Excuse me, Sir. Visiting hours will be over soon.
The nurse standing next to me was earnest in blue. The cheery matching floral uniform top belied the antiseptic smell of chemistry and the otherwise thin line between life and death. I didn’t realize how much energy I was expending upon this decision until my feverish fingers felt the shock of cold metal as they surrounded the handle to the entrance of the patient’s room
Time stood still but my thoughts raced around my head like Jeff Gordon at the Daytona Speedway.
My cell phone vibrating cut through the moment like lightning through a summer thunderstorm. Upon pulling it from my pocket, a mere glance at the screen revealed the number blinking at me like a lighthouse warning a ship in rough waters about the rocky reef dead ahead.
A phone. That’s what brought me here.
It had started out like any other beautiful Southern California day. I drove my Porsche down Pacific Coast Highway towards Santa Monica and made sure the top was down. I pulled in to the parking lot to my assigned spot near the door and non-chillingly pulled out my briefcase and the security badge. I wasn’t worried about time. Being a VP has its advantages.
Such as an office overlooking the grand Pacific and an assistant like Pam. Even the fours and fives in this town beat out an eight most anywhere else. Not to say Pam was anything but a fine young lady, but this town was full of them. However, seeing the look currently upon Pam’s usually cheerful face definitely created an instant mood like when the DJ accidentally scratches a record during your favorite song.
I’m sorry. He said he was a detective. Nice badge. He insisted on speaking with you. I took him in and gave him some coffee. He says he has some questions.
I reassured her as I boldly walked in and introduced myself. In this day and age the front lines of battle have changed. Business is under attack on several fronts, so a detective asking questions of a company officer wasn’t as unusual as it may seem. However, the lack of company public relations and legal personnel quickly led me to other conclusions regarding his questions.
He stated it was personal.
And this began the journey that now placed me at the hospital during waning visitation hours contemplating a ripple in the time-space continuum.
He was standing in my office in his Levi’s Dockers and knock-off designer polo with the department’s logo over his heart, admiring the décor like a kid forced to be at the museum when I walked in and greeted him while setting down my briefcase on my modern looking acrylic desktop etched with a nautical star.
Do you have the time?
He thought he’d broken the ice with a clever pun only to find he was already working up from a deficit in culture and upbringing.
Actually, these aren’t clocks, well in the sense of telling time. They’re marine chronometers. They measure distance based on time. I’m a collector.
And my time’s a wasting
Another pun and poor attempt to cover his ignorance with a macho false bravado through humor.
He quickly launched into the reasons which brought him to my office on this otherwise impeccable morning.
There had been an accident the previous evening. A hit and run. A young woman had been seriously injured and was in hospital. She wasn’t identifiable from the scene as she had only been carrying a cell phone. The phone sim chip had been damaged so numbers couldn’t be extracted, however, a couple of photos were available.
At this point I could not see anything clear about this visit except that time was getting away from me and there was much to be done on the new logic system I was developing for a more reliable marine navigation system. Not that any life should ever be considered trivial by any means, but the story was beginning to bore me. I could probably turn on the television and catch a program with a similar story, whether real or imagined, at any point in this conversation. It was an interesting and sad story, however, merely a sign of the times. It was more likely today for people to be carrying a cell phone and be more communicative without saying anything or ever really connecting though the irony of the commercials epitomizing connectedness through cell communication. Today’s connections had tethers. And yet, I still had not the pleasure of understanding why I was relevant to the story the detective was currently relating in my office this particular story of disconnectedness.
How does this relate to me?
The answer was as shocking as if I’d been tazed. For one who is a technology strategist, who deals with atomic time and business cycle measurement, what the detective revealed was out of sync with my current life data. Quite simply it appeared a random deterministic event was about to exponentially affect my life in much the same way a butterfly which flaps its wings in Africa causes weather chaos in the Southern US.
My photo was on her phone?
