Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Corcoran Was a Time Traveler - Chapter One

(NOTE: I'd HIGHLY recommend reading through the first book in this series, Jesus Was a Time Traveler, first. You can get it here. Even if you haven't read it, you should be able to follow along with this one. Enjoy! -D.J.)

(Oh yeah, also, this book contains adult language! You have been warned!)

Corcoran Was a Time Traveler

By D.J. Gelner

Copyright 2018


Chapter One

     Should I break the empty bottle of Macallan 18 and slit his throat? Or would it be more satisfying to rip out his jugular with my teeth?
     I decided on the former and, in one motion, dashed the empty scotch bottle on the curb, and brought the jagged edge to the exceedingly cool-looking man’s throat.
     “Aw come on, Doc, we ain’t got time for this!”
     He made a casual attempt to swat away my erstwhile hand, which had formed a claw around the bottle’s neck.
     Yet my resolve was steeled. I was more beast now than man. Fueled by hatred, I pushed through his half-arsed defense, though his parry forced the bottle just far enough away so as to graze his cheek.
     Damn! How close I had been!
     “Damn!” he checked for blood. “So we’re gonna do this the hard way then?”
      I let out a primal scream (or what I imagine as such—I was in a state of somewhat less-than-complete sobriety) and lunged for the Commander again.
     I felt sick as he lodged his fist squarely in my gut. I heaved in gulps of air between near-wretches as I crouched to draw in breath after breath.
     “God damn it Doc can ya let me—”
     The sound of his voice re-lit my fuse. I spun out of the crouch in a backhand led by the jagged bottleneck. He sidestepped the attempt as I thrust the bottle toward him repeatedly, backing him toward the corner of the alleyway I had been “fortunate” enough to call home for the past several weeks.
     His eyes darted around the surrounding area. I had been in battle with this man long enough to know he was looking for an advantage, any advantage, he could press as I forced him toward a somewhat indefensible position.
     He set his back foot and used it as leverage to bound forward, his open palms straight out, on their way to the sides of my head, presumably to box my ears.
     I reached both hands up to block his assault, then leveled a kick at his leg.
     It connected flush, and as he reeled, I steadied myself into my boxing stance. I jabbed at him twice, connecting on both and brought my rear hand back, ready to unload a devastating cross (along with what remained of the bottle) on the side of his face.
     I could sense the now hot, moist glass nearing its target… the jagged edge of the bottle practically smiled as it thought of spoiling that well-crafted chin.
      Suddenly, I heard a loud “RIIIIP!”
     He had managed to raise a leather-clad arm to repel my final blow… though I must admit I was somewhat pleased it had utterly ruined his fine-looking jacket.
     “That!” He punctuated his exclamation with a right cross.
     “Was!” He followed it with a jab.
     “My!” His right hook connected and sent me reeling.
     “Favorite!” He grabbed the remnants of my sleeve and pulled me toward him as his off-hand somewhat curiously held my wrist. What the devil did he have in mind…?
     I felt the blood drain from my face as the sickening noise coincided with an otherworldly pain in my arm.
     I instinctively released the bottle, which shattered on the cobblestones of the alleyway, and watched as my arm dangled lifelessly at a funny angle, broken at the elbow.
     My eyes went wide. I must’ve screeched like a schoolgirl as I ran around in circles, lamenting the grotesque break in my joint.
     “It’s gone! My arm—it’s gone!”
     Corcoran straightened his jacket and leaned against the wall with a sigh.
     “Oh come on Doc. It ain’t gone… just broke a bit.”
     “I can’t feel it! I can’t use it! It’s gone!”
     He rolled his eyes and reached into his pocket.
     “Here you go, ya big fuckin’ baby…”
     He reached up toward my mouth and squeezed whatever was in his hand. Within seconds, I tasted the familiar, vaguely pineapple-y taste of medigel.
