The boys of almost summer

This weekend, I had occasion to stay at a rather nice hotel in St. Louis.  You might know it as the home of the baseball Cardinals; you might not know that St. Louisans, and people for approximately 300 miles around, are true baseball fanatics.  On this occasion, the boys were in town, and the hotel where I was staying was right on the riverfront, about 5 blocks from the stadium.

Now, I count myself as a Cardinals fan; I watch most games on TV when possible.  But I have never been to a live game, nor am I ever likely to be; I dislike both noise and large crowds, and a stadium during a game is the last place I would enjoy.  Which probably makes me just casual in the eyes of St. Louisans, not even worthy of the title of fan, really.

I did, however, have one person beat: Amir, my waiter at the hotel restaurant, who was interning for a year from Turkey. We were chatting about the sea of red t-shirts and jersey replicas in the lobby. I asked him if he liked baseball, or even knew anything about it.

Well, yes, it transpired, he did, and in fact, had even been to a game.

“What did you think?” I asked.

“It was very hot.  The pitcher played very well for half the game, but then began hitting other players with the ball.  Soon, the director came out and substituted someone else for him.”

“He began hitting people?  Why do think that was?”

“He was very tired, I think.”


“Yes, it was very hot, and he was the only one doing anything.”

“So that made him tired?”

“Yes, and I can understand it.  I was tired, too, and I was only watching!”

From the journal of Peter Kugel-Schwanz

I have obtained the journal of the late Peter Kugel-Schwanz, investigative journalist for the German tabloid Spektakel, through devious means, which I am not at liberty to divulge. The following is an excerpt, dated the day before his untimely death in a freak accordion accident.

In the course of my research surrounding the mysterious Document 1285a, I have learned of the involvement of one Harry Bollocks, Jr., an operative of an obscure British agency called the Ministry of Abstruse Development; it is so obscure that its acronym is a state secret.

It seems that Mr. Bollocks was a key player in the time machine project alluded to in the afore-mentioned document. I was determined to find and interview this gentleman, but he seemed to have disappeared from the face of the earth around January of last year, around the same time as the filing date on the document. While delving deeper into the workings of the ministry, I was able to make the acquaintance of someone who once was employed there, who must remain anonymous; I will call him Mr. Y. At about the same time, I became aware of several suspicious events, which I could only interpret as attempts upon my life. This has prompted me to write down as succinctly as possible the facts I have learned through several intensive interviews with Mr. Y.

First, as to the functioning of the time machine: it could be set to arrive at any precise time and date in the past by ministry officials, but the return journey depended on the operative who was sent into the past, a fact whose significance will become clear.

Second, the operative who was sent on the mission in question was none other than Harry Bollocks, Jr.

It was determined by those in charge of the operation that Bollocks would be provided with a cover identity, a verifiable historical entity, in order to minimize any collateral effects of his presence. The identity that was chosen was that of an obscure German dispatch runner who had been wounded severely at the Battle of the Somme, and had died March 4, 1917 of infection. Bollocks assumed this identity, counting on the force of history itself to clear up any contradictions, in order to carry out his mission to assassinate Heinrich Knebel, a lieutenant who would later rise to prominence and instigate WW II. The idea was to forestall the Second World War entirely by eliminating this person.

The name of the deceased dispatch runner whose identity Bollocks assumed was Gefreiter (Pfc.) Adoph Hitler.

Document No. 1235a

Document No. 1235a
Classification: Top Secret
Subject: Report on Operation Nullification

Pursuant to the development of a viable instrument for travelling back through time and returning safely (Document no. 1234), and the subsequent approval of Operation Nullification (Document No. 1235), this report details the results of said operation.

The objective of Operation Nullification was to travel back to 1917 and assassinate Oberleutnant Heinrich Knebel, later known as Heinz Volker, the charismatic leader of the National People’s Party (Napi) beginning in 1934. Removal of this target was deemed to forestall the rise of the Napi Party, and thereby vitiate the events leading to World War II.

Result: Objective successfully completed.

All the news

At the gym this morning, the manager asked if I minded that he change the channel on the monitor in front of me to the news; the woman next to me had requested it.

“Of course not,” I said, and he changed it to Fox News.  “Hey,” I said, jokingly, “that’s not the news, that’s Fox.”

“I requested Fox,” said the woman.  Later she told me she watches Fox News, and reads Huffington Post, getting what she called both sides.

“But nothing in the middle?” I asked.

“The middle is where I make up my own mind,” she replied.

When, exactly, did we decide that, by getting misinformation from people with two opposing agendas, we could arrive at a good understanding of events?