Here is another story that I wrote out and also recorded for an episode of my podcast. You can listen via the player below or just read it. The choice is yours. If you want to hear more stories (that aren’t on this blog) subscribe to the podcast in iTunes, or by using this feed in your favorite podcatcher. Thanks!
What happens in Vegas…
By Grant Baciocco
The following story may contain topics that might not be suitable for everyone. It’s completely work safe. The name in this story has been changed.
As they walked along under the moonlight, they were both quiet. They were inches apart as they traversed the pavement, but they did not come in contact with each other ever. Around them the night’s insects made their noise. A few restless birds chirped here and there, but the only sound was that of their footsteps.
The silence between them though, spoke volumes. It had since day one. They were capable of some incredibly powerful silences.
He spoke first, it was barely a whisper. That’s all they needed. All they ever needed.
“I need you to do something.” he said.
She was quiet for a very long time. Several yards past underneath their feet before she even turned to her left to look at thim. They kept walking.
“What?” came her reply.
Again, the silence mounted as they continued down the path.
“I need you never to forgive me.” he said finally. “Ever.”
She studied him after these words left his lips. He continued looking down. She then looked forward as they continued to walk. She knew more would come. She knew he felt her question.
After a few minutes, he took a breath and then, “I need you never to forgive me so I will always know exactly how very lucky I am.”
After these words the silence crashed around them. Their footsteps now, on the ground, the only sound. They continued the walk. She said nothing for two minutes. Five minutes. Ten minutes.
He looked over at her. Her eyes were on the path but she felt his gaze.
Her lips tight. Without looking up, she nodded.
They continued walking into the night.
The next thing Patrick knew he was vomiting over the side of the chair. He had no even real inclination that he was doing it. He’d been in the chair, there was a flash of light, and the contents of his stomach were spilling over the clean white floor of Dr. Levitt’s laboratory.
Dr. Levitt rush over to the opposite side of the chair and put a hand on Patrick’s shoulder. “Patrick! Patrick!”
Patrick heaved a few more times but his stomach had been vacated. He dropped back in the chair, breathing heavy, his shirt soaked with sweat that had seemingly come out of nowhere.
As he rasped for air, Dr. Levitt checked his pulse, then his pupils. All seemed fine. He hovered over Patrick until patrick waved him away.
“I’m…” Patrick finally spoke, “I’m fine. I am…okay.” Patrick breathed heavy for a few minutes, then wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his shirt.
Dr. Levitt began to speak, softly at first, “I suppose I calculated the effects of sending the information to the brain in the past, but neglected to calculate the sudden onset of two year’s worth of new memories on the present brain.” He looked down at Patrick, his hand still on Patrick’s shoulder. “Like Deja Vu?”
Patrick nodded. “Yes…but no. I know that I’m here, I know that I’ve ben sitting in this chair for minutes, but it was like, all of a sudden, it was all completely new to me.”
Dr. Levitt was quite for a second and then he nodded. “Jamais vu.”
Patrick looked weakly up Dr. Levitt. “What?”
Dr. Levitt smiled, “Jamais vu. It’s sort of the opposite of Deja vu. Deja Vu is where you feel you’ve lived something before, even though you know you haven’t. Jamais vu is where your brain tells you you haven’t lived through something before even when you know you have. It would make sense. Your brain was suddenly flooded with two year’s worth of memories that, up until seconds ago, it hadn’t lived through. At least I think that’s what happened.” He looked at Patrick, “Dd, did it work?”
Patrick thought long and hard about this. Trying to sort through the 17520 hours of new memories that were rolling around in his head. “Yes. It did work. I was at home in my tiny one bedroom apartment, playing World of Warcraft when the future memories hit me. I,” he pointed at the mess on the ground, “this didn’t happen, but it was a lot. It was almost that my brain shut down it was so much information. I staggered to my bed and just lied there for days. Not sure how many. The next thing I was aware of was Mary. Mary shaking me awake. I don’t know how long I had been in that state for. She said it had been five days since we had last spoken and she’d gotten scared. We had only just started going out at that point.”
Dr. Levitt listened fascinated.
