ETA . . . Yesterday or Tomorrow?

Marty had been driving for close to three hours before he noticed anything had changed.  His attention had been so focused on the large rotunda at Los Angeles International Airport that led to all the terminals’ pick-up and drop-off zones, he hadn’t noticed what else had been going on around him.  His girlfriend’s plane had been delayed departing from South Carolina because of a large woman in a wheelchair had gotten stuck at the airplane door, delayed at a stop-over in Houston while they waited for a replacement pilot since the original one had gotten sick, then had to take a detour mid-flight because of some ‘weather anomaly’ heading towards Los Angeles, and then delayed again at the gate for reasons unbeknown to him.

After forty minutes of circling through the airport, Marty had been ready to tell his girlfriend to call him when she was finally outside, and then go to a bar at the Holiday Inn down the street.  But she wouldn’t like that.  For one, she would insist on driving home since Marty had been known to knock back one or two or five or six drinks without a breath in between; and two, she had explicitly said she didn’t like waiting in the pick-up zone (something about the desperate cigarette smoke of the tar-breaths).  So Marty had stayed, not wanting to deal with a pissed off girlfriend after so much driving.

After an hour and twenty minutes, however, Marty had enough.  Unfortunately, it was one of those days in Los Angeles.  Marty was convinced that Southern California really had only five weather patterns: Perfect Sunshine, Rain, Too Much Sunshine, The Final Earthquake to End California, and Traffic.  On this day, the airport has been struck with a mighty trafficstorm and Marty had not been able to maneuver his way to the LAX exit before being put on the return road back to the terminals.  Bumpers bumped, horns honked, busses strong-armed onto the road, and pain-in-the-ass pedestrians were crossing wherever they felt like it.

After an hour and forty five minutes, what seemed to be lightning flashed around they airport.  This surprised Marty because there was not a single cloud in the sky.  He looked out his window to see if some power line had busted, but then had to swerve slightly to miss an elderly couple who were the road 20 feet away from the crosswalk.  He stuck his head out the window to apologize and saw the couple looking back at him in disappointment and regret, as if they had wanted to be hit.

After just over two hours, Marty did not care about picking up his girlfriend, nor about trying to exit the airport altogether; now it was about principle.  This traffic was a war, a rampage, and it was each man for himself.  Many cars would enter this arena, but only one would leave.  He intended on being that lone hero, and damned any automobile that dared cross his ire.

So Marty had not noticed when the cars had begun to change.  It was nothing any normal person could pick out, because many cars from the early 2000’s all the way back to the 1980’s were still widely used in this day and age, and it was not so unusual to see them on the road.  The advertisements on the busses had begun to change as well, from The Dark Knight Rises, to the rerelease of Titanic, to Harry Potter, to Shrek, to the original release of Titanic, and so on.  But these advertisements could only be seen on the side of busses, and Marty had not been paying attention.

It wasn’t until Marty had stopped just short of running over a tall, black man in a red disco outfit, who had said, “Watch where you’re going, you fucking honky!” that he clued into his surroundings.

Something was definitely different about the place.  It looked older, somehow.  No, not older, because everything was clean and looked like it had just been made.  No, things looked . . . retro.  He started to pull over, but the traffic was still a nightmare, and so he just kept circling.

But after three and a half hours, Marty found that the more he kept going in circles the more dated everything became.  The planes flying over head began to get smaller.  The styles of clothing he saw at the terminals began to look like stuff out of some Norman Rockwell painting.  A newspaper, carried on a gust of wind, flew into his window and onto his face.  He pulled it off and glanced at a headline saying ‘EISENHOWER REFERS TO ASIA AS A COMMUNIST DOMINO” before chucking it back out the window.

Traffic had finally started to die down, but Marty was afraid to stop now.  While a Prius in his day and age was a normal sight to see, in the 1940’s it would look like some sort of spacecraft.  It did look like some sort of space craft, and many people were gawking and eyeing him as he drove through the airport.  He looked at himself in the rearview mirror and realized that he was almost as shocking as his car; a hipster-wannabe, with a styled beard, pierced nose, tattoos crawling up his neck, in a tank-top with “My Little Pony” stamped on the front.  No, getting out was no longer an option.

Could he turn around?  Maybe driving the other direction would send him back to his own time.  It was an option, but then he would be driving against traffic, and while he could dodge the few amount of cars on the road now, he was not so sure he could forgo a head on collision once he got closer to his time, and then he’s really be stuck.

