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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Wormhole OS 6.9 Part 3 Mike's Revenge



 This is part 3, read part 1 here and part 2 here! Enjoy!

Dave pounded on the door again, it was raining, which he was glad of, because he wasn’t sure,  but he might be crying. “Mike, come on, I need your help!” I know I left you, but I came back dude! That’s what counts!”

“And you hit me in the head with driftwood. I have a gnarly scar, because I was trapped inside some travel brochure photo and couldn’t get stitches! I am not opening this door. I told you, I did the best man thing, because I love your mother and I didn’t want to disappoint Val, but you and I? That good ship friendship has sailed, man.” Mike’s voice came from the other side of the door. 

It had been weeks since Mike had booted up the Wormhole OS 6.9 App and taken Dave into a bikini model photo shoot, then marooned him, hopping back into the real world while he lay bleeding on a photographically preserved, static beach, like part of some super sick still life. He’d gone back after him almost as soon as he’d returned, but it hadn’t been that easy. Wormhole was a tricky app and the photo Dave had taken his friend into had been altered. 

Since Mike hadn’t been in the original photo, Dave’s jumps kept taking him back to the same pristine beach, with scantily clad bikini models posed for their closeup,  but no Mike. Finally, he’d used a recovery app to reopen the deleted photo and retrieve his friend. He’d nearly gotten shanghaied himself by Mike who was rightly upset. 

The wedding had come off without a hitch. Mike had been the consummate best man, true to his word, but he hadn’t returned a single one of Dave’s phone calls, or texts since. This was his second visit to Mike’s apartment, once the evening after the wedding, he had left his new bride in a bubble bath and jetted across town to try and talk to the man who had been in his lifelong best friend, and now tonight, but tonight was different. 

“Mike, just open the door for one minute and let me explain. I screwed up bad and I need your help,” Dave sobbed. 

“Man, whatever it is you did, you did on your own, Val will eventually forgive you and if you let me go back to sleep, in about twenty years, even I might come around. Go home, your drunk!”
Dave pounded on the door again, “That’s just it man, there is no Val! She’s gone!” 

Dave could almost hear Mike  sigh from the other side of the door, they’d been finishing each other’s sentences since grade school. “Man, she’ll come back. You just need to give it some time. What did you do?”

There was a long silence, Dave was trying to figure out how to say what came next, “It wasn’t me, exactly, it was Wormhole!” 

“Wormhole? You still have that damn app on your stupid burner phone after what happened?” Mike yelled, “I should have turned you into the police the night I found out about the antiques. None of this would ever have happened! What did you bring back, a hooker?”

Dave grinned wryly, in spite of himself, “I deserve that, I really do, but that’s not it, man. I didn’t bring anything back. Including Val.” 

The door slammed open and Mike grabbed Dave by the front his shirt, drug him into his entry hall and slammed the door shut against the rain with his foot. He gripped Dave’s collar and pressed him up against the wall. His voice came out barely louder than a whisper, “What the hell did you do?”
Dave wanted to collapse, hug his friend, ask for a whiskey and explain the whole thing while he dried out in front of the fire he could see burning in the gas fireplace in the next room, but Mike had blood in his eyes and Dave knew he needed to choose his words very carefully. 

“I took her on a magic honeymoon,” he said softly, then dissolved into sobs. 

Mike through him back against the wall with both hands, then turned away in disgust, “I cannot believe you, man! That app is going to get someone killed! Alright, tell me what happened.”

Mike walked into the living room where the fire burned, Dave headed toward the sofa, but Mike stopped him with a look, “Take one step off that tile, and that katana over my mantle won’t be just for show anymore. You’re soaked and I do not feel like cleaning up any more of your messes than necessary,” he pulled a plastic folding chair out of a closet with both hands and pressed it against Dave’s chest. “Sit.”

Dave did as he was told, mournfully eying the bar, six feet away that held a decanter and two highball glasses on a tray. Mike was into old movies and shows like Mad Men, so he accessorized like a Mid Century bachelor. 

