by Sal Buttaci
He’d confessed it, but it did not wash the guilt away. Forgiveness came with a sincere act of repentance, not with tear-choked words of “I’m sorry.” To be right with God, Tieng Gonsalves knew he had to go to the police, tell them he had killed a man.
So many times he’d told himself he was recklessly young then –– nineteen –– and stupid. He’d warned Huber once too often, “Stay away from Zelma.”
“I’m not afraid to use this.” But Huber laughed. “You gonna kill me, Man? A broad who ain’t worth bustin’ a cap over?” But the anger inside Gonsalves was a rising barometer that burst with the firing of his gun.
He deserved the bullet, he told himself, deserved two more and got them. Then almost immediately he realized no amount of regret could raise the crumpled body back to life.
“Go easy with that, Gonsalves. It’s not a toy. One mistake you’ll be streaking across galactic ribbons like one of them bronco busters in the rodeos.”
Gonsalves nodded. The old inventor had recounted horror stories of how often things went awry out there. Men in this same seat, anxious for adventurous romps through time, tapped the wrong keys, and when the capsule returned seconds later, the seat was empty.
He’d be careful. He’d go back. He’d do it right this time. Dialing that precise date and moment prior to the murder, he tapped the key.
“I’m not afraid to use this,” he warned Huber, but Huber laughed. “You gonna kill me, Man? A broad who ain’t worth bustin’ a cap over?” But the anger climbing inside Gonsalves was a rising barometer that burst with the firing of his revolver.
Tapping now the glass plate on his programmed wrist timer, Gonsalves escaped Huber’s crumpled body. Instantaneously, he found himself once again in the seat of the time transporter in the old man’s basement lab.
“Thank Science you’re back. Anything worth seeing back there? An old flame? Your favorite teacher? Your maw and paw?”
Gonsalves sat pounding his fist into his open hand. And crying uncontrollably.