He could just stop and start living in the current time.  Sure, he would look strange, but he had gotten paid this past Tuesday (or will get paid, once he’s born), and Marty had cashed it all and filled his wallet.  That money could go a long way in the current time, and he could just hop on a plane to Asia or some Caribbean Island, where his look might not be so foreign.  And with his knowledge of future events, he could probably make a fortune with very little effort.  Hell, he might even be able to set up a trust fund for himself, his future self, so that the would-be-he would never have to worry about money after college.

The idea was entertaining, but Marty doubted he could pull it off.  Sure he could make some money, but he was finding it hard to come to grips with never having the internet again.  WWII, Vietnam?  No problem.  A life without cute cat pictures and YouTube?

“Not on your life,” Marty said, and sped up.

After four hours, Marty was in the mid-1940’s, and both the car traffic and air traffic had died down.  Twenty minutes after that, the airport celebrated its opening.  Twenty minutes after that, and there was no airport.

Even though it was over bare dirt, Marty kept driving in circles.  He was grateful that he had filled his tank before coming to the airport and that his car was a hybrid.  He didn’t know how much longer he could go, and he didn’t want to get stuck, but he felt he had no other choice but to keep going.  He just hoped that time was actually cyclular instead of a straight line, and that he would eventually end up where he left off.  Sure, it was some shoddy sci-fi plot line from an episode of SG-1, but it’s all Marty had to go on.

He flipped through the case of CDs he kept in his car.  He found the soundtrack to Jurassic Park, stuck it in the player, hit the accelerator, and began waiting for the dinosaurs. 

Phil and Rosco on a Lazy Sunday

Phil and Rosco are in a car, with Phil driving.  It is a bright sunny day.

PHIL: I’m so glad we are getting to hang out together.

ROSCO: I know, right?

PHIL: It’s been forever since we’ve spent time together.

ROSCO: Not since that weekend I made us both get drunk on absinth start digging to China.

PHIL: Yeah.  So what do you want to do?

ROSCO:  I don’t know.  Anything.

PHIL:  You told me you had a couple of ideas, some things to do to have fun.

ROSCO:  Ehhhhhh, they mostly had to do with sneaking into movie theatres and pretending we worked there.

PHIL: That . . . doesn’t sound very fun.

ROSCO: And so I’m up for anything.


PHIL:  Ooooooooooooookay.


PHIL:  Do you want to see a movie?


PHIL:  How about the Pineapple Grille?  We usually have fun there.

ROSCO:  I’m not allowed back there anymore.

PHIL:  What?  Why?

ROSCO:  There was some . . .  uh, unpleasantness.

PHIL:  Ummmm . . . okay.


PHIL:  Well, let’s just drive around until we think of something.


ROSCO:  Okay.

Pause.  They drive by a Bentley Auto Dealership.

ROSCO:  Hey!  I got an idea!

PHIL:  Yeah?

ROSCO:  Do you like stealing?


PHIL:  Ummmm, no.

ROSCO:  What?

PHIL: I don’t like stealing.

ROSCO:  Oh.  (Pause.)  Nevermind then.  I got nothing.

They continue to drive in silence.


PHIL:  No!


End of scene.


The Truth of Things

(based off of a joke I heard ten years ago.)

ROGER stands in front of a desk, waiting for ELAINE to answer.  He’s a well built man, good looking but not dashing, just a normal guy.

Let’s say a guy named Roger is attracted to a woman named Elaine.

Elaine sits at her desk, looking at Roger, thinking.  She is an attractive woman, almost out of Roger’s league.

He asks her out to a movie –

Elaine nods her head.

– she accepts –

Roger and Elaine come out of the movie theater.  She is hanging on his arm and they are both laughing.

– and they have a pretty good time.  A few nights later he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves.

Roger and Elaine are sitting outside, eating at a table and enjoying each other.

They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither one of them is seeing anybody else.

Along with his lamp, clock, phone and watch, a picture of Elaine is on top of his nightstand.

Next to her computer and coffee cup, a picture of her and Roger smiling resides in a frame.

Roger’s car zooms along the street as he takes Elaine home after an evening of fun.

Roger and Elaine sit chatting.

And then one evening while they’re driving home, a thought occurs to Elaine.

Do you realize that, as of tonight, we’ve been seeing each other for exactly six months?

Roger doesn’t seem to react.

And then there is silence in the car.  And to Elaine, it seems like a very loud silence.  She thinks –

I wonder if it bothers him that I said that.  Maybe he’s been feeling confined by our relationship.  Maybe he thinks I’m trying to crush him into some kind of obligation that he doesn’t want or isn’t sure of.

