Joe escaped FBI custody using time travel last week. This week we get to see what he is going to do to try to fix things based on the latest timeline. He certainly doesn’t want to go back to the present with the situation the way he left it.
Please enjoy Part 36 of Extra Innings.
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, Part 25, Part 26, Part 27, Part 28, Part 29, Part 30, Part 31, Part 32, Part 33, Part 34, Part 35
The game ended and, once again, the Langerton Chiefs were victorious in this final game in Maxwell Stadium. Joe high-fived his brother Mike just as he had done at the original game. His memory of this event was vivid and, as he relived it, he drank in the experience as if it was the first time. He tried to store away the sights, sounds and smells of the day. In all that had happened since, Joe remembered this game with more nostalgic sentimentality than he could have imagined.
As he and Mike made their way to the parking lot, they talked about their memories at the stadium from the time they were young children. Joe didn’t have to guess or improvise in this timeline. He had actually lived it so recently that it all came back to him in an instant. The things that he would do next in this iteration of his life would be totally different and would hopefully help craft his future in a more favorable way. It would be hard, of course, to return to his most recent timeline as he had just escaped FBI custody by going back in time.
This caused him to wonder what actually happened to the Joe McLean of the alternate timeline. Did agent McWorter and his colleagues actually see him disappear from the stadium seat or was his body from that timeline simply unconscious in the storage unit and unresponsive to their commands? He didn’t know, though he was curious.
“I’ll drop you off at your place,” Mike said.
Although Joe heard him and agreed, he was far away in the thoughts of what he needed to do in a very short period of time. It was already 3 P.M. on a Saturday afternoon. He needed to get things done in a timely manner before falling asleep and then evaluating the results. He realized two things right away related to this timeline. First, his parents were already dead. There wouldn’t be anything he could do to save them. Second, Beth was already gone. She was an executive in the Pittsburgh office of her company and likely had moved on with her life. His immediate concern, however, was the business and what he could do to remove the Provenzas and Rosellis from his life. That would be his focus and he would work out the rest from there if he could.
Joe climbed into Mike’s pickup truck and the brothers chatted as Mike made the short drive to Joe’s drab apartment complex. After his time in the mansion on the lake with a family that despised him, Joe was almost glad to be back in his humble accommodations. He said goodbye to Mike and went into the apartment to prepare for what he needed to do.
Joe sat at his computer and began tapping away. One of the things he learned during his brief stint as the CFO of RPM was the methods used by the Provenzas to conduct and hide illegal activities. His gut feeling was that this family would be involved in nefarious dealings no matter what the timeline. He hoped his gut was accurate as he dug through company finances and accounts.
At first, Joe thought this was a dead end. He couldn’t find anything but legitimate transactions. The company appeared to be involved in completely legitimate ventures. Joe was about to give up until he discovered a hidden folder that appeared to be created by Johnny Provenza. It was password protected. Joe was frustrated by this, but then put himself into the mindset of Johnny Provenza. He tried the default value of PASSWORD and the folder became accessible immediately.
Joe found subfolders with various client names. He recognized the names as some of the oldest, most profitable individuals and companies that were serviced by the Provenza firm. Each subfolder contained rudimentary spreadsheet, presumably created by Johnny Provenza. As Joe opened these individual files, he realized what he was looking at. There were dates in each row followed by two dollar amounts, one larger and the other smaller. The smaller amount was apparently being calculated based on a percentage. This appeared to be consistent for all of the clients that had a subfolder assigned to them.
After Joe looked at 15-20 of these sub folders, he came across a folder labeled ‘Statements’. Within this folder, Joe found monthly bank statements from a bank in the Cayman Islands. Looking at statements for a couple of months allowed him to tie the amounts in the client folders to deposits made into the account. It then dawned on Joe what was likely happening. The Provenzas were skimming funds from their clients and diverting the money to an account in the Cayman Islands. This was unethical, and more importantly, illegal. Joe had found what he was looking for.
