Episode 3 --Unmerciful Blades

Episode 3 —
Unmerciful Blades

 

Episode 3:
Unmerciful Blades

 


I lie on my left side facing the wall in my rack at the lunar base where I work. I realize that I am naked lying on top of the sheets and blanket and I know that my eyes are open. But, this, like my Bullhead experiences, certainly feels like it is just another dream. I want to roll over onto my back and wake up. I must force myself to regain my fully awake status.

But, I am fully awake. It is not possible for a man to dream while he is fully awake. What I have experienced in Bullhead must be real!

I log into the online system on the screen just above my pillow. How convenient it is to roll over and be able to punch in a few characters on a screen while reclined in my rack! Once I am logged in, I scan through my personal data. I read data on the screen that shows I was born June 29, 2162 in Sedona, Arizona.

The text and images on my screen explain that my parents were scientists. That helps me to remember when I was just a kid how they urged me to follow in their footsteps and enter the scientific field. But, all I ever wanted was to play cowboys and Indians outdoors in the desert with my buddies. A kid from a scientific family never grows up to become a cowboy.

I remember leaving home at age 15 to live in Phoenix after arguing with my parents. I don’t know how I survived at such a young age with no connections in Phoenix. I probably had to sell my body for sex so I could make money to stay alive. But, I don’t remember exactly what happened. Only vague recollections.

When I turned 18, I sought the safety of a career in the military. My parents were very angry with me for making that choice because as scientists, they distrusted the military. I think that maybe I made that career choice just to demonstrate my independence from them!

Once I was in the service, I immediately was recruited into a Special Forces unit that provided services to an international agency in a top-secret base on the moon. I find it easiest to remember sexual experiences while on my time travel missions as if my missions to the past are somehow linked to having sex with men. All of the agents that I know at base are also gay. There must be no heterosexual agents at all. I wonder if other agents see what I see. Why is my mind so jumbled when I try to recall my work? Are my problems remembering caused because I travel in time in those blue machines?

When I get back to the 20th century, I sign up with Carlo Zarelli as my personal trainer at The Bullhead Gym to honor my commitment to repay him for my having wrecked the glass door. I convincingly fake a telephone conversation in front of Vincent Wauneka at my Bullhead hotel room. I pretend to talk with my boss in Phoenix and get his approval to stay for a while in Bullhead to research the story about ritual hangings.

Vincent Wauneka seems to make a clear decision not to ask me questions about my cover story. During our walk back from the Bullhead pancake house to my motel room at sunrise, I tell him that I saw him hanged in the Arizona desert. He just smiles. I tell him I also saw Nick Cruz hanged in a Phoenix ritual. Vincent just smiles. When we are naked together in my bed at the Bullhead motel, nothing else matters but us being together. Nick Cruz is merely a memory. The hangings I saw are just other memories. How Vincent and I feel together in our surprisingly intense physical and emotional experience becomes the main focus of my mission in the 20th century.

When a man empties himself literally and emotionally into you without holding back, together you discover a level of truth about yourselves. You create your own world together. You find that you cannot go too long on any given day without stripping down to nakedness with him. You memorize the many patterns of each other’s heartbeats. The scents and tastes that your bodies give off when you are so close become more meaningful to you than fresh air or water.

I had prepaid for an extended stay at the motel. There are two queen beds in that room. I lie to myself that I invited Vincent to move in and stay with me at no cost simply because I hate being there in that cheap motel by myself. Instinctively, I feel I should keep an eye on him because I sense that he knows something he chooses to not tell me. But, the magnificent sex we have together is the central motivation for me to keep Vincent Wauneka near to me in Bullhead.

With his body, this man could easily make his living as a sex worker and gay porn star. I tell him so. He just smiles like he always does. Because of the nearby Nevada casinos across the Colorado River that are dedicated to the service of human vice, I feel convinced that I have discovered Vincent’s true occupation and what he is trying to keep secret from me.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

I am standing in an elevator lobby of one of the Laughlin casino hotels, waiting. I watch the doors sliding open just after I again hear the familiar “ding-ding” chime. As the doors become fully open, I can see Vincent dressed in formal wear as though he has just come from a wedding.

He does not see me!

Vincent has his right arm around a man in his fifties in that elevator car. The man is dressed as you expect a tourist from California to dress—complete with an overly colorful tropical shirt, tan baggy shorts, and brown sandals. Vincent says to him, “Just you wait until I get you into the room, stud, and I will fuck you like you have never been fucked before!”

I feel privileged to have such a rare and secret perspective on the rarely seen ritualistic behaviors of the Nevada casino sex worker. The handsome young male that I know by the obviously fictional name of Vincent Wauneka sells his body to any man willing to pay for a sexual experience that otherwise would be unattainable!

I am in a casino hotel room in the bedroom watching Vincent working. The California man who is on his back on the bed under Vincent cries out in a squeaky and unmanly voice at the moment of his intense orgasm. In a deeply masculine voice that seems so obviously dishonest to me, Vincent announces to the California man, “Ah, you’re the best fuck I have ever had!”

I am back downstairs in the elevator lobby. The elevator doors are closed. The “ding-ding” chime announces the arrival of the elevator car. As the doors finish opening, I can see Vincent dressed as a cowboy who is also a male stripper, complete with an exaggerated, ornate cowboy hat, rhinestones on his long-sleeve shirt, and exceptionally tight blue jeans that emphasize his cramped genitalia. He has his arm around a man with short blond hair who in his thirties in the elevator car. The man is dressed in conservative attire as if he were a door-to-door missionary man for the Church of the Latter-Day Saints—white long-sleeve shirt and black trousers. I watch Vincent say to him, “Just you wait until I get you into the room, stud.”

In another casino hotel room, I watch Vincent finish fucking the young Mormon missionary man, who is sobbing like a schoolboy due to experiencing either deep joy or pain or perhaps both. “Best fuck ever!” Vincent announces in the same dishonest, yet reassuringly masculine voice.

In the elevator lobby, I hear the chime signal that the doors are about to open. Vincent is dressed in colorful swim trunks and a tight, white tee shirt. He has his arm around a man in his sixties in the elevator car. The main is dressed like a priest. Vincent grabs the man’s crotch as he says to the apparent priest, “Just you wait until I get you—.”

“Ding-ding” is the familiar chiming sound as those elevator doors open yet another time for me. I see that Vincent is dressed in a football jersey along with tight blue jeans and running shoes. He has his arm around a man in his twenties with him in the elevator car. The man is wearing a UNLV football jersey and white gym shorts. Vincent’s large right hand reaches quickly down into the young man’s gym shorts and his face reveals the shock of being manhandled in the elevator car. Vincent promises him, “Just you wait—.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Whenever Vincent and I share our bodies with each another, something unexpected happens. During orgasm with Vincent, I learn many truths about myself that I never even knew I had to learn. Now I think about Vincent every day. I feel as if I certainly have known this man for a thousand years.

During every moment that we spend together I feel a vibe that he and I create for one another which defies being put into mere words. Yet, the vibe is extremely powerful. Vincent makes me feel real even while I am surrounded by so many falsehoods. That’s more honesty than I usually allow myself to embrace. I also become convinced that I may not have been a real man before he and I shared countless ejaculations with Vincent Wauneka.

