Last week, Joe found himself in very undesirable circumstances. He had apparently hit rock-bottom in this timeline and was shunned by his brother, his biggest supporter in the other timelines. This week, we’ll find out if Joe can come up with a plan to save the day and put things back on course.
If you want to catch up on the previous installments of this serial, you can click on these links:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24
It was 4 P.M. Joe exceeded his allotted time on the computer and was reprimanded for it, but he also found out that newspaper articles prior to 1990 were in the library basement stored on microfiche. The librarian told him he could browse through those as long as he wanted. He found the microfiche machine, as the librarian had told him, in the corner on a table in the basement. An old plastic chair was in front of it and the left hand wall had hundreds of file boxes with microfiche images of newspapers and telephone books dating back to 1940. If he had the time, Joe could have spent hours looking through this material.
He found the box for the 1952 articles from the Langerton Post. He also found one for the Langerton Herald, the now defunct evening edition of the paper. With instant news on the Internet, it was amazing that any newspapers had survived at all, let alone two editions per day.
Joe loaded a strip of microfiche from the days leading up to the event he was looking for into the machine. He smelled the burning dust as the bulb heated up. He then grabbed a square sheet of microfiche film with space for 98 image squares under the glass of the machine and slid the tray in.
The sheets were configured so that each day the paper was published had a sheet of microfiche dedicated to it. Some were close to the 98 available spaces and some, the Saturday paper in particular, fell well short. Joe started with the paper for June 17th 1952, a month before the event that he discovered during his search.
The paper was focused on two mine collapses in Belgium on that day. As Joe skimmed through the other images, he was intrigued by the advertising and entertainment of the day. He also noticed the tone of sports reporting, which treated athletes as infallible gods, unlike today where every standout athlete was built up, just so they could be torn down publicly.
Joe took out the sheet for the 17th and did similar searches for the 18th, 19th and 20th. As he grabbed the sheet for the 21st, he noticed that, even though it was a Saturday, nearly all of the 98 squares were filled. He soon found out why.
Late on June 20th, 1952, Federico “Freddy” Roselli was taken into custody for tax evasion and tax fraud. The FBI showed up at his office in downtown Langerton and seized all of his files and assets. He was arrested and, because it was late on Friday, would spend the weekend in jail until his arraignment on the Monday the 23rd. Joe quickly reached for the box containing the microfiche for the evening paper of the 23rd of June. He didn’t have to look very long. On the first microfiche image the headline read Mob Boss Caught Red-Handed. Roselli wasn’t really a mob boss. He was an underling at best, but he was the closest thing Langerton had to gangster royalty.
From the article it looked like the FBI had been after Roselli for quite a while. They made no progress on the case for a while until an unnamed state’s witness came forward and gave them irrefutable evidence. Joe had an inkling about the source, but he wanted to be sure, so he continued to peruse the microfiche in search of articles about the case.
Unlike today’s cases that seem to drag on and take forever to get started, the Roselli case was back in the headlines in less than a month later. The trial date was set for early August. Joe began searching through the boxes for August 1952 and found that the trial began promptly on Monday morning the 4th of August. Judge Kevin Mulvaney presided over the case. The first few days, the reporting was about jury selection. Apparently, many prospective jurors had some trepidation when it came to the trial of a mobster, no matter how low on the totem pole. Finally, by Thursday the 7th, a jury was seated and the trial was set to begin on the following Monday, the 11th of August.
The first few days of the trial were chronicled in both the morning and evening editions. The opening arguments were routine and the reporter struggled to make it sound interesting. It wasn’t until Joe looked at the afternoon edition for August 15th that he found what he was looking for. The bold headline read State Witness Sinks Roselli’s Ship. It was a long edition of the paper that spilled onto a second sheet of microfiche by a few cells making this edition over 100 pages, many of which were dedicated to the trial. Joe read the entire article with interest. On about the third page, his suspicions, originally brought about by the chance Google search, were confirmed.
…In an unusual move, the federal prosecutor called the star witness to the stand. The man, a slight man with a ruddy face, timidly approached the witness chair and was sworn in by the bailiff. Up until now, his identity had been a mystery. Now, his identity was known. His name was William P. McLean, CPA. Mr. McLean, 35 of East Langerton, is an accountant with the Provenza accounting firm. One of their clients is none other than Freddy Roselli. McLean, through his testimony, indicated that he discovered the anomalies in Mr. Roselli’s files during routine auditing tasks. When he brought the irregularities to his superiors at the Provenza firm, he was told that it would be taken care of. Mr. McLean became aware of the FBI investigation and reached out to the G-Men’s Pittsburgh office to let them know what he had found. They put him into protective custody and then descended on the Provenza firm to seize the files in question. With examination of the materials, the FBI was able to get the dirt on Roselli that they had been searching for. You may recall that this paper reported earlier that the Roselli and Provenza families are connected by marriage on top of their sinister business relationship. This reporter heard from an unnamed source that, in addition to Roselli, future indictments against members of the Provenza firm may be coming from the Feds depending on their level of cooperation.
Judge Mulvaney commended Mr. McLean for coming forward. The witness finished his testimony and was escorted through a back door of the court room by to large G-Men.
