Tempus Fugit, LLC
500 West Street
Camden, NJ 08105
Hello to one and all who read this, both in the Tempus Fugit corporation, and members of the various news media outlets to which I have also sent this note. My name is Luke Banks of Escanaba, Michigan and I am a targeted individual. To any of the others out there who, like me, are members of the TI community, I would like to say hello, I prayer for you, and I want you to know that you are not alone. For those unfamiliar with this situation, I would refer you to the website targetedindividuals.com, whereon you will find many details, and many personal stories of tragedy, of harassment, and of psychological warfare engaged in by our government to discredit and destroy individuals like myself for a) discovering some sort of sensitive information or also, b) simply because they can.
One assumes your mailbox has been vigorously pelted with notes and contest entries from individuals interested in petty, personal desires–love or sexual conquesting, or moments where a better-made decision could lead to a life of higher self-esteem. I can understand how one of these entries might fit into the brand narrative you are developing for your company, might position you better in the time travel consumer market, and therefore might attract you to them over my entry. I must ask, though, that you throw those considerations aside, individuals of the Tempus Fugit corporation.
This is important. You must pick me. Tempus Fugit, there is a life to save, and it is the life of a president of these United States.
Tempus Fugit, you must allow me to go back in time and kill my father.
We are all familiar enough with the “facts” of the John F. Kennedy assassination that I feel like I need not dwell. November 22, 1963. Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. Half an hour after noon, shots were fired.
But this moment, this moment when a projectile sped through the air and dismantled the skull and ripped through the brains of a sitting American president is also the moment when “facts” lose clarity. When the world–your world, my world–becomes a less real, less comfortable, less explainable place. When our reality is sent tumbling and whirling into a confused, messy, dissonant place. A place none of us can live in. We have never recovered from this.
There is a way, though. You must send me back to that year. You must send me back to Dallas, Texas. You must arm me and allow me to make all this right.
“But,” I can hear some of you saying, “your name is not Oswald. Lee Harvey Oswald killed the president.”
I trust that the more learned among you will set this group of people–this, one imagines, small and exceedingly naïve group of people–straight so I can move on.
I had, for all the years of our cohabitating together, what most would characterize as a chilly relationship with my father. I was, I suspect, an unwanted child, grown from the occasion of an unwanted pregnancy, caused by an accidental conception from a not-thoroughly-prepared-for act of love between my parents. (There is a part of me that suspects one of my birth parents was, in reality, not involved in the conception–either some other man provided the sperm while my father was away on business, or some other woman provided the egg and womb in which I grew–some woman my father maybe met while he was away on a business trip.)
But this is a conversation I had had with my therapist (my Judas) back when I trusted him. There was something about my dad being away a lot during the ’60s. Something untoward. Something about the fact that he refused to talk about it. I really wanted to look into it, I told my therapist (my Judas). Really start digging around. Ask mom. Find his old letters. Go through that mess of a basement he left when he died in the mid-’90s.
It was soon after this conversation, this admission to my therapist (my Judas) that the headaches began. And the ringing phones at 2am–the ones that were never anything other than hang-ups. And the whispers at work–I was employed at a graphic design and screen printing workshop–that implied things about me and my sexuality (none of anyone’s business, thank you) and my lackluster performance of my duties (lies, one and all).
When confronted, the therapist (my Judas) claimed I was paranoid. But I was not paranoid. I discovered within the vortex of my new life’s struggles a web of connections. My therapist (my Judas), a new coworker days after I had talked to my therapist (my Judas) about my father’s consistent absence, a seeming endless parade of cable trucks in my neighborhood. A cell phone tower on the roof of the bar across the street.
Google is a magical thing. One day I put all of the strange circumstances of my life together in Google’s search field, and connected each symptom (placed between quotation marks) with a plus sign.
“sudden headaches” + “rumors at work” + “harassing phone calls” + “hang-ups” + “trouble with digestion” (don’t ask)
And there I found the key. I found my fellow targeted individuals.
I will dispense with the long story of my conversion. Suffice it to say, I was skeptical. But it all fit. And it all related to my father.
Why had the government chosen to destroy me? What could my father have been involved in?
Kennedy, Tempus Fugit. My father killed Kennedy. The biggest conspiracy of them all.
One day, looking up government conspiracies on the internet, I did a random image search, and found a photo of a man sitting on a curb, looking down. He is partially obscured by a light pole. Next to him is a man in white with a dark complexion. It’s my father. I know it.
Following the image back to its source, I found out that the man was the one called The Umbrella Man. I see him now, tapping his lucky umbrella as he prepares to leave for the day. “Always be prepared for anything,” he’d say. Some think the umbrella held by The Umbrella Man carried a poison dart in a flechette device of some sort, and said dart immobilized the president. I think it killed him outright. I think it carried a small explosive shot that forced the president’s head back and to the left, and blew out his brain.
Don’t ask me how that was the photo to come up. I really don’t know. The coincidence seems uncanny, I realize. Like I said, though: Google is a magical thing. Google wants this to happen for me. Google wants me to go back and kill my father before he can kill the president. All the fog that surrounds us now, all the haze that allows the government to do what it wants, all that mesmerizes us and pacifies us, it all offends Google. Google is our collective unconscious, and with every search we make and every web page we visit because it offers us a link, Google gets closer to helping us burn away the fog created by a government working in secret and for its own ends.
Google wants me to save the president. Google wants me to kill my father. Please, Tempus Fugit, pick me.
Bryan Furuness‘s stories appear in Ninth Letter, Southeast Review, Sycamore Review, Hobart, and elsewhere, including the forthcoming Best American Nonrequired Reading. He teaches at Butler University, and is an editor for Booth, and On Earth As It Is.
Sarah Layden‘s short fiction can be found in Stone Canoe, Artful Dodge, The Evansville Review, Zone 3, Pindeldyboz, PANK, Wigleaf and elsewhere, with poetry in Margie, Blood Orange Review, Juked, Tipton Poetry Journal, and the anthology Just Like a Girl. Excerpts from her novel Sleeping Woman appear in Freight Stories, Cantaraville, and the Dia de los Muertos anthology. Find her online at www.sarahlayden.com.
Andrew Scott lives in Indianapolis. His work has been published in Esquire, The Cincinnati Review, Mid-American Review, The Writer’s Chronicle, and Glimmer Train Stories. He is the co-editor of Freight Stories an online fiction quarterly, and author of Modern Love, a short story chapbook.
Matthew Simmons lives in Seattle with his cat, Emmett. He is the author of A Jello Horse (Publishing Genius Press, 2009), The Moon Tonight Feels My Revenge (Keyhole Press, 2010), and the upcoming story collection Happy Rock (Keyhole Press, 2011). Find out more at matthewjsimmons.com.