I come to accept that I must stay in Bullhead because I promised Carlo I would repay him by becoming a personal training client of his to make financial amends for the damage I caused at the gym. In following up with that commitment, I discover that I am not prepared for what I find.

Vincent encourages me to spend time with Carlo. Vincent and I both spend time at the gym working out with Carlo. I soon discover that Carlo is a very young and immature, but he also seems unskilled in the sense of coaching or mentoring me or Vincent in the proper techniques of resistance training in a gym. I imagine few people will care about Carlo’s lack of skill as a personal trainer because his body is such a delight to watch on a daily basis working out at that gym. Perhaps that can be said about many personal trainers who just get by in their profession because of their youth and physical perfection.

Vincent talks to me about the importance of having as many orgasms as humanly possible each day. The day comes when I ask Vincent if he sells his body to other men for sex. Vincent finally admits the truth to me that I already had figured out.

I am completely baffled about why Doctor Oswald sent me back in time to Bullhead in Nineteen Ninety-Two. Surely, this mission to the past cannot be about satisfying my personal sexual appetite! How can the agency allow me to pursue my own selfish interests to experience as many orgasms as humanly possible each day?

Or, is Carlo somehow important to my mission? How is it possible that men who can be so pivotal to what happens in a timeline also be so easy to manipulate sexually? Or, are we MMDI agents just that good with sex with all men? Perhaps the work we do is not easy at all. But, what if I make the wrong choices because of my sexual behaviors while on missions to the past?

One evening at the gym, Carlo tells me, “I got something for you. Something to help you here at the gym.”

“What exactly do you have in mind?” I ask him.

“I have access to all kinds of supplements that can help you,” he says.

“What kind of supplements? Some kind of vitamin tablets?” I want to know.

“Vitamin C, yeah. You’ve heard of that? No, of course not. Much stronger stuff,” he says. “Not for everyone.”

“What are you talking about?” I ask. “It sounds illegal.”

“Think of it as a way to pump up your testosterone,” he replies. “Male hormone in all guys. Makes us get bigger. Lots of bodybuilders do this. Nothing really to worry about. Plus, I will get them for you free. Because you are my client.”

“I know what testosterone is. But, I don’t want to get in trouble. That shit is illegal, right?”

“Well,” he quickly says, “Look at me. My body looks great, doesn’t it?”

“Is this a trick question?” I reply.

Carlo smiles and says, “My point is: I have used supplements to boost my testosterone and that makes my body bigger and stronger. The federal law only recently was changed. The Controlled Substances Act of 1990. You never heard of it, but this is all true. This stuff always was perfectly legal just a short while ago. Then, the laws got changed.”

“As my personal trainer, you’re recommending that I start taking steroids?” I ask him.

He replies, “I will watch over you and guide you. You will benefit greatly, I’m sure of that. One of the supplements I recommend for you is called human growth hormone.”

“A hormone?” I ask him like I assume he is joking.

“Yeah,” he answers quickly. I presume he is being completely honest with me. “HGH is what most guys call it. It’s a protein. Like many of the supplements we bodybuilders use, this protein is naturally occurring in the human body.”

“Then why take it as a supplement?” I want to know.

“Sometimes, science can help push a man’s body a little bit. Or a lot,” Carlo replies. “Just based upon what naturally is happening in the body to begin with.”

“What exactly does HGH do?” I ask him.

“Well, HGH will decrease your body fat. That’s very good. You already know that is true. It also will increase your muscle mass. I’m telling you that’s great. It also increases bone density, boosts your energy, and makes you want to have sex more.”

“More than what?” I hear myself say as if I am talking to a five-year-old.

“It makes you want to have sex more often,” Carlo explains. “Simple as that. You will want to fuck me twice every day. I can guarantee that.”

“Oh really?” I reply to Carlo.

“Not gonna happen, of course. I’m attracted to females,” he responds quickly. “I just don’t have a problem with you being sexually attracted to me.”

“You’re giving me the go-ahead to jerk off while I fantasize about fucking you, Carlo?” I ask him. “Is that what you’re trying to tell me?”

Carlo does not smile or answer me. I can guess at what his answer might have been. Within about five weeks of following his instructions and taking HGH that he gave me at no cost, I start to notice the positive impact on my body. I began to feel physically stronger and the definition of my muscles became more evident to me slowly. I feel that taking these supplements proves that merely using my mind to control my life was never enough. Now I understand that I needed to work on my body with the same kind of determination and focus. I start to push aside all concerns about what possible connection Carlo could have to my time travel mission.

Perhaps taking human growth hormone and other supplements is not healthy for me. After six full weeks, I realize that Carlo’s supplements I am so blindly ingesting into my body have affected my state of mind. Is this the mood shift athletes who take steroids experience? I feel depressed and angry—a potent combination that is new to me.

Of course, I do remember that I am on a time travel mission, but I am also feel confused and angry because I do not know exactly what I am supposed to be doing here in the year Nineteen Ninety-One. I wonder how much longer I will be on the mission in Bullhead before I am retrieved to my own time back to the safety of the lunar base where I belong.

I keep having satisfying sex every day—sometimes 3 times a day—with Vincent, who continues to live with me in the Bullhead motel for free while he fucks other men for money at various Nevada casino hotels. I wonder how much longer I will be able to survive emotionally in Bullhead as I feel my sanity slipping away.

Worst of all, I have started having wildly troubling dreams, which I choose to blame on the supplements that Carlo has given me. I remember that when I entered puberty, I started consistently dreaming of masculine men, often wearing familiar costumes of Hollywood Westerns during the 20th century. But, until I started taking the supplements Carlo gave me, I never saw myself in dreams as being in extreme jeopardy.

The recurring dream that I have is most terrifying for me: Vincent Wauneka and I are wearing our black MMDI uniforms. Our wrists are bound behind our backs. We are together in an unfamiliar environment where gigantic spheres of Lunar Blue surround us. We are back at Baja Clavius and we are about to be crushed to death.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

I wake up at the lunar base in the crew sleeping quarters. I sit on the edge of my bed in the crew quarters and wonder if losing one’s sanity is a specific job hazard of being a time travel agent. As I lie there in my rack, halfway between sleep and awake, I hear the voice of Doctor William Oswald coming from a flat speaker embedded in the metal walls near my pillow. “Hello, Mr. Avila,” he says in a friendly way. His British accent is very comforting. “Must wake up,” he adds. “You may answer me aloud and I will hear you.”

“Doctor Oswald,” I reply. “I don’t see you.”

“The interface is not working,” he replies as though I should know what that is supposed to mean. “So, we will need to interact verbally. I’m sure it is more comforting when you can see me in the projection and interact that way, but we’re having hardware problems today.”

“You’re telling me that you’re a projection?” I hear myself ask. “I’ve been interacting with images generated by machines? But, what about the tactile sensations I felt. Your hand felt warm when you touched my arm as I walked out of the Giant Blue Hockey Puck coming back from a mission.”

I hear the voice sighing in the speakers near my pillow. “Oh, Mr. Avila,” Doctor Oswald says reassuringly, “Don’t sweat the technology or the science. There are more important issues right now. Such as your memory loss.”

“You are aware of my memory loss?” I ask him.

“Yes, of course,” he replies. “I am your doctor. I am here to help you get better.”

“What is wrong with me?”

