October 12, 1996
He still had that pit in his stomach. At times he knew it was real, at times he thought, or rather, wished, it was a nightmare. It was still all too much to handle alone.
His name is Gary Hobson. He's 6'2" with dark brown hair and mud-puddle green eyes. His wife, Marcia, just a few days ago, locked him out of the house… on their anniversary and divorced him. Now he was living at the Blackstone in room 1611.
Besides that though, he was basically a normal guy… until the Paper began to come. Just a few days ago, he had found a newspaper and a cat outside his door at the Blackstone. He had assumed it was a normal paper until he discovered that it was tomorrow's newspaper. It came a day early, telling what was going to happen.
He had used it for his own good, at first, until a friend of his ended up in the hospital. He now realized that he could have prevented the accident from happening at all if he hadn't been using the Paper the wrong way. Now, he uses the Paper for other people's good instead of his own, much to the dismay of his friend Chuck Fishman.
He didn't have a job either. He quit after his annoying boss, Phil Pritchard, threatened to fire him.
Now, Gary watched as a man, woman, and child walked past. Oh, how he envied them. What he wanted more than anything in the world was a family; a wife and kids; someone to come home to a night. Life is never fair. That's the way he saw it.
Sighing, Gary headed for McGinty's Bar; the hang-out of him, Chuck, and Marissa Clark, another friend.
He got to McGinty's and saw Marissa and Chuck sitting at a table.
"Hey, Gare," Chuck looked up when he saw Gary, "Have a seat," He pulled out a chair for his friend, "What's up?"
Gary sat down wearily, "Nothing, absolutely nothing. Everything is down. You know; was I that bad, that Marcia had to dump my things out the window?"
"Don't be so hard on yourself, Gary. Marcia made a mistake. You don't deserve that kind of treatment; nobody does." Marissa comforted her troubled friend.
"I'll say she made a mistake," Chuck added, "I mean look at you. You're young, good-looking… Man, did she slip-up! She's gonna feel that one in the morning."
Um, Chuck," Marissa cleared her throat, "It's been more than just a morning."
"Oh, right. Well, forget about Marcia, Gary." Chuck spoke up again, "You and me, we'll do things together; man-to-man, male-bonding time. We'll go to a Cubs game, you know, the works."
"Thanks, but no-thanks." Gary said.
"So, Gary," Marissa changed the subject, "Is there anything in the Paper?"
"'Parents Die on Family Outing,'" Gary read off of the Paper, "That'd figure. Did I ever tell you that I want kids?"
"Ouch. That smarts. Ya know, I think the Paper's trying to rub it in." Chuck winced, "It's out to get you, buddy."
"Chuck!" Marissa sighed, then said firmly, "Don't listen to him, Gary. That Paper comes to you for a reason… and its not out to ruin your life. You've got to remember that."
"Yeah…" Gary didn't feel much like talking, "I'm going to go make this last save, and then I'm going home. I'll see you later, Marissa, Chuck."
Why did he have to receive this newspaper? Gary didn't understand. If this paper was a "gift" like Marissa said, then why was it ruining his life? He didn't have a family or even a job. All he was asking for was a normal life. Marissa would call that boring and Chuck, well, Chuck would do most anything to get the Paper.
Its not that he didn't like helping people. Actually, he enjoyed it, but he didn't enjoy the Paper getting in the way of his social life.
Oh well. What could he do about it?
"I guess I'll just have to get used to it," Gary thought, "Who knows? Maybe I'll get lucky and it'll give me a break."
Four Years Later…
November 3, 2000
Gary thought about all that had happened the past few days. He had been trying to remember something, but he wasn't exactly sure what it was. He had saved a little girl, Lindsey, at the courthouse while she was chasing a purse snatcher, which had led to him meeting her grandfather, Judge Romick.
Now, Judge Romick was dead. He had been shot. Gary hadn't talked to Lindsey, but he knew that she must be hurting terribly.
Suddenly, he remembered. It was something about a knife… a pocketknife… That's when it all came flooding back…
Chicago, May 15, 1976
It was after the Essay Contest and he was eleven years old. He had just said good bye to Jessica Sackey and was walking back towards the building when someone called after him. Turning around he saw a man walking towards him.
"I think you dropped this, kid. Ought to be a little more careful, huh?" The man held out a knife.
"This is cool, but, uh, it's not mine." Gary had replied to the stranger.
"You're Gary Hobson, right?" The man prodded.
"Aren't those your initials right there? G.H.?" The man turned the knife over to the other side, revealing initials.
"Yeah, but…" Gary was very confused.
"You hang on to it and take care of yourself." He put the knife in the Gary's hand.
"Thanks, mister." Gary accepted the knife and headed back inside. He hadn't been sure who the guy was, but he acted pretty nice.
