This week’s installment of this serial follows Joe as he explores the changes made in his life by choosing a different career path. Everything looks pretty positive thus far, but will that change? Time will only tell.
If you want to catch up on the previous installments of this serial, you can click on these links:
It was a surreal experience as Joe settled in and had dinner with his parents. His mom made his favorite, sirloin tip cutlets double breaded in Italian style bread crumbs. He hadn’t had them in so long and, with his adolescent body from the past, he put away a healthy number of the tender cutlets. He then joined his parents to watch the hot show of the summer of 1993, Dick Clark’s All-Star Bloopers. As the blooper show ended and a repeat of the old sitcom, Empty Nest, began, Joe fought the urge to drift off to sleep on his parents comfortable over-stuffed sofa. He realized that, although he was back in his younger body, the fatigue of not sleeping in his future world accompanied him to 1993. Finally, he could fight it no longer and he succumbed to slumber.
Joe woke with a warm feeling on the side of his face. Was he outside? It had been cold and drizzly in Langerton when he sat in the stadium seat to travel to the past. Was he still existing in the late summer of 1993? He opened his eyes.
The warmth he felt was the sunlight streaming through a large window. He was back in his stadium chair with the program book from August of 1993 sitting on his lap. He was back to the present. But the present was different. The seat was not in his small apartment, it was in the spacious living room of a house he didn’t recognize. His cheap bookshelves were gone. They were replaced by built-in shelves that surrounded a gigantic fireplace with a television mounted over it that was three times the size of his old screen. He got up from the chair to go explore what was on the shelves. He saw that his sizeable collection of Langerton Chiefs program books was even larger with programs darting back to the 1930’s. He also saw programs for several New York Yankees games. They were well-worn and some even had autographs in them. At first glance, Joe was liking this version of the present. That would change eventually.
Joe got up from the stadium seat. His first instinct was to try to figure out where he was. As he walked around the split-level home, he began to realize that it must be his. He saw familiar items such as his high school and college yearbooks and familiar photographs. He walked into what appeared to be the master suite and found it decorated in masculine shades of brown that matched his general taste. When Joe ventured into the very large walk-in closet, he discovered clothes that were in his size, though they were much higher in quality than those in his original version of the present. A look in the full-length mirror also revealed that he was in better shape and had a much more expensive haircut in this version of his timeline.
Though this evidence of his present seemed to reveal greater success, he couldn’t help but notice that there weren’t any clothes belonging to Beth, or any female, in his master suite. He walked down the hall and came to two closed doors, one on either side. He opened the door on the left and discovered that it was a well-appointed office. He walked to the large solid mahogany desk and sat down at the computer. There was a logo bouncing slowly around the large computer monitor that he didn’t recognize, but was immediately drawn to. McLean and Associates. Could it be that he had realized his dream of having his own firm? He sat at the desk and moved the mouse on the leather mouse pad. The logo disappeared and was replaced by a Windows login screen. The user name, JMcLean, was prepopulated. Joe realized that he didn’t know the password for this computer in this alternate present. He tried the password that he used on all of his computers in his original timeline, Beth0213, his ex-wife’s name and birthdate. The login screen disappeared and was replaced by a neatly organized grouping of icons on the windows desktop screen.
Joe noticed that the computer had the same accounting software that he was accustomed to using and he double clicked on the icon. It brought up a series of accounts and financial statements for McLean and associates. Joe decided to see just how successful his firm was in this timeline. A quick glance told him that it was prosperous beyond his expectations with a seven-figure balance in the Cash on Hand account. As he clicked on the client roster, he was amazed to see many of the clients that were served by Romano, Provenza and Bianchi. He had apparently reached his goal of stealing away many of their clients. Joe felt a certain amount of pride, but also more than a small amount of guilt, as he came to this realization. He decided he would investigate further later, but right now he wanted to look for more clues to his life in this house and figure out where he was and where he needed to be. The first thing to do was continue exploring the house.
He left the office and walked to the door directly across the hall. As he looked inside this room that was meant to be a bedroom, he was left breathless. The room was filled with shelves and display cases that held countless sport memorabilia items. There were framed, autographed photographs covering the walls. Several of the photos showed Joe standing next to famous New York Yankees players. Just a glance at the signed baseball cards and baseballs indicated that this collection was worth a fortune. Again, Joe decided to look at it in more depth later.