“Not quite sure,” he tells me. “I think something happened on one of your missions. You may have had traumatic shock. No physical injuries to you whatsoever. But, your mind may have been affected.”

“Traumatic brain injury?” I ask.

“Exactly,” Doctor Oswald replies. “Very good. I was concerned that you were not keeping up on all that reading I’ve assigned on your screen for you to study about post-traumatic stress after you get back here after missions.”

“How serious is my injury?” I ask him. “I keep being sent on missions, so you must think I’m okay enough to work.”

“Not sufficiently serious,” I hear him say. “But, you have to understand that we have no choice. We must keep you on the missions. Your work is far from finished. We have to send you back again to the early Nineties. Back to Bullhead.”

“What exactly is my mission there?” I ask him. “Yeah, I know. Repairmen. I’m not able to focus on my mission clearly, Doc. Help me out here. I remember Bullhead, and some of the people I’ve met there, but not much else. I have taken sports performance enhancing drugs in Bullhead. Do you think that has affected my memories?”

“Mr. Avila, you remember from your training. When you return through the time travel center from your missions, the process necessitates rebuilding your memories. What you do on missions is your concern. After you complete the required debriefing upon your return here to base, the memory alignment computers give you updated and realigned memories on a biochemical and cellular level.”

“I don’t understand what you are saying.”

“Don’t sweat the technology or the science,” he repeats in the exact same way he said it a few moments ago, as if his voice was just a playback of a prerecorded message.

“Okay, okay, I get it. There’s some powerful computers that update my memories and my biochemistry whenever I come back to base. Never knew that before!”

“Well, no reason to be angry with me. I don’t make policy. We do these updates to your brain for a very simple reason,” he continues as though he is giving me a scientific lecture. “When you go on a mission, you change the past because you change the timeline. That is your job. The changes you cause instantly effect everyone’s perceptions into the future. From the exact moment that you make any change in the timeline, you also change the perceptions of everyone on Earth who has awareness about particular people and events in time that you affected. You remember everything as it was. You also remember what you changed. This lunar base is so far from the planet that we exist here outside the sphere of changes made to the timelines. So, after you agents get back here and debrief, then we go ahead and make your memories align as they should. The computers we have downstairs are very powerful. They actually are a series of computers, not just one big device. Deep below us. Hundreds of stories down. They can do the billions upon billions of calculations per nanosecond and reconstruct what was compared to what is. The human mind would never know any changes to the timeline were made. Only these powerful computers that are insulated in the temporal context by Liquid Blue from timeline changes are capable of tracking the changes, themselves.”

“Well, yeah,” I say with a chuckle, “That explains everything so clearly.”

“The point is, Mr. Avila,” Doctor Oswald concludes, “You time travel agents play a vital role on your missions to set things right in the past. The way things are supposed to turn out. After you complete the required debrief, the memory alignment computers rewrite your memories and restore your biochemical equilibrium to keep your current with all the changes to the timeline that you make while on missions into the past.”

“Is that why I cannot completely remember everything?”

“Your traumatic brain injury must be affecting how the computers rewrite your memories,” he says. “What you end up with is more or less the equivalent of a computer trying to write data over a damaged portion of a digital memory system. Except, your brain is not digital; it is organic. The computer rewrites what it must, but your TBI must be resulting in rewritten memories that are not one hundred percent correct for this timeline.”

“If you say so, Doc,” I tell him even though I do not fully understand. “No choice for me anyway. Just need to do my missions. Focus on the job.”

“That’s the very best attitude you could have, Mr. Avila,” he tells me. I can almost hear a smile in his voice. But, as I walk to Giant Blue Hockey Puck number seven for my next mission, I feel amused in my awareness that computerized voices are unable to smile because they have no lips.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

When I return to the year 1991 and to the odd little Mojave Desert town in Arizona known as Bullhead, my computer-enhanced memories seem more vivid to me that usual. I remember precisely how I got involved in an intense sexual relationship with a muscular Navajo male named Vincent Wauneka who sells his body for sex with other men in Nevada casinos. Somehow despite my TBI, I also can remember each and every time that he and I have had sex. The memories of our many orgasms together are clear and deeply pleasurable.

I am driving my late model Ford Explorer with Vincent Wauneka riding in the passenger seat. I must have been inserted into this timeline in the past in the middle of a conversation because he is talking to me. Actually, he is thanking me for driving all the way from Bullhead to Yuma, Arizona. I hear him telling me, “There are not many people who would agree to drive over two hundred miles from Bullhead so we could enter Mexico.” I come to believe that my mission this time is to accompany Vincent Wauneka across the border from the United States into Mexico in the year 1991.

In this timeline, every day American tourists cross that border into Mexico just south of Yuma into Mexico’s state of Sonora and the city of San Luis Rio Colorado. If you are young and male and you are in search of drugs that are illegal in the United States, you choose to walk on the wild side. This and other Mexican border towns fuel deeply-ingrained cultural stereotypes in the United States regarding drug gang members south of the border who wield unmerciful blades.

These are men are outlaws. They each made the choice to work in an illegal trade. They are not prosocial men who place a value on orderly civilization. The drug business is what they value more than anything. So, they cut off the cocks and balls and heads of young United States males who cross into Mexico to buy drugs that are unavailable north of the border. The men from these drug gangs often share videos of their deeds as a demonstration of their machismo and superiority.

Why?

Because there are corrupt men in both the military and in law enforcement in Mexico. Because selling illegal drugs in the US is more important to Mexico than preserving the tourism business. Because US men who want to buy drugs in Mexico make very irresistible targets for drug gangs.

For Vincent and me to get from Bullhead down to that particular crossing into Mexico involves a grueling six-hour, one-way drive through a lot of Arizona desert. If one makes this particular journey in the summer months, there is the very real danger to life because of the harsh weather conditions.

Such a long drive gives us the chance to be together speeding inside the confined space of a 20th century sports utility vehicle while talking about anything and everything. You can really get to know someone by spending several hours together with him on a drive through the desert with nothing else to do but talk. I suggest that I can help make the journey more enjoyable for Vincent by jerking him off while I drive. He smiles and does not offer any resistance. His juices smash against the inside of my windshield and he shouts out in pleasure and laughter.

When Vincent and I finally arrive on the outskirts of Yuma, the high temperature during that summer of 1991 hits 120 degrees Fahrenheit. That kind of high heat can kill even a very healthy young man.

We walk out of the United States of America together. I am with this handsome, muscular man who is carrying twenty Ben Franklins. We enter a small border town in Mexico that during the 19902 had no significance to anyone in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. I feel that I have reached a perfectly pathetic plateau. I am deeply aware of what I am doing: I am living in Arizona knowingly choosing to hang out with an apparently amoral, handsome man for the thrill and the arousal and the pleasures of sex with him. But, how truly pathetic I feel when I accept that Vincent, too, has been using illegal supplements to which he was introduced by Carlo!

Vincent is very intelligent. I wonder why he made the choice to get involved with sports performance enhancing drugs. Now we are sex partners. Now we are fellow users of sports performance enhancing drugs that Carlo got both of us hooked on. Now we are together in Mexico so that Vincent can purchase sports performance-enhancing drugs for Carlo to sell in Bullhead.

