Monday, March 30, 2009


As the door creaked open, I heard the tinkling of the bell. Gloomy, dusty, and dank the interior of the store did not instill confidence. "The Time Store" was clearly not thriving. Oh well, no matter I had something to sell, and they hopefully had the will and the money to buy, or rather the time to barter. That was why I was hear to trade/sell one my last possessions for an hour, maybe two (if I was lucky) of time. The time to go back, and fix one of the major errors of my life that put me in this situation to begin with. A bit of a paradox to go back, and fix what got me here would mean I never got here in order to go back, and fix the error. This is what time is a great big paradox. Either way, I had to at least give it a shot. After all, this was about the only item of value I had left, and my landlady was not "running a charity for losers" as she reminded me on a semi-daily basis. All sort of detritus lined the shelves of "The Time Store," other people's prized possessions sold off for a chance to buy enough time to make things right, or at least better. The old man behind the counter looked up from reading his hologram, and gave me the same look a man give to eggs after discovering they had gone off. Not a good beginning to what, for me, was a desperate transaction. "Excuse me, Sir, but I have this for sale." I laid the last possession my great aunt Julia had left me me from her all too small estate. The old man picked up the dusty tome I had laid on his counter as if it was toxic. Very gently by the corner, and with only his index finger and thumb. "And what, pray tell, is THIS exactly" he sniffed. "The collected works of the Grand Inquisitor" I said, then added none too proudly. "My great-great-great uncle on my mother's side." "I see," the old man replied. "The Grand Inquisitor?" "Your blood relative?" "No wonder you look as downtrodden as you do." "You're lucky that your family survived the purges of the '70's." I sighed not this again "not all of us did, but that is a family tragedy that I do not care to discuss today." "How much for the book?" "Surely the paper alone has to be worth something, even if the writings are dribble." "Dribble?" "Well certainly the GI was no Poe or Hemingway, but he had his own niche in literary history." Even managed a few decades of fame, long after his body was found floating by the Quai des Beoufes." "So of course, it did him absolutely no good at all, but such are the twists of fate." I released another sigh "Look Mister, all I know is my great-aunt gave me the book, and said it was valuable." "I have not bothered to read it, nor have I ever heard of the fool that wrote it besides the story of him being some wacko distant relative of mine from centuries ago." "I have my own problems, and just want to know if the damn book is worth two hours of time or not?" The owner looked shocked "never read the damn book?" "Tsk, tsk, the poor GI dying in poverty, and then cursed with relatives without a sense of history." "He would roll over in his grave, if any knew exactly where it was nowadays." "You lad need to at least understand what you are trying to pawn off for a mere two hours of time." "Sit your sorry ass down, and listen for a few minutes while I give you the lesson your mother should have given you a long time ago." I bristled "my mother is dead, you bastard, she died bringing me into this shit world, so don't preach to me about her failing in her duties." He blinked "ah, sorry lad, clearly I did not know." "Tell you what you listen, and I will give you two and a half hours, fair enough?" "Fine," I muttered not like I have anywhere else to be at the moment. "So go ahead and regal me with the story of my famed ancestor." He chuckled, and said "far from famous, but a minor celebrity, but like I said much too late to do him any good." "He was not a particularly good man, your uncle, but he did have the good sense to realize it, and use it to some small advantage." "He was the generation that first discovered what they called "blogging" some new fangled way of pouring your heart out on the Internet for a bunch of your friends to read, and make pithy comments about." "Never really understood what all the fuss was about myself, but it caught on and was all the rage for about 75 years or so, until the long winter came, and took care of all that fancy technological stuff." "Anyway, your uncle earned just enough minor celebrity with his blog posts to become famous enough to be included in the Archives, when the Commonwealth rebuilt the grid of the old American empire." "Not the most famous blogger in the world, but one deemed worthy of keeping a copy of in the archives." "Seems he was a bit of the Baudelaire of his set." "Of course since the original Baudelaire's writing were completely lost during the long winter, I guess the Commonwealth decided to take what it could get, and use your uncle's writings as the archetype." "Not the most uplifting of writings, and he certainly was not a lover of humankind, but he did manage a dedicated following in his time." "Not that I expect you to appreciate any of this, but at least you should have some idea of what you are selling before you sell for a mere two and a half hours." "Tell you what, you take your book home read it for a couple of days, and if you still want to sell it, I will buy it without any further pontificating." I sighed "fair enough I suppose." "Guess I should read what the old codger was on about all those years ago."

That was 2429. It is now 2630, and the desperate fellow in the story above was my great-great grandfather. The above story is from his diaries nothing further about this particular incidence survive. I don't know what he did to get the two hours of time he needed to go back, and "fix things," and I not sure I want to know. The old guy was considered a serious black sheep in the family, but he must have done something, because before he died, he took me aside, and gave me the "dusty tome" mentioned above. Making me promise never to sell it, and never republish it, but to keep it in the family for as long as there is a family. I kept that promise, and will lay the same duty upon my son, and he will do the same to his son as well. Of course no one now reads the Grand Inquisitor, but for some reason the book seems to be a good luck charm for the family. Perhaps that is the irony of it all. The poor sod that wrote it never reaped any benefit from it, but his ancestors thrive and prosper because of the babbling of a man without qualities.

In answer to Tidy's challenge. This was the hardest of the three by far, and I am not sure it went the way you requested, but sometimes these things happen. Now it is time for you to send in the clowns.



Taru said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


The Grand Inquisitor said...

always nice to have new readers even if they come from some odd commerical site.

chall said...

I like it, although it is fairly bleak description of the GI.... both Musil and Baudelaire.... and poor.

ah well, I guess it is fame rather than fortune?

The Grand Inquisitor said...

well i suspect the fortune would be nice, but i would not know.

tideliar said...

Oh, bravo sir! Not what I was expecting at all, and that makes it all the better!

Bravo. Your clowns will around shortly...