“You are not getting any of my 40 year old single malt. I’ll get you a glass of water,” Mike paused, he was beginning to soften, “tea, hot tea, okay?”

“Sure. Thanks,” Dave took off his coat, careful to contain the drips on his own lap. When dave returned he handed Mike a red mug and a towel. 

“Thanks,” Mike said, rubbing the towel across his wet head. 

“That towel is not for you, it’s for my tile, mop up after yourself,” Mike said, crossing to the bar and making a show out of pouring two fingers of golden amber liquid into a single glass. He crossed to the sofa and sat, facing his friend, sipping whiskey. “So, what happened?”

Dave sipped the tea and thought for a moment, “Well, Val figured something was up after the ring, so I pretty much had to tell her or have her snooping into my business for months trying to figure it out. So, we decided we could use it one more time, for the honeymoon of a lifetime, without spending a dime, you know?” 

Mike ran his finger along a slight ridge at the back of his neck, where his “friend” had nearly killed him with a driftwood log not so long ago. He grimaced, “Sure, sounds like a great plan, what could go wrong? Oh, yea, you lost her.” 

He took big swig to  finish off the whiskey and went for more. This time he splashed some into a second glass and offered it to Dave. “You might want this, to take the edge off the beating I am going to give you as soon as you have finished this story.” He sat back down on then sofa, glaring. 

“Thanks,” Dave said, sipping the whiskey, “So, we picked out a list of places we’d like to see. Niagra, the Eiffel Tower,  the usual places. We decided on ten and for a finishing touch, we decided we’d see what happened if we uploaded a video! It worked. The people moved and talked, interacted with us, it was just like being there.”

“Where?”

“Africa. We went on safari, or part of one, anyway. We hopped around a bit and in the last segment, it just happened.” 

“What ‘just’ happened?” 

Dave finished his whiskey, “Well, we were about to hop back when this little motorbike with a guy on it just snatched her. Through her across his lap and just drove away before I could even move and right out of the frame.”

“Why didn’t you follow her?” Mike asked, forcing himself to remain calm. 

Dave looked up at the ceiling, tears welling in his eyes, “Yeah, don’t you think I tried that man? I did! I tried everything, but every time I left the frame, I just bounced back here.”

“Aaaaagggh!” Mike threw his glass at the stone hearth, where it shattered in a dozen different directions, “Classic! Dave, just great! So, when was this, tonight, I assume?”

“No, three days ago. I thought for sure I could figure it out. I read every tutorial in the app, and that’ a lot, then I went back into the video and asked around, but every time I was there, the motorcycle just swept through, and once the video segment is over, you bounce back. I took her photo and asked, no one knew her,” he dropped his head into his hands, “So, I had an idea, maybe if I could jump into our wedding video, I could bring her back from there, or ask her where she was, I don’t know!” 

Dave stood and paced over to the fireplace, “But, I couldn’t jump into any segments that I was in for some reason, so  it took a while to find one where she was there, but I wasn’t.”

“So, what did she say?”

“Nothing really, turns out, they’re just echoes. She couldn’t understand me, didn’t even recognize who I was. She thought I was just another guest, if they ‘think’ I guess. I don’t know,” Dave deflated. The anger and energy he’d felt coming here just seemed to be gone. 

Mike was done being angry, it was time to help, “So, why do you think I can help?”

“This morning, I got this,” Dave held out a burner phone that Mike recognized. It held the operating system that had recently gotten him stranded. He hesitated to touch it, but after Dave shoved it toward him, he took the phone. On the screen were these words, ‘Mike will know where I am’. What the hell did she mean? Do you know where she is?” Dave looked at his friend, tears in his eyes, “Was there something going on between you two? I’ve been trying to figure this out, and finally I decided I don’t care, I just want her to be safe.”