I feel a sense of doom as I cross into Mexico. I walk with Vincent into a farmacia on a quiet and dusty side street in the city of San Luis Rio Colorado. Vincent speaks fluent Spanish as he hands the twenty Ben Franklins to the muscular Mexican man behind the counter. In exchange, the man behind the counter hands Vincent a brown paper bag that contains—. Wait. Something is wrong.

I look past the man who is standing behind the counter to see several large framed images of Southwestern desert scenes that are hanging on the wall. In the dirty glass of one of those framed images, I see a reflection that kicks my heart rate suddenly higher.

I see another muscular Hispanic man with an impressively large blade glaring in the direction of Vincent and me.

I suddenly realize that I had entered that place with some vague sense that Vincent and I would be killed in that farmacia. In the reflection in the mirror, I see the threat to Vincent and me mounting, and I somewhere deep inside me, I fully accept that this will be the moment that our lives end very brutally together.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Once again, I wake up and I am back in my own present day at the lunar base in the crew sleeping quarters. I have clear and distinct memories of being with Vincent Wauneka in that pharmacy in the small Mexican border town in the year Nineteen Ninety-One. My head really hurts and I feel very dizzy. So, I just remain as still as possible in my rack as if doing so will calm me.

I hear the voice of Doctor Oswald coming through the speakers near my head: “Mr. Avila, please wake up.”

“I am awake, Doc. Was I beheaded?”

Doctor Oswald’s voice is very reassuring: “No, of course you were not beheaded. Is that what you remember?”

“No, I don’t remember anything like that. Am I okay?”

“You may have suffered a traumatic brain injury,” Doctor Oswald’s voice tells me.

“I know,” I reply. “We’ve discussed my having TBI before. And post-traumatic stress. I remember us talking about this when I returned from a previous mission.”

“No,” he says to me. “I have never discussed these medical issues with you.”

Now I know for certain that something is definitely wrong with my memories. “You told me,” I say to Doctor Oswald’s voice, “My biochemistry is refreshed. My memories are rebuilt upon my return from each mission. You told me that there were difficulties in rebuilding my memories because I had some likely traumatic brain injury while I was on a mission.”

“Mr. Avila,” the voice of Doctor Oswald says, “You are a repairman. You fix timelines after others have made a mess. You have a job to do. The work that you do is yours alone and you, alone, have the memories from your work. I cannot verify or validate what you remember. This disparity between when you remember and what I know are just part of the time travel process. Don’t sweat the technology or the science,” he adds in the exact same way he has always said it to me as if his voice was just a playback of a prerecorded message.

“Right, right,” I reply. “Memory alignment computers many stories down below rewrite my memories after each visit. I changed the timeline in the past. Only I have memories of the changes. I get it.”

“Not sure what you are talking about,” says the voice. “But, now you must return to Arizona in 1991. You did not finish your mission. You must go back until you finish.”

My memories now include conflicting pasts that cannot align logically. I am certain I am doomed to insanity. I see myself driving my late model Ford Explorer with Vincent Wauneka riding in the passenger seat. He is thanking me for driving all the way from Bullhead to Yuma, Arizona. I hear him telling me, “There are not many people who would agree to drive over two hundred miles from Bullhead so we could enter Mexico.” This is how I learn that my mission this time is to accompany Vincent Wauneka across the border from the United States into Mexico in the year 1991.

I am very confused, however, because I can see Katherine Snowe seated in the passenger seat directly behind Vincent Wauneka. When I turn to look at her, Katherine Snowe gives me a fake smile and displays the middle finger of her right hand.

I realize that Vincent can see Katherine Snowe seated in the passenger seat because he asks me, “Do you often pick up strange women and drive them all the way to Mexico?” I do not answer him because I accept that Katherine Snowe will hear whatever I say.

I suggest to Vincent that I can help make the journey more enjoyable by jerking him off while I drive. He does not offer any resistance. Katherine Snowe says, “I imagine he will shoot an awfully large load, Teddy. I should know. I have sucked off several hundred men in my time. You never knew that, did you?”

Vincent’s juices smash against the inside of my windshield and he shouts out in pleasure and laughter. “A very large load,” I say aloud so both Vincent and my ex-wife can hear my response.

When Vincent and I finally arrive on the outskirts of Yuma, the high temperature during that summer of 1991 hits 120 degrees Fahrenheit. That kind of heat can kill even a very healthy young man. Perhaps I can lock Katherine Snowe in the vehicle so she will bake for half an hour like an angel food cake.

Vincent Wauneka and I walk out of the United States of America together. I am with this handsome, muscular native Navajo who is carrying twenty Ben Franklins for the purpose of purchasing steroids in a Mexican border town.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

I wake up and I am back in my present day at the lunar base in the crew sleeping quarters. I have clear and distinct memories of being with Vincent Wauneka in that pharmacy in the small Mexican border town in the year 1991. My head really hurts and I feel very dizzy. So, I just remain as still as possible in my rack as if doing so will calm me.

I hear the voice of Doctor Oswald coming through the speakers near my head: “Mr. Avila, please wake up.”

“I am awake, Doc. Was I beheaded?”

Doctor Oswald’s voice is very reassuring: “No, of course you were not beheaded. Is that what you remember?”

“No, I don’t remember anything like that. Am I okay?”

“You may have suffered a traumatic brain injury,” Doctor Oswald’s voice tells me.

“I know,” I reply. “We’ve discussed my having TBI before. And post-traumatic stress. I remember us talking about this when I returned from a previous mission.”

“No,” he says to me. “I have never discussed these medical issues with you.”

Now I know for certain that something is definitely wrong with my memories. “You told me,” I say to Doctor Oswald’s voice, “My biochemistry is refreshed. My memories are rebuilt upon my return from each mission. You told me that there were difficulties in rebuilding my memories because I had some likely traumatic brain injury while I was on a mission.”

“Mr. Avila,” the voice of Doctor Oswald says, “You are a repairman. You fix timelines after others have made a mess. You have a job to do. The work that you do is yours alone and you, alone, have the memories from your work. I cannot verify or validate what you remember. This disparity between when you remember and what I know are just part of the time travel process. Don’t sweat the technology or the science,” he adds in the exact same way he has always said it to me as if his voice was just a playback of a prerecorded message.

“Right, right,” I reply. “Memory alignment computers many stories down below rewrite my memories after each visit. I changed the timeline in the past. Only I have memories of the changes. I get it.”

“Not sure what you are talking about,” says the voice. “But, now you must return to Arizona in 1991. You did not finish your mission. You must go back until you finish.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

I am driving my late model Ford Explorer in 1991 and my personal trainer Carlo is in the passenger seat this time instead of Vincent. Carlo is thanking me for driving all the way from Bullhead to Yuma, Arizona. I hear Carlo telling me, “There are not many people who would agree to drive over two hundred miles from Bullhead so we could enter Mexico.”

My mind races to find answers to the many questions I have: What is my mission? Am I supposed to accompany Carlo into Mexico?

I remember such a trip to Mexico with Vincent. But, I do not remember being injured in Mexico with Vincent. Did something happen in that farmacia with Vincent that caused my traumatic brain injury? Maybe I’m supposed to be in that place with Carlo instead of Vincent? Maybe Carlo is supposed to go into that farmacia alone to make the timeline turn out like it must?