Joe now knew the connection between the Provenza and McLean families. An old grudge had been forged. He had a number of questions running through his mind. Why did old man Provenza offer him a job in his original timeline? Why didn’t his parents tell him about the trial and the connection between the Provenzas and McLeans? Those questions, however, were secondary. He had discovered why the Provenzas were hell-bent on ruining the lives of his family members. Now, all he had to do was stop it from happening. He wasn’t sure it would work, but he had to try to get back to 1952 and stop his grandfather from becoming a state’s witness.
There were some issues to consider. Joe was not yet born in 1952, if he were to go back to that time period, what form would he take? His own form? An unborn set of cells that didn’t exist? If he did get back there, what would he do? His grandfather wouldn’t know him and he would have a short time to convince him that he shouldn’t turn in the evidence with no credibility. He even thought that going back to a period before he was born could have a catastrophic effect on the present. He already figured out that time travel was not like Back to the Future or The Time Machine. He went back as himself at whatever age he was in the time period and, once he fell asleep, he jumped back to his current time period. The timing would be crucial and the plan would have to be foolproof. He knew one thing for sure. He needed to get back to the storage unit as soon as it became dark.
When Joe went back upstairs in the library, it was getting close to closing time. He couldn’t believe how much time he spent in the basement.
“Did you find what you were looking for?” the librarian asked.
“I did. Thank you so much for suggesting the microfiche.”
“No one ever uses it anymore. You’re the first in a long time.”
“Well, I’m glad it was there and thank you for your help.”
The librarian smiled as if she was not accustomed to being thanked very often.
It was 6 P.M. when Joe exited the library. The sun was still fairly high in the sky and wouldn’t set for another 90 minutes. Joe needed to wait until after 9P.M. before he could go back to the storage unit. It would be closed and Randy would be out of the office.
His stomach growled a bit and he still had enough to stop into a Subway and get a sandwich while he bided his time. He ordered his sandwich and carried it to a table stopping to pick up a weekly newspaper from the rack near the counter. He savored the taste of the sub-standard ham and cheese on the doughy role. It tasted like an expensive steak to him. He tried to ignore the craving for alcohol and nicotine that were just below the surface of his consciousness.
As he browsed through the paper, he watched people enter and exit the restaurant picking up subs to go. Very few people dined in as they trudged home from whatever job they performed during the day. Joe eventually finished his sandwich as he synchronized reading the entire paper with the spacing of the bites that he took. Eventually it was 8:30 P.M. and he was ready to take the slow bus ride across town that would bring him back to the storage facility. He walked two blocks to the bus shelter and waited for the cross-town bus to arrive. It had multiple stops on its route which ensured he would not arrive until after 9.
As Joe settled in to the bus seat, it occurred to them that this might be the first time he had been on a city bus since he was 12 or 13 years old. Somehow, however, it seemed familiar to him as he settled into the marginally comfortable plastic seat with its thin padded cover. He settled in and ticked off each stop as the bus methodically made its way across town.
Joe finally got off the bus about two blocks from the storage facility. The chill of the late evening had set in so he jammed his hands into his pockets to keep them warm. He finally got to the gate and mentally crossed his fingers as he punched in the code. The gate miraculously opened. Joe walked back to storage unit 57 and, in a turn of good luck to bad, found that the lock had been replaced. He couldn’t get in. He trudged back toward the office looking for the dilapidated golf cart that Randy rode through the complex. It was parked behind the office and, luckily, the bold cutters that Randy used to relieve the units of their padlocks was still in the cart next to a flashlight. Joe grabbed them both and headed back to the unit. He strained and finally snipped the lock. He brought up the door and was careful to enter the unit and bring it back down before he switched on the flashlight.
In this timeline, the stadium seats and the boxes of Langerton Chiefs program books were still in the unit. Joe knew that the programs were separated into those that he had collected himself from games he attended and old ones that he had either purchased as collector’s items. He went to the boxes that contained the latter and began searching through them. Finally, he was into the early 1950s and he found a program book from opening day of 1952. That was in April. His grandfather likely turned the evidence over to the FBI in a May or June timeframe. He would have to go back to this date and hope it wasn’t too late.
Joe took the yellowing, stiff program book and went to the seat that had transported him to this undesirable timeline. He sat down, relaxed and felt the same familiar electrical charge pass through his body. He suddenly felt a cool breeze mixed with intense sunshine. He opened his eyes and he was at Maxwell Stadium. As he looked around him, the fans at the game looked like they stepped out of a Norman Rockwell painting. The men were in suits and ties with fedoras from the time period. The few women in the crowd were similarly dressed as if attending a night at the theater instead of a baseball game. Joe realized the he too was dressed similarly to the men. He looked around and did not see his grandfather anywhere. Of course, he was going by his memory of pictures that he had seen when his grandfather was the approximate age he would be in 1952. Joe decided to get up and leave the game. He wouldn’t make any progress here and he needed to act quickly. He made his way down the row and descended into the interior of the stadium beneath the seats. He decided to stop in the restroom and then begin his task even though he wasn’t entirely sure how to begin.
As he walked to the urinal, Joe happened to glance in the cloudy mirror above one of the porcelain sinks. He was indeed wearing a fedora, but there was something else more striking. He was wearing a different face. He moved closer to the mirror before he confirmed what he thought when first seeing the reflection. The face looking back at him from the mirror was his grandfather. In this timeline, he didn’t have to find William P. McLean, CPA. He was William P. McLean CPA. His task now became clear.