Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: March 28, 2021

Mateo was devastated to find out that he had killed his father. His mother assured him that he was “an old man” and it had absolutely nothing to do with the time jump. This was, of course, completely ridiculous. Old or not, Randall had died at the exact moment that he had tried to travel through time by holding Mateo close. Leona pointing out that he didn’t die until getting to the hospital, but that did nothing to dissuade Mateo from his position on the matter. He had ruined Kyle’s life during the first jump, and he couldn’t be sure as of yet that retaining his friendship with Leona wasn’t detrimental to her happiness. And now this. He needed to get away from those he loved. Things would only get worse. The leaving part wasn’t what was hurting them. It was the constant returning. It was time to rip off the band aid. As long as they didn’t know where he was come midnight, they would never be able to find him.
In the meantime, Carol gave him a suit so that they could visit his father’s grave. They were going to hold a belated private ceremony for Mateo’s benefit. They had asked the priest to carve out some time so that he could say some prayers. It was, afterall, the anniversary of the death, so it was not such an unusual request. After that was finished, they dismissed him so that they could speak of him alone. Mateo said a few words, “Randall was my father for my whole life, even though we’re not related. He taught me everything I needed to know to be a man. He taught me to be strong and careful, wise and spontaneous, interesting and deserving. He had always managed to take time out for me, and he was my best friend.
“When this...thing happened to me, he kept a cool head. Sure, I wasn’t around for the first year scare, but when I came back, it was almost like I had never left. I fell right back into place, and all thanks to his understanding attitude. We were spending a lot of time trying to figure things out, but not all of it. We made sure to get into our obligatory political discussions, and we were planning on fishing Sherwood Lake next week in 2026. Say what you will, but I will never forgive myself for depriving the world of more Randall Gelen.” The other two didn’t argue with him anymore about it. They walked away to give him some time to pray alone.
After the service, they went out for ice cream. There was a small shop downtown where Randall used to take him all the time. It closed down a few years before Mateo’s disappearance, but they kept going there anyway. They would buy cones from the chain that put their beloved shop out of business, and eat on a bench in front of where it used to be. It had turned into a toy store, but was now an electronics store. He and Carol spent the rest of the time telling Leona stories about Randall. To their surprise, she had a few stories of her own; of times they had spent together, apart from the other two. Apparently, she had thought of him as a second father.
Mateo hadn’t slept in a while, so they went back home and let him have a nap. But he didn’t go to sleep. Instead, he packed. He thought about what kind of essentials his aunt Daria would have. He knew that she always had water and layers of clothing. She also probably kept a supply of toiletries. A pocket knife, flashlight, headache relief medicine, and as many small bills as he could get his hands on were also on his list. He wrote a short note to his mother and Leona, apologizing to them, and claiming that he was opting for a life of anonymity in New York City. Lastly, he stole his mother’s credit card.
After sneaking out of the house, he knocked on Frida’s door and asked to borrow 200 bucks. She agreed, not having any clue that he would never be able to pay her back. It wasn’t his proudest moment, but it had to be done. After being declared missing, he lost his bank account. They couldn’t set up a new one because he wasn’t a real person anymore. The legal obstacles they would have to deal with would be just too much. Simply renewing his card or verifying information throughout the year would be functionally impossible. He was stuck with cash, which was a problem. Time was running out for paper money. Anyone who had chosen not to set up their fingerprint identity with the government still had a smartphone to pay for things. Paying with cold hard cash was still just as easy as before, but it made you stand out, and people were suspicious of you for it.
He walked all the way to Kyle’s condo and asked for a ride to the train station. Kyle was more than happy to help out, having gotten far beyond the point of recovery. He was the happiest Mateo had ever seen him. He and his husband were in the process of adopting a child. “It’s nice to see you, man! It’s been forever, so where the hell are you going now?”
“I have some business in Los Angeles,” Mateo lied. Once they arrived at the train station, he paid for a ticket to Chicago. He then went back to the car and handed Kyle the credit card. “Please get this back to my mother, whenever you get a chance. And apologize to her for me.”
“She doesn’t know you’re going?”
“Goodbye, my old friend,” Mateo said. Then he walked away. He turned back and watched as Kyle drove off. Once he was out of sight, he walked down the road and stuck out his thumb. He was only trying to go about 160 miles, but it took him the entire day to hitchhike. There were a few moments in between drivers that he was pretty sure he would be in the middle of nowhere for the jump, but several hours later, he was finally at the Lincoln, Nebraska train station. He found a corner to hide in. Midnight came and flung him one year into the future. At that moment, he raced around and purchased a ticket to Salt Lake City, Utah. It was the last place anyone would look for him.

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