I distract myself from the rising confusion by bringing Carlo to orgasm with my right hand as I drive with my left. His juices smashes against the inside of the windshield of my truck as he shouts out at the peak of sexual release.

I walk out of the United States of America with Carlo, who is carrying twenty Ben Franklins for the purpose of purchasing steroids in a Mexican border town.

I accompany Carlo down a quiet and dusty side street in the city of San Luis Rio Colorado. We arrived together at the front door of a farmacia. “I will wait outside and keep an eye out. Just a precaution,” I say to Carlo. He looks at me and frowns as though he was not expecting me to show such savvy. Then, he just nods at me confidently before he walks alone through the open front door.

In my mind, I replay my memories of what happened on a previous mission: Carlo goes up to the counter and speaks fluent Spanish to place his order. Carlo pays for the order with the cash.

But this time, events inside that farmacia turn out to be very different compared to what I remember from a previous mission.

I hear Carlo’s voice cry out in agony. I also hear a scuffle. And then I hear Carlo screaming desperately like no man I’d ever heard scream before.
I need to run away to save myself, but I don’t want to leave Carlo in there. Instinctively, I know at this exact moment that I have accomplished my mission in the Twentieth Century. I know now that Carlo was supposed to be executed in that farmacia by members of Mexican drug gang.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

When I wake up back in my present day on the lunar base in the crew sleeping quarters, I have clear and distinct memories of telling Carlo to go alone into that pharmacy in the small Mexican border town in the year 1991. I begin to accept that my mission was to make certain that Carlo ended up dismembered and beheaded in Mexico.

I just lie there as though I need to conceal any motion that my body might make. What have I done? I ask myself that question over and over in my head. I accept that I was sent back in time to Arizona to get close to a bodybuilder who bought sports performance enhancing drugs from Mexico. I had to get close to Carlo. That was the mission. I had to make certain that his life was ended during one of his trips across the international border from Arizona into Mexico. Why?

My TBI is both a blessing and a curse. I have more than one set of memories about my experiences in Arizona in the past. I can remember that my accompanying Vincent into Mexico had a very different outcome: I remember that we were successful in purchasing drugs in that farmacia and that we returned to Bullhead to continue our lives.

Yet, somehow, I also remember that Carlo died in Mexico on a trip for which I provided the transportation. Both outcomes cannot be true. One is the correct memory. I presume that the other memory is the result of my brain injury.

I start to apply reason and logic. Perhaps if Carlo had not been killed in Mexico, something that he did after the Mexico trip alters the timeline in some important way. If I had allowed Carlo to have a successful visit to Mexico and return to Bullhead with me, I presume that would not be what was supposed to happen in that timeline.

But, what is it Carlo did that could be so harmful to the timeline? How can I find out about the life the Carlo would have lived had I not make sure he died without mercy in Mexico?

I turn my head as I am distracted by the unmistakable sound of the weight of a man upon the mirror-like metallic floor in the crew sleeping quarters. I am shocked as I realize it is Vincent Wauneka wearing nothing but tight denim jeans. His beautiful long hair flows freely down his back and out past his muscular shoulders.

“Hey, Teddy, would you happen to know the correct time?” Vincent asks me as he draws nearer to me.

“What the fuck! You’re here at Baja Clavius!” I shout at Vincent as I sit up in my rack. “I remember you were with me on my mission in Arizona.”

He smiles at me while he nods as if he knows something that I do not, but he says nothing.

“You work here? Like me?”

He does not reply. He simply smiles like he always does.

“I thought you were a dead guy! Some sort of spirit from another dimension. What was your mission? Connect with me sexually? Make sure I finished my mission with Carlo in Mexico? I ask him.

He says nothing. He just smiles at me.

“Okay,” I say to Vincent, “Security regulations. I get that. But, I was responsible for a guy getting killed. Brutally executed. You remember Carlo Zee? Our personal trainer.”

Vincent sits down very close to me in my rack. I can feel the sexy warmth of his body. I just want to have sex with him. Somehow, the power that grows from our intimate relationship has remained constant over many years in time. I don’t care what his answer is going to be. He leans his face close to mine and says, “Not supposed to talk about mission details once we are back here in at base. We are home. Safe. Not at work. You know that. Yesterday is gone. Today is now. Know what I mean?”

“Yeah, but, listen to what I’m saying, Vincent. I remember changing the timeline. I remember going to Mexico with you. And, I also remember an identical visit to Mexico. With Carlo Zee, instead of you. He suffered a horrible death because of what I did.”

Vincent draws his face even closer to mine and says, “We fix things in the past the way they are supposed to turn out. We come in after others have made a mess of things. We set things right. You know that as well as I do. Come on, just tell yourself to stop overthinking things.”

“I am worried because I remember two timelines,” I explain to him. “I remember different outcomes. You only remember the timeline in which Carlo Zee dies in Mexico.”

“Talking crazy shit,” he says. “There was only one mission. You know that. We did what we had to do. You and I got sexually involved. We were paired on that mission for something specific. Maybe you had one thing to accomplish. I may have had something else. But, we were supposed to get sexually involved. You should know that. We did what we were supposed to do. We could not do otherwise.”

“What are you trying to say?” I ask him.

“We enjoy each other sexually,” he explains. “But, we are trained to accept that our feelings and our memories must always remain secondary to accomplishing the mission. Even when the mission parameters involve sex with men. We are all very good at manipulating men sexually.”

“Yes, I get that. I just don’t remember ever getting a man killed before,” I reply. “I don’t know how to process this. His death was not merely anonymous. I caused his death. Me. That was shocking.”

“Just trust our training,” Vincent says. “That is what I am suggesting.”

“We were trained so we could complete our work without any understanding on a deep level. Is that what you believe?” I ask him.

“We are time travel agents. Not supposed to talk about missions. But, you and I know things that the average person who lives on planet Earth never knows. Chaos would erupt through every civilization across the entire planet if people knew what we know. Religion was invented by man,” he whispers quietly as if someone might be listening. “There is no free will. There are only foregone tomorrows. There is no divine creator up in the skies. No hell down below. No devil. No angels. There is just the agency. And we are part of it. We work here. Moon men deep inside. We repair timelines. We literally save civilization on planet Earth. We go back and make things happen the way they are supposed to happen.” Then, Vincent grabs my crotch and squeezes gently. “You want me to fuck you or are we just going to keep talking philosophy?” he asks.

“I only want to be with you. I don’t want to be so messed up,” is my reply.

Vincent says to me, “Doctor Oswald briefed me about you having some sort of brain injury. Said it was not really all that serious. Trauma, he said. Wants me to look out for you. That is what he said, so—. I was half expecting you to behave kind of loco like you are right now.”

“How nice for you. What about those hangings? That seems odd. What was that all about, Vincent?”

Vincent pushes me aggressively onto my back and positions his muscular body on top of me. He kisses me gently and whispers to me softly, “Ritual hangings.”

I exhale and shake my head because I do not understand what Vincent is telling me. All I know is that I am getting aroused by Vincent.

“Another mission we are also not supposed to talk about,” he says to me as I feel his cock growing steadily stronger next to me. “You and I go back to correct the timeline. Arizona. Again. There were not supposed to be ritualistic hangings in Arizona in the 1990s. Guys were hanged just for the spectacle of watching and videotaping how they struggled before they died. Barbaric. You and I fix that.”