He began feverishly printing information and pulling together a packet of evidence. Once he had a thick stack of information showing the most serious violations for the most prominent clients, he composed a letter to tie it together. Once he was satisfied that the letter would explain the violations in a non-accountant, simplified manner, he made copies, signed the letter and put everything in a Manilla envelope and addressed it appropriately. He also put the copies in a locked file drawer next to his computer.
Now he needed to get to the local FedEx outlet before they closed at 6 P.M. It was already 5:30. He sped to the big box office supply store, parked and hurried in to the mail counter. He filled out the FedEx form and handed everything to the clerk at the counter.
“This will just make the 6P.M. pickup,” the clerk said.
He typed in the address Joe had written and handed a printed copy to Joe.
“Let’s make sure everything is correct,” the clerk said.
Joe looked over the printed label. It was addressed to Special Agent McWorter in the Pittsburgh office of the FBI. Joe had put his own name and return address on the envelope. He was all in in going after the Provenzas. He just hoped that, after he fell asleep in this timeline and woke up in a new version of the present, the Joe McLean he left behind had the stomach to follow through with this.
Joe left the package at the mail counter and drove back to his apartment. He wondered if he had done the right thing. More importantly, he wondered what he was going to wake up to after putting this action in motion in the current timeline. As Joe reflected on what he had done, one thing was apparent to him, he had come a long way since the mousy accountant that was controlled by the Provenzas. Hopping from timeline to timeline had been an education for him. He spent time seeing what it took to run a larger firm of his own and then what it was like to be in a leadership position in a much larger firm. He felt he was prepared for whatever outcome resulted from blowing the whistle on the Provenzas.
Now his thoughts went to the two things he seemingly couldn’t fix from this timeline. The death of his parents had already occurred. His marriage to Beth had already crumbled. He didn’t like the idea of abandoning both of these things, but he also knew that if he didn’t do something about the business, he may wake up in a jail cell back in the present.
It was about 7 P.M. when Joe got back to his apartment. He had done all that he could in this timeline. He decided that, since he would be returning to an uncertain timeline, he would make the most of his remaining time here. He opened his freezer and found a quart of his favorite ice cream. He took it into the living room, sat down in his chair and turned on the television. The Yankees were playing tonight. Even though he already knew the outcome of the game (the Yankees would win by five runs) he decided to finish out his time in this timeline eating ice cream and falling asleep in his favorite chair.
As he sank into the chair and savored the frozen mini peanut butter cups that were infused in his ice cream, a feeling of fatigue washed over him and he was soon asleep. After what seemed like five minutes, but was actually eight hours of deep sleep, Joe awoke in the same chair. He was disoriented at first. Did he somehow remain in the same timeline? If this trip through time was consistent with the others, he should have awoken about six months into the future after the final game in Maxwell stadium. Joe looked around him thinking that things had not changed at all.
He switched on his television and, after seemingly endless commercials, the anchors of Good Morning Pittsburgh came on. As they kicked it over to the meteorologist, Joe heard her talk about a prediction of an inch of snow. She said that they were on pace to break February records for snowfall. It had been late August when Joe went to sleep. February would be about right. As he looked around his apartment, he did see some things that had changed a bit. First, the stadium seat that he and Mike had mounted was in his living room. Second, the other furniture appeared to be new. Joe had apparently been replacing some of the worn items in the past six months.
He rubbed his eyes and decided to explore the rest of the apartment looking for changes. His bedroom also revealed new furniture including a new king-sized bed. In his office, he had a sleek new laptop attached to a large screen monitor. As he sat down at the new desk and jiggled his mouse, he was taken aback by the screen saver that appeared. It was a familiar logo from another timeline with the words ‘McLean and Associates’ in the center of the screen. Apparently, some changes had taken place. He decided to investigate the extent of what had occurred in the past six months by searching the local news. He was both amazed and encouraged by what he found.