That was it. That was what had happened. The man was… must have been… Lucius Snow. Gary went to his desk and dug through the drawers. Finally he found what he had been looking for; the knife. On it was a key that said I.T.B.
"I.T.B." Gary whispered, "I.T.B."
Here it was. He was a bit afraid to open it. He was at the bank. After he found the knife with the key he had matched up the initials on the key with an old passbook of Snow's. Now, he was at the Illinois Trust Bank to figure out what Snow had kept here.
Hesitantly, Gary opened the metal box. He was surprised to see that the only thing it held was a white envelope with his name on it. For some reason, it didn't feel right opening it here.
Gary took a deep breath, and then opened the envelope.
He was standing in front of Lucius Snow's grave. In the distance, he could see people leaving Judge Romick's funeral. He could see the judge's granddaughter, Lindsey, standing there. His heart ached for her. Just the few days he had known the young girl, he could see that she had been very close to her grandfather.
Glancing back at the letter in his hand, he pulled a piece of paper out. Then, he started to read the letter:
I imagine by the time you get this letter; you've got a whole lot more questions than I've got answers. I can tell that I wasn't the first to get the Paper and I doubt that you'll be the last, but I am certain, that by now, whatever debt you think you owe me has been paid in full a thousand times over. In this, you've found your gift and I know you serve it with honor.
Suddenly, Gary knew what he was supposed to do. But could he, should he? He felt as if a light had been turned on. Again, he looked at the knife. Yes, he knew exactly what he was to do.
He looked over at Lindsey. The last of the people had left and Lindsey was standing alone. Knowing again that it was right, Gary walked over to the heart-broken girl.
"All these people talked about him at the funeral, but nobody really knew him." Lindsey mentioned after a moment, through tears.
"No?" Gary asked. He wanted to pull her into a hug and make everything better for her, but he couldn't do that. Nothing would fix this. He knew that.
"He loved me so much. He made me feel so special." Lindsey said, "I wanted someone to say that at the funeral... but nobody did."
"Lindsey," Gary told her, "You remember your grandfather the way you want to remember him."
"My mom says that we just have to accept that it was his time. You know, God's plan and all that."
"Well, you know what I think?" Gary asked, "I think maybe sometimes we've got a say in that plan. Remember that for me, will you?"
Then Lindsey's mother called her from the car.
"I've got to go." The girl said, and turned around.
"Hey, Lindsey," Gary called her. She stopped walking and turned around, "I think you dropped this." He showed her the knife.
"It's not mine." She tried to tell him.
"Well, it's got your initials on it." He handed it to her.
"You hang on to that, okay?" He asked her.
"Thanks." She said after a moment, then turned around and walked off.
"Take care." Gary said softly.
Leaving the cemetery, Gary finished reading the letter from Lucius Snow:
I can tell you that we are the messengers between time and its keeper.
"You, of all people, know how fragile life is. So, somewhere between the pages of our newspaper, Gary Hobson, find time to live it."
Gary thought about the last sentence of the letter and looked around. Seeing, so many people doing things together and enjoying their life, Gary smiled.
Gary looked around at the people around him; His wife, Alyssa, his sons, Terry, Nathan, and James, and his daughters, Emma and Andrea.
Some of his grandchildren were there, too; Garrison, Faith, Ashleigh, Luke, and Leila,
None of them wanted to show it, but Gary knew what they were feeling. He was dying. He was sixty-eight and he was dying. He had tried to prevent an eight-year-old from being shot and had succeeded; only he took the bullet himself.
Now, he was in the hospital. The doctors had done all they could do for him, but it was too late.
He tried to smile at his worrying family, but they knew the truth beyond the familiar smile.
He felt at peace, but terrible for his family. He knew that they would grieve for him, but he didn't know how to fix that. That was something he couldn't fix.
As he lay in the bed, it suddenly hit him that Lindsey Romick would be getting the Paper now. She would be the one to wake up at six-thirty in the morning as he had been doing for the past thirty-eight years.
He thought about the legacy letter that he had gotten from predecessor, Lucius Snow. He thought about the letter he had written to his successor, Lindsey Romick. He hoped that she would do well, that she would be able to handle the everyday-stress that came with receiving tomorrow's news today. It troubled him a bit, though, to realize what Lindsey would have to deal with.
He hoped that she would remember that no matter what, to "live her life". It had taken Gary a while to learn that. But, eventually he had learned that he needed to live each day as if it was his last; to believe that things would work out and take everything one at a time.
"Please, Lindsey," Gary managed to whisper, "Find the time to live your life."
For a moment there was darkness, than light; glorious light.
All Disclaimers Apply
Some of this dialog is not mine. Some of it belongs to the creators of "Early Edition".