And Roger is thinking –

Wow.  Six months.

But I’m not so sure I want this kind of relationship either.  Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I had time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are.  And where are we going?  Are we heading towards marriage?  Towards children?!  To a lifetime together?  Am I ready for that level of commitment?  Do I even know this person?

So, that means it was . . . let’s see . . . February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealer’s, which means –

The odometer reads a high number.

– Whoa!  I am way overdue for an oil change.

Roger is looks down a little, and then looks out the window a little perturbed.

He’s upset.  I can see it on his face.  Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment.  Maybe he’s sensed, even before I sensed it, that I had reservations.  That’s why he’s so reluctant to say anything, he’s afraid of being rejected.

I’m going to have them look at the transmission again.  I don’t care what they say, it’s still not shifting right.  And they can’t blame it on the cold weather.  What cold weather?  It’s 87 degrees and this thing is shifting like a garbage truck, and I paid those incompetent thieves $600.

Roger looks irritated.

He’s angry.  I’d be angry too.  I feel so guilty putting him through this, but I can’t help the way I feel.  I’m just not sure.

They’ll probably say it’s only a 90-day warranty . . . fuckwads.

Elaine looks out the window at the passing street.  The sidewalks are empty.

Maybe I’m just too idealistic waiting for the knight to come riding up on his white horse, when sitting right next to me –

Roger is looks very upset, and he stares straight out in front of him and not paying attention to anything.

– a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with and truly care about and who seems to truly care about me; A person who is in pain because of my self-centered, romantic school girl fantasy.

Elaine looks down.

They want what? Warranty?  I’ll give them one.  I’ll take my warranty and shove straight up their –



Don’t torture yourself like this.  Maybe I should have never . . . Oh God.  I feel so –

Elaine starts to sob.  Roger looks at her concerned, but confused.


I’m such a fool.  I mean, I know there’s no knight.  I really know that.  It’s silly.  There’s no knight, no horse.

(puzzled)  There’s no horse?

You think I’m a fool, don’t you?

And Roger says –


– glad to finally know what the conversation was about.

It’s just that . . . I need some time.

Roger stops at a stop sign.

With the victory of his sure answer fading quickly, Roger thinks fast for a safe response.


Oh Roger, do you really feel that way?

What way?

That way about time?

Oh.  (a beat)  Yes.

Elaine turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to be very nervous about what she might say next –

Elaine turns to face him, her eyes watery.

– especially if it involves a horse.

Thank you Roger.

Thank you.

Roger, relieved but confused, starts to drive again.

Roger drives up in the drive way and let’s her out.  She walks around to his side of the car.  He rolls down the window, and she kisses him, long and sweetly.  Then she goes to her front door and goes in, as Roger drives away.

Elaine takes off her coat and lays down her purse.  Then she falls on her bed, grabs her pillow, hugs it and starts to sob.

Roger takes Elaine home and when he leaves, she lies on her bed, conflicted and shaken, she weeps till dawn.

Roger, dressed in his pajamas, sits on his couch with a bag of chips and turns on the TV.

When Roger gets back to his place, he opens a bag of Doritos and immediately becomes deeply involved in a rerun of a tennis match between two Czechoslovakians he has never heard of before.

Roger stops paying attention to the game, and just stares off into space, thinking hard.

A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on back in the car, but he is pretty sure there is no way he would ever understand what, and so he figures it’s better if he doesn’t think about it.

Roger shakes his head and devotes his attention back to the TV.

Elaine is sitting, with a cup of tea in her hands.

The next day Elaine calls her closest friend –

FRIEND 1 sits at the kitchen table, setting down some cheesecake.

– or perhaps two of them –

FRIEND 2 sits down next to Friend 1, setting down a plate of pepperoni, sliced cheese and crackers.  The three women sit at the table, eating, drinking tea and talking.

– and they will talk about this situation for hours.  In great detail they will analyze everything that was said, going over it time and time again; Exploring every word, expression and gesture for nuances, considering every possible ramification.  They will continue to discuss the subject – off and on, for weeks, maybe months, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored with it either.

Roger and NORM play a heated game of racquetball.  Before his next serve, Roger pauses and looks at Norm.

Meanwhile, Roger, while playing racquetball one day with a mutual friend of his and Elaine’s, will pause just before serving, frown, and say –

Norm, did Elaine ever own a horse?

And that is the difference between men and women.