Valens' Time

Some temporal paradoxes just don't happen, no matter what you may've seen in some sci- fi movies or read in stories. Some types, anyway. The old "go back and kill your grandfather" scenario can sometimes create a causal loop that will affect you personally, and it can be hard for you to break out of it once you've started, but generally speaking, the rest of the Universe won't notice. Word of advice: if you're lookin' to commit suicide, find some other way. That's just the surest way I know to live forever, goin' 'round an' 'round for all eternity in your little self-inflicted infinite loop. Just don't try it. The Universe loves that kinda irony. I say, the Universe amuses itself too much as it is, at our expense, without us bringing problems on ourselves for it to laugh about.

But the kind of paradox I'm talkin' about- hate ta break it to ya, Doc Brown, but if you see yourself in the future or the past, the space-time continuum will not unravel, and unless you're the faintin' type, that won't likely happen, either. Trust me, I've sat in cafe's with m'sef and chatted over coffee, and more often gone out drinkin' with m'sef, often enough ta know whereof I speak. Much as I might like ta stick it to the Universe, that kinda thing just doesn't bring the whole shebang crashin' to a halt.

Still, there are other ways folks can find ta get in their little jabs, now and then. Yeah, the Universe is big, and often cruel for no apparent reason. It's commonly summed up in the question, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" Why? 'Cause the Universe is... well, y'never know, some kids might read this little narrative, and I don't need parents gettin' pi- uh, upset with me, so I'll watch my language. Shame no 'clean' dirty words are dirty enough ta do the Universe justice.

But as I say, the fight that is Life ain't all one-sided. There are rules even the Universe has ta play by, as do we all. And all ya gotta know is what they are, how to use 'em to yer advantage. I know a few, m'sef, and use 'em fer fun an' profit. The fun comes in beatin' the Universe at its own game, when I can. Or rather, helpin' others do so- which is where the profit comes in.

You can call me Tino Valens. Not my real name, thank God- there is a God, I'm pretty sure; I think the cosmic system of checks and balances works out to God, the Universe, and Man. That little monkeywrench known as the Devil just likes ta play all ends, for whatever fun he can have, but I don't think he's part of the system. Unless of course Man is the monkeywrench and he's the third check. But that's not how it seems to me, and I've some experience, enough to piece certain things together about Life. Still, I don't know near everything, and I do make mistakes.

Where was I? Yeah- my name. I go by various assumed names for various aspects of my business. Can't think of anyone might know my real name, but I do have a name I use among my best, most trusted friends, that serves as a real name, for all practical intents and purposes. I also use that name officially, like for the banks or the government or what have you. Still, not many folks know that name, and I'm not sharin' it with you all, either. The business name I'm sharin' with you for the present story is Tino Valens, which as I say, I'm glad ain't my real one. But it works for the aspect of my business at hand.

My business, in a nutshell, is time travel. Probably you'd guessed that, from my opening paragraphs, yeah? But I do different sorts of things with that, and each type of job gets its own name. I hire out to different people or groups for different reasons, whether to do something myself, or to take them somewhen to do whatever it is they feel they gotta do. Of course, I never take anyone into the future on business. Hard enough to evade the present-day temporal cops, without worryin' bout the ones they got in the future. Oh, I do sometimes go forward m'sef, just fer fun. If ya behave yersef, you may well never see them, but ya gotta expect they see you.

The past is easier, though. Granted, ya don't wanna mess with anything too big, or they'll be on ya faster'n ya can say, "I'm my uncle Bob and both of ours nephew Bob is me, hi, my name's Steve." But little things can be safe. Yeah, an' that's another thing sci-fi afficionadoes will tell ya- nothin' is too small to affect the future in a big way. "What if ya kill some loser kid in a gutter somewhere who'd never amount to anythin' in his life, but his great great grandson became High Prince of Alacan III and united the star system against the invading Grilnax from the third galaxy on the left?" they'll say. "Or on the other hand, what if ya get a couple tagether that wouldn't a been, and they have a kid who collaborates with the Grilnax, without whose help they'd a lost, but instead they take the system, and next stop: Earth?"

Yeah, I'll listen to a sci-fi fanatic about time travel after he's stopped by Woodstock ta pick up some brown acid, and fed it to a triceratops later that afternoon, just fer kicks.

Look, the rules of the game are thus: Ya can change history, but not in big ways. The temporal cops may feel they gotta pounce on anyone who tries big things, take 'em home, lock 'em up, schedule regular visits by a special shrink, or, dependin' on the country, just take 'em out an' shoot 'em. But they don't. Ya just can't change big things no matter how hard ya try. Time smooths things over. Time, that's one a the big tools the major players in the game use, though God, the Devil, and the Universe have a better handle on it than does Man. Alacan III is gonna have a high Prince or Princess or Regent or Whatever, and whoever it is will stop the Grilnax. I got news for ya, in case you were asleep in third grade history the day the class read this chapter: There were traitors working with the Grilnax, and they lost in the end, anyway. Benedict Arnold, Guy Fawkes, Lester Natterborn.... "Who are three big, fat, historical jokes and losers with silly names, Alex?"

The Universe laughs at Man's suffering. If a bunch of preppy post-grads ask me to take 'em back in time so they can invite young Hitler to dinner and poison him, I'll be only too happy to oblige- never could stand the guy, m'sef. Then I'll take 'em right back home, accept payment for services rendered, and give 'em a history book to read about how the holocaust went this time 'round, under somebody else.

"If we can't eliminate such suffering," you ask, "how then can we strike back against the Universe, and spoil its fun?"

Little things. The Universe laughs at Man's suffering, capital 'M,' yes. It also laughs at a man's suffering. And trust me, it moped about just as much over Armstrong's accomplishment as Mankind's, through July and the next couple months of 1969. Hey- Sam Beckett could change history for the better. How many people noticed, each leap? Few. But those few were awful glad of it, and the Universe, if the stories had been real, woulda been just as annoyed each week if he got a little girl's kitten out of a tree as if he cured cancer.

What, let me ask you at this juncture, is the greatest force in the... heh, Universe? What makes the world go 'round, what brings a person more joy than anything else in Life?

Love, you say? True love? Hmmm... never experienced it, personally, but there's gotta be some reason it's the topic of so many songs, books, movies, shows, and pretty much everything on just about any planet ya care ta name. There's just got ta got ta be somethin' to it. Think the Universe likes it? No. Think the Universe likes screwin' it up fer folks whenever it can? You bet. Yoa may think whatever happens is what's meant ta be, but some say it ain't. Some say, a relationship may be meant ta be, and still not work out fer some reason, or fer no discernible reason at all.

That's where Tino Valens comes in. Ya think you've found true love? Ya say the one ya love was in love with you too, but their feelin's changed? Ya think ya can pinpoint where it all went wrong? Ya say ya want a second chance ta get things right? Ya got a major debit card on ya?