You’ve likely heard of The Butterfly Effect. In last week’s installment of Extra Innings, we found Joe traveling back to a baseball game in the past to stop some event from happening. In this week’s installment, we see just what kind of effect this had on the present. Whenever we seek to change something, there may always be both positive and negative effects. This may be especially true of time travel.
Please enjoy this week’s installment of Extra Innings.
If you want to catch up on the previous installments, you can click on these links:
Joe woke up in his bed in the same pajamas. He really wasn’t sure what year it was until he got up to go to the bathroom and recognized the air freshener he had recently purchased that was plugged in near the bowl. It was about 4PM which made sense in terms of the elapsed time at the game plus an hour of actual sleep. Joe was tired, but his fatigue was outweighed by his desire to find out if his journey into the not too distant past was successful. He quickly got dressed and headed for the Wegmans where Tommy Hamilton was now a bagger.
Joe walked into the Wegmans and didn’t immediately spot Tommy bagging groceries. He did, however, see Tommy’s mom working at the express check-out line. He didn’t want to be too obvious in finding out about Tommy. He casually got in line at the express checkout and grabbed a couple of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and a pack of Orbit gum. He knew Becky Hamilton from barbecues at Mike’s house to which the Hamilton family was invited.
“Hey Becky, how are you doing?” Joe said as casually as he could.
“Hey Joe. I’m fine. How is Mike?”
“He is great. How is your family? Your husband and your son…Tommy, right?”
“They are great.”
“Doesn’t Tommy work here? I thought I saw him bagging groceries a couple of times.”
A look of confusion came over Becky Hamilton’s face.
“No. He’s never worked here. There’s no way he would be able to.”
“Oh. I’m sorry. I must have been confused. It must have been someone that looked like him.”
“That’s OK. He wants to work, but with practice and the games, there’s no way he could ever have a job.”
“Practice and the games? What sport does he play?”
Again, Becky Hamilton looked surprised as if Joe should know this.
“He plays too many of them. Basketball, baseball, football. He was the winning pitcher when Langerton High School won the state tournament. It was in the paper and on the news.”
Joe fumbled for what to say.
“I’m sorry. I’ve been working so many hours, I’ve lost touch with the news. You must be so proud of him.”
“We are. I have a picture of him in his baseball uniform after they won the trophy.”
Becky fumbled with her i-Phone and showed Joe a picture of a smiling kid that was painfully handsome and ruggedly athletic. Not the boy that Joe was familiar with. The Tommy he knew had a slightly misaligned left eye and was a bit slow on the uptake. He was also a bit pudgy and did not resemble this handsome high school athletic superstar.
“Wow. That’s great Beckie. I’ll have to catch one of his games.”
“He has colleges pursuing him for multiple sports. We are so happy for him, especially since he is a straight A student on top of it.”
Joe said his goodbyes and left Wegmans. He felt like his experiment was a success and that he had actually done something very positive for someone. Now it was time to plan his next steps.
Joe returned to his apartment after the strange trip to Wegmans. Hopefully he had not roused any suspicions with Tommy’s mother. He felt a sense of exhilaration. He had prevented something from happening in the past and apparently the effects had been positive. He didn’t return to a post-apocalyptic Langerton or see any zombies walking the Earth as a result of his actions. He had prevented a boy from a life of not reaching his potential and it had resulted in quite the opposite effect.
Before he could begin to organize his thoughts, his phone rang. It was Mike.
“Hey Joey. I’m just checking in on you. I wanted to see if you’re getting back to normal after our little adventure.”
“I’m fine. Just a little tired. I’m actually taking tomorrow off from work to catch up on some sleep and to get a little organized around the apartment.”
“I don’t know of I’m more surprised by you taking time off, or by the fact that you have something in your apartment that is unorganized. Aren’t you the guy who irons his underwear.”
“Hey. Just my undershirts. It makes the dress shirts look better.”
“Yeah, sure. Whatever you say,” Mike ribbed his brother.
“Hey, I don’t get to wear the same work shirt every day like some other people,” Joe shot back.
“It saves on my time getting ready every day Mr. Fancy Pants. Are you sure there’s nothing else going on with you?”
Joe hesitated while he thought of how much to tell Mike. If I tell him about my time travel, he’ll think I’m nuts. Plus, I might jinx it or something. Joe decided he needed to no more about the phenomenon before he told anyone, especially Mike. He decided to be more general.
“Hey, I ran into Tommy Hamilton’s mom at Wegmans. She showed me a picture of Tommy with the state champ trophy. That kid turned out to be a great athlete. His dad must be proud.”
“I think he’s too busy being bitter to be proud.”
“What do you mean?” Joe asked, with a sinking feeling in his stomach.
“Since his mom started bangin’ the basketball coach last season, Tommy’s dad isn’t too wild about his son’s sports achievements. Didn’t I tell you they split up? It was ugly.”
“Hmmm. I don’t remember if you did. That stinks.”
The sinking feeling in Joe’s stomach now became more of a feeling of full-blown nausea.
“It stinks alright. Just because he couldn’t get time off work to go watch his son and was working overtime to provide for his family, his wife got lonely and turned to the man that was paying attention to her son.”
“I can relate,” Joe blurted without thinking.
“You can relate? Your situation is a bit different Joey. Your wife left you physically long after you left her mentally.”
“Ouch. Is that how you see it.”
“I’m sorry Joe. I don’t mean to kick you when you’re down, but you need to accept what happened and move on. You need to get your life back.”
Joe was quiet for a second. That is just what he was going to try with newly discovered craziness. He just had to figure out how.
“You’re right Mike. I’m working on it. I promise.”
“You know I’m always here for you Joe. Just don’t do anything crazy”.
“I won’t Mike. Thanks for everything.”
They hung up and Joe started to process this new wrinkle. He had done something positive for someone, but something negative had resulted because of it. If Tommy Hamilton had not retained his mental and physical faculties he would not have gone on to be an athletic star and his mom would not have had reason to turn to the basketball coach.
Is that how this works? Is it a Yin and Yang? I make a positive change and something negative has to result in order to balance it out.
Joe dismissed this thinking. Tommy’s mom had the benefit of free will when she decided to sleep with the coach.
It probably would have been someone else if I hadn’t helped Tommy.
Joe refused to let this deter him from what he knew in his heart he had to do. He just had to prioritize the bad turns in his life and get busy straightening them out. It was time to do what every good CPA does when there are tasks to be done, make a list.