”Hey Mom. It's Vince. How ya doin'? Belated Happy Birthday! Sorry to call so late. I forgot about the time difference.
“Del gave me your number. He said you and Dad turn your phones off at night, so I guess you'll get this in the morning.
”I know you won't call me back, and I understand why. There are no hard feelings on that score. I just wanted, and needed, to hear your voice again after all these years.
“Anyway, I just wanted to say...I'm sorry for being such a disappointment to you and Dad. I never meant to hurt you. I only wanted to make you both proud of me, but failed miserably. I'm very sorry.
”Although I've said it so many times before, I'm innocent. I never stole that money, and I never touched her. Craig did.
“He set me up and ruined my life. Even the police believed me. I passed the polygraph with flying colors...twice. I just wish that you believed me.
“Anyway, I just wanted to say hi, wish you a belated Happy Birthday, early Happy Anniversary, and tell you that I love and miss you and Dad more than I can put into words.
”I'm thinking about moving again pretty soon. I might stay here in Oregon, but have been thinking about moving back to Queens or even Brooklyn, depending on my finding a job and an apartment first.
“Tell everyone I said hi. Please know that, despite what happened between us, I still love and respect you, and always will. Nothing will ever change that. Take care of yourselves. Love, Vince”
After leaving the voicemail, he hung up then put his phone in the nightstand.
“I'll never get them to believe or forgive me. I hope destroying my life was worth it to you, Craig! FANGUL!”, he said aloud, cursing in Italian.
Vince then finished the chili cheese dogs and can of beer he'd brought into his room for a late night snack.
“Nothing quite like a couple chili cheese Nathan's and cold MGD for a late night snack!
”First thing I'm gonna do if I move back east is head to Coney Island for some Nathan's straight from the source! Then I'm going to a stand in the city for a Sabretts with all the fixin's!
“After that I'm heading to a good Italian restaurant for real New York pizza, prosciut, lasagne, stuffed eggplant, cannelloni, and veal parmigiana! Then I'm going to get some real New York cheesecake!”, he exclaimed.
Despite living in the Pacific Northwest for several years, he was still a New Yorker through and through!
A gentle bear of a man, Vince was tall, 6'5", extremely muscular, with short medium brown hair, deep blue eyes, six-pack abs, and a chestful of brown hair. At 40, he had a physique that could take your breath away.
He'd been divorced for ten years, and estranged from his family even longer. His cousin had framed him for theft and sexual abuse of a minor.
After a trip to the bathroom, he got undressed and climbed into bed.
“I'm just gonna leave these right here. I'll pick 'em up in the morning.”, Vince said to himself. Five minutes later he was sound asleep and snoring.
Three hours later, Vince woke up to go to the bathroom. When he was done he got back in bed.
Seconds later a blinding migraine, nausea and lightheadedness hit him.
The room was spinning due to his lightheadedness. Everything seemed to be moving farther and farther away from him. He was in absolute agony from the headache.
Grabbing his cell phone, he tried calling 911.
”Help! Someone...please help me!“, he said as the outro to ”Running Down A Dream“ by Tom Petty played on his phone's Pandora app. It was the last thing Vince heard as he passed out, phone in his hand.
When he woke up after what seemed like an eternity, the headache, nausea and lightheadedness were gone. He looked at his phone and saw that he had no internet.
”Hmm...internet's out I guess. I'll check and see if I've got to reboot the router. First things first...gotta take a leak.“
Vince sat up and noticed an en suite bathroom.
”That's odd. I don't have an en suite.“, he said, loudly breaking wind as he stood up.
”DAMN good chili cheese dogs! Whoa! What the hell crawled up inside of me and died? Smells like it's been fermenting for centuries!
”Damn! I need air!”, Vince said as he walked towards the bathroom.
“WHOA! This john is nice! Oh man! I gotta piss like a Russian wolfhound!”, Vince exclaimed as he found the toilet.
When he finished he washed his hands, looking around the room.
“If this is my john, I've been watching WAY too much 'Fixer Upper'!
”Gotta say though, Chip and Joanna did a helluva job on this room.”, he said.
He went to turn out the light and looked at the switch. It looked completely different than his.
“Way to go, Chip and Joanna! Looks awesome!“
Vince then went into the bedroom, sat down on the edge of the bed, and picked his clothes from the night before.
He walked to the dresser to get clean underwear and jeans. He was confused. The dresser was not where his was, and women's clothing was in there instead of his.
Picking up a floral bra, he said,
”Uh...this isn't mine. But DAMN! Whoever this belongs to obviously has quite a nice rack!
“GOD I miss fun bags! Celibacy sucks! And to think mom, dad and Nonna wanted me to become a priest! I'd be one naughty priest!
”I'd teach the sisters a fun new way to count their holy cards!
“Haha! 'Yes, Sister...PLEASE smack my nice tight Italian ass with that ruler! You know Father Vince don't mind at all!' Haha!
”Kicked straight out of the rectory, AND excommunicated! There aren't enough Hail Mary's or Our Fathers in the UNIVERSE to get me outta THAT one!“
Taking a good look around the room, he realized that none of the wall hangings and other decor were his. He put his jeans on, then walked out of the room shirtless, phone in hand.
Walking out of the room, he realized everything looked different. None of his wall hangings, paintings, curio cabinets, shelves or curios were there! What was there weren't his.
He heard sounds of people talking. He walked towards the sounds.
”WHOA!“, he exclaimed, shocked at what he saw.
