“So what time are you taking off Steve?” Oscar asked as he watched his friend threw the last of his clothes into the suitcase he had on the bed.
“Just as soon as I can get to the airport.” Steve told him. “Are you sure you don’t want to come Oscar? Mom and dad would really appreciate it.”
“I would love nothing more than to come to your parents’ anniversary, but you know how I feel about going to Ojai? Every time…”
“Oscar that is not going to happen again. Rudy says the odds are right at zero. He’s coming.”
“Ok, ok I guess I will. Let me throw some things in a suitcase and I’ll meet you at Dulles in say thirty minutes?”
“We’ll be waiting.” Steve said. “I have to pick up Rudy, then I’m on my way.”
“Ok I’ll see you in just a bit then.” Oscar left to get ready to leave.
A half an hour later they all met. “So.” Steve began “Are we ready?”
“Let’s go.” Rudy called out as he helped Steve load the suitcases into the luggage compartment of Steve’s plane.
They boarded the plane and took off. “Who’s meeting us at the airport?” Oscar wondered.
“Jaime is. She has everything all arranged. We are having dinner at mom’s favorite place. She doesn’t know we’re coming.” Steve explained as he flew the twin-engine plane. “It’s supposed to be a surprise.”
“Well that’s good.” Oscar sighed.
“What’s with you Oscar? You’ve been ‘jumpy’ ever since we all got to the airport.”
“Steve you know what happens every time we or maybe I should say I go to Ojai? We always seem to wind up back when you were a kid.”
“I told you Oscar.” Rudy tried to reassure. “The odds of that happening again are zero.”
“Yea I know.” Oscar agreed, “I just don’t like the prospect.” Oscar said as Steve pulled the plane to a stop at the airport.
“Oscar you have to stop worrying so much.” Rudy said as they got off the plane. “Every thing is going to be just fine.”
“You say that every time Rudy.” Oscar reminded.
“Well this time I’m right.” Rudy stated as the began to walk through the terminal
“Here Oscar.” Steve told him. “I’ll prove it to you.” He walked up to a vendor and picked up a paper. “Here see. October 27, 1957…’
“Say what?” Oscar called.
“Steve, don’t you mean 1975?” Rudy corrected.
“Uh. What did I just say?” Steve asked.
“You said the date was October 27, 1957, but that can’t be possible. Rudy you said this couldn’t happen again.” Oscar stated.
“Steve must be wrong.” Rudy took the paper from Steve. “Uh that’s what it says.”
“I knew it I just knew it. I’m telling you one thing, I am never coming to Ojai ever again.” Oscar cried.
“1957?” Rudy mused. He turned to Steve. “That would make you what? About fifteen?”
“Yea I’d be fifteen.” Steve looked again at the date on the paper. “I just can’t believe it’s happened again.”
“Well believe it!” Oscar shouted. “No it can’t happen Oscar.” Oscar mocked “Don’t worry about, the chances are zero…”
“Oscar.” Rudy began. “Just calm down. Let’s find out why we’re here.”
“What do you mean Rudy?” Steve asked.
“Well every time we end up back here, there is some reason for it.” Rudy pointed out. “Remember last time?”
Steve nodded. “Yea I guess I do.” He sighed. “So why do you suppose we are here this time?”
“I don’t know. I have a feeling we are soon to find out.” Rudy stated as they made their way through the airport. “I suppose we better find a car rental that is if they rented cars in the late 50s.”
After renting the car they decided to check into a hotel until they could find out just what they were in 1957 for.
“Listen guys,” Steve said after they checked in. “why don’t we meet in the lobby in about fifteen minutes of so?”
“That sounds good.” Rudy agreed, then added. “At least we have luggage with us this time.”
“Yea” Oscar grumbled, “We don’t have to go shopping this time.”
“I’ll admit though.” Rudy observed. “Our clothes will more than likely seem out of place, but we’ll just have to work around it.” He turned to Steve. “You said fifteen minutes?”
Steve nodded. “Yea fifteen should do it.”
