The Basics of Time Travel appeared in The Golden Hour Book II, alongside a number of more talented writers than myself and at least one hotter one. I came up with the title out of nowhere, wrote a seemingly unrelated story, then probably got drunk, then determined that it actually did make sense to call it The Basics of Time Travel.
You can judge whether I was right by reading it below.
The Basics of Time Travel
Jason Harrison Morton
College kids just moved in across the street; now they’re having a party. I can see them smoking by the front door, the girls in short skirts, cold autumn air, I can see how they want to be fucked. Play with them first, make like you love them; breathe heavier when you’re near the ear.
I sit in my window and think about fucking eighteen-year-olds for a good five minutes. Till the cigarette’s dead. These kids ain’t thinking about work, any of it. They wanna drink, chat, flirt and fuck, in no particular order. And there’s no law against it.
So I walk to the kitchen, grab a half a fifth of whiskey and lock the door on the way out. I do my best to not make a beeline for their front door. There’s people filling the lawn, though, and I put a cigarette in my mouth. I even go so far as to fake looking for a lighter.
I approach a girl with blond hair over black, a black-and-white striped shirt making her look maybe a little thicker than she actually is. “Hey babe, gotta light?”
She’s got friends around but smiles, handing me the lighter with her pinky slightly raised. I like that. It’s a cheap one and it just chik-chiks when I try to light it.
“Need a hand with that thing?” She asks.
“Here … it needs the magic touch.”
She gets the flame going and I light up with my head cocked to the side; I can see her looking on from the corner of my eye.
She says, “Where ya headed with that bottle?”
“Don’t know,” I say. “What’s shakin’ here?”
She mentions some names that I forget as soon as I hear them. She says I should stick around, if I want. I do and we chat about movies and college, music and college, her parents, her classes and college. And am I in college? I think to play the part for a minute, but quickly decide I’m not that good a liar. Girl seems pretty quick, she’d probably know, so I tell her I been done with that scene for a while now. She keeps talkin’ like that don’t matter. And that bottle of mine keeps getting lower. And lower. She kisses me on the cheek and says, “I gotta piss.”
God, I love them classy broads.
She’s gone, and now some weaselly-looking little shit asks me for a light, and I think, Yeah, why not another? So we ask around and find one. And he’s a pretty funny kid, moved up from Chicago, and we end up chatting for quite a while.
And the party dies all around us without us really noticing. When I go inside to piss and hopefully steal a beer or two, there’s a few people in the kitchen (how do the stragglers always end up in the kitchen?) and bodies passed out in the kind of humidity that only comes from a party with too many people.
I talk to the stragglers for a minute, while a girl at the table peels the label off a half-finished MGD. Looks like she’s peeled one too many. One of the guys has a half-hour slot on the local ‘alternative’ radio station. The other guy’s older brother went to my high school, starting four years after I finished. This one’s a freshman at the university now, and try as I might, I don’t give a shit. I make a quick break for the bathroom and drain into the toilet, getting that shake that always comes with a real good piss, the slight leg twitch, just wondering when it’s gonna end, and come back out—fuck washing hands at this hour.
The fridge is all condiments and milk. A dozen cans of Coke, give or take. And who keeps a damn cantaloupe in the fridge? But more importantly, no beer. I can see why this crowd thinned out. The girl’s still peeling the label off the MGD, the fluid level still the same, when I ask, “You done with this?”
I barely wait for a reply before taking it and draining it, washing away that whiskey and stale smoke taste with the lukewarm beer. Nod at the stragglers on the way out of the kitchen.
The living room looks like a damn battlefield, kids laid out on everything that won’t move, chairs, couches, a table, the floor. And I see the blond-over-black cozied up next to some punk more her age, at least the right decade. They’re both asleep and she looks as good as ever with her eyes shut, the arm he’s wrapped around her pushing up her breasts. I walk over closer, thinking that maybe I could wake her up and get her over to my place with the promise of a clean and clear bed. I think better of it by the time I get there, but I’m not sober enough to talk myself outta giving her a quick kiss on the forehead before I go, giving me a sweet second to smell the flower scent in her hair.
The boy wakes up for a moment, looks me in the eyes. He might’ve been pissed for all I know, but I take my head back slowly just the same. “I’m her uncle,” I say, returning to the spent-liquor atmosphere, and his eyes close. (okay, okay, but what does he do? does he say something? surely he’s not going to just lie there and watch this guy fuck with his girl)
The weaselly shit’s still standing on the lawn when I walk out.
“Fuck, man,” he says, “Where’d everybody go?”
I keep on walking. “Home.”