Charlie continued staring in confused angst at the two different scenes. Weird though the two may have been, he had to get back to his own time, so he continued walking toward the modern scene in front of him. He stopped to wait for the cross walk light to turn green. When it did, he proceeded but was stopped by an invisible force field. Damn.
He pressed his hands against the force field, but it wouldn’t budge. A wave of heat made its way throughout his body as a frustrated anger welled up inside. He pressed on the force field once more. Harder this time. Then he banged on it. Nothing. Two passersby crossed the street in front of him. He waved and yelled at them, but they continued on, not seeing or hearing Charlie at all.
“Let me through!” Charlie yelled to no one in particular. His body fell through the force field the instant he shouted his order, causing him to trip and stumble to the pavement on the other side. “Finally.” He stood up and sauntered the few feet back to the force field he had just burst through. He gazed back through it to the ’50’s scene, placed his hand on the force field, and gave a gentle push. Resistance fought back. Awesome, he was finally back in his own time.
He turned and spied a diner across the street, so he headed in that direction. He whipped out his cell phone and dialed Ray’s number. It went directly to voicemail, so he left a message. He slunk the phone back into his rear pants pocket and entered the diner. The hostess guided him to a booth and handed him a menu.
“Something to drink?” asked the waitress.
“Coffee, please,” replied Charlie.
The waitress turned to walk away, but Charlie tapped her arm to stop her. “Excuse me. Um, what town am I in?”
“Ball Dune, Texas.”
“I know this is going to sound odd, but, what year is it?”
“2052,” said the waitress. “And no, it isn’t a weird question. We get folks like you around here all the time.”
Charlie’s mind went blank, not knowing what to say. He placed his hands on the table, as his heart raced, and his breathing labored. “You mean…you mean I didn’t get back to my time?” He didn’t know if the waitress knew what he was talking about or not. Although he figured she did the moment she said, ‘folks like you’.
The waitress clucked her tongue then said, “You should have touched the tree on the wall at Tulsie’s.”
Charlie’s horrified eyes bore through her as he realized he might never get home.
“Hey,” said the waitress with a calm resolve. “I was you at one time.”
“Th-then I’ll go back and touch the tree.”
“Nope. You can’t do that,” said the waitress, as she pointed out the window to the place across the street where the force field was.”
Charlie followed her finger. The spot where the force field should be was now home to a general store. He turned his gaze back up at the waitress. “How? What?”
“I used to be you at one time.”
Ray and Charlotte Bleaker’s farm, 2022
Ray chuckled and high fived his wife, Charlotte, as Charlie’s face imprinted itself on a new leaf on the golden tree.
“They just don’t listen,” said Charlotte. “People need to learn not to touch things when they’re told not to.”