Outside the hotel and up the block young Steven Austin stood on the corner with a number of his ‘friends.’
“Hey Steven” Charlie called. “You want to hit the scene tonight?”
“Sure Charlie.” The tall blue-eyed boy nodded. “What’s going on?”
“Don’t know yet.” Charlie answered. “But Rick, Tod and I thought we could find something to do.”
”Sounds like fun. I’ll meet you later.” Steven stated.
Steven left his friends. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and headed up the street.
“Steven! Hey Steven” Steven turned toward the voice.
“Yea! What do you want?” Steven sneered.
“I told you I would meet you at the barber at 1:15 so you could get that shaggy mop cut.” Jim said.
“I’ll get it cut when I’m dam good and ready!” Steven snorted.
Jim walked over to him. “Listen, don’t do this.”
“Don’t do what?” Steven snarled.
“Your mother would like your hair to be cut before the party tomorrow night.” Jim stepped back away from him as if he were afraid of the boy.
“You’re not my father, you know that! I don’t have to do what you tell me to do!!” He shrieked. “And I ain’t going to no party!”
“No I’m not your father, but I am married to your mother. I don’t like what you are doing to her. And you will come to the party!”
“You gonna make me?” Steven shouted. “And what do you mean you don’t like what I’m doing to my mother?”
“Look, for your mother would you please get you hair cut before the party tomorrow night?”
“If I feel like it. Now get out of my way!” Steven shoved Jim out of his way and stormed up the street.
Jim watched as the boy continued up the street. ‘That boy is headed for trouble’ Jim said to himself. ‘I just hope he doesn’t break his mother’s heart before it’s all said and done.’
Steve, Oscar and Rudy met in the lobby of the hotel “Well why don’t we see what 1957 is like.” Steve suggested.
“I’m not so sure I want to go out there.” Oscar cowered.
“Oh come on Oscar. It’s not all that bad.” Rudy chided.
“You are also the one who said this would never happen again.” Oscar reminded.
“Would you two stop arguing and let’s just go outside.” Steve pointed in the direction of the door.
The three of them stepped out onto the streets of Ojai. “Now” Rudy began. “I guess the first order of business is to find Steve.”
“I’m standing right here Rudy.” Steve told him.
“I mean the fifteen-year-old you.” Rudy reminded.
“Oh yea. Are you sure?” Steve wondered. Not really knowing what to say. The prospect of actually finding himself unnerved him in a way. “I don’t know if I really want to find myself.” Steve finished.
“Well that’s usually the routine.” Rudy explained as they walked up the street. “And usually you are in some kind of trouble.”
“Well I can’t remember anything right offhand.” Steve said. “I mean I might have been a little rebellious as a teenager, but who wasn’t in the late fifties?”
“You’re still a little rebellious” Oscar laughed.
As they neared the corner they saw a lone man standing on the corner shaking his head.
Steve stopped dead in his tracks. “Hey that’s Dad.” He told his friends.
“Yea.” Rudy observed. “He doesn’t look very happy either.”
“Wonder what the trouble could be?” Steve wondered.
“He’s raising a fifteen year old Steve.” Oscar pointed to Steve. “Need I say more?”
“Very funny Oscar.” Steve grumbled as he walked up to his ‘father’. “Is anything wrong?” He asked.
Jim stared at the adult version of his stepson. “Do I know you?” He asked.
Steve shook his head. “Well maybe just a little.” He smiled at him.
“You remind me of my stepson. “ Jim stepped back.
Steve could tell what he was thinking. “No. I’m not his father. If I told you, you would never believe it. Let’s just say I’m a friend.”
“Well Ok I guess so. You just look so much like him. I thought for sure you were my wife’s first husband…”
“No it’s nothing like that.” Steve assured. “You seem a little upset.”
“Well it’s my stepson. I’m afraid he’s headed for trouble. He hangs out with the wrong kids. His mother is very upset by it.”
“What kind of trouble?” Rudy asked.
“Just what I said the group of boys he’s hanging out with I just don’t like them.” Jim cried.