Mike froze. The look on his face told the whole story. Dave’s suspicions were confirmed in an instant, “You son of a bitch, I wish I’d left you on that beach.”

Mike sighed, “Man, it’s not what you’re thinking. Val and I were never involved if that’s what you believe.” 

Mike poured himself more whiskey and offered the decanter to Dave, who accepted. 

“Tell me, what was it like, Mike? Why would you have a secret with my wife?” Dave said, angrily.
Mike slugged down the whiskey he’d just poured and tipped the decanter again, “I didn’t want to have a secret man, but I wasn’t exactly in the mood to talk to you, either. After the Eiffel Tower, she called  me. I told her what happened to me and she told me she was worried you were losing it. She said that everything was setting you off, that you kept talking about her leaving you, that were scared she would. So, somehow she got it in her head that you were going to leave her, like you left me, so she couldn’t leave.”

“What?” Dave laughed sloppily, the whiskey was beginning to take effect, “That’s crazy!” 

“Is it? Is it man? Ever since you bought that damn Wormhole OS app things have been getting weirder. I couldn’t argue with her, so she convinced me to get her out. I was the guy, on the bike.” Mike said. 

“You? You were the shpy, I mean, guy, I don’t know what I mean…” Dave tipped dangerously in his chair, whiskey slopped out onto the tile. “What did you do to me?”

A beautiful blonde stepped into Dave’s view, “Val? Val, is that you? You came back to me!” he slurred. Reaching out to her, which tipped him forward, onto the carpet, where he landed on one side, looking up at Mike. 

“Sorry buddy, you’re too predictable. I knew you’d never leave that whiskey alone, so I poisoned your glass. Oh, you won’t die, but you’ll be paralyzed pretty soon. Meanwhile, Val and I have decided you need to spend some time here in this image. You didn’t come here on your own, we staged this, the door outside, the rain, we videoed all of this two days ago, it’s not even raining, man. You didn’t even know you were watching it. We fed it into your TV and it sucked you right in.”

“We’ll be back sweetie, I just need some time to think about what to do with you,” the blonde said. She knelt beside Dave and took the phone he’d dropped, “Won’t be needing this, you’ll be here for a while. The drugs will wear off, the fridge is stocked and we’ll come visit you soon. Bye now.”

As Dave watched, his wife and best friend blinked out of existence. He closed his eyes and passed out.

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Friday, April 29, 2016

My Intellectual Property Was Stolen by Honestylaw.com On National Honesty Day!



I am the Ironic Victim of Intellectual Property Theft By a Site Called Honestylaw.com

As a writer, I don’t own much in the way of tools, or working assets, in fact, the biggest thing I’ve got is my  brain. Oh, sure, there’s my laptop, full of unpublished work and ideas, and you are welcome to it, with its hodgepodge of open source software and free trial apps, I doubt anyone but me could make any sense of it anyway. It is a reflection of my imagination, my “intellectual property”. 


My one marketable skill as a writer, the thing that makes me valuable enough that groups like Honestylaw.com want to hire me, is my ideas. And that is exactly what got my foot in the door. I was combing ads for writing gigs when one caught my eye. I write quite a bit in Libertarian circles and this one was right up my alley, a group wanted to pass a law to force state workers and elected officials to be honest. 


Sounds too good to be true, and in at least one way, it is. 

From the beginning, I was told my prices were excellent, I had quoted to do work by word, and given them a proposal on a social media campaign and a few other components that needed to happen to get them launched. Honestylaw.com had a plan to raise the bulk of the money they needed for an initiative petition campaign in the state of ohio in eighteen months, and they liked my work. 

The founder of the group seemed like a nice guy. 

He said a lot of things I liked. He was a Christian, as am I (although this is incidental, I only mention it as a point of commonality) but was not overly enamored with much of the organized American practice of said beliefs, nor am I. He was liberty minded and had what I thought was a great idea. Honestylaw.com, or as it was originally known, before they stole the name from me, TheTruthLaw, was a law that would make it illegal for those in the public employ, elected or otherwise, to lie to citizens in the course of their work, with exceptions for  undercover work and state security secrets. 