“I tried to rescue you from one of those ritual hangings.” I say to him. “I watched you die.”

“Your memories. Not mine, Teddy,” Vincent says to me as he forces himself upon me sexually with uncharacteristic aggressiveness. I accept that I am about to have rough sex with him. Just what I want and need to stop my worrying about my memory loss and brain damage.

After sex with Vincent, I am shivering in fear even though I try to hide it from him. I feel so ashamed. He gently asks, “Did I hurt you? Tell me what I did wrong, Ted.”

“No, you did not hurt me. Did nothing wrong at all. I just need to go back in time and correct the mess I made,” I reply as I try to stop shivering. “I know that’s prohibited. Can’t go back and do a mission over. But, I feel guilty. I feel responsible. I need to go back in time to Carlo Zee in Mexico. Back in 1991.”

“We both know that can never happen,” Vincent tells me as he wraps his arms around me to comfort me.

“I never knew you were working those missions to 1991 like me,” I tell him as I regain my composure. “I know there are security regulations so you could not reveal to me who you really were when we were in Bullhead together. Just like I could never reveal anything to you. I know now that memory alignment computers rewrite our memories. You may be unaware of memory alignment. I accept that. But, only you can help me now, Vincent.”

We are so close together on top of my bed in the crew sleeping quarters on the lunar base. Vincent knows that I could very easily see in his eyes if he dared to lie to me. “Security is security,” he says quietly as if trying to prevent someone from eavesdropping on our conversation. Then, he quickly gets out of bed and walks to the nearby crew locker room and showers.

When I reach the showers, I discover that Vincent and I are the only people in there. I also notice that Vincent has turned on the water on all 12 showers, creating a steady whooshing sound that fills the air. He seems crazy. Why would anyone turn on all the showers like he has done?

I locate the naked Vincent all the way in the back in shower stall number twelve. He motions for me to join him there under the warm water rushing downward from the overhead showerhead. As soon as I reach him, Vincent pulls my face close to his and whispers to me, “They will never hear us whispering because of the white noise created by the rushing water from these showers.” I nod in response. I have heard him say that to me before. Vincent whispers quietly to me, “I am not supposed to know about the memory alignment computers. I do know. You told me before. This means you are not crazy. They once called it brainwashing.”

I feel a sudden sense of relief to hear Vincent confirm the existence of the memory alignment computers.

He keeps whispering to me: “There is something I looked up. We all remember learning in our history classes about the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995. Domestic terrorism within the U.S. When you told me that my memories were being rewritten as a security measure after mission, I went looking into public records in our databases from law enforcement that I thought were connected to our Arizona mission. I found a federal agent from that time in the past who wrote reports in Arizona about men who were conspirators in the Oklahoma City bombing. Nothing official about such conspirators ever was admitted by the feds. Or released. Even though one of their own agents wrote about it in his reports. But, I suppose something you did on a mission in 1991 caused a change in that domestic terrorism event four years later in the timeline.” Vincent keeps whispering details to me under that rushing water hitting our heads. I keep listening and nodding in response as I imagine all the possibilities of my actions back in the past.

After Vincent sneaks me into GBHP number four for my trip back to 1991, I realize that I owe this journey to the cooperation of someone else at the lunar base. Adjacent to GBHP number four, I see a good-looking, muscular black man working the controls. He must have agreed to help Vincent with this unauthorized time travel in exchange for sexual favors. With Vincent’s intense sexual skills, how could any agent ever resist him? I presume that Vincent must be very popular as a sex partner with many other agents here at the moon base! I know that I have enjoyed multiple partners among the hundreds of time travel agents on the moon, so I can only imagine how many more men Vincent has had compared to my modest list.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

I feel myself falling downward, downward, downward, downward. I am emotionally overwhelmed as I wonder whether I will ever be at peace with the death of the handsome young personal trainer from Bullhead. Suddenly, I am standing in front of Carlo Zarelli in a back room within the Mexican pharmacy in the year 1991.

I don’t know how Vincent did it, but I begin to comprehend that he somehow succeeded in transporting me back in time using the GBHP to Mexico to the final minutes in the life of Carlo Zarelli.

“Carlo!” I say aloud to him once I see him looking directly into my eyes.

How odd I feel at this moment. The subjective flow of time seems to me to be much slower than normal. What really is a normal timeline second for Carlo to me seems like it takes a minute or two. I realize that he does not actually see or hear me. Nor can he and I communicate verbally with one another because I am moving at a different time flow compared to him.

“I am so sorry,” is all I can think to say to him. I am captivated by this young man’s body. I just want to be near him and touch him. Because I am traveling at a different rate of time flow, I discover that I can walk up directly to Carlo and interact physically with him, yet he will be completely unaware. I can touch his muscular chest and he does not sense my hands upon his pectorals. I can feel his body heat through his light blue tee shirt. I can put my right hand over his bulging crotch and squeeze his manhood without him knowing anything. He does not seem to feel the sensation that I know should have made him double over.

“I will try to save you, Carlo,” I whisper to him. Of course, he cannot possibly hear me. I just hope that somehow his mind may be able to process this. I say to him, “I’m a time traveler. I cheat death. Technology makes that possible for me. I am going to cheat death to save you.”

I see three muscular Hispanic men moving closer to Carlo and me. I move away from Carlo instinctively. One of the men grabs Carlo’s bulge in his blue jeans. Carlo reacts in utter horror and doubles over. I watch helplessly as the members of the Mexican drug gang overpower Carlo and strip him. Then, all five of the beefy gang members take turns fucking Carlo in both of his openings.

Carlo cannot break free from the gang members who relentlessly and repeatedly penetrate him as part of their ritual. One of the bigger men grabs a machete and moves close to Carlo. He grabs Carlo’s manhood with his large left hand. I watch the big man’s right hand guide the sharp blade downward into Carlo’s genitals as he is slumped on his back on the wooden floor. Carlo screams in desperation. Where there once had been an impressively thick cock and massive testicles, now I see only shreds of skin and a deep red goo.

I watch the big man use his left hand to forcibly hold Carlo’s forehead while his right hand slides the blade back and forth several times across Carlo’s undefended neck as he lies face-up on the floor. Blood pours from the deep crescent that the big man has cut across Carlo’s muscular neck. At the moment of his death, Carlo’s facial expression is one of intense resignation combined with utter humiliation. I unwillingly stare into this man’s eyes where I witness his life dissipating relentlessly from his body.

The big man aggressively pushes Carlo’s head backwards and then he pounds the blade downward over and over and over—the preferred method for cutting through the impossibly thick mass of trapezius muscles that keeps a man’s head attached to the remainder of his body. The murderers kick Carlo’s decapitated head repeatedly across the wooden floor as though they are on a soccer field.

There are many United States men captured by the drug gangs while trying to buy illegal drugs in Mexico. The end of the game for them is when gang members each take turns and perform the same depraved and ritualistic penetration of severed heads.

I am compelled by duty and solemnly sworn oaths to complete every mission to which I am assigned by MMDI regardless of how unsettling the outcomes may be for me. I know that. So, I know that I need to just live with how awful missions may make me feel emotionally. But, this journey to Mexico was an unauthorized mission. This seems to be the only mission on which I have failed. I worry about what may happen if an agent attempts to return to a particular day, date, and time repeatedly and attempts to keep changing people and events. I expect there certainly will be negative consequences caused by an agent’s repeated changes made to the same timeline.