Oscar turned to Steve “Shame on you!” Oscar whispered. “Do you know what he’s talking about?”
Steve nodded his face red with embarrassment. “Yea. I think I know exactly what he talking about…”
“My biggest problem is that I don’t think he understands how much he breaking his mother’s heart.” Jim sighed as he walked away.
Oscar grabbed the newspaper Rudy had brought with him from the hotel. He rolled it up and thumped Steve on the back of the head. “Shame on you!” He scolded.
“Yea.” Steve sighed. “I guess I never realized just how much my rebellion years bothered my mother.” Steve started up the street.
“Where are you going?” Rudy called after him.
“I’m going to find myself and try to set me straight.” Steve called back over his shoulder.
Rudy ran up to him. “Do you know where you are?” He asked.
“I think I have a pretty good idea. I think I remember they entire incident: Dad wanting me to get my hair cut; the anniversary. Yea I know what’s going to happen. You and Oscar go back to the hotel. I’ll call you later.”
Oscar moved closer to him. “You sure you’re ok pal?”
“Oscar this is something I have to handle myself. I’ll be back later.”
Oscar and Rudy headed for the hotel and Steve headed up the street.
‘I just hope I’m not too late’ Steve thought as he headed in the direction he and his friends always hung out.
As Steve headed for the ‘dug out’ to catch up with his younger self, Steven and his friends were planning their wild evening.
“I know where old man Carson keeps that shiny new car of his.” Charlie was saying to the group of boys who surrounded him.
“So what is that supposed to mean?” Steve asked.
“I thought you knew?” Charlie sneered. “We’re going to take Old man Carson’s car for a little ride.
You’re going to steal the principal’s car?” Steven was wide-eyed.
“That’s the plan.” Charlie laughed.
“Gee Charlie. I don’t know if we should…”
“Has old man Carson ever given you detention?” Charlie wondered.
Steven nodded. “Of course. That’s what this is all about?” Steven smiled.
“You bet. You with us?” Charlie asked.
Again Steven nodded. “We’ll teach that old Carson.”
“That’s right. Come on let’s go. It’s not far from here.” Charlie said.
The boys headed up the street to where their principal Mr. Carson lived.
Steve wandered around for a long time trying to figure out where he would be. ‘Wait a minute’ Steve snapped his fingers at the memory. ‘I have to stop him before it’s too late. As a matter of fact someone did stop me.’ Steve took off at a run and ran in the direction he had gone in 1957 with his friends.
Steve arrived just in time. The boys surrounded Mr. Carson’s car. Steve stood back from the group just enough for Steve to sneak up behind him and grab him away from the group just as the boys broke into the car.
“You ready Steven?” Charlie called as he looked back to where Steve had been standing. “Hey! Where did he go?” Charlie asked the other boys around him.
After grabbing himself Steve ran off with Steven. “Hey who are you?” Steven shouted after they had rounded the corner.
“Someone who wants to talk to you.” Steve told him.
“By what kidnapping me?” Steven shouted.
“No, I’m not kidnapping you. I’m keeping your butt out of jail. Let’s just say someone did the same thing for me when I was your age, and I’m repaying the favor.”
“Yea well I don’t need any help.” Steve tried to get away from his older self.
“No.” Steve held him tighter. “You’re coming with me.”
“The hell I am!” Steven shouted. He reached out and gave Steve a kick in the shin. “Owww” Steven screamed grabbing his foot.
“That will teach you.” Steve stifled a laugh.
“Hey what’s going on?” Steven cried.
“We are going to have a little chat Steven.” Steve kept a grip on Steven.
Steve looked up at the strange man with the familiar face. “Ok.” He nodded.
Steve led the boy to a drive-in “Come on I’ll buy you a hamburger. Steve still held Steven’s upper arm, maybe a little tighter than he should.
“That really hurts mister.” Steven complained.
“Yea. Well I can hold it tight enough to break it just keep that in mind.” Steve whispered to him as they entered the drive-in.
“Ok” Steven sighed as he slouched down in the seat. “What the hell did you want to talk about?”