     “Shhhh… there, there, sweetheart…” he deadpanned. The bastard had the gall to mock me!
     He reached into another pocket and produced a bottle of (rather cheap, mind you) whisky.
     “This oughtta even ya out a bit…”
     I seized upon the bottle like Smigol upon the magic ring and started chugging it down.
     “Christ Doc, I woulda settled for ‘Good to see ya, Rick!’ or ‘Wow, how long has it been bud?’”
      “How about ‘Thanks for ruining my life! Stealing my fucking legacy?!” I spat the words at him.
He harumphed. “Figured there might be some hard feelings leftover. Didn’t you get my—”
     “Yes I got your fucking note. Thank you.” I nodded at him.
     “Well… it was all in there, ain’t it?”
     “About how Helene employed you to steal my time machine? To abscond with it and the countless fame and riches that was rightfully mine for having discovered time travel?”
     “Yeah… yeah I guess it was kinda about that…” he rubbed his chin.
     “And now that you’ve come back in time to gloat, to show me just how awful I am… what a wretch I’ve become… to lord it over me, and add injury to insult in this case…”
     He shook his head, “Why you gotta be such a fuckin’ drama queen all the time Doc? Look I came here for 2 reasons, and rubbin’ your face in it or ‘lording it over ya’ ain’t neither of ‘em, okay?”
     I must have literally taken a step back, and the surprise must have been evident on my face.
     “First of all, I figured you might still be sore about what all happened back in 2042.” He took a couple steps toward me. “So I wanted to offer you the chance to take one free shot at me, right on the—”
     He had begun to point at his chin, but my fist anticipated his words. I launched a perfect left hook with my good arm that connected flush with his face, and sent him reeling toward the piss-stained wall that doubled as my urinal.
     “Owww! God…fuck!” He covered his face for several seconds. I don’t know why, but as satisfied as I was at getting my God’s honest revenge on him, I couldn’t fight the urge:
     “Are… are you okay, Ricky?”
     “That fucking hurt Doc!”
     “Yeah… I know. Months of repressed rage and so-on and so-forth?”
     He nodded. “Got it… Christ, and here I was thinking Bloomy was just a pussy when you whalloped him one…”
     Though I normally wouldn’t pass up an opportunity to make a joke at Steve Bloomington’s expense, with him not in present company, over half the fun was drained from said opportunity.
     Corcoran finally staggered to his feet and brought his hands away from his face.
     “How do I look?”
     A large purple welt had developed around his cheekbone, raising the usually taut skin into an unsightly mass of pulsing flesh.
     I shrugged, “Hardly can tell…”
     “Allright… we square now Doc?”
     I thought for a moment. It did feel surprisingly good to both enact some small measure of revenge on Corcoran and show him that I was a more than capable adversary when pushed.
     “I suppose that depends.What was your second reason for coming here?”
     He wiped his shredded jacket sleeve over the deepening purple skin on his cheekbone.
     “Well for one…” he paused, “I couldn’t in right conscience let you rot away back here in history, just so you could wave ‘Hi’ to daddy a couple’a times a week.”
     He delivered the final part in a rather grating, mocking baby voice.
     “Come on Doc, look at yourself! You reek of shit and piss!”
     I straightened up. “I thought the whole idea was quite moving, almost poetic even. Become the very vagrant my father warned me about on all those long walks by the Thames. A cautionary tale to young Phineas, week in and week out, forced to face my deepest fear and shame like—”
     “Spare me the goddamned ‘woe is me, daddy hates what I’ve become’ psychobabble lecture, awright? It’s fuckin’ selfish is what it is.”
     “I beg your pardon?!” I had half a mind to slug him once more.
     “Look, I fucked up. I can’t say I’m sorry enough. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Does that help?”
     “Only about 999,997 to go…” I deadpanned.
     His uneven stare glared at me for a moment… and I saw just how serious he was.
     “Truth is, what’s up there—” he pointed at my ragged hair, “Is probably one of the most valuable commodities in history.”
