Sal Buttaci does it again, and without using word at all!




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.

26 thoughts on “Sal Buttaci does it again, and without using word at all!

  1. Parisianne Modert says:

    “Redemption” by Sal Buttaci time travels us in a loop where a crime committed in rage cannot be undone, however years of guilt and shame are redeemed by a proposed act of confession to the police after seeing his actions in his youth repeated.

    Haven’t we all done things in our youth to other people we would like to have a chance to reverse after we see them better with age and maturity? I believe the power within “Redemption” is not the murder, nor the time travel, the lack of success of reversing it, but the arriving of a moral reconciliation with himself.

    I am always drawn to the inner psyche of how people process their lives and how they arrive at the decisions which motivate their behaviors. I wasn’t quite sure why Gonsalves if truly repentant couldn’t stop the murder upon returning just prior to the repeating of the bullets being fired, but it would be interested to learn more about this in another segment of “Redemption”.

    In my opinion Mr. Buttaci’s story could be either a stand alone or be expanded upon which I admire along with the storyline.

  2. Salvatore Buttaci says:

    Prisianne, Gonsalves can go back in time, but once there he learns he can do nothing to change events. He can repeat them like reruns repeat, but to not kill Huber would be to upset the track of time, creating parallel worlds perhaps, or worse, transform the world Gonsalves returns to into the unrecognizable. Another possibility: he returns to the murder scene to make things right and Huber murders him! He may be repentant but he cannot be forgiven for an act he wants so much to eradicate from ever having occurred.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Time travel has intrigued me since before my college days and continues to. Personally, I think it would be a curious tale if Gonsalves returns to the scene of the crime, the first bullet is still shot, but the other two are stopped. Huber loses a lot of blood, but does not die. Gonsalves returns to the parallel present in the basement. In the meantime Huber has survived, but had a memory loss as to who shot him.

      Gonsalves turns himself into the police and jailed while the police investigate such an ancient crime. As they do a now elderly guard who is Huber has a memory flashback upon conversing with Gonsalves. Will Huber forgive Gonsalves, because of the attempt to stop the murder or murder Gonsalves realizing that the first attempted murder would have been a blessing given how Huber’s life and those around him had turned out because he did live.

      I am a fan of a futurist police detective in written series known as “In Death” by J.D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts). Your story reminded me of this series. I congratulate you Mr. Buttaci, because a story that stimulates the readers mind to stay engaged and involved is a success.

  3. Joe says:

    Great flash piece on time travel and a more than bit of noir. Sal, you may have just created a new genre! Well done, brother!

  4. Micki Peluso says:

    I love time travel and believe it is possible. Sal shows us how things cannot be undone, even by going back to try and change them. Excellent flash fiction which may or may not be enhanced by expanding into a longer piece. The beauty of this work is it’s finality–a real think piece.

  5. Diane Cresswell says:

    Oh Sal it is sooooo good to read your stories again. And another that is fabulous. I love time travel but also know as you stated… it interrupts the timeline. So we’ll done.

  6. Miryam says:

    “….streaking across galactic ribbins”
    Your words move way off the peramiters of a computer screen!

    So good.

  7. Diana Diehl says:

    Salvatore, it’s so wonderful to read your story of a man staring guilt squarely in the face.!

    I had to read it several times to capture the nuances. I am a fan of speculative fiction about time travel and did not see anything in your story that made me think he *could* not change events. Or rather, that that fact mattered. What I took away was that he *did* not. Because this story is about redemption for, not alteration of an act of anger.

    The story starts with an examination of guilt: “Forgiveness came with a sincere act of repentance.” No simple “sorry” would suffice. He experiences regret after the initial event, even confession. But regret and guilt visit their victims in varying degrees. It’s clear he did not deem his own guilt sufficient.

    However, he returns from the second performance to truly repent his action, “crying uncontrollably.” He feels his contrition down to his bones. He could not or would not save the callous Huber, but he saved himself.

    [Continued in next comment]

    • Diana Diehl says:

      This psychological time loop jumped out at me with more clarity than the action time loop–the closing of an open-ended emotional circuit by true realization and deep sorrow not experienced the first time through.

      I am a ‘many worlds’/parallel worlds proponent and think that any change in a time line would simply represent jumping the track to an alternate set of circumstances, assuming all possibilities exist, if time were traversable at all. But that’s all speculation.

      In addition to congratulating you on your intriguing plot, I’d like to compliment you on your three-act story delivery. It created in my mind a triptych of redemption: The angry young man holding the gun to wield his foolish justice; the man seated in the mysterious invention grimly focused on his compulsion to return to the scene of the crime; and finally the crying man, transforming sorrow and acceptance into forgiveness. Powerful stuff.

  8. Mike Casper says:

    Returning in time to make things right requires a different heart. A changed heart. Resolve. Action.
    I ‘m still mulling over it’s nuances. Good write, Sal. Thanks.

  9. Dr. Van Heckling says:

    Gonsalves like many before him returned to the scene of the crime, over and over in his mind and then again to satisfy his rational for doing what offended himself in first place? Returning to appease his deep seeded need to create an amend or justify his rational? His emotional outburst, the same as before or an added bonus lesson in futility? Nice!

  10. Michael Stang says:

    Terrific to hear your talent again. I am not a great fan of time travel. Anything close to Einstein’s riddles and my eyes cross. Oops, sorry, bet that is painful to think about. However it was not a deterrent from the thrill of the ride.

  11. Tiffany V says:

    So worth the read man. Congratulations for winning. Sci-fi and morality place. Reminds me of the Twilight Zone. Man there are some good frickin’ writers here.

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