Iron Out The Bugs | By: LeRoy Bohrer | | Category: Short Story - Science Fiction Bookmark and Share

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

it to."


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

watch television."


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

future wife.


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

the scenery."


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

plow shear.


"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

clenched teeth.


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."


The End.











Click Here for more stories by LeRoy Bohrer