Honestylaw.com was proposing to remove anyone that did lie, on the testimony of a citizen tribunal, from their professional position, without pay or severance, cut benefits, and prevent them from returning to public service, even as a contractor, or lobbyist for ten years. As my fifteen year old  put it, why is Honestylaw.com not already the law. And I thought the same thing. But there was a problem.


So, for three months, I worked on various consulting projects, including coming up with the domain, Honestylaw.com, which, I was assured, I would be paid for before the site launched. That was not to happen, since it launched at Midnight, April 30th, ironically, on NATIONAL HONESTY DAY! Without a single red cent having changed hands. 


So, here is my assessment of where I went wrong with Honestylaw.com. 

  1.    I became too altruistic to admit to myself that things were fishy after the first month. Because the founder was donating his time, I felt guilty about wanting to get paid. (stupid, I know)
  2.  I believed everything I was told. First, it was, “we need an attorney, then that’s it” then it was, “Our accountant quit, as soon as we replace him, I’ll get you covered”, then, “Well he hasn’t set up a bank account yet” **Side note, if you hire a freaking CPA and he can’t set up a damn checking account after two weeks, you failed!**
  3. I broke my cardinal rule, NEVER, EVER, EVER, start work on any project for a new client that is more than $250 worth of work without a cash deposit, or having the payment in some type of escrow system.
  4. I didn’t leave when the terms changed and my writing agreement was incomplete. Part of the work was pay for hire, part was contingent on traffic and donations.

So, here I am 90 days in on the Honestylaw.com project, 60 hours poorer and nothing to show for it. Although I was promised the site did launch with my stolen intellectual property as its masthead. Learn my lesson and share this tale. If they approach you, tell them freelance isn’t free and walk away. Do not give them any money. Trust me, it's a waste, if they can't get their crap together in 90 days to get started, they'll never finish a petition drive.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Pete's Auto Repair, Time Travellers Welcome



