“Oh, come on. I’m going to get branded as the killer of Vice Presidents. Can’t you find someone else for this mission?” Pleaded Josh Silverstein, time agent.
“This will only be the second VP you’ve killed; besides I think you already earned a lifelong reputation as Jesus. Now be my savior and go do the mission you were assigned. I can’t be accused of playing favorites.” Replied Veronica Jayne, Director of the ONLE time agency, Wife of Josh Silverstein.
“Wait, the mission briefing says 1975. I can’t do that. I had a mission in 1960. Time locks for the win.”
“Do you ever read your briefings? The boys down in R&D were able to get the time likes down to 10 years in either direction. Something about the physics here at Omega Point”
“Really? I thought it was a universal law or something like that. Ooh, that means I can go back and see Houdini perform early in his career.”
“Dammit, I was afraid you would remember that.”
“Okay, look. You do this mission and we will talk about seeing Houdini on our next vacation.”
“Fine, but don’t think you are going to use your feminine wiles on me later to make me forget…”
“Whatever you say dear, now go kill Jimmy Hoffa and get that cute ass back home.” Veronica said
“It’s a shame really, I always thought Hoffa was a good VP to Reagan. No major controversies during his regime country came out pretty good. Hoffa was a classic bad guy made good story. Why are we knocking him off?”
“We’re running on the positive side of the LINE Josh. We need to make things a little worse.to get things closer to balance. The time analysts say that if we eliminate Hoffa back in ’75 before he goes and gets all goody two shoes it will make some significant changes. Reagan will pick this former CIA director named Bush to be VP, The US invades Iraq and Bush only serves one term. Clinton still comes next, but Bush’s son gets elected next. He is a personable guy but not the brightest bulb in the box. They predict that during his term there will be a terrorist attack and he will take the US into a prolonged war in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Josh interrupted, “Oof, Afghanistan. Why won’t they ever learn that no one wins in a war with Afghanistan.”
“Yep, any who, after him the US will elect their first Black president and then, after his terms, we will start what the analysts are calling the TV celebrity phase of American politics. It will be a dark time for those living through it, but for us it should move us within twenty points of balance.”
“Twenty points, have we ever been that close?”
“Not that our records show. If anyone achieved it, it happened before we calculated it or was wiped out by some other changes.”
Josh walked over and kissed his wife, “I guess I better go kill Jimmy Hoffa, so that you can be the Director who balanced the LINE.”
“Thanks babe, now get out of here. I am already late for my ten o’clock.”
Ahh, Detroit summer of ’75. Josh thought back to his pre-mission research. The town is in decline, the American auto industry is starting to feel the heat from the gasoline crises and people are starting to look elsewhere for cars that sip rather than chug the fuel. The unions are still strong, and the mob right with it, in Detroit these two go hand in hand. Josh set off walking towards downtown to find a hotel. He didn’t have a set time frame for this mission he only knew he needed to get the most impact it needed to be done in the next few weeks. Time for some sleep, research, and recon. Josh got a room at the Ramada and dove into the case files on his SL-8 tablet.
It should be too difficult to get rid of Hoffa, Josh thought to himself. The man has pissed off several former mob allies and investors, he is banned from any type of union business, so his influence is weak now. No wonder he went straight and put himself in the public eye. It was probably the only way he could think of to keep from being killed by his former allies. That settled it for Josh. He would kill him and make it look like a mob hit. That way no one would be suspicious, and it should help correct the LINE’s happy disposition. Now Josh could get some sleep.
Sleep wasn’t to happen. Since Veronica and him had gotten married he had gotten used to sleeping in her Zero-G floating bed. The whole sleeping with no mattress or pressure points had spoiled him for these barbaric steel spring mattresses, not to mention all the other fun one could have in Zero-G. He had thought his previous LeviGel bed was comfortable, but it was destroyed with NegPoint and it might as well be a bale of hay compared to Veronica’s bed. So, he lay there on the springs staring at the mass produced, generic, non-offensive, pastel art-work lining the walls of his hotel room. The beige walls and odd brown and splashes of bright colors on the bed comforter that could have only occurred during the 1970s. Josh wondered what it was about this decade that made everything look so bad. The clothes, the haircuts, the color palettes, It all combined to make everyone look twenty years older than they actually were.
The next day Josh set out to enact his plan. He knew from the records that Detroit mobster Anthony Giacalone had recently had multiple meeting with Hoffa. Tony Jack, as Giacalone was known, would be his key to Hoffa. They would have another meeting in two days, that would be where he would strike.
