Time Machine

Post-World War II (1950s / early 60s America) A Short Story

Pot Roast on a Wednesday evening a divine satisfaction after a long day at work. Theres an indescribable sense of contentment a man gets when his wife cooks a decent meal. . It makes you look back on life and pat yourself on the back. A meal like that from a devoted wife makes you think, You know, maybe everything turned out for the best. I made sure to compliment her. Some time later, we and the kids sat ourselves down to watch the newest variety show. It was pleasing to instantaneously be delivered performances of the most popular stars. There were times though when it almost seemed too much. A music act or two, some host-guest banter, a magic act perhaps and a little bit of comedy here and there -- thats all I need.

Just another Wednesday night went by in a world that I couldnt help but bask in. I was from a generation that, as a child, witnessed the destruction of the Great War, endured the hardships of the Depression, witnessed the rise of Adolf Hitler and the fall of Pearl Harbor. I served my bit in the war and saw many of my friends die in battle. Yet all the while, I kept thinking, Its for a cause. Its for America! There was no question. There was no doubt. And here, now, it seems that we, as a nation, stand on the precipice of a promising age: an age of prosperity, assertion of Democracy as the one-and-only just, fair and conscientious means of governing citizens, capitalism as the single best economic system (a system that treats those who work hard with respect and affluence), and finally an age where the simple pleasures of life come standard: to own property, to be gifted with a family, with a meal on the table, and perhaps just a chair to sit down on to breathe it all in.

Indeed, it looks as if the world has turned in our favor. The only threat to the world these days are the communists, who Im convinced have little power and little influence. Naturally, it makes sense to be prepared, but its certainly not worth fretting over. Any imbecile should see at the once that Communism is the embodiment of an anti-American notion. And I speak not from the mouth of ignorance, but as a college graduate, well-read, and fluent in the teachings of Karl Marx. I understand the ideal, but the practicality is unsound. Every man has to work for his bread. You cant expect to be given the same amount as the man next to you when youve obviously worked a good deal less than him. And say youve worked harder than him wheres the ambition; the drive for success? Every man needs something to hope for, and when the government is helping you every step of the way, wellits just not constructive but I digress. If people choose to live their lives in that fashion, thats their business, just as long as it remains contained and doesnt affect our environment.

I went to bed that night, dreaming of my son in college, an officer in the armed forces, a business executive with a beautiful wife and a handful of loving grandchildren. The world was safe and secure, and for the first time in my life, I had no fears. Even death couldnt faze me.

I awoke the next day at my usual time, to find breakfast on the table (another simple pleasure I was rapidly getting accustomed to). My wife said a few words about a desire to work in an office, which I casually tried to deter her from. I had no problem with secretarial work, but it was more of an occupation for a Miss than a married woman. My wife could certainly look the part, but figuring out who should take of the kids while she was gone seemed to much of a hassle. I explained this to her and seemed to quell the idea.

My drive to work was not a pleasant one. In walking from my car to the office, I came across a disturbing sight. A strange man stood on the corner that I was about to approach. A raving lunatic would be the best way to describe him. I only heard bits and pieces of his rants, such as, open your eyes, Youre living in a dream-world!, Theres still so much to be done! Dont settle into complacency!, Not everyone has a Buick, a patio, a wife and 2 children, and its not always their fault!

I was taken aback. This blatant display of emotion seemed to emerge from no where. I had passed him without acknowledging him so as not to draw attention (as I did to most lunatics on the street). To acknowledge them is to be taken for a person who is interested. To be interested means undergoing lectures containing more than you really wish to know. I hadnt the time for this. Still though, the words I had heard remained in my head throughout the day, occupying my every thought and damaging my performance. Briefly, I even became angry at the lunatic for having sparked such emotions. But then, in an instant, I felt sorry for him, and then, moreover, curious.

When I left work, I considered leaving through the rear exit so as to avoid the man. But then, my curiosity overtook me, and I continued through the front door hesitantly. When I came outside, the man was gone. But I noticed in the place where he stood, on the ground, lay an old, tattered novel. The title read George Orwell: 1984. I quickly grabbed the book so it wouldnt be stolen or thrown away. I knew of this book. It was recently published but I knew hardly anything about it. Then I became confused. I knew for a fact that the book was first published less than 6 years ago. But for the novel to be so tattered, the book had to have been at least 30 years old. I glanced at the copyright, and a shiver ran down my spine. This was the year 1955. The copyright read 1960.