There is a sudden flash of painfully bright white light that literally makes my eyes hurt. I feel myself jerked violently upwards. I materialize inside Giant Blue Hockey Puck number 9. Vincent helps me out of the chamber and I step into the room naked and dripping wet.

The look of fear and panic on Vincent’s face tells me that something bad has happened while I was away on my failed mission to save Carlo. I hear him start talking to me frantically in his native language. I see black smoke coming from the machines that are lined up behind the GBHP equipment. I have no idea what Vincent is trying to tell me, but I accept that the negative consequences I anticipated have arrived.

Without any prelude, Vincent communicates his intentions in another way: Vincent shoves me unexpectedly so that I fall backwards through the open door of GBHP number 9. The chamber closes quickly with me inside. I instinctively rest my butt on the glass bench as I always do.

Vincent nods approvingly to me. He obviously has accomplished what he wanted. However, directly above him, a large metal cylinder bathed in yellow flames falls downward. The force of the impact crushes Vincent’s body. I watch helplessly from inside the chamber.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

I wake up and realize that I am in the crew sleeping quarters at the lunar base. I retain clear and distinct memories of watching Vincent Wauneka being crushed to death from my vantage point inside GBHP number 9. My head really hurts and I feel very dizzy. So, I just remain as still as possible in my rack. I am completely naked with only a thin blue bed sheet that covers my lower body.

I hear the comforting voice of Doctor Oswald coming through the speakers near my head: “Mr. Avila, please wake up.”

“Already awake, Doc. Just shaken. Pounding sensation inside my head. I watched an explosion in the time travel hall kill Vincent.”

Doctor Oswald’s voice is very reassuring: “There was no explosion in the time travel hall. Mr. Wauneka is very much alive. Your mental health is a concern to me, Mr. Avila.”

“Really?” I ask. “Don’t you realize that this is the third time we’ve had this conversation about traumatic brain injury?”

“No, you are incorrect.” his calm voice replies to me.

I tell him, “You said that my memories are rebuilt upon my return from each mission, Doc. You told me that there were difficulties in rebuilding my memories because I suffered a traumatic brain injury on a previous mission.”

I turn my head as the sound of a metal door sliding open distracts me from my conversation with the disembodied Doctor Oswald. I am relieved as I watch Vincent Wauneka smiling at me as he walks into the crew sleeping quarters holding a cowboy hat over his crotch. He is otherwise completely naked. “You were dead again,” I say to him as I sit up on the edge of my rack.

He smiles at me. I feel aware that he thinks I am seriously mentally ill, but Vincent remains professional and says nothing. I accept that I have brain damage caused by time travel. But, more importantly, I feel relieved that Vincent was not killed in the explosion that I clearly remember happening in the time travel hall.

“You were dead again,” I explain to Vincent. “How many times is it now?”

“I heard you talking a moment ago,” Vincent says. “One of your ghosts?”

“Cute,” I say to Vincent, “I was talking to our invisible doctor. I have traumatic brain injury.”

“We have not established that,” says the voice of Doctor Oswald, who continues to talk and explain in medical detail how traumatic brain injury presents itself in the typical patient.

Vincent tosses his cowboy hat across the floor of the crew quarters and quickly reaches into my rack and pushes my control panel to switch off Doctor Oswald off in mid-sentence.

“So boring,” Vincent says and his stands very near my face sporting an impressive erection.

“During our training—before our very first missions—we were given very intense special training in how to deal with paradoxes that can be brought on by time travel,” I say to Vincent.

“I remember,” he says as he positions his cock so that he is pointing directly at my lips. “So what?” Vincent asks as he aggressively shoves his cock into my open mouth. As I apply suction, I reach up and use both of my hands to manipulate his testicles and stroke his cock. I feel better after I have given Vincent an orgasm. I’m sure he feels better than I do. He sits down next to me in my rack and points to the edge of my rack where the speaker and microphone are embedded in the metallic wall.

I nod my head as I understand Vincent’s intended meaning and say to him, “I imagine Doctor Oswald listens in on us always. Kind of creepy.”
“Yeah,” Vincent replies. “Of course, if we talk about paradoxes brought on by time travel, the good doctor will switch over to eavesdrop instead on some other agents who right now are fucking and sucking somewhere else in the crew quarters.”

“You think Doctor Oswald enjoys listening in or watching men who are experiencing pleasures of the flesh?” I ask.

“That is one of your Roman Catholic phrases?” Vincent answers quickly.

“As a matter of fact, yes, it is,” I reply. “So, in my time travel paradox—or my state of mental illness—I watch you killed by an explosion in the time travel hall from my vantage point inside one the Giant Blue Hockey Pucks. Then, I must have gone back in time and changed what happened to prevent you from being killed in the time travel hall.”

Vincent leans his face close to mine and says quietly, “I have no fucking idea what you are talking about.”

“I can remember what happens in timelines even after I have completed my missions to change the past,” I tell him.

“No time travel agent can remember what happened before. We both know that from our training.”

I remind him: “I can remember that the other you in another timeline told me how religion was invented by man. You said that there is no divine creator. God and religion are man-made. No free will. No hell below us. Above us only sky.”

“Uh, no, that sounds like it comes from some John Lennon song,” Vincent says in a matter-of-fact way. He forcibly covers my mouth with his left hand so I cannot respond verbally. When he is on me and in me, Vincent often can be very rough. The intense quaking of my orgasm releases me from all thoughts of time travel paradoxes.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

I sit behind the wheel driving my shiny new 1991 Ford Explorer on a two-lane Arizona highway winding through the desert where Interstate 11 will be in the future. I look in the glove compartment and see the cover of the operator’s manual. I also note how the odometer reading is just over 5,000 miles. The new-car scent of the interior of the 4×4 in unmistakable. I do not remember buying this truck. Yet, because I am aware that my brain may be damaged, I am becoming more accepting of the reality that I may have gaps in my memories.

I want to feel the dry, hot desert wind hitting me in the face as I drive, so I press a button and the driver’s side window retracts all the way down. This provides me with a more authentic experience compared to hiding behind the wheel inside the truck’s air-conditioned cabin.

Above me I can see a vast, cloudless bright blue Arizona sky was interrupted only by a large California condor who sails silently in the wind. His huge, eight-foot wingspan with white stripes underneath play with the breeze relentlessly flowing over the desert surface. This vulture’s head is pink with no feathers, but his small, scary eyes commanded my attention. He looks angry as the soothing and peaceful wind sound around and under him has been so rudely interrupted by the sound of my approaching sports utility vehicle.

The flying scavenger screams at me as he navigates the skies above a lonely, dusty two-lane highway that snaked its way through terribly dry territory where there are more Joshua Trees than practically any other living thing. The stately cactus plants share the landscape with scrub brush and an occasional outcropping of rounded rocks. But, this also is a terribly uninviting environment. The sun is making its regular arc towards the western horizon, but continues to bake the dust and dirt that cover my truck that looks dirty from having been on the road for several days in a row. The condor sweeps over my truck, and me and then he flies over a sign on the side of the highway that identifies this lonely stretch of road as the Joshua Tree Highway.