The sign on the door said ‘open’, so I pulled the knob and walked in. I was looking for a place to get out of the rain when I’d seen the hand painted sign, ‘Hot Coffee Ten Cents’. I was sure it was just a vintage prop, but if they had hot coffee, I was prepared to pay almost any price. My car had broken down less than a mile away and my cell phone had died, so I was walking to the nearest garage in the hope of getting a tow.
It was an odd spot, under a railway bridge, just a few yards off the busy highway. I’d driven this way plenty of times, but I didn’t recall it being there. There were several cars out front and lights in the wooden windows of what looked like had once been a home. It was a small, frame structure, with weathered, whitewashed siding. Inside, I was greeted by the smell of fried foods and hot coffee from behind a gleaming marble counter, with chrome trim.
A line of chrome stools lined the counter and four booths were evenly spread along the front wall, under the windows. The house had been gutted, to create one central room, with a  large, rough beam running across it at the peak of the roof, which was exposed on the underside, rows of white lumber decking over the bare painted rafters.
Behind the counter stood a living stereotype. The man was big and beefy, with a crew cut under his paper hat and a cigarette, illegally, hanging out of one corner of his mouth. He had the look of a man that had seen his share of danger and a tattoo on his left forearm, that looked a lot like a more faded version my granddad had worn from his World War days.
“What’ll it be, friend?” The man said, his lips hardly moving, remained gripped around the cigarette.
“Coffee, please,” I said and a pert blonde slid a white china cup, filled to the brim with black, steaming liquid, expertly over the counter, where it stopped, at the side of an upside down plate and flatware. I took the stool behind the mug and removed my wet jacket. The waitress came around the counter and took it from me, hanging it neatly on a coat tree I’d passed on the way in. “Sugar’s on the counter, honey,” she said with a smile.
The man settled back on a stool behind the counter, which was backed with an open kitchen, consisting of a huge griddle, a giant oven at one end, and what looked like an ice box the waitress was pulling milk in a glass quart bottle from at the far end.
I checked my watch, the calendar block still read April 26, 2016, but somehow, it seemed no one here minded that much. Every detail, down to the shoes the waitress and cook were wearing looked ripped from a movie with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. I half expected a musical number to start at any moment.
“So, where you headed, friend?” the man asked, chewing the cigarette, which  I now realized was unlit, he noticed me noticing. “Trying to quit, but the habit, of having something hanging there is the tough part.”
“I’m uh, just on my way home, had car trouble just a few hundred feet up from the bridge. Got hit by lightning, I think, and just shut down,” I replied, “Do you happen to have phone book, and a phone, mines’ dead,” I held the device up apologetically.
“Sure,” he slid a phone book onto to the table, slid a dime next to it and pointed to an ancient pay phone against one wall. They were really committed to this vintage vibe.
I took the phone book and flipped it open. Before I could turn any pages, the man flipped a card on top of the phone book, next to a logo featuring a smiling mechanic, it said, “Pete’s Car Repair, All makes, all models,”. The address was less than a half mile from here. “Perfect,” I said, and picked up the dime, which was a vintage Mercury Dime, of course.
I put the dime in the phone and dialed the number with the rotary dial. My great grandmother had one in her house when I was a kid, that was the last time I’d used one that I remembered. I paused, “Hey, this number doesn’t look right, should be seven digits.”
The cook and waitress exchanged a glance, “It’s a local exchange, should ring straight through,” she said.
Weird, maybe the whole town was in on this whole vintage experience.
The phone rang and after a brief conversation, a mechanic was dispatched to my car and I was promised a call back to the diner when they knew something. A minute later, a young man in coveralls came in out of the rain to get my keys.
“So, you ready for something more substantial than coffee?” the man smiled.
“Sure, what’s good?” I asked.
He laughed, “It’s all terrible, but I get the least complaints about the cheeseburger.”
I ordered the cheeseburger, prepared for the worst. It was delicious. At some point, another customer put money in the jukebox and more another layer of the vintage ambiance was revealed. A playlist of big band classics trailed off after the third song. I finished the last bite of my cheeseburger, and wandered over to the jukebox. I scanned the titles and a few I recognized, Tommy Dorsey, Perry Como, but most I hadn’t heard of.
“Is there any Elvis in here?” I asked the waitress.
“Who?” she asked, with a funny look.
“Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll,” I said.
“Never heard of him, the king of what?” she said, with the most convincing deadpan. They were dedicated to their time period, that was for sure.