A woman was sitting on the couch and playing a handheld video game. She looked unlike anyone he'd ever seen before.
The woman had reddish blonde hair plus flat ridges on both the bridge of her nose and her temples.
She had very odd ears. Each ear was pointed and had 4 sections that lay flat against the side of her head, appearing as if she had four ears for each.
She also had forehead “spoon” ridges between her eyes as well as between her lips and chin.
She had diamond-shaped markings, 3 rows across, framing her face that went down her neck and the outside of her arms, all the way to the tip of the outside of her smallest fingers.
She had the same markings going down the outside of her legs, feet and, from what he could tell based on the midriff top and purple athletic shorts she was wearing, down her torso.
She wore a gold ear cuff, chain and earring in her right ear. Vince wondered how she'd managed that, given the way her ears were.
“Excuse me. Could you help me please? I seem to be lost.”, Vince said, suddenly quite wobbly.
“Who are you and how did you get in my apartment?”, she asked, putting her game down and looking at him nervously.
”I'm Vince Portelli. I don't mean you any harm. I'm really confused right now, Ma'am.
“Who are you and what are you doing in MY apartment?“, he asked.
”I asked first.“, she said.
”Ma'am, I've no idea what's going on here. I went to bed last night, got up to pee, then had a horrendous migraine, nausea and lightheadedness. I dialed 911, but passed out before I could complete the call.
“I woke up abit ago, peed in a john that doesn't look at all like mine, then went to get some clothes out of my dresser.
”None of my clothes were in there. I looked at my cell phone and my internet's out.
”I was going to reboot the router but had to pee and get dressed first. Can you help me please?“, he asked, starting to stagger abit.
She looked at Vince for a few seconds then ran to him, took his hand, and gently guided him to a recliner.
”There you go, Vince. Just sit here and relax. I'll get you a glass of water and a nutrient bar.
“I'm S'iritzha. Are you human or Terran?“, she asked as she brought him water and a bar.
Seeing his confused expression, S'iritzha asked,
”Were you born on Terra or on some other world?“ as she opened the nutrient bar for him.
”I was born here on Earth, in Queens, New York City. Although...I've got a strange feeling you were born somewhere else; somewhere VERY far from here!“, he replied.
”So you're Terran. I'm a D'olmakh. It's very nice to meet you. You say you're from Earth?“, she asked.
”Yes, in the borough of Queens, New York City.“, he said, taking a bite of the bar. It looked and tasted like a granola bar and was surprisingly moist and tasty, unlike similar bars he'd eaten before which were dry as dirt and basically flavorless.
”Interesting. Based on what you've said and what you call this planet, I think you might have traveled through time to this century.“, S'iritzha replied.
”THIS century? What do you mean?“, he asked.
”I'm not sure what century you're from, but this is the 32nd century. Terra hasn't been called Earth for centuries.“, S'iritzha replied.
”32nd cen...? You've got to be joshing me! Not trying to be rude, but that's just pure bull! This is 2022, the 21st century!
“It can't be the future! I mean look...you have TV and video games. You dress similarly to clothes worn in the 21st century even though you don't look human.“, he said.
”What is TV?“, S'iritzha asked.
Vince pointed to the flat-screen tv on the wall.
”That's my large-screen. I have one in my bedroom as well. My brothers have large-screens in their bathrooms.“, S'iritzha said.
”I know folks who have TVs in their bathrooms as well for when they're taking a bath or a dump.“, Vince replied.
”A dump?“, she asked.
”A crap. Bowel movement.“, he said.
”Oh, a sharkht. Now I understand.“, she replied, smiling.
”Sharkht?“, he asked.
”Yes. It was originally an Uugnan word but nowadays most races, alien, Terran and human, all use it as well. It basically means manure or, more politely, a bowel movement.
”Vince, I know you find it hard to believe but please trust me. You're in the future...the VERY distant future.
“I wouldn't lie to you or try to trick you by saying something like that.”, she said.
Vince stood up, wanting to look around the place. S'iritzha stood up as well.
She showed him the apartment, then they went into the kitchen. Other than furniture style and two bathrooms instead of one, the layout of the apartment was identical to his.
”Would you like something more to eat or drink?“, she asked, motioning him to sit at the table.
”Do you have any tea?“, he asked.
”Yes. Would you like your tea hot or iced, with or without sweetener?“
”Iced please. With sweetener please, preferably Splenda or some other brand. I'm trying to watch my girlish figure.“, Vince said, smiling mischievously.
”Alright. One glass berry tea, iced and sweetened. One napkin, dry.“, she said, not quite sure what he meant by Splenda.
She considered asking him but didn't want to confuse him more than he already was.
Seconds later they appeared on a counter appliance. She handed him a napkin and his tea, then went into the refrigerator and brought out a platter of what looked like fruit turnovers.
She set the platter down on the table.
”Help yourself. These are Apkhons. My mother sent them. These are plum, these are apple, cherry, blueberry, and apple-cherry.
“If we run out of them, I'll pick some up at the store or have the replicator whip them up.”
”These are delicious! They're like little turnovers! My Nonna made something very similar.“, Vince exclaimed.
”I'm glad you like them.“, she said.
”Are you married?“, Vince asked.
”I'm divorced. We didn't have any kids. What about you?“, she said.
”I'm divorced as well. We didn't have any kids, although I love kids. I'm really just a big kid at heart.”, he said.
Merci pour la lecture!
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