This week our TWIDDER presents us with what is becoming a rather common conundrum; did the fellows-with-the-flat-tire go Back to the Past, or did the helpful old man come Forward to the Future??? Either way, a spacetime slip for sure! (See original entry in Time Travel: A How-to Insiders Guide, pp. 54-56.)
When I was a young man, a friend of mine owned a beat-up old car that we would occasionally use to take rides out into the countryside. The town where I grew up was surrounded by mile after mile of farmland, so it was easy to discover roads you had never encountered before. Early one evening and miles from home, we had a flat tire.
We were in the middle of nowhere. There was nothing but corn fields as far as the eye could see. Fortunately my friend had a spare, but the jack was old and not very sturdy and we struggled to change the stubborn tire.
Suddenly, an old man appeared out of nowhere and offered to lend us a hand. Startled by his sudden appearance I asked our good Samaritan, “Where did you come from?”
“Why from my house right there,” he pointed to a small white house a few hundred feet off the road from where we were stranded.
This surprised me because I was sure that we were miles from any house when we were forced to stop.
The man quickly got the jack fixed and soon the spare tire was on and we were on our way. As we drove off, I looked back and I could see the old man slowly making his way down the walk to his house. I also noticed that alongside the walk on each side were neatly trimmed, beautiful rose bushes, what we used to call wild rose bushes.
I would have soon forgotten about this incident if it hadn’t been for my mother’s insistence a few days later that we repay the old man for his help. “He probably lives all alone way out there,” my mother said. “It isn’t right that we don’t send him something to thank him for his kindness.” She handed me a freshly baked pie with the instructions to immediately take it out to our kind benefactor.
My friend and I were familiar enough with the area that we soon found our way back onto the road that ran in front of the old man’s house. However, when we arrived, we were startled to find that instead of a small white house, there was instead a pile of broken timbers to show where a house once stood.
“This can’t be the right place,” my friend said. I started to agree when I noticed that the walkway leading up to the house was enclosed by wild rose bushes. But now, instead of neatly trimmed plants, the bushes were tall and wild. They obviously had not bee taken care of for a long time.
We got out of the car to see if we could ascertain our location since this could not be the place where we had our trouble a few days before. As we stood looking around, I noticed at the side of the road the remnants of the blown tire we had recently changed.
“This must be the place,” I said to my friend pointing out the old tire.
“It can’t be,” my friend said quietly. “It’s all gone. There’s nothing here, nothing.”
As we stood there alongside the lonely country road we realized that we were at the right location, but the house and the old man were long since gone. Somehow we had either traveled back in time, or the man had come forward. Either way, the realization that something extremely unusual had happened prompted us to quickly get back into the car and leave the area. Until the day he passed away, my friend refused to discuss the incident with me and I often wonder just what exactly happened to us on that quiet country road.