art by Jonathan Westbrook
Older, Wiser, Time Traveler
by M. Bennardo
First off, step one--commit a crime of passion.
You shouldn't plan this, obviously. In fact, you can't plan this. The defining characteristic of a crime of passion is precisely that it's unplanned. Oh sure, there are tendencies. There are indications. A crime of passion doesn't have to be a surprise--it just has to be unplanned.
--Could you perhaps give us an example?
All right. Say you come home from dinner--a nice dinner out with your sister. You come home to your high-rise apartment and you find your sister's husband, your brother-in-law--you find him already there. He's ransacking your place. You never liked him. You never liked the guy, never thought he was good enough for your sister, but now he's ransacking your place.
You don't know what he's doing, but he's probably looking for money or something to hock. Maybe he thinks you have drugs hidden somewhere. But you don't ask. You don't care. This is it--this is the last thing. So you grab him by the throat, you push him out the living room door onto the balcony, and with one final cathartic explosion you send him sailing over the railing.
That's a crime of passion.
Second, you need to have a time machine.
It doesn't need to be anything fancy--one of those ones from the kits in the back of Popular Mechanics will do fine. But the point is that you need one. If you don't have one, then forget about it. There's nothing you can do.
That's why it's a good idea just to keep one around. Just around--especially if you have a bad temper. Just keep one around. Mine's in the hall closet.
--Heh. Mine too.
Third, you need to get rid of the witnesses.
This is one of the bad ones. You don't want to do this, so try to commit your crimes of passion in private. Or I guess, the better way to say that is to try and keep a lid on your temper in public. Try to do that everywhere, of course, but especially when more than one person is around.
--Can't you just make the witnesses promise not to tell?
You could, but then you have to believe they'll never tell. Never, ever. Remember: your timeline doesn't disappear when you go back. It stays there. The witness stays there. And you're gone. If you don't come back (and you're not coming back) then eventually one day they're going to tell somebody. And if "somebody" turns out to be "the cops", then they'll come get you. Wherever you are, even in a different timeline, they'll come get you.
--But take the example you gave--
Look, I already said this is one of the bad ones.
--But what if you come back from dinner and your sister is with you--
I already said--
--And what if she's the witness?
Look, you just have to do it, but nothing says you have to talk about it later.
Fourth, you go back in time.