“For starters, watch the language!” Steve scolded.
“Why would I listen to you, you’re not my father.” Steven shouted. ‘Or his he?’ Steven thought as he continued to stare at the man sitting across from him.
“No I’m not your father.” Steve told him and cleared his throat. “But I know more about you then you probably know yourself.”
“Yea right.” Steven sneered.
“Oh you’d be surprised.” Steve continued. “If I told you who I was, you’d never believe me.”
“So.” Steven challenged, “Who are you?”
“Your don’t really want the answer to that.” Steve told him.
“So what did you want to talk about?” Steven wondered.
“I want to talk about your future.” Steve began.
“Look you better straighten up your act.” Steve continued. “Or you are never going to get anywhere.”
“What do you mean?”
“If you continue on this path, you will wind up behind bars. Do you want that to happen?”
Steven shook his head. “No I don’t.”
“Not only will you destroy you life, you will break your mother’s heart. Is that what you want?”
Again Steven shook his head. “I never thought about it that way.”
“Steven, you need to stop and think about what you are doing.” Steve explained. “You have to think about what the outcome will be.”
“I don’t think I understand.” Steven gazed at the man sitting across from him.
Steve thought for a moment then glanced at his watch. The memory of the evening had completely come back to him. “Let me show you.” The two of them left the drive-in and headed down the street. “Just come with me.”
Steven followed Steve up the street. “Come on!” Steve called to the boy. As they came to the corner Steven could see police cars and police men surrounding Mr. Carson’s car. Charlie and the rest of the kids were sitting on the curb while the police waited to Mr. Carson to show up and identify his car.
“Do you see? You could be sitting on that curb with the rest of those kids if I hadn’t taken you.”
Steven nodded. They continued to stand back out of the way and watch the scene play out. Steven turned to Steve. “Were they in an accident?”
“No son they weren’t. Mr. Carson reported his car as stolen.”
“Stolen?” Steven gasped.
“That’s right. That’s what they call it when you take something that doesn’t belong to you.”
Steven swallowed hard. “Are they going to go to jail?”
Steve nodded. “As a matter of fact, for them it’s only the beginning. They will spend the rest of their lives in and out of prison.”
“I think I better get home.” Steven whispered.
“Did you learn anything tonight?” Steve asked as he gently took the boy by the hand and led him toward the hotel. “I just need to get some friends of mine.” Steve explained.
Steve and Steven entered the hotel “I just hope they are still awake they have the keys to the car we rented when we arrived here.
Steven sat in a chair in the hotel while Oscar hunted down the keys to the rental car. “Are you sure you don’t want us to come with you Steve.”
“I guess you can if you want.” Steve agreed.
The four of them got into the car and headed for the ranch.
Helen watched as the car pulled into the drive. She feared the worse. She had heard about Charlie and the other boys. She was sure Steven had been a part of it.”
She quickly ran to greet her son. “Steven, are you alright?” She called out.
“Yea mom.” Steven smiled “Thanks to my friend here.”
“You weren’t with the boys?” Helen asked sounding relieved.
“I started out with them, but I ended up with him.” He pointed to Steve.
“Well that’s good.” Helen cried. “Say,” she looked at Steve. “don’t I know you?”
Steve shrugged “I don’t think so.” He muttered.
Helen gasped and covered her mouth. “I do know you. I don’t know how you got here or what’s going on, but thank you.”
Steven overheard the conversation. He walked up to Steve. “So, you’re a friend of my mother’s?”
Steve shook his head. “Not really.” He replied.
“Yes you are!” Steven screamed. “She sent you! I should have known! What a load of crap you gave me! And I was dumb enough to fall for it! I can’t believe it!!”
“Now Steve calm down.” Steve spoke softly. “It’s not that way at all.”
“Yea right!” Steven shouted. He disappeared into the kitchen.
“Maybe we better go pal.” Oscar walked over to him.
“No he’s still not straightened up yet.” Steve whispered to him “I can’t leave it like this.”
“You might have to.” Rudy pointed out.
“Rudy I can’t do that.” Steve continued to argue.
