Well, it’s been 41 weeks of stream of consciousness writing that has resulted in just over 74,000 words in a story that was both fun and challenging to write. As I look back over the early parts of the story, there are things I would change and things I would expand. I also see things that need to be fixed.
Some of you have gone on this journey with me offering words of encouragement and edits. I have appreciated it. Look for Extra Innings to be a book at some point in the future. I am first going to go back through it and fix the continuity problem and expand the story where it can be more fun and where it makes sense.
Thanks again for going through this with me. I am going to continue weekly writing, but it will be something different. This is my second serial that will become a book and it’s hard work. On the plus side, it’s given me a deadline to meet each week, but sometimes things have felt rushed and not quite the way I envisioned it. Now it’s time to fix it.
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, Part 36, Part 37, Part 38, Part 39, Part 40
Beth was a beautiful woman. As Joe reached to hold her a hug she enthusiastically returned his embrace. Their kisses were deep and passionate as they were when they first met. They made love in the early haze of the sunrise and Joe was surprised at the hunger they both felt after what would have been over 20 years of being together.
Beth had stayed in shape and Joe appreciated her body which was a bit softer and more ample in her 40s.
“It’s nice to have the house to ourselves, isn’t it Joe?” Beth said as they basked in the afterglow.
“Um, it is,” Joe said with a bit of uncertainty.
“With Rene and Joe Junior off at college, I was a bit lonely in this big house without them, but mornings like this make up for it.”
Rene and Joe Junior? Joe was both ecstatic and sad. He had conceived and raised children with Beth, but he had essentially missed their growing up because of his timeline hopping. He had learned there were pros and cons with time travel. So far, in this timeline, the pros far outweighed the cons. Two of his three goals seemed to have worked out quite well.
Joe confirmed this. After he and Beth drank cups of coffee, he decided to do some checking on his computer to see if things were consistent in this timeline. He went off to his office while Beth went off to shower.
A quick check told him that McLean and Associates was, indeed, doing very well. Mike was the Chief Information Officer. One change that he did not expect was that the office manager was Beth McLean. Not only had he successfully kept his marriage to Beth alive with two of their children in college, she was part of the family business. This exceeded Joe’s hope and dreams for the timeline. He had done what he set out to do. He felt like he needed to work out. His body in this timeline was fit and healthy with the ingrained habit for exercising that comes from doing it consistently.
He went off to tell Beth. She was out of the shower in a soft terry cloth robe toweling her hair dry. Joe couldn’t resist the urge to embrace her.
“Wow, what was that for?” Beth asked.
“You just make me happy. I just felt like giving you a hug.”
“Well, that’s fine, but don’t try to keep me here. I’ve got to get into the office.”
“The office, why? It’s a Saturday.”
“Don’t you remember? I’m interviewing new executive assistant candidates. Jeez, Joe, we just went to Carmela’s retirement party last night.”
“I forgot. I didn’t think you’d be doing it this soon.”
“If I don’t, I’ll end up doing the job, and I don’t want that. I’m extremely motivated to find someone to start Monday,” Beth said with a mischievous smile.
“Do you think any of the candidates are any good?”
Beth looked at Joe with amusement.
“Well, you interviewed all three of them. These are the three you and Mike selected, so I hope they’re good.”
“I know, I just wanted your take,” Joe said trying to recover.
“Well, you’ll have it when I get done. They were all interns with us, so I think we have a good group to pick from.”
“That’s great. Do you need me to come with you?” Joe asked.
“No. In fact, I prefer you don’t. I know what you and Mike need to keep you organized much better than either one of you. I’ll give you my input and you guys will have the final say,” she said with that same mischievous look.
“What?” Joe asked.
“Well, if you don’t pick the one that I recommend, you guys will be in trouble.”
“Well, I’m going to go work out. I’ve got to keep in shape for you, you know.”
“If we keep having mornings like we did today, you better keep in shape,” Beth said.
Joe was on cloud 9 as he went down to the workout room. After a thirty-minute run on the treadmill and thirty minutes of weight training, he body was simultaneously fatigued and energized. He let the hot water run over his muscles in the shower and felt them loosen as they recovered. Joe left the bathroom and went into the master bedroom to get dressed. Just as he was pulling on a sweater, Joe heard the front doorbell ring.
Joe walked down the staircase to the front entry. As he looked through the glass on the side of the door, he saw two men in dark suits and long overcoats waiting for him to answer. Joe’s mind started racing. What had happened with the business. These guys looked like cops or worse. Was the FBI looking into something to do with his company?
Joe opened the door. When he saw the faces of the men at the door, the first thing that occurred to him was that he knew one of them.
“Bob Armstrong, is that you?”
“It is, Joe.”
“I haven’t seen you since high school, but I’d know you anywhere.”
“What’s this about? Is there a high school reunion or something?”
“No, Joe. I wish it was.”
Joe didn’t like the tone of his old high school classmate’s voice or the serious look on the faces of the men.
“Well, what is it?” Joe asked expecting the worst. The answer was beyond the worst.
“Joe, it’s your wife, Beth.”
“She’s not here right now. She’s at the office doing interviews.”
“Actually Joe, that’s why we’re here. She didn’t make it in to the office.”
“What? Why? What happened?”
Beth had pulled out of the driveway and was on her way to the office. As she navigated her way down Route 5, a two lane highway with wooded land on either side, a semi from Lackawana Specialty Services was traveling west. As the truck driver nodded off from too little rest and too many driving hours, the truck drifted into the eastbound lane. Beth saw it, but it was too late. Her choices were to hit the semi head on or steer sharply off the road. She opted for the latter and struck a tree head on. She was killed instantly.
If you were able to float up to the second-floor window of a lakefront house in Western Pennsylvania on any given day, you would see a sad, broken old man sitting in an ancient baseball stadium seat. You would have to look quickly, however, as he is only sitting there for a moment and then disappears. Every day he has a dogeared, yellowed Langerton Chiefs program book on his lap. Some are from the same games he has been to many times. Others are from games he has only been to once or twice. He keeps returning to them hoping to find a single thread that he can pull on to create the ideal life and future. He doesn’t have many years left now. The constant time travel and repeated disappointment has aged him well beyond his years, but, as long as he is alive, he needs to keep trying.
When it comes to numbers and thinking logically, he is a smart man. Almost brilliant. When it comes to life and not being able to distinguish between luck and a curse, he has no clue.