prompt: bag, title: double fantasy in (just like) starting over flash fiction

  • June 7, 2023, 9:44 p.m.
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  • Public

After peppering Dakota with condolences and concerns, the shorter balder of the adoptive uncles turned his attention to the lightly-singed Bobby, still in that folding chair, attempting to will eight Advil down his upper gastrointestinal tract. Phil stared at the much younger man, wanting to say something but not knowing what. Bobby started their conversation for him. “John’s still alive on this world?” “Lunched with him yesterday,” Phil lit one of those cheap cigarettes for himself, “at least as far as yesterday noonish, yes,” his interest rose, “you’re saying Johnny’s dead in a lot of parallel timelines?” “Most of them, yeah,” Bobby dry-gulped again, trying to get painkillers into his blood, “where I come from, he was assassinated winter of 1980.”

“Oh!” Phil remarked, “The CIA sleeper fake crazy fan?” “Yeah,” Bobby grunted, getting three of the pills all the way down, “more or less.” “Oh,” Phil said again softly, “they tried that here but it didn’t stick. Nasty throat injuries, barely talks, mostly writes things down or lets Dakkie speak his mind for him, but as far as yesterday lunch, Lennon’s alive.”

“Huh,” Bobby thought then smiled, “Dakkie?” “Look,” Phil lit a second cigarette and began to smoke both, “not many women named Dakota, let alone not after the states, rather the building she was conceived in, we had to create her nicknames on the fly, time-traveler.” “Fair,” Bobby whispered, “Dakkie.” “Hey!” Dakota yelled then turned back to conversation with Uncle Kurt.

“Do you know who I-” “Phil Dick, novelist, mentally-ill, maybe his genes, maybe all the drugs, who could say? Big fan of your work. Visited your grave in Colorado, next to your baby sister, buried in the town where she died. Left my White Plains library card there as tribute.”

Phil, gob-smacked, lit a third cigarette. “Look, the first fifty dozen times I met my heroes I was a damned fanboy, but everything gets old eventually. Everything but me.” Philip offered that third cigarette to Bobby, which he politely declined. “I’m,” Phil said finally, “just really surprised they honored my request.” “You had a stroke in Santa Ana California in the early ‘80s, if I remember right. You went peacefully.” “That’s,” Phil paused, “good to know? I had a vision then, of angels and aliens telling me it should be my time but somehow it wasn’t yet.” “Always listen to the aliens,” Bobby said, “angels are goddamned crapshoots.”

“Huh.” Phil said. “You got to see Bladerunner?” Bobby asked. “I mean,” Phil smiled, “they got everything literally wrong and everything metaphorically right. I liked it.” “I have a thirty-five-millimeter print of the sequel in my bag, if you have a projector, if you ever give my bag back.”

“Is that the departure point from your Earth, then, in your world Hinkley was a better shot and killed John?” Bobby blinked. “No, in my time, the guy who killed John was named Chapman.”

“Ohhhhh,” the math finally clicked for Phil, “no, here, that’s the CIA asset who iced Reagan.”

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