He tracked Giacalone for a couple days to get a feel for his routine and slowly introduced himself into it. Josh knew that Tony Jack frequented a deli on the Eastside of town. He thought that this would be the safest place to get some voice recordings.
“What’ll it be?” asked the owner.
“Pastrami on rye, mustard, hold the pickle,” Josh said. He paid and took his number from the counter. He looked around the small shop and then acting like the choice wasn’t his he took a seat next to Tony, waiting for his order to be called. Tony made no notice of Josh sitting there.
“Order forty-two,” Called the deli owner. Josh hoped up and grabbed his order, returning to his seat.
“God dammit, they put pickles on my sandwich.” Josh said a little louder than was called for.
“You can’t have pastrami without pickles, you need the vinegar to cut through the fat of the pastrami.” Tony Jack said back.
“Fuckin’ hate these little green bastards. I think the mustard cuts through the fat fine, thank you very much.”
“No, you see it’s all about the balance. The pickle gives a crunch and acidity where the mustard brings a spiciness to balance out the salt and fat of the meat. The rye provides an earthiness and chew to the sandwich. Properly made it is a work of art. Say what you will, but those Jews know how to make a sandwich.”
Josh, half-Jewish himself, didn’t quite know if to take that as a compliment or an insult. With all of Tony Jack’s talk of balance and obvious lack of strict moral code he may have made a good ONLE agent had he been born in a different century. Josh looked at his watch and saw that he had eighty percent of the recording he needed to make a convincing replica of Tony’s voice. Josh took a bite of his sandwich and turned back to Tony.
“You’re right, that is pretty good.” Josh said through a mouthful of Pastrami, “Name’s Josh. Josh… Smith,” Josh said, trying to cover his heritage. Tony obviously had his ideas about the ethnic identities, best not to confuse him by being a Jew that didn’t know how to properly eat a pastrami sandwich.
“Good to meet you Josh, I’m Tony. So, what brings you to Detroit?” he asked.
“Business meeting. I’m out here meeting with Ford about an ad campaign. What is it you do Tony?”
“This and that, I do some work with the Auto Unions as well.”
“Great guys, I know several teamsters back in New York.”
“Oh yeah, small world. So how did you find out about this place?”
“I was complaining about not being able to find a good deli outside of New York and some of the boys in the office told me to try this place.”
“Well, New York isn’t the only place with Jews you know. So, how is it?”
“It’s no Katz’s but it is pretty good.”
“I ate at Katz’s once, I thought they cut the meat too thick. Wasn’t a fan.”
“Next time you’re in town try Second Avenue Deli. The cut the pastrami thin and the pickle is on the side as it should be.”
Tony laughed at this and stood up, “Well I must be off. Josh, I hope you have a good visit to Detroit.”
As Tony walked out of the shop Josh thought to himself that Tony must have been one of the nicest gangsters that he had ever met. Then again this may have been the first one he met that he didn’t have a gun pulled on. He checked his watch and it showed that he had enough recordings to replicate Tony’s voice. It was time for the next phase of the plan. But first he was going to go by the Cobo arena and see if he couldn’t pick up a ticket off one of the scalpers for the Rolling Stones concert going on that night.
It had been two days and his head was still ringing from the concert. Josh was in his early thirties now and he was not appreciating the significant decrease in his ability to recover from a night of drunken debauchery. He was just glad he managed to pull himself out of bed long enough to have his SL-8 make the phone call to Tony’s guys to make sure they didn’t show up for the meeting today and using historical clips the SL-8 called Tony to make it seem that Hoffa was taking a rain check.
Josh stood in the trees that borders the Machus Red Fox parking lot and waiting for Hoffa to show. Hoffa’s green Pontiac pulled into a spot near the door and he got out of the car and walked into the restaurant. Josh was walking towards the restaurant when he felt that all too familiar tingle of T-particles starting to bombard him. What’s happening? He thought. He looked at his timeporter and it didn’t show an active jump. This shouldn’t be happening. Then as soon as it started it was over. He looked around him, the restaurant was gone. There was nothing around but corn, acre after acre of corn. What the hell? He thought. Josh looked at his timeporter, it was dead. Shit, shit, shit. His mind raced. He had to get back there and kill Jimmy Hoffa.
Josh took off his timeporter and looped it onto his jacket. The solar cells should recharge the timeporter in a couple hours, at least enough for a jump. Hopefully Hoffa would wait at the restaurant that long. He saw some tractor tracks in the corn nearby, so he decided to follow them. There wasn’t much else to do right now but walk.