“But you talk about your Deja Vu, it didn’t happen that often because I was aware of what had happened. That I was undergoing this process. So my day to day life was changed.” Patrick sat quietly for a moment and thought. “But it was the big things. My Grandmother going into the hospital. I knew she wasn’t going to make it out again, because I’d lived through it. I was able to spend more time with her. The first time around I’d been too busy. Busy with nothing, goofing off, but I’d just assumed she’d pull through. After she passed I was racked with regret. I’d spent every summer with Grandmother when I was a kid and now she’d gone and I wasn’t there. But this time…this time, I knew she wouldn’t.”
“What did you do?”
“I made sure I was there. I was there when life left her. I was by her side. The regret was gone.”
Dr. Levitt nodded.
“That was just the start. Just the start of the changes I made.” Patrick sat quiet for a minute. Letting the knowledge of all the changes he had made in the past two years wash over him. He turned to Dr. Levitt with a smile. “Dr. Levitt, this works.” Patrick gestured wildly around the room, “This…this works! You’ve created away for people to abolish regret from their lives.”
“Not all regret, I assume.” Dr. Levitt asked, clasping his hands at his waist.
“Hmmm?” Patrick was puzzled.
“I assume that even though you were able to make changes, your Grandmother for instance, there are still other decisions you made, that you now regret.”
Patrick was silent for a second. He nodded. “Yes. Yes, there are. But it was the big ones, the big ones that I’d made in the past two years that I was able to fix. They’ve given me a whole new life. A better life. I have a job now. In fact, do you have the time?”
Dr. Levitt, looked at his watch, “12:30PM”
“I gotta go. I gotta get back to work.”
Dr. Levitt smiled. “Good. Okay, good. I, uh, I will need to schedule an interview with you. A videotaped interview that I can use to present to the board along with the footage of the experiment to hopefully get more funding towards this project.”
“Sure.” Patrick stood, carefully avoiding the mess he made. “You want me to clean that up?”
Dr. Levitt smiled, “No. I’ll get it.”
Patrick stood still, feeling like a stranger in a new body. He stretched out a hand to Dr. Levitt. “Thank you. Thank you for this.”
Dr. Levitt smiled. “This is just the beginning. Now go. I’ll be in touch.”
Patrick turned and began walking out.
Dr. Levitt watched him walk towards the door, slipping his hands into his lab coat and finding the envelope with the cashier’s check. “Patrick?”
Patrick stopped at the door and turned around. “Yeah?”
Dr. Levitt held up the envelope. “You want the $3000? Technically it’s yours.”
Patrick smiled and shook his head. “I don’t need it. I have everything I want.”
Dr. Levitt looked at the envelope and then back at Patrick, “And Mary?”
Patrick smiled the biggest smiled Dr. Levitt had seen on a man’s face before, “I have her too.”
Dr. Levitt nodded.
Patrick turned and walked out the door.
by Grant Baciocco
Christopher checked in and made his way up to his hotel room. He hung up his shirts, moved things around in his hotel room to just the way he liked them and decided to see if he could strike out and get some dinner before it got too much later. His flight had arrived at 9:34PM and by the time the taxi had pulled up to the hotel, it was already closing in on an hour later.
He made sure his hotel key card was in his back right pocket, where he always kept it when he traveled, and he made sure the TV was on and to Do Not Disturb sign was hung on the door. He slipped out into the hallway.
Six floors later he was in the lobby. Barry, the night concierge, regretfully informed Christopher that as far as food went, it was only fast food places that were open nearby. Barry then suggested the hotel bar that would be serving a small selection of appetizers, but the kitchen was due to close in nine minutes at 11PM.
Christopher hated hotel bars. There was just something depressing about them. In big cities, they were sparsely populated by zombie-like business travelers like himself or, as in a small town like this, they were filled with noisy locals who thought the local hotel bar was the perfect setting for retirement parties, promotion celebrations or after work gossip sessions. Not having the stomach for fast food, he decided to take his chances with the bar.
The disheveled hostess, who was too busy erasing the Daily Special board to even look up at Christopher, told him he had to sit at the bar and order directly from the bartender, but he had to hurry. They were closing. Her disdain for his late arrival dripping from every utterance.
Christopher stepped down the three steps into the restaurant and crossed to the bar. The bartender was talking to the only other patron in the place, a man in his late twenties. Christopher figured he’d get faster service if he pulled up within a stool or two of the bartender, just to the left of the young man. The two were in deep conversation, but the bartender acknowledged Christopher and put a laminated menu and a cocktail napkin down in front of him.
