a town of odd
shaped houses that looked like something out of
"Where the hell am I," I muttered aloud, "and
where in hell had James sent my now?"
A tall, muscular grey bearded man dressed in
a brown uniform with knee high boots followed
by six men in identical dress marched toward
me, and I could tell they weren't happy to see
"Who are you?" the man asked in a booming
voice. "What are you doing here?"
"My name if MacGowen," I replied as I gazed
into the old man's piercing eyes. "I am lost."
"I am Acola, the Wizard, and I am protector of
the Manjor people, and I believe you are a spy
sent from Benoi." He turned to the men behind
him. "Seize him."
The men rushed forward, grabbed me and
pinned my arms behind my back. "I'm not a
spy, and I mean you no harm," I said in a loud
"You and your people want to destroy us," the
Wizard said in a booming voice. "That won't
happen because I am more powerful than you."
He waved his hand in the direction of the town.
"Take him to my quarters where I'll get the
truth out of him."
The men half drug me down the hillside and
into the town where the residents gawkewd at
at me as we passed. There were little bearded
men and beings with wings while many other
looked like the Wizard and his men.
They escorted me to a large limestone building
where they seated me in a chair in a dimly
lighted room. There was a large table and
several chairs where I believed the Wizard
and his governing body held their meetings.
The Wizard loomed over me and pointed a
long metallic rod at my chest. "Now, I will
get the truth out of you," he said through
I felt a tingling sensation pass through my
body as I told him about the time machine
and the people I had visited. Clearly he
didn't believe a word I said as he slammed
the rod on the table a shook his fist.
"You are a clever spy," he shouted. "I shall
have you executed." He nodded, and I was
yanked to my feet.
As I shoved out the door, my ears popped
followed by the light and blackness, and
thank God, I was sitting in my garage.
"I'm sorry,Dad," James said as he studied
the the black remote control he held in his
hand. "It didn't work the way I thought it
I slowly stood up and carefully stepped out
his time machine. My body ached all over
from my adventure, and I felt much older
than my seventy two years.
"I'll work on it some more." James dropped
the remote to his side. "How was your trip?'
"I'll tell you all about it, but right now I'm
going to the house take a shower, and then
I'm going to bed." With my body bent forward,
I staggered toward the door, then hesitated.
When you get the bugs ironed out of that thing,
I'd like to try it again."