Suddenly I was flooded with questions like a breakwater cresting over a levy in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Who was this woman? My picture was on her phone? What photo was it? Had I had a photo taken with her randomly at some event of which I had no other recollection? How did she get my photo?
I was curious. Who wouldn’t be? A seemingly random stranger had my photo. Was she stalking me? Even more curious, could it possibly be that we actually did know each other? The detective wished to know as well.
The photo itself only further piqued my interest in this woman and her connection to me. I recognized it immediately. An odd choice, as odd as the moment it captured. Me on vacation, caught randomly. Me, just being me. Not serious. Not smiling or laughing. Me alone, framed by an empty baby blue sky.
It was the specificity in the randomness that caught my attention. This wasn’t logical, however, there’s an old adage that states that everything happens for a reason. Was the universe now forcing me to pay attention to something I might otherwise have missed? What purpose could it serve? Whatever was possibly a reason for this, it had to serve a purpose.
I suppose my curiosity is what got the best of me and that’s why I found myself taking a long lunch hour. I suppose it was my male hunting instinct that found me in the flower shop attempting to nervously locate the perfect bouquet that would convey the right sentiment in the right way. But what sentiment? I suppose I owed myself an answer.
And now, here I was. I didn’t know what to say or feel. I’d visited with her in her shop, her workspace. For years we’d dabbled in polite conversation , often to pass the time as I’d waited. Admittedly, we’d both indulged in overt flirty behaviors towards each other. That was how she had found the photo of me. I had given her the web url where the photos were uploaded. I had given her the bread crumbs and dared her to follow the trail. I never thought…
And now I stood outside the door wondering if it really was a wise idea to proceed with this encounter. I felt like I was five again, standing on the playground on Valentine’s Day with my first Valentine card in my hand not knowing if I should give it away or rip it into tiny little pieces of red and white confetti and go back to playing kick the can.
Distance is a funny thing. At times you can feel so close to another human being and at others – like now, the other side of the door felt as if the Milky Way were between us. Time and distance are measurable and yet inextricably woven into abstract concepts interpreted only by the mind of the individual experiencing them.
Man had been fascinated by the abstract concept of tim for his entire existence.
Consider that man’s own existence in the cosmos was merely a series of recorded events. Conversely, it might be possible to intimate that if its not recorded it never happened and therefore does not exist.
What people do not realize is that they are a time machine. While flesh and blood cannot actually move forward or backward in time, evidence that we have been or will be at some fixated point in time space is all around us.
Such as the photo on the phone. It is evidence of my visiting that particular time space. As vivid as the day it was taken. A time travel souveneir. I cannot travel back there, but I can carry the photo forward with me as evidence I at one time existed there on that day on that beach.
The future may be affected by past recorded actions. If I write a letter, evidence of my feelings and thoughts at a moment in the past, it will bring forward with it those energies into the future when the letter is received.
So does time command me or do I command it?
Can a souvenier affect the time space of one for whom it wasn’t meant? Such as the photo on the phone.
No matter the pontification in my head, my passing through the door was going to change time space for me. For both of us. I would soon have to decide if the reward outweighed the risk.
Quite probably I had placed too much emphasis on this meeting. I was a concerned acquaintance. Nothing more. It was the police who had the photo. But for her accident, I would have been none the wiser. She didn’t know I knew and if I didn’t mention it, did that make me a coward?
I looked down at the knuckles on my hand as it rested on the door handle. They were slightly white. I had been psychosomatically thinking and the not realizing how hard I was holding on to the handle. I released the handle and turned my hand, palm facing upward and noticed the damp moistness of sweat before closing it in a clench of determination.
As much as my photo didn’t belong on her phone, I did not belong here. Not now. Not like this. There was nothing to gain by walking through the door beyond self-indulgent whims and the fecundity of forbidden fruit tasted at the peak of ripeness. The by product of optical illusions born of fiber optic cables and man-made power sources. Like wishes, dreams and faith.
As I passed the nurses desk I dropped the flowers on the counter and continued towards the elevator and the exit. After all, if it wasn’t recorded, it never happened, right?