Christopher quickly scanned the menu. It was the usual bar appetizer fare: mozzarella sticks, calamari, nachos. When a break in the conversation between the bartender and the young man arose, Christopher ordered a fruit and cheese plate and a water. He didn’t feel like eating fried food so close to bed and though fruit was not his favorite, it was the best he was going to do until morning.
The bartender nodded and punched his order into the computer, the bar was so small Christopher could hear the printer in the kitchen printing it out. The bartender placed the water down in front of Christopher and turned back to the young man.
“What’s her name?” the bartender asked.
“Jennifer.” the young man replied. A big smile crossing his lips.
They continued to talk. Christopher quickly deduced that Jennifer was this young man’s wife. Business had taken him from her for over a week now and he was a little maudlin to be far from her for so long.
Christopher pretended to busy himself with his phone while he listened as the young man spoke about how he had met her. They’d gone to college together and the young man’s best friend had initially pursued her, but a few months after their dates had fizzled out, the two met at a lecture about the art of Salvador Dali. They wound up going out a few nights later and the rest, as they say, was history.
He spoke about how their interests and desires lined up perfectly. She was beautiful, smart, sexy and she made him laugh.
“Laugh?” the bartender said.
“Yeah,” the kid smiled. Then, as if a light bulb had gone on over his head, he snapped his fingers and dug into his pants pocket. He pulled out his iPhone. He slid his thumb across it to unlock it and tapped in his passcode. He excitedly spoke as he thumbed through the apps on his phone.
“About a month or so ago, we’d gone out for dinner on a Saturday night with some friends. We got home about 11:30 or so and Saturday Night Live was on.” His giddiness was growing as his story progressed. “You know that guy Macklemore who sings Thrift Shop?”
The bartender nodded. Christopher didn’t know the name but he’d heard the song a time or two.
“Well he was the musical guest and, of course he plays Thrift Shop.” By this point the young guy could barely complete a sentence without a deep chuckle erupting from within him. He turned his phone to landscape mode and spun it so the bartender and Christopher, who was no longer hiding his interest in the story, could both see the screen. He hit the play arrow and the video began.
“The song comes on and she just starts dancing around the living room. She didn’t know I was recording her.”
There, on the tiny screen was Jennifer, in their living room, still dressed from the evening out and she is dancing carefree as can be around the living room, Thrift Shop blaring from the TV and into the bar via the phone’s tiny speaker. The three men watched the video closely and the young man just starts laughing loudly. He’s watching the screen as if it’s the first time he’s seen this woman. The first time he’s seen her be goofy. His whole face is lit up as he watched her dance about their tiny apartment, her long black hair swaying in front of her face, arms flailing. Lost in the music.
The bartender found it amusing. Christopher even cracked a smile. The young man was riveted, watching her every move, mimicking each move slightly, indicating he’d watched this video many times. Yet, each laugh was a new laugh as if he discovered something new and hilarious in every frame.
Christopher realized that the young man was no longer in the bar anymore. The young man was so in love with this woman, so amused by her every move, he was back at home on the couch watching her dance. Watching her dance and laughing. Laughing the deep laugh of true love.
Less than a minute later the video was over and, still snickering the young man slipped the phone back into his pocket. He then stood, paid his tab, said his good evenings to the bartender and turning, nodded at Christopher and left the bar leaving Christopher alone with his fruit plate and the bartender with his closing duties.
Christopher worked his way through the slices of melon, pineapple and the handful of grapes. He left the cheese. As he finished his water he stood and dug a ten dollar bill out of his wallet. He put it on the counter and with a nod to the bartender he walked up and out of the bar.
Six floors later he was at his door and once inside, he slipped off his shoes, hung his pants and shirt and put on his sweats. He brushed his teeth and his stomach gurgled. He’d have to get something more substantial food wise in the morning.
He lay down on the bed and clicked on the television, he flipped through the 30 channels of nothing and settled on an old black and white movie on TCM. He set the timer on the TV for 30 minutes and leaned back against the stack of pillows he’d piled up for himself.
As the black and white hues flickered in the room, he found himself not watching the movie, but thinking about the young man in the hotel bar. The young man and his laugh. The, incredibly beautiful, laugh of deep love he had for his Jennifer.
As Christopher drifted off to sleep, he wondered if he’d ever laugh that laugh.