     “You… want to make a wig?”
     “Always a fuckin’ wise ass… your brain, dummy! You’re one of the greatest human minds of all time, damn it! And to wallow in self-pity like a damned pig in slop is downright fuckin’ tragic… when you could be helpin’ so many people all throughout history.”
     I tried to take in the Commander’s compliment in the best manner possible. And unless he had added “Oscar Winning Actor” to his repertoire (I was legitimately afraid to ask him if he had), then I believed his apology to be sincere.
     “Very well then—for what do you require my assistance now?”
     He scrunched his nose momentarily before he shook the awkward sentence construction out of his head. “I have a job offer for ya.”
     I rolled my eyes. “Oh really? Need some sap you can pin the Kennedy Assassination on? Perhaps I could be nailed to the cross in Trent Fucking Albertson’s stead?”
     “No, nothin’ like that.”
     He didn’t even chuckle.
     “Anyway… does the name Klaus Thurber ring a bell?”
     I was (quite literally) taken aback—I shuffled backward a half step.
     Klaus was a dear old friend of mine, and perhaps more importantly, was one of the few people on the planet whose intellect could even begin to rival my own.
     We had spent many gin-soaked nights together in Leipzig opaquely talking around key concepts of my time machine in coded vagaries like a couple of mobsters planning a hit.
     He was especially keen on optics, and I had enlisted his help more than a few times tweaking the time machine’s cloaking device to get it to perform up to spec.
     “What in the devil does Klaus have to do with anything?”
     Corcoran shook his head. “He’s in trouble back in the future. I guess he got involved with Chronosaber somehow, and then the Nazis got word of it, and they ended up coming to his lab in 2032, and—”
     “You cannot be serious.” I rolled my eyes. “Who in their right mind would ever do business with Chronosaber?”
     This time I at least got what I can best describe as a “huffed guffaw” out of the Commander.
     “Damn it, Doc, this is serious stuff. Last I saw, Klaus was pinned down in his lab, under heavy fire from Dolph, Gerry, and the reunion tour of the survivors from our little jaunt into Paris circa WW2.”
     “Klaus… is seriously being attacked by Nazis? He’s in trouble?”
     This time it was Corcoran who rolled his eyes.
     “Yes! Fuck it, Doc! And as soon as those Hugo Boss-wearing assholes goose-stepped their way into his office, he sent me to get you.”
     “Why?” I shot back.
     Corcoran shrugged. “Beats the tarred shit outta me. Somethin’ about he wanted you to have somethin’a his? Or somethin’?”
     I narrowed my eyes in the hope that the Commander would realize how unhelpful his description was.
     “Anything more than that? Like an invention? Or piece of equipment?”
     Corcoran shook his head. “That’s all I got. He said you’d know what to do with it when you got to Leipzig—”
      “And fought my way through an army of Nazi thugs?”
     “Fought our way through an army of Nazi thugs!” Corcoran couldn’t conceal the glint in his eye from the glee he felt at an opportunity for unchecked mayhem against the fascist horde.
     I stroked my chin. If Klaus was truly in trouble, then it would logically follow that he had something that only I could understand. Should someone of lesser intellect, like the Commander, for example, try to use or decipher whatever Klaus had prepared, it would be much akin to a chimpanzee in a lab coat trying to operate a fission reactor.
     My only worry was the mention of Chronosaber. Obviously that old crone Helene was cooking something up, and had employed Klaus to help her do so… but what? And was this some ruse concocted by her to further humiliate me? And make me the clown’s arse of history?
     Or would it allow me to cross paths with her once more and set history “right”? Sure, “what happened, happened,” and whatnot… but nothing I had seen had shown me definitively that I couldn’t off the old bat in both of our futures.
     For all I knew, she would have travelled directly from our meeting in 2042 back to 2032, and now I would have the opportunity to exact revenge from her, much as I had already from the Commander.