I was game, so I chose a few numbers that I thought I recognized and sat back down to drink another cup of the best coffee I’d had in a long time. The waitress took my burger plate and replaced with a slice of hot apple pie with vanilla ice cream.
“I didn’t order pie,” I said.
“Comes with it, she said,” pointing to a sign that said ‘Free Pie With Every Meal’.
I wondered how much this meal was going to cost. I finished the last bite of the pie just as the bell over the door rang. The young man came back in with my keys.
“It’s all good to go, just the battery, I guess.” He said.
“Okay, let me settle up here and I’ll stop by and pay you. How much do I owe?” I asked the mechanic.
“Shoot it only took forty-five minutes, so, I don’t know, a dollar?” he said, shrugging.
I laughed, “A dollar?”
“Sorry, is that too much, I had to charge it for a good thirty minutes,” he said.
“No, it’s not too much, a dollar is fine, here, keep the change,” I said, handing him a $20.
“I couldn’t. That’s two day’s pay!” the young man look terrified, “my boss would kill me for accepting that much for something so simple.”
I looked at him, he seemed serious. Rather than argue, I took back the $20 and handed him a $10, “I’m afraid I must insist on at least this much. You saved me a huge hassle.”
“Thank you sir, that’s more than generous, nice car you got there, by the way,” the young man went out the door and climbed into a waiting wrecker.
 “How much for the burger?” I asked.
“Dollar with coffee,” the man said, “don’t be a stranger, friend, we’re here everyday. I left a five on the counter and headed out to my car.
The rain had stopped and the sun was out. I checked my watch, still enough time to finish my little side trip to my wife’s favorite bakery, where a small replica of our wedding cake would be waiting. It was our tenth anniversary and we had reservations at Che Louie, for dinner. I had just enough time to drop the cake by the restaurant before heading home to wash off the wet dog smell that was developing as I dried.
About half a mile from the diner, I knew something was wrong. At an intersection that had been a stoplight I found a stop sign instead, and the convenience store that had been on the corner had been replaced by a cornfield. I checked the street signs, which looked odd, but had the right names on them. Then, I started to notice the huge number of vintage automobiles that I’d been passing, all of the cars at the diner, the tow truck, now a farm truck and and a moving van in front of me. In fact, I hadn’t seen anything remotely 21st century on the road since the lightning strike.
While the general layout and a few older landmarks looked right, nothing else made sense when I pulled into what should have been a bustling suburb about twenty-five minutes from home, a place I knew all too well. The road that the  bakery was on, did not even seem to exist and my chest was starting to tighten. I loosened my tie. I tapped my phone to life in its dashboard holder, where it was charging and thumbed over to Nav Plus GPS.
The map sprang up with all the familiar streets, locating me exactly where I should have been, but none of it was visible. I was starting to wonder if I had hit my head. This simply wasn’t possible. You didn’t just get struck by lightning and drop back in time seventy years, did you?
The phone rang, it was my wife. “Hello?”
“Hi, where are you? You didn’t forget, did you?” She said, I could hear her fighting the disappointment out of her voice.
“No. Nothing like that,” I decided not to tell her what I was going through, not just yet, not until I could figure out what it actually was. “I had a little car trouble and had to get it fixed, now I’m picking up a surprise for tonight and then I will be right home.”
“Yay! I’m so excited. I can’t wait for you to see my new dress, you’re going to love it,” she said, her voice relaxed and happy.
I smiled, “I am sure I will. I’ll be there soon.”
“Okay, hurry up!”
“Baby? You know I love you more than breathing, right?”
“Of course, don’t say that, now you’re making me worry! Is everything all right?”
My throat tightened, I hated lying to her, but for all I knew it was, I was just experiencing some sort of hallucination. After all, my phone was working, would that be true if I was time travelling? “It’s fine, I’ll see you soon.”
Now, I had to figure out how to make that true.
I sat back in the car, looking around me, hardly anything was familiar and people were beginning to stare. I grabbed a small notebook I carry in case my wife calls for milk from the grocery, or my boss needs an errand run. I jotted a little list.
“Possible Reasons I am experiencing what seems like time travel”
1.       I am dreaming
2.       I am dead from the lightning strike and this is the afterlife
3.       I am hallucinating
4.       I am actually time travelling
Then, I began to consider each possibility. The first was unlikely, because one way to know the difference between a lucid dream and reality was your ability to a) tell time and b) read and write, all of which seemed to be possible in this experience. The second was more possible, however, I needed to pee at the moment, had eaten cheeseburger, still smelled like wet dog and had all of the sensations of being in actual living body. The third was beginning to seem like the most reasonable, but it had been an awfully long, detailed and coherent hallucination. That just left one possibility.
