It had to be this day. It wasn’t enough to simple prevent it, the killer had to be found, and punished. But what if the date was different? The thought gripped me as I walked across the porch. I knocked on the door and wondered if it was going to make anything better. This was the only way to find out if anything was going to make sense now. I had followed the same path I had taken before, become a deputy, and now I was standing at the front door of the Kems’ residence, in uniform, wondering if I could change the future any more than I had. It had been five years, and the first engines were anchored to the rock, forcing it to change direction, albeit slowly, it was working.
“Yes?” Mrs Kems said, smiling and I nearly wept. I had arrived on time.
“Mrs. Kems, you don’t know me, but my name is Wanda Alexander, I’m a deputy in Thomas County, may I speak with Travis?” I said in a rush.
“Oh my, has he done something?” Mrs. Kems said as she opened the door.
“No, nothing like that, I assure you,” I said and watched as Travis came down the hallway and saw me.
“I know you,” he said, “don’t I? It wasn’t a dream, was it?”
“Maybe, but I have a present for you, here,” and I gave him a thick book of drawing paper, and a pencil set. “Your teachers say you have a talent, an amazing talent for art, I need someone to do police composites,” I was lying, really lying, but it was going to be worth it. “Want to give it a try?”
“I’m not that good,” Travis said, but his face was alit with the idea someone might like his work. “But you’re the lady, from the dreams, aren’t you?”
“ Dreams are very strange things, Travis, but my plan for your art; it’s a long range plan,” I told him, “here’s the card of a woman I know in Quitman, she’s a retired art teacher, she said she’d love to help.”
“I really like to draw,” Travis stared at the pencil set. “Thank you.”
“Is there someone with you?” Mr. Kems came to the door and looked out behind me. A strange car pulled in, and then pulled out again.
“No, I have no idea who that was, but let me call in the car, and get an ID,” I said and I stepped back out. “Brooks Dispatch,” I said into my shoulder mic, “this is Thomas County, I need a stop of a white Toyota, 2005 driver unknown may be armed. Pauline Church Road, heading north.”
“Roger, Thomas County, we have someone close,” Deputy Sheffield was out there waiting. He had no idea why I wanted him on that road, but he agreed to it.
“I’ll go see who it was,” I said. “Travis, keep in touch, okay?”
“Yes ma’am,” and he smiled.
By the time I got there, Sheffield had the man down, cuffed, and stood over him.
“Damn, Wanda, look at this!” There was handcuffs in the truck of the car, a gun, and rubber gloves. And a bloody sheet wrapped around what looked like a body. “I think this one is up to no good at all,” Sheffield looked at me hard, “how’d you know?”
“Long story,” I said. “You get the capture; it’s your county.”
“I’ll call the state boys, they’ll want to look at this one. I think we just got a serial killer here.” The past was undone, it hurt me that it was undone for me, but for Travis and the rest of the world, it was a better place.
Two years went by, and Travis was turning into an incredible artist. I was thinking about not running for Sheriff. Steven Morrison was famous, worked with NASA, but now that the danger was growing less by the day, had slipped into obscurity again. I stopped trying to keep up with him. It made things worse, not better.
One of those electric cars cruised past me doing seventy in a fifty-five zone so I lit him up. The car was a rental, and when I walked up to the window the man smiled at me, “Sorry, deputy, but I’m not used to this thing yet.”
“License, please.” I said.
“Yes ma’am, hey I’m not going to argue with you; I was speeding. You’re right to give me a ticket.”
“Mr. Morrison, of NASA fame?” I asked, trying not to grab him. It was Steven. He was staring at me.
“Yeah, but, hey, you look familiar, we’ve met, haven’t we?” Steve asked.
“It’s possible,” I said. “You in Thomas County for long?” I asked.
“I’m actually looking for a job, either in Valdosta or Thomasville, I always wanted to teach high school, engineering, I kinda fell into the NASA thing, got lucky looking in the right place at the right time, it was a miracle, actually.” Steve said. “Are you local? Maybe you could show me around?”
“You like Jazz?” I asked my heart pounding. “There’s a great little place in Valdosta that has live Jazz music on Thursdays. Good food. Good wine.”
“You, uh, married or anything?” Steve asked, just like he did the first time we had met.
“No, I’m single,” I said, “I’m Wanda, Wanda Alexander. Here, I’ll give you my number,” and my hands were shaking hard.
“I love Jazz,” Steve said. “Are you sure we haven’t met? Never mind, I’m positive I would remember you”
“Some people,” I said, trying not to lose my composure, “are just meant to meet one another, don’t you think so, Steve?”
“Yeah, hey, it’s Thursday, let’s go to listen to Jazz tonight, is that too soon?” Steve said, and he gave me his best and most charming smile. Oh my god he still had it.
“Sure, why not,” I laughed. “Seven sounds good, okay?”
“I know a great little Italian place, they’ll even overcook your garlic bread if you like it that way,” I walked away, knowing Steve was watching me, and it had begun, again.
“So you are telling me that we were married before, you were Sheriff before, and we saved the world from an alien invasion with the help of your friend Travis?” Steve took a hit off the joint and held it. A moment passed and he released a cloud of smoke then said, “Travis does grow some really great pot, doesn’t he?”
“It’s legal now, so why not?” I sighed. I knew we would have this conversation one day. I knew he would believe me, but he didn’t not quite yet.
“And how come you and Travis remember this? He doesn’t remember the things you do, does he?” Steve put his hand on my thigh and I hoped I could convince him before he totally distracted us both.
“I’m not sure, but he went back from an adult to a kid, that might be it, and he got his folks back, too. They likely influenced him to think it was a dream, if I was him I would have run with it.” I said.
“So he’s teaching art in New York now? Or is he still in Canada?” Steve asked.
“Canada, his job in the city start next month,” I stood up with great reluctance, “here, I have you show you something, Travis drew this,” and I got the drawing out.
“What the hell?” Steve wasn’t amused. “This is us having sex on a sofa? I mean it’s good, wait, how old is this?”
“Travis drew it for me right after he and I reconnected, before you and I met again, Steve,” I said and smiled. “The date is at the bottom.”
“It is real, this did happen,” Steve whispered.
“You and I are remarried, sweetie,” I laughed at the look on his face. “I’m both your first and second wife!”
“How long were we married the first time?”
“Four years, about half the time we’ve been married so far,” I replied.
“Where do you think they are, these Peacekeepers?” Steve asked.
“Somewhere out there, looking out for us,” I laughed. “But don’t we have better things to do now?”