“I’m back,” Stan the Nut says to Long Haul on this Sunday afternoon.
“Were you gone?” Long Haul replies.
“Yes, Tina, I was gone—didn’t you notice?”
“You were here two days ago,” Long Haul says.
This gives Stan pause. “I guess I could have been. Part of the paradox.”
“Stan,” Long Haul says. “What the fuck are you talking about?”
“I time traveled. Just like that old psychic said I would. I went back to 1847.”
There are a lot of things Long Haul could say, or questions she could ask. She chooses to focus on a small point. “Why 1847?”
“Not sure. Maybe because it’s the year I mentioned, just randomly, when we talked about this before.”
Long Haul doesn’t remember that conversation, but says, “Oh.”
“I was there for weeks. Seemed like weeks, at least.”
“What part of the world?”
“That’s actually a sensible question, Tina,” Stan says. “I started out in Ohio, and witnessed the birth of Thomas Edison.”
“How’d you know it was him?”
“I heard the attending physician call the expectant father Mr. Edison. I then saw a newspaper with the date February 10, 1847. I knew that Edison was born on February 11, 1847 so it was easy to piece together.”
“You sure know a lot of useless stuff,” Long Haul says. “What was Edison famous for? Something to do with lightning?”
“Your ignorance knows no limits,” Stan says. “It is not worth my breath to explain.”
Long Haul shrugs. “I don’t really care. What else did you do? If you were there for weeks like you say.”
“I participated in the Battle of Buena Vista, as part of the larger Mexican-American War.”
“Whose side were you on?”
“Not an unreasonable question. The United States. I was in the Army.”
“Did you kill anyone?”
“Probably, from a distance.”
“You must have liked that.”
“I didn’t mind.”
“Anything else? And are you going to buy me a drink for listening to this bullshit?”
“I’ll buy you food. Polenta sticks to soak up the beer.”
“I’ll take it,” Long Haul says. “What else happened?”
“I was there when Brigham Young led 148 pioneers, Mormons, into Utah.”
“Brigham Young? Of BYU? They have a pretty good basketball team. Have been in the NCAA tournament a bunch of times.” Long Haul is a college sports fan.
Stan ignores this. “Then the next thing I knew, I was home. I came right here, didn’t even check the date.”
“Well, I’m glad you’re back,” Long Haul says.
“Really? I’m touched.”
“We all know that. Touched in the head.” She laughs. “I’m glad you’re back because I’m hungry and polenta sticks sound very good to me all of a sudden.”