I distinctly remember that I brought Katherine Snowe here to Arizona to marry her. “Black Saturday” is how I refer to the day that she and I were married in Sedona, Arizona, the mystical place where I was born and raised. Although Sedona is known for having a vortex to other dimensions, I chose a more standard venue for my marriage ceremony. The wedding ceremony was on the afternoon of Christmas Eve inside a little-known Spanish Mission named after Saint Louis of Toulouse, a small adobe church that was built during the 18th century.

The festive holiday season provided Katherine Snowe with the opportunity to wear blood red as the color of choice for the gown she wore in the Roman Catholic ceremony. She told me that since was no longer a virgin, wearing the white—the color which stood symbolically for purity—would have been a ‘deliberate deception’ as she called it. Those were her exact words to me to explain why she wanted to wear the color red in the mission.

Father Timothy MacMillan had the distinct scent of whiskey on his breath as he stood before me and her at the altar. When he genuflected, he lost his balance, barely managing to keep from collapsing onto me. His left foot slid into the silver holy water vessel. Following a muted clanging, the spill traveled down the ancient adobe steps with apparent determination. The shiny white vases holding the red and green holly bushes wrapped in gold foil caught the holy water before it could splash onto my astonished bride-to-be.

She was not Catholic. She confided in me her fear that I would conspire with the Vatican and the Holy Father (as if I knew the man personally) to have her surreptitiously baptized against her will during the marriage ceremony. She looked over at me and smiled wryly at having escaped the imaginary threats she perceived in the dreaded Roman Catholic holy water.

I knew that marrying Katherine Snowe was a terrible mistake. I quite clearly was aware of the grievous error I was making. The error was marriage. To me, this was obvious as I walked down the aisle of the old mission towards the doom that awaited me at the altar of almighty God. I had been taught I was a member of the One True Church as I was brainwashed into calling it. So, I felt protected from eternal punishment even though getting married to a woman felt terribly dishonest in my situation.

Most of the wedding ceremony is merely a foggy blur to me after so many years have passed. But, I do remember the honeymoon. My new wife passed out too early in our Sedona honeymoon suite on the king size bed with the red comforter. The bottle of Spanish sparkling wine that she singlehandedly finished that night rendered her unconscious quickly.

We could not and did not consummate our marriage in old Arizona on Christmas Eve. I ended up masturbating alone in the romantic, oversized oval tub with silver tiles in that Sedona honeymoon suite. I fantasized about being serviced in that tub by young, muscular men who washed my body carefully and respectfully and then serviced me in the various ways that I wanted and needed. That was not how I envisioned and hoped my wedding night to turn out. The soft warm water washed my tears and semen down the drain together.

Perhaps the core problem was that a marriage between one man and one woman must be built upon a central truth that both parties are attracted to one another. Simple enough. I was only pretending to be attracted to Katherine Snowe. I remember how much I wanted to pretend convincingly that I was attracted to any female because I was under orders from work to learn how to fit in to the timeline in which I was living.

Feeling attracted to men seemed natural and so very simple for me. I’m in 20th century for work. But, I don’t belong here. This backward century to me seemed out of touch with reality. Men were taught by religious leaders what to feel or not feel. It was a hearts and mind thing. But, it was also a cock and balls thing, too. The Roman Catholic religious leaders of the 20th century attempted in vain to teach men to control their thoughts and emotions and sex drives. I found myself living and working in a repressed era in which people largely did not attain honesty about themselves on so many levels.

My new wife was too self-absorbed in her severe mental illness to be aware of the truth about my sexual identity. She did not know what turned me on or turned me off. I did have sex with her, of course. The agency wanted me to fit in. I’m sure that any man can have sex with anyone more or less convincingly as long as he doesn’t tell his sex partner what he is fantasizing about at the time.

Katherine Snowe never knew that I didn’t enjoy sex with her because she was preoccupied with not enjoying sex with me. She was unbalanced and self-tormenting in ways that could never be repaired by prescription drugs or mental health therapy. More importantly, she existed somewhere else in her mind instead of being present with me in our lives. She simply was absent emotionally from our relationship at all times. All I had was an official marriage license from the State of Arizona, formal sacramental sanction from the One True Church, and a female as my life partner. Many men would find all that was more than enough to make their life completely satisfying. I never was one of those men.

Although I proved to be unsuccessful in pretending to be attracted to Katherine Snowe while living in the past, at least I honestly can say that I did what the agency wanted. I was doing my job for the agency by working in the late 20th century. Why did MMDI send me here? That century was a backwards era in a time before medical science eventually proved conclusively that sexual identity is hard-wired in every human being and that one’s sexual identity can never be altered whatsoever by individual will or religion or anything man-made. We are who we are sexually. Was I sent back in time here to learn that my sexual identity as a gay man should never be questioned no matter where I am?

As I drive my Ford Explorer towards Kingman, Arizona, part of the truth I know is this: I cannot stop thinking about Vincent Wauneka. The setting sun blinds me temporarily as I look at the road ahead. In an instant, Vincent Wauneka is seated in my passenger seat next to me. He is shirtless, but he is wearing his blue jeans and customized cowboy boots. He holds his bright white cowboy hat over his crotch.

Vincent Wauneka been sent back in time to accompany me in my truck? Or, am I just imagining that he is here with me?

He playfully removes his cowboy hat from his lap and smiles at me. He watches as my eyes are drawn immediately to his crotch. Then, he tosses his cowboy hat into the back of my 4×4. I try to keep paying enough attention to Interstate 40 in front of me. I see him smiling approvingly as I attempt to pay more attention to my driving than to his crotch. I have no choice. I find him captivating. I wonder why any person would want to deny their sexual orientation. As a man, I feel it is natural to feel sexually attracted to other men. It is what is. So, why is it so difficult for a gay man like me to feel completely comfortable with being gay?

I tell him aloud: “With my luck, while studying your package, I’ll lose control. Of my truck, that is. We will careen off this old Arizona interstate freeway and I will kill us both.”

Vincent Wauneka says nothing in response, but he is smiling at me like he understands what I am telling him.

“Dead men. Both of us,” I tell him. “Back east, my ex-wife, Katherine, will get a phone call from the cops that she will never forget,” I say aloud. I watch the longhaired Indian watching and listening to me like he has concluded that I am an insane person. “Mrs. Avila, uh—. I’m sorry, but we’ve got some bad news. Your husband has been found dead in Arizona.”

I understand from his nonverbal behaviors that Vincent Wauneka is amused by what I am saying.

“Katherine will go to the morgue to identify my mangled body. ‘Take a look here, Mrs. Avila,’ the medical examiner will say to her in a deliciously mournful tone. ‘So sorry for your loss,’ he will say. I wonder why they always say that to the bereaved. Then, the M.E. continues, ‘You may not be able to recognize your husband. I’m truly sorry. His 4×4 must’ve hit those Northern Arizona pine trees pretty hard before it came to a full stop. Not much left after that I’m afraid. His body was ripped into chunks of meat scattered all down that ravine where his truck sailed into the sky off I-40. Oh, and investigators also found a second body in the wreckage, Mrs. Avila. A Navajo male, around age thirty. Dental records allowed for him to be identified. Vincent Wauneka from Tuba City, Arizona on the Navajo Reservation. Big guy. Built solid and thick like a warrior. His semen was found in two distinct locations inside your husband’s body.’”

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