Since the bakery was out of the question, I decided I would just drive home. Everything had been fine before I passed the railroad bridge following the lightning strike. Maybe this phenomenon, whatever it was, was localized and I could escape it and get back home?
The car started fine and as I drove, I became more convinced by the second that I would be able to return to my life in short order. My wife would be disappointed about the cake, but I could save the idea for another year. I was really looking forward to taking a hot shower.
As I approached the bridge, my heart beat faster, would it work? Could I simply drive out of a “time warp” ? The diner sat right where I’d left it, with three cars out front, as I cleared the bridge, I could see the exact spot I’d broken down. It was directly underneath an old oak tree, that now looked as if it had taken the brunt of the lightning strike. The trunk was split and charred, and light tendrils of smoke still came from its branches.
As I drove toward the spot, I had an almost uncontrollable urge to go faster. As the car sped up, a surge of energy seemed to roll through it, just as I passed the oak, my radio burst to life, on my favorite station. The windshield wipers came on and every indicator on my dashboard flashed wildly. Then, a few feet past the tree, everything went back to normal. As I crested a hill, just past the oak, I heard the sound of a train whistle, but not like a diesel horn. It was more shrill and louder, I looked up in my rearview mirror and there, running over the bridge, with the diner just below, was a steam locomotive.
I turned around to catch a glimpse, but the train was gone, as was the diner. I looked back in the mirror, train, but each time I looked back over my shoulder, I saw things as I always had. As I turned to look back into the mirror, the tall chrome grille of an eighteen wheeler was baring down on me, horn blaring, lights flashing, I pulled hard left and skidded to a stop on the side of the road.
My heart thudded loudly as I opened the door and climbed out shakily, leaning on the hood to catch my breath. I shoved my hand in my pocket to find my inhaler, and my fingers brushed a card. I pulled it  out, and there, broad daylight, was the card, complete with vintage phone number, it’s corners frayed, now, the paper yellowed, not as it had been in the diner.
I looked back down the hill, no train, no diner. My phone rang.
“Hell-oo-oo, is that surprise going to take all day?” my wife asked. I checked the time, I was cutting it close.
“No, dear, I’m on the way now. I couldn’t get the surprise ready in time, but, I’ll save it for next year,” I said.
“Okay, hurry up, because if you don’t show soon, I’m just going to hop in the car with the first hot guy I see, this dress is going to waste over here!” she laughed.
The rest of the ride home was uneventful, the dress was everything it was advertised to be. Che Louie was wonderful as always, but not everything went as expected, quite.
“Can I see a dessert menu?” my wife asked the waiter.
“Certainly, Madame, but the kitchen has something a little special for you on your big night, if I may?” the waiter said.
My wife looked at me and smiled, “Is this your surprise?”
I smiled back and shrugged, I honestly had no idea what to expect. Two minutes later, a trolley arrived at our table bearing the perfect reproduction of the top layer of our wedding cake, same raspberry cake with chocolate gnosh filling, same frosting. My wife cried. I couldn’t believe it. I was the hero I had intended to be after all.
After dinner and a little dancing, we went home to an empty house. My wife had arranged for the kids to stay and grandma’s for the night and while she “slipped into something”, I made a quick phone call to the bakery.
“Hello, Mr. Snyder, did everything go well with the cake?”
“Yes, no problem, but, I’m not sure how it got there,” I replied.
“You picked the cake up yourself, just this afternoon, as planned.”
“But that can’t be, I couldn’t find the bakery, there was this cornfield, and…” I must have been hallucinating, I thought. “Never mind, it was lovely.”
“You’re welcome.”
“Baby, are you coming to bed?” my wife called from the other room and the rest of that story is classified.
Two weeks later, I had all but forgotten the incident when my car refused to start one morning. I called my garage and had it towed, then took an Uber to the office. That afternoon when I went to pick up the car, the mechanic had a strange expression on his face.
“Have you been letting someone else work on your car?” he said, accusingly.
I lied, because explaining time warp auto repair seemed like a bad idea, “No, why?”
“Well, first, it looks like your car got hit by lightning. I had to replace a mother board, but it was under warranty, but that’s not why I asked,” he reached under the hood and came out with a small, metal object with a magnet underneath.
“What is it?” I asked
“It looks to me like one of those openers they used to use when oil came in cans, instead of plastic bottles,” he handed it to me, and there, next to a logo of a smiling mechanic were the words, “Pete’s Auto Repair, All Makes, All Models”

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