“Would you murder if you could?” I hear whispered in my ear.
This time it was not my voice. It was a grizzled old voice that sounded like life has chewed on the larynx of the speaker, too many cigarettes or sips of whiskey.
I turned and I knew this man must have known me and must have known about my Alice. Her name was not really Alice, but I called her that because it was down the rabbit hole when she died. At least, I think she died.
“You know my face?” I asked.
“Yes, and I can help you.”
“Just stop knowing my face.”
With that, I got up and walked away from the bar, out of the dim room where other depressants were, strung up to their bags of drugs. My drug of choice was isolation and I would wallow into it like a sow on Fridays and emerge somewhat on Mondays. But the emerging never left me quite the same. People talked to me less and less.
“I really think…”
The man was following me.
“…you might want to hear…”
I was trying to get away–run away–and I still wish I had.
“…it’s really a nice invention…”
At the sound of the word invention, I turned. This was not the first conversation, somebody offering me an endless lead, a tip that turned out sour, and then they always disappeared. Like what happened to me was some kind of cosmic joke.
“I know that your daughter is missing. I know that she is probably dead. I’m very sorry about that. But I also know that I can triangulate you.”
“I have a device,” the old grizzled voice said, “which can take your pain, and draw it to a nexus, a cluster of selves, and then send you to that person.”
“You mean,” I got closer, “that you can send me to the bastard that…has my child?”
I saw, in the half-light, vigorous nodding. So I agreed.
“But,” he said, “there are one or two catches. The first is that you must be willing to murder this person that has done this to you. Without this ultimate act of violence, I do not think that this will be much help at all. Not at all.”
I thought about all the feelings that ran through me for the past months and years. I thought about the pain and the wounding.
“I think I can handle it,” I said.
“Good,” he said. “If you cannot commit this act, you will be lost in this sorrow forever and this person may even hurt you more.”
After he showed me the schematics and I paid him well, he strapped me in. A needle went into the skin, but I was not sure why. My hand gripped a revolver.
“There is one other catch,” he said.
“Now would be a good time to tell me,” I said, incredulous.
“This triangulation, this movement through space, will also alter time. You will likely meet this person as an older or younger person. If,” his eyebrows raised, “you meet them as a younger person, you might even prevent what has happened to your daughter.”
“I can handle that,” I said, gritting my teeth.
With what I can only describe as a pulsing sensation of immediate motion sickness, I felt myself bend and then snap back. I found myself standing in a room with many white curtains. Voices from another room talked about breakfast and bills.
A crib’s mouth was open in front of me, and an infant looked up at me. My hand felt the revolver as another appendage and I knew I was lost.
JD DeHart is a writer and teacher. His chapbook, The Truth About Snails, is available on Amazon.
Image by Maxwell Hamilton