John Palomino was pronounced DOA by the attending physician at Wyckoff Heights Hospital. Leaving the examination room, he beckoned to Patrolman Ryan, memo book in hand.
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"The man's death? Due to internal hemorrhaging and multiple injuries. Our mortal bodies are hardly durable enough to compete with vehicles the size of streetcars, I'm afraid. Did we get a positive identification from any of his possessions?"
The patrolman flipped back several pages. "From his wallet. Name's Palomino. Like in horses in all them western movies. In the confusion, ain't had time to check much else."
"May I have the billfold, please?"
Ryan opened the bag which held the requested object and handed it to the doctor.
"You couldn't possibly know this," the doctor said after a brief inspection, "but I graduated at the top of my medical school class. Despite that distinction, I'm beginning to feel more than a bit perplexed at what I've been able to piece together so far this afternoon. This is one for Ripley, I swear. I'm getting a very weird feeling that the fellow is not from here."
"He's not from New York? But that's a state license an' registration card in there."
"Well, he is - and he isn't."
"C'mon, doc, make sense here."
"Oh, he's from New York all right, but I do not believe he is from...now."
The doctor let that comment sink in as he prepared to display some of the items found on the deceased man's person when the ambulance crew wheeled in his body.
"Yo wanna run that past me again? I thought none o' you medical guys weren't supposed to be do any imbibin' on the job."
"Sorry, not the case. Would you step over here? There was some loose change in his pockets that I removed and left over on that table. But first, let me hand you this quarter from my own pocket. Please drop it or spin it on that hard countertop. Listen to it as you do that."
The patrolman did as he was asked. "Sounds like a reg'lar ol' quarter to me."
"Agreed. Now do the same with this one."
Again, the quarter hit the counter, but with a flatter sound. He repeated it, then flipped the first coin for comparison.
"The second one is counterfeit, doc."
"At first listen, one would feel confident in assuming that, but I don't believe it is. No, the coin has a different composition around the edge. Almost like copper in a penny. Now here's where it gets strange and hard to explain. Pick up the coin and check the date."
"1967? Cripes! What the hell is this? Gotta be a fake with that date!"
"Are there any bills in the wallet?"
Ryan removed and counted about fifty dollars.
"Locate the series dates. To the right. Across from the Treasury Secretary's name."
"Holy cow! Every one of 'em's got a date in the 1960s!"
"Remember when I said he's not from now? And I don't think he's been here all that long. You boys at the stationhouse would've certainly gotten some complaints from storekeepers in the neighborhood about funny money being passed around town, right?"
Ryan scratched his head, nodding slowly in agreement.
"Take a gander at his driver's license as I did," the doctor continued. "But scrutinize it. Note his date of birth. February 16, 1948. Good God, man - that's only about seven weeks away! The car registration is for a 1964 Pontiac GTO, whatever kind of model that is - or will be - and was last renewed in 1968. You check his overcoat pockets?"
"No. Let's do that now."
The doctor removed a half-empty box of cigarettes, crushed, and a battered white envelope.
"Butts in a box? Not a paper pack? And with a top lid? Never seen this brand before. Marlboro. Have you?"
"Nuh-uh. An' what's with those brown tips?"
"Let us see," the doctor said as he ripped one from the end of the rolled paper and slit it with a scalpel. "I'm guessing here, but it appears to be a kind of filtration device utilizing a combination of cotton wadding and a thin cork paper. Really beats the hell out of me."
"Me, too." Ryan's eyes and curiosity moved to the envelope. "What's in there?"
The doctor removed a pair of round-trip rail tickets. "Purchased in 1969, along with reservations for a ski lodge in Stowe, vermont. For Valentine's Day weekend of that year."
"And a birthday celebration?" Ryan asked, following the logic of the evidence.
With brow furrowed, the doctor asked in a somber voice, "Might we reasonably assume that we have encountered a deceased twenty-year-old male, thrust mysteriously - by means certainly unknown to us - to this earlier period of history? Present time for us, of course, but it would surely be 'history' to him."
"Some theory. 'Born: 1948. Died: 1947.' That's gonna make one helluva inscription on this guy's tombstone!"
[NEXT: The conclusion of "SPRING FORWARD, FALL BACK."]
Copyright © 2010 James D. Young