Voyagers!: Finding Bliss

Chapter 1

I probably don't have to tell you what a lonely life a Voyager leads. You've heard my rants before, no union, no paid vacations, Chinese food one minute, Greek food the next…and so on and so on. Voyagers meet swarms of people day in and day out, but at the end of the day their images merge like a gigantic blur and all they have are distant memories. Being a Voyager takes sacrifice, and believe me friend, it's not always easy, especially in the love department. I'm not necessarily talking about earth shattering, heart stopping, pulse pounding romantic love…though us Voyagers often severely lack in that area too…ahem…Seriously, I'm talking about just having the freedom to hold a lover's hand, to talk over coffee and take long walks by the shore. To have a moment to stare into their eyes and whisper sweet nothings in their ear–without having to adjust the omni and fly off to another time zone…trying to forget they ever existed.

You know my story, you can no doubt count the dozens of women I've met and befriended on my journeys with Jeffrey Jones. You cried with me when I sacrificed the love of a lifetime for a green light, you felt pity whenever I had to leave a perfectly decent woman behind in tears and regret. Believe me, no one felt more pained at those times than I did. However, there is one woman who has been on my mind more and more frequently these days.

We never got romantic, or even expressed an attraction, well, at least she didn't. Did I? The circumstances weren't right at the time. Hey, it was a red zone anyway. Everything totally changed afterward. I humbly note here that I have certain undeniable charms and manners that speak volumes to a woman. Sometimes it's just a passing glance. I'm always the Romeo according to Jeffrey. Countless friends and fellow Voyagers have told me that it's all in my eyes and the way I just stare at them and smile. Is it really so simple for me? Am I that transparent?

I bet you're racking those brains wondering just who has captured my heart this time. In case you didn't know, Jeff and I have been voyaging for three years now. He just enrolled in Voyager school and I'm…well, I got needs, all right? I'm lonely. I'm bored voyaging without Jeff and I just can't stop thinking about…

Chili con queso.

Gave ya a clue, didn't I?

Headquarters has given me a mini-sabbatical now that Jeffrey is taking classes, so I'm eagerly off to Hollywood, 1929. With my omni set at the precise time and place, (Yeah, I got an upgrade, but it's still my brass one.) I land just in time to see my past self and 12 year-old Jeffrey chowing down on a carton of chili. I duck behind a lighted vanity a few feet away. Man, did that kid and his hair get big since then, now…err…you get it, right? It's time travel. It doesn't always make sense. Me? Three years hasn't done any damage. I'm actually buffer and my hair is a little longer. I listen in as my younger self sets the omni. I remember those words clearly and also feeling some regret as I spoke them.

"Ahh, nothing stays the same, everything changes."

Jeffrey didn't share the rest of the chili with me. I was pretty bummed and made sure he knew it afterward. I'm glad I'm wearing the same old pirate clothes, and I still fit them perfectly. Besides, out in Hollywood, nobody pays any attention to an extra. Jeffrey had long since traded in that red and white rugby and brown jeans. He still keeps it hanging in his closet at Headquarters for posterity. He tells me I should do the same. Begs me is more like it.

Okay, the coast is clear, they omnied out and my target has just finished delivering lunch. I'm sure she's about ready for her break now. Let me check the old pouch– Perfect! I brought some Voyager compensation money in 1920's currency. Brown Derby, here I come!

"Miss Bliss! Miss Bliss!"

She turned to me and her large, winsome eyes lit up and that adorable thousand-watt smile spread across her face. I remember those dimples like it was yesterday. I adore the auburn curls on her forehead, sticking out from under the red scarf. I don't know why, but when I am around her she makes me giddy inside. I love how her eyes crinkle up so joyfully. You can't help but return her smile–it's contagious. I suddenly felt like a shy boy that wants to ask out the prettiest girl in class. Who am I kidding? I felt like that in Voyager school around Susan too.

"Can I help you? Was the chili okay? Did your friend like it too?" She asked bubbly.