Steven reappeared from the kitchen. “I’ll teach you!!” He screamed at Steve.
“Steven. Stop.” Steve called out. “Think about what you are doing.”
“I have thought about it!” Steven shouted. “I’ll teach you to mind your own business!!” He lunged at Steve and plunged a knife into his chest. Helen screamed as Steve fell to the floor and Steven also doubled over in pain…
Helen ran to Steven while Rudy and Oscar ran to Steve. Blood poured out of Steve’s chest.
“What about him?” Oscar pointed to Steven. “If anything happens…”
“Don’t worry he’s just feeling the pain, that’s all, he’s not hurt.” Rudy assured.
“Well that’s good. Now what about Steve?” Oscar knelt over his friend.
“I don’t know Oscar.” Rudy also was bending over Steve.
Steve’s eyes opened. He looked straight at Rudy and Oscar. “Rudy.” He managed to speak.
“Steve, don’t try to talk. Just lie still.” Rudy ordered.
“I have to.” Steve’s voice was weak.
“It can’t be that important Steve. Just relax.” Rudy cautioned.
Steve reached up and grabbed at Rudy. “Yes it is.” He whispered.
“Just take it easy pal.” Oscar encouraged.
“We have to keep this between us.” Steve continued.
“What do you mean?” Oscar wondered not really wanting Steve to speak anymore.
“You can’t call the police, if he gets in trouble and has a police record….” Steve fell unconscious.
“What’s he saying Rudy?” Oscar demanded.
“If he has a criminal record, Steve will never get into the Air Force.” Rudy explained.
“Can you help him?” Oscar asked
“I think so.” Rudy informed him
“You think so?!” Oscar shot him a stern look.
“It would be easier in our own time.” Rudy explained. “I can repair some of the damage, just enough to get him going, but the rest will have to come when we’re back in 1975.”
By now Steven was feeling better. He walked up to Oscar “Gee I’m sorry, I never meant for that to happen. Are you calling the cops?”
“No son. Not this time.” Oscar thought for a moment. “I will however inform them. And if you get into anymore trouble it will come up.” He lied.
“I promise, I’ll stay out of trouble from now on.” Steven whispered.
“See that you do.” Rudy said as he and Oscar lifted Steve onto a bed.
Helen stood beside them “Is he going to be alright? I know he’s as much my son as the boy standing over there.” She pointed to Steven standing in the doorway.
“Yes Helen. He’s going to be just fine.” Rudy assured.
“I just don’t understand why Steven would do this.” She cried.
Oscar took her gently by the arm. “Come on Helen. Let the doctor take care of him. We can wait out in the living room.”
“Yes, I suppose we can.” Helen held him tight. She turned to her son. “Come on son, stay with us.”
The boy shrugged “Yea, sure mom.” He replied.
As Rudy worked to stabilize Steven while the four of them sat around the kitchen table. “I don’t understand something.” Steven said softly. “Who is that man?” He turned to his mother. “Is he my natural father?”
Oscar shook his head. “No son. As a matter of fact he’s you.”
The boy stared at him. “You have got to be kidding.” He stammered.
“No he’s not.” Helen interjected. “I’m afraid he’s right. That man in there is you when you’re grown up.”
“That’s a bunch of crap!” Steven spat.
“Ok, explain this then.” Oscar began. “You felt it to when you plunged the knife into his chest. Didn’t you?”
“I’ll admit I felt something.” Steven stated. “You’re serious. Aren’t you?” He turned toward Oscar.
Oscar slowly nodded. “Yes son, I’m afraid I’m very serious. We don’t quite know how we got here, but now we do know why.”
“Well. Why?” Steven asked.
“I guess we are here to turn you around.” Oscar started.
“Turn me around?” Steven gave him a quizzical look.
“Son, right now you are on the wrong path. You’re going the wrong direction.” Oscar continued.
“What do you mean by that?” Seven shouted.
“What he means is…” Everyone turned to where Steve and Rudy stood in the doorway of the kitchen
Oscar ran over to them. “Should he be up Rudy?” Oscar questioned.