He walked down the stairs at the end of the hallway and found himself in an entry area with very high ceilings. The floor was expensive hard wood and the first floor appeared to have a wide-open floor plan. Though it was his first time exploring this house that was apparently his, something about it looked very familiar.
He turned left at the bottom of the stairs and found himself in a gourmet kitchen. It had dark granite counter tops, top-of-the-line appliances and even a cooler just for wine. Joe saw a stack of mail on the counter and he picked it up. The address on the mail bore his name and again, there was something familiar about the address, 8083 Wanesborough Drive in Marslet, Pennsylvania, an upscale suburb of Langerton.
As he turned away from the kitchen toward the great room, the revelation of why the house was familiar hit him. All it took was the breathtaking view of Lake Marslet through the floor-to-ceiling picture window. He had been in this house a few times before. He thought back to the Christmas parties that were thrown by John Provenza when he was an employee back in his original timeline. This was his house, but apparently, in this version of reality, it was Joe’s house. Had he not only taken Provenza’s clients, but also his house? He would deal with that later. Right now, he had a strong pull in his mind to find out what his responsibilities were in this new life. Obviously, he had a company to run and he wanted to keep up appearances.
He returned to his office and sat down at the desk. He opened the Internet browser and brought up the Google home page. What better way to start than by searching for McClean and Associates. The first result returned by the search engine was for his company’s web site. He clicked on the link and began to read about the company that he had built without any awareness of how it was accomplished.
He clicked on the About link and discovered that he had founded the company in 1993, the very year he had turned down the job offer from John Provenza. Based on the financial statements he had viewed earlier, the company had grown quickly and aggressively since then. He looked at the company leadership. He was listed as President and CEO. His brother Mike was listed as the company’s Chief Technology Officer. He also recognized names of some of his closest high school and college friends in leadership positions. The name Provenza didn’t appear anywhere in the company’s leadership roster.
Joe decided the next place to look was in his calendar. He brought up his email application and clicked on the calendar icon. It was Friday and it appeared that he had a light day. Other than lunch with his brother, there were no other appointments. Two other entries on the calendar, however, caught him by surprise. The first was on Sunday. It read Dinner at Mom and Dads. This made his heart leap with joy. His parents were evidently still alive. The second entry was on Monday. A four-hour block on the calendar had the title Final Merger Negotiations. Merger? Was he awaking in this reality as the head of a successful company only to find out that he was transforming it in three days?
Joe decided he would take a chance and call the office’s main number to see what kind of information he could get from Mike and confirm their lunch. He picked up the phone on the desk and dialed the contact number on the website. A young female voice answered the phone and, in a very perky voice said, “McClean and Associates. How may I direct your call?” At first Joe wasn’t sure how to answer the question, so he decided to start with his name.
“Hello. This is Joe McClean.”
Initially there was silence on the other end of the phone, but then a stammering voice responded.
“Um…Mr. McClean. I didn’t expect you to call the main number. How can I help you?”
Again, Joe struggled with what to say.
“I’m just checking in to see if anyone needs me today.”
“Oh. Um, let me connect you with your admin. She can let you know if anything important is happening today.”
“Okay. Thanks,” Joe answered unsure of what else would be appropriate.
He was on hold very briefly before a familiar voice answered.
“Mr. McClean. What can I do for you today?”
It was Carmela, the executive assistant from his former employer’s office in his original timeline.
“Oh, hello Carmela. I’m just checking in. Is anyone looking for me today?”
“No Mr. M. You just have your usual lunch with your brother today.”
“Right. My usual lunch. And, where are we eating today?”
There was a pause on the other end of the call.
“Well, Carlucci’s, of course. The same place you’ve had lunch together on Fridays for the past five years.”
“Right. Just making sure. I’ll be here if anyone needs me today.”
“Okay Mr. M. Is everything alright?”
“Sure. Just nervous with the merger coming up on Monday.”
Joe felt like that might be the right thing to say.
“Well that’s understandable. It’s a big one. We’re all a bit on edge.”
“It will be fine,” Joe said even though he had no idea if it would be. “Thanks for your help.”
“No problem, Mr. M. Take care and get some rest today.”
Joe had four hours until his scheduled lunch with Mike. He figured he better spend some time learning about the upcoming merger so that he could appear to know what he was talking about and determine if it was the right direction for his newly altered career.