"Oh, the chili was perfect! Actually my friend had to leave and he took the rest with him, so I didn't get to enjoy it."

She looked genuinely sad for me. "I'm sorry. I'm fresh out right now and I'm about to leave for the day. Maybe if I see you on the set tomorrow I can give you some more? I'll make a fresh pot just for you."

So earnest. I love it!

I wrung my hands together and swayed side to side jittery.

Snap out of it, Bogg! Ask her before she leaves!

"Umm, Miss Bliss, Veronica, I know we just met and all, but I was wondering if…if…"

"If?"

"If uhh, I can take you to lunch. Is the Brown Derby okay?"

Her blue-gray eyes widened and she clutched her rosy cheek. "Brown Derby? Are you kidding me?"

"No. Why should I?"

"But that place costs an arm and a leg! I couldn't ask you to…"

I raised my hand to silence her. Her New York lisp gets more pronounced when she's excited. It's very cute.

"You're not asking me to, I'm telling you."

"Well, before I go out with you, do you mind telling me your name?"

"Oh, sure, heh heh. I'm Phineas Bogg."

"Phineas Bogg. Where have I heard that one before?"

"Probably Jules Verne, my uh, my parents loved his books."

Veronica laughed gaily. "Of course! Phineas Bogg, Phileas Fogg! Around the world in eighty days! That's one of my favorite stories too."

She held out her hand. I held it with both hands and bobbed hers up and down gently, that's the woman handshake, ya know?

"Okay, Phineas, it's a date."

"Wonderful!"

I bowed, then eased my arm out like a cavalier and she blushed like a cherry. She daintily slipped her arm through mine and then looked at her clothes disdainfully.

"Aww, gee, I'm still in my catering uniform. I can't walk into the Brown Derby like this. I'll have to change; I have some clothes in my locker. Oh, and you're still dressed as a pirate. They'll definitely thumb their noses at us."

Of course I never think this far ahead. I have the perfect idea. "You go get changed, Veronica, we'll meet right back here."

"Okay, I won't be long!" She smiled and ran off quickly.

I just need to remember where I put those 'extras' clothes I wore from the last time. That blue shirt and black slacks looked pretty darn good on me, and surprise, surprise, it was a perfect fit then too. With everyone out to lunch it's easy for me to slip in and out of the costume room, this time I'm bringing my pirate clothes with me and the omni is hidden in my pocket for now.

I'm not taking any chances. Jeffrey isn't here to cut a deal with the Little Rascals, or was it Terrible tots? Ehh, whatever those little minions were called. I'm back at the spot immediately. Five minutes pass, ten…okay, I know that women take longer than men, but she looked perfect already. Ten is my limit. I highly doubt she stood me up. Veronica is not like that. I don't know why, but I have a bad feeling in my gut.

I went the direction she took off in and the back door led me outside to a deserted part of the studio lot. I was glad it wasn't extremely hot today, because the sun is just beaming. I heard her voice a few feet away. She had changed into the outfit I first saw her in–a sailor style blouse, white cardigan and matching pleated skirt and Maryjane shoes. She has a pretty pearl cameo around her neck.

Every muscle in my body tensed. Sam Winthrop, the studio security guard, was talking to her, but it looked more like harassment to me. Veronica is not happy and she actually seemed frightened.

Sam is no doubt in love with her, but I don't care where your sympathies lie, he is two lights short of an omni. It's always the quiet ones skulking in the background, isn't it? In the old time zone he tried to kill Franklin Roosevelt by rigging a stage light to crash on him. He planted a dynamite bomb on a sound stage that nearly blew me to bits, then had me arrested for trespassing! Poor Veronica had to use the last of her savings to bail me out of jail. On top of that he scared countless people on the set with his anonymous, threatening letters. The man is violently obsessed and it looks like this is one thing that hasn't changed. He puts the Phantom of the Opera to shame.

"Sam, I don't understand why you're so upset, it's just a date. Phineas is very charming and polite. I want to go. I haven't had a date in months."

Sam's dark eyes narrowed. "Sure, that's what they all are until they get what they want. I saw him with you in there. He's no different. I won't have you going around town with some low-rent Valentino!"

Veronica gaped at him. "Sam! You have no right to talk about him like that, you don't even know him. And I don't like you spying on me. You know what I think? I think you're jealous. Yeah, that's it! You're always jealous of other guys talking or even looking at me and I don't like it."

"Oh really? I'll tell you what I don't like."

Sam grabbed her arm and forced her closer to him. I've seen and heard enough. This guy is about to be introduced to my licensed weapons. I ran up and shoved him away…hard.

"Hey, you! Get your dirty mitts off her!" I shouted, but I didn't care, my temper goes through the roof when it comes to the mistreatment of women.

Sam pushed my arm away and backed up. "Are you the jerk she's going out with?"

"Stop it, Sam! He's not a jerk."

"Shut your yap, Veronica. This is between me and him. I'll deal with you later!"

That did it for me. I rushed into him and grasped his collar, then I heaved him up against the building. He's afraid of me, I can tell, but this is love and war here. I tried to give him a harsh ultimatum.

"I don't think you get it, pal. Veronica is with me, and if I find out that you've hurt her in any way I'll…"

Veronica pulled me back and kept a soothing hand on my bicep. "No, Phineas, I don't want any trouble. I understand why Sam is doing this. He's…"

"Let me guess, when you came to Hollywood he helped you out, gave you money and was a loving shoulder to cry on. The uniform still has tear-stains, am I right?"

Veronica stared at me amazed. "Exactly. How did you know?"

"I've seen this all before. I'll make the plot thicker. Sam here convinced you not to go into acting and to do what you really love, cooking and catering. That way you wouldn't forget him if you became famous and he wouldn't have to share you with anyone else."

Veronica stepped away from both of us and Sam loosened my grip on his uniform and dusted it off. "You don't know a damn thing, buster!"

"We're just friends, Sam. I thought you knew that." Veronica said pitiably.

"No Veronica, I didn't want to believe that. You and I were so close. I mean, we are close, but who am I kidding?"

"Nobody." I had to interject. "You know Veronica would never go for a guy like you, at least you felt that way about yourself, so now you play the big, overprotective brother routine with her."

I made sure to stay in between Veronica and Sam. "Only right now you're way out of line, sad sack." I cracked my knuckles for effect.

Sam heaved a large sigh. He removed his security cap and tossed it from hand to hand. "I didn't mean to hurt you, Veronica. You're right. I'm insanely jealous that guys like him get all the breaks."

Little does he know. Voyagers don't know what breaks are. Veronica's fears faded and she went up and stroked his cheek. I wouldn't let my guard down.

"Oh, Sam, you're a very sweet man, and I can't thank you enough for everything you did for me, but…"

"Yeah, yeah, I get it. You're with him now."

"Sam, we're not quite together…yet." I said, unsure of myself. Veronica gazed at me with a coy smile and a flicker of hope in her eyes. I can't let her down. "But we're working at it. I think it would be best for everyone if you would just let bygones be bygones and left Veronica alone." I said with authority.

"Sam, you'll always be my dear friend, you know that." Veronica offered. She is far too kind to this bum.

Sam looked so forlorn, but something in him was about to break. The writing was on the wall for his sanity. I didn't react fast enough. Sam grabbed Veronica tightly and pulled the handcuffs off his belt. He slapped one on him and the other on her wrist and backed away crazily.

"Oww! Sam! What are you doing? Phineas, stop him!" Veronica pleaded and tried to pull her hand out of the cuffs. Sam yanked hard on her arm and she screeched.

"Sam! Don't do that! Let her go! You don't hurt the people you love!" I attempted to ambush him, but he pulled out his club and waved it at me and then swung it over Veronica's head.

"Sam, NO!"

I had to hold back. Veronica ducked frightfully. "Put that away, Sam!" She