Joe seems convinced that his current timeline is not the one that he wants to live through. His non-relationship with Beth, his father’s quality of life and, finally, the control of his business by the Provenza family as a result of the merger are things he can’t tolerate. Enjoy this week’s edition of Extra Innings as he tries to repair these events. Will he succeed?
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Joe waited in the chill of the early morning for Jabba from the storage unit office to show up. He eventually rolled up on a golf cart that sounded like it was straining under his mass as it listed to the left. He pulled up next to storage unit 57 and wriggled off the cart like a walrus edging off a rock on the beach. Joe wasn’t convinced that Jabba’s legs would support him, but, amazingly, they did. He pulled a sturdy pair of bolt cutters from the back of the cart and waddled over to Joe.
“I brought my universal lock pick,” Jabba said with a chuckle at his own joke.
“You’re just going to cut the lock off?” Joe asked.
“Yup. I can sell you a new one for fifty bucks if you want. It’s the only way to get the lock off.”
Joe heard the cash register noise in his mind as he faced losing another $50 to protect his possessions.
Jabba (Joe would later find out his name was Kenny) strained and grunted and finally cut through the curved metal bar of the lock and it dropped to the ground. He glanced at Joe as if to ask him to pick up the lock. Joe picked it up and handed it to Kenny.
“I’ll meet you back at the office for that lock,” Joe said.
“No need, I brought one with me in case you wanted one.”
Of course, you did, Joe thought.
Kenny fished a combination lock out of his pocket and handed it to Joe. It was obviously used. Joe extracted another fifty-dollar bill and handed it over.
“Do you have the combination?”
“Oh yeah,” Kenny said as he fished deeper in his pocket with his ham-sized hand. Joe didn’t want to think about what else was in the depths of the fabric cave as Kenny extracted a small slip of paper and handed it over.
“Here you go.”
Joe put the lock and slip of paper in his own pocket.
“Thanks for your help,” Joe said trying to keep the sarcasm out of his voice.
“No problem,” Kenny said as he wriggled his manatee-like body back onto the golf cart.
“Hey, let me know if you want to sell any of that stuff. I run a consignment service on the side and whatever I sell, I’ll split fifty-fifty with you.”
“Okay, I will,” Joe said, though he knew he was done getting ripped off by Kenny.
Once the golf cart chugged away back to the office, Joe lifted the door of the unit. He was immediately assaulted by the smell of the items in the storage locker mixed with the chemical smell of what he presumed was pest control treatment. He was also struck by the quality of his possessions that he had in storage. There was furniture that was much better than what he had in his apartment in the original timeline. He saw a leather sectional sofa, lamps, an oak coffee table, and many other chairs and side tables. He also saw a clothing rack with many hanging garment bags and plastic covered shirts and jackets. In the back corner, he saw what he was looking for.
A vintage Langerton Chiefs sign was propped vertically against the wall, it’s red lettering on a blue background rotated 90 degrees from its usual position. He began to climb over the other objects toward the stash that was cordoned off in the back. As he got closer, he was both elated and deflated in a matter of three seconds. He saw the blue painted wood of a stadium seat with a cardboard box resting on it. Then he saw a second and a third. There were three seats.
Thoughts raced through his mind at the speed of light. He bought three seats. Did they all work as time travel devices? Did any of them work? He made his way back to the seats with amazing quickness considering the obstacle course formed by his other possessions. There were boxes on each of the seats. The box on the first seat he reached was filled with Chiefs program books. There were home and away games and they appeared to be stacked in chronological order. The second box was the same. The third box was filled with New York Yankees programs. Some of them had autographs. Others were vintage from the time before Joe was born. Joe had the desire to go through these programs one-by-one, but quickly snapped back to his senses and the task at hand. If he folded the seats down in the SUV, he could fit two of the three seats and the three boxes in the vehicle. First, however, he had to clear a path through the unit to the door. This would not be easy. He thought about calling Mike for help. He had a truck, even in this timeline, but he felt like Mike would question his priorities and maybe his sanity. Joe was supposed to be looking for ways to save the company from landing in Provenza’s hands. That’s exactly what he was doing, but it would be hard to explain to Mike, especially if it didn’t work.
Joe spent the better part of an hour making a path that was wide enough for him to walk if he carried the boxes and seats over his head. He started with the boxes and piled them on the front passenger seat. He folded down the two rows of back seats to make room for the stadium seats. Even with the large cargo area in the Tahoe, he knew he couldn’t fit more than two. Which two did he want? He really didn’t want to return to the storage unit to pick up the third seat. He just wanted this to be over.
The seats were heavy, but Joe remember needing Mike’s help to lift the single seat in the old timeline. He was able to press the seats over his head by himself and get them out to the Tahoe. He figured that some of it was due to adrenaline, but he also realized the virtue of being in better shape.
He picked the first two seats hoping that one of them would help him undo the present timeline. He got them loaded into the Tahoe and pulled the storage unit door back into the closed position and put his brand new, used lock in place. It was time to head back home and see if his plan would work.
Joe backed into the garage. His plan was to bring the seats down to the basement where there was some floor space where he could set them up. He wrestled the seats down the short flight of stairs and set them in the middle of the unfinished part of the basement. Then, like a thunderbolt, a thought hit him. Where was he going to go? He hadn’t thought that detail through. Should he go back to the beginnings of his business or before that? Should he try to solve his three-pronged problem with his parents, Beth and the business in one trip or should he focus on just one of them? He felt like they were all intertwined and one would affect the other no matter how he tackled the selected problem.
Joe pondered where he might have the most impact on the situation. He sat in his office and thought about it. There were three key milestones that affected the present. His meeting and relationship with Beth that started just after college, his dad’s stroke and the moment the decision was made to enter into the merger. Joe rationalized that he would try to find program books that corresponded with each event and would then make a decision where to start. He dug through the boxes that he brought from the storage units. The programs appeared to be from games that were from his childhood and even earlier. They wouldn’t do any good.
He then thought about the programs in his trophy room. They were more recent. He went upstairs and searched. He eventually found programs corresponding to each of the milestones. He took them and went back to the basement. As he descended the stairs, the plan finally became clear to him. Now all he had to do was put it into action.
He took the program book that corresponded with the first step in his plan and sat in the first chair, seat number 142, row C. He closed his eyes and then felt a breeze on his face. With great anticipation, he opened his eyes. He found himself sitting in the basement. The breeze he felt was from the vent directly overhead. This seat didn’t work. He shifted over to the other seat, put the program book in his lap and closed his eyes. He felt a familiar vibration.