     With eyes greening by the minute, I nodded my head.
     “Well then, if Klaus is in need of help, then help him we shall.”
     A broad grin crossed the Commander’s face.
     “Awesome! Put ‘er there pal!”
     He extended an outstretched hand to me.
     I shot away from it as if it was a loaded gun.
     It took him a second to realize it was the same hand that had damned me to become a vagrant all those months ago when he had inadvertently used a “memory glove” to capture my handprint and abscond with my time machine.
     “Ah come on Doc—no glove, see?”
    He raised his bare hand in what I imagine was supposed to convey a sense of comfort.
     I steadied myself, sighed, forced an overbroad smile, and clasped the man’s hand in my own.
     “Very good then. To one more adventure, just like old times!”
     Perhaps it was the medigel taking hold, but I must admit it was invigorating to contemplate a proper adventure like the ones we had previously undertaken!
     The sad truth was, sitting in this alleyway, pickled as a mummy in formaldehyde, week after week, wasn’t nearly as therapeutic as I thought it might be. I longed to recapture that sense of adventure, that joie de vivre from our previous travels. Even more so than I wished to come to terms with my father’s shame…
     My father!
     “Um… one more thing Ricky?”
     “You name it.” Corcoran nodded.
     “I…err…well…you see, it’s my father and I.”
     “Look, Doc, if you really want to  come back to this time period when you’re done to be a damned bum and see your Pop, we’ll see what we can—”
     “No, no—seeing him these few times was thoroughly therapeutic,” I said. “But the simple fact of the matter is that we saw the bum every week when I was a child, and if I leave now—”
     “Won’t someone take your place?” Corcoran asked.
      It took me a moment to catch on, but eventually I realised what he was saying.
     “Ah yes… ‘whatever happened, happened.’”
     "Right. No matter what you do, the past is fixed. You leave, and someone else should be right there to take your place, just as the universe intended..."
     As if on cue, the sound of a stream of water impacting brick resonated out from behind the dumpster in front of us.
     “OOOOOOHHHH YEAH MATE!” a voice yelled after it. “GET AFTER IT, POP, WHYDONTCHA?” the booming voice asked no one in particular.
     We circled around quietly to find one of my alleymates urinating loudly on the facade of the building next door.
     “He been there the whole time?” Corcoran asked.
     “That’s Horace. Real piece of work, that one,” I shook my head.
     As the man continued to pound the wall with a torrent of urine and groaned, Corcoran walked over to the far side of him and stared at him in profile.
     Hopped up on God-knows how much gin and barbiturates, I doubt Horace even noticed.
     “Sure,” Corcoran said.
     “What?” I asked.
     “He’ll do just fine.”
     As Horace shook out the final drops of what I imagine he considered his greatest masterpiece, Corcoran grabbed him under the arm and guided him the several steps back to where I had previously made my home.
     “Absolutely not!” I protested. “Horace takes all of the aluminum cans for himself out of the bins. Furthermore, he’s an incessant bore. I will not have that man represent me on my—”
     “Your what? Your wall? Who the hell knows it’s you, anyway? Not your Pop, that’s for sure. Not little Phineas Templeton. Look at him—he’s a dead ringer.” I hadn’t had the good fortune to admire myself in a mirror lately, and though grudgingly I must admit that Horace was somewhat of a “handsome homeless,” if I was in as poor of shape as he was, it was probably a good thing I was getting back to work. The Commander waited for Horace to finish his semi-orgasmic urination.
     I offered Corcoran a tight smile and a nod, “Very well then, Commander. I am officially, if reluctantly, in your employ.”
     The familiar broad grin worked its way over the Commander’s face.
     “Outstanding. Thank you, Doc. I mean it—won’t let you down again.”
     I nodded, perhaps too-grimly to betray my suspicion. “Indeed. Now about these Nazis…”

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