The following is an imaginary account of what could have happened that day.
Zack surged to the surface, clenching his fist tightly and shaking the water from his curly brown hair. Standing waist-deep in the water, he examined the shiny object in his palm.
“Look at the size of that rock!” he thought.
Zack placed the ring snugly on his pinky, the only finger it would fit, and admired it. The ring was gorgeous, sporting a large diamond (it had to be at least ½ carat) on a wide gold band. Thinking quickly, he turned the diamond in toward his palm. He didn’t want anyone to see him, a fifteen-year-old guy, wearing a girl’s ring! Wading through the water, he noticed a young lady, perhaps 20 years old, shaking her head and crying. She huddled against the chest of a young man. Zack peeked at the ring on his finger and wondered if it belonged to the woman on the shore.
Grimacing, he thought: Tough luck. You know what they say – finders keepers and all that. I can get a sweet sum for this baby and buy that iPod I’ve been looking at for the past month.
Zack scanned the beach, frowning when he spotted a neatly folded newspaper in his father’s chair. After plodding across the beach, he picked up the paper, glanced at the masthead and stopped so abruptly that he fell flat on his butt.
“This can’t be right,” he murmured.
Shaking his head, he studied the paper carefully. The date on the masthead had not changed. It read, in bold, black ink:
Friday, August 19, 1977
Chuckling, he called out, “Good one, Dad. You almost had me fooled for a moment.”
When his father did not respond, Zack began eyeing the people on the beach. Many of the guys wore cut-off denim shorts with ragged fringes. The girls wore bikinis and swimsuits with bibs reminiscent of baby doll negligees. Nobody wore loose, baggy swimsuits like Zack’s. Looking closer, he noticed that many of the guys had unfashionably long hair and many of the girls wore their hair long, straight and parted in the middle. Several of them, guys and gals alike, wore round wire-framed tinted sunglasses a la John Lennon.
Feeling slightly disoriented, Zack flipped through the paper to the box scores:
National League (scores from August 18)
Pittsburgh 7, Chicago 6
San Francisco 0, Los Angeles 7
Philadelphia 8, Montreal 3
“Wait a minute!” muttered Zack. “The Montreal Expos moved just a few months ago! They’re the Washington Nationals now.”
Zack thumbed his way to the entertainment section and fastened his eyes on an item in the middle of the movie page: Star Wars was still drawing sell-out crowds in local theatres.
Feeling queasy now, Zack called out, “Does anybody know what day it is?”
A chubby fellow lying on a blanket nearby answered, “It’s right there in your hand, buddy. Friday, August 19, 1977.”
Zack staggered to his feet and stumbled into the parking lot. Unable to find his father’s Chevy Suburban, Zack leaned against a tree and threw up. “Oh, no!” he thought, “I’ve traveled backwards twenty-eight years!” Clearing the last remnants of vomit from his throat, he shuddered at his next thought: I haven’t even been born yet! Arching his back, rolling his shoulders and stretching his neck, Zack muttered, “This is impossible. I’ve got to find a way to get back to when I belong.” He paused a moment, then decided: Before I go back, I might as well cash in the ring.
Having settled on a plan of sorts, Zack started hiking to town. Fifteen minutes later, a twenty-something guy with bright green eyes, a friendly, slightly dopey-looking grin and a long brown ponytail pulled alongside him in a pickup truck. “You look like you could use a ride,” he said to Zack. As Zack climbed in, the driver said, “Your feet must be awfully hot. What happened to your shoes, man?”
Thinking quickly, Zack replied, “My car was stolen. My shoes, pants, wallet and everything were in there.”
“Bummer, man,” replied the driver. “So, where do you want to go?”
Zack considered his options. Figuring the guy would expect a cut of the cash if he knew Zack’s intentions, Zack said, “Just drop me off at the corner of Main and Washington. I don’t want to trouble you too much.” Then, to forestall any further conversation, he leaned his head against the back of the seat and dozed.
A short time later, having arrived at his destination, Zack jumped out of the truck and took a few minutes to look around. Some of the buildings were familiar, but they looked a lot newer than they had yesterday. “Well, of course,” he realized. “Yesterday these buildings were twenty-eight years older than they are today!” Unable to dislodge that bizarre idea from his head, he headed toward the pawnshop.
Zack opened a grimy door and entered a tiny, dusty, dimly lit building. Ambling over to the counter, he called out, “I found this ring at the lake a little while ago. How much will you give me for it?” He tried to pull the ring off his finger but it wouldn’t budge! Frantic, Zack raced to the washroom and ran cold water over his hand, hoping to contract the skin enough to loosen the ring. Ten minutes later, the ring still wouldn’t move. It was jammed so tightly that he couldn’t even twist it around on his finger.
“Great,” thought Zack. “I’m stuck twenty-eight years in the past with a lady’s ring on my finger.” Dejected and having nowhere else to go, Zack left the pawnshop and headed back toward the beach.
As Zack trudged down the road, a pickup truck pulled up beside him. Recognizing the Good Samaritan he had met earlier, Zack hustled into the truck and asked for a ride back to the beach. Before Zack could settle back and doze, the driver asked him, “Did you finish what you had to do downtown?” Zack mumbled, “No. If you don’t mind, I really don’t want to talk about it.” They rode the rest of the way in silence.
When they arrived at the beach, Zack suddenly realized how grimy he felt. He thanked the driver for yet another ride, leaped out of the truck, darted across the beach and dove into the lake. When he emerged from the water, he noticed the same young woman he had seen earlier in the day. She and her boyfriend were still searching for her ring.
Zack studied the ring on his hand – her ring, he was sure – and regretted having found it. He’d thought it was a great break: it was easy money and he really wanted that iPod. Instead, he’d been catapulted into a timeframe in which he didn’t belong, with a ring he no longer wanted stuck fast to his aching finger. He wanted desperately to escape the greatest disaster of his life. He yearned to return to 2005 and be with his dad again. Taking a deep breath, Zack choked back his tears and decided to do one thing that he was sure was right.
Zack swam over to where the young woman peered at the lake’s sandy bottom. Lifting his hand out of the water, he showed her the ring he had found and asked if it was hers. He knew the answer when her blue eyes lit up with joy. Reaching down, he twisted the ring off his finger and handed it to her. Embarrassed by her gratitude, Zack dove into the water and descended as deeply as he could.
When Zack could hold his breath no longer, he burst through the water and shook his curly brown hair. He scanned the beach and giggled with delight when he spotted his father reading the newspaper. Sweeping his thinning brown hair back from his forehead, Zack’s father looked up and flashed a friendly, slightly dopey-looking grin at his son. Narrowing his eyes and shaking his head, Zack thought, “No, it can’t be.”
Strolling uncertainly over to his father, Zack looked into his bright green eyes and asked, “Dad, do you know what day it is?” Zack’s father smiled knowingly and answered, “It’s Friday, August 19, 2005. Will be all day.”