“No, but I can’t stop him.” Rudy shrugged.
Steve moved closer to the younger version of himself.
“As I was saying what he means is you are always getting into trouble. Take tonight, if I hadn’t taken you when I did, you’d be on your way to jail.” Steve explained.
Steven scuffed his toe on the carpet. “I didn’t think it was that bad.”
“Well it was.” Steve told him. “You have really hurt your mother.” Steve informed him.
Steven continued to look down at the carpet. Then he looked up at Steve. “What they said is that true? That you are me when I grow up?”
Steve nodded his head. “Yes son, it’s very true.”
Steven shook his head. “I still find it very hard to believe.”
“So do I.” Steve told him “I’m not sure how I got here, but I know why I’m here.”
Steven pointed to Oscar. “That’s what he said. He said you were here to put me on the right track.”
“I guess that’s the case.” Steve sighed. “You need to take a different route.”
“I will. I promise.” Steven nodded.
Steve reached out and put his arm around the boy. “See that you do. We’re both counting on it.”
Steven looked up at him. “Yea I guess we are. “ He gave him a sly smile. “I’ll behave I promise.”
Oscar looked over at Steve. “You ok pal? You look a little pale?”
“All of the sudden I feel real tired. Almost weak.” Steve explained. “My chest hurts too.” Steve started to double over.
Rudy grabbed on to him “That’s because you still have a piece of the knife inside of you.” Rudy informed him. “I can’t get it out now. I have to wait till we get back to 1975.”
“I have a feeling that will be sooner than any of us think.” Oscar surmised as they headed for the door.
Helen, Jim and Steve started for the door as well. As they stepped out onto the porch the trio was gone.
“Hey!” Steven cried. “Where did they go?”
“I would assume back to their own time.” Jim surmised.
The instant they stepped onto the porch they were back at the airport. Oscar grabbed a paper from the newsstand as they passed by. “October 27, 1975.” He proclaimed. “I guess we’re back.” He turned to Steve who was leaning against Rudy. “I guess every thing must have turned out alright.”
“We need to get him to the base hospital.” Rudy shouted as they continued through the airport.
“What happened?” Jaime wondered as she saw Oscar and Rudy helping Steve down the hall.
“Steve was stabbed.” Rudy tried to explain as Jaime helped Rudy and Oscar get Steve into the car.
“How did this happen?” Jaime asked.
“I’ll explain everything later.” Rudy said as they rushed Steve through the doors of the base hospital.
After Rudy disappeared with Steve in to the operating room Jaime turned to Oscar. “Ok Oscar who stabbed Steve?”
“Well if you want the truth I guess he stabbed himself.” Oscar told her.
“Excuse me?” Jaime asked.
“You heard me.” Oscar explained. Oscar told her what had happened when they had first landed.
“You’re kidding?” Jaime stared open-outhed as Oscar related the story.
“No I’m not.” Oscar sighed.
“I do remember Steve being a bit of a rounder in his younger days.” Jaime admitted. “Then all of the sudden he straightened up. If I remember it was right after some friends of his went to jail for stealing the principal’s car.” Jaime related.
“That is how it played…” They both turned as Rudy walked toward them.
“How is he?” They both said.
“He’s going to be just fine.” Rudy informed them.
“Then he’s going to be alright?” Jaime wanted to be reassured.
“Yea he is. He has one request though. He doesn’t want Helen and Jim to know about this. He’s afraid they will worry about him.”
“Ok we won’t tell them.” Oscar and Jaime agreed.
“Now I better get over to the hotel and check Rudy and I in.” Oscar told them.
“You know you’re more then welcome to stay at the house.” Jaime invited.
“I know that. But I feel I’d be more comfortable in a hotel.” He turned toward Rudy. “Can I see Steve?”
“Sure Oscar but in a while, he’s sleeping right not.” Rudy told him.
The next day they all gathered at Helen and Jim’s for the big anniversary. But the party was interrupted when the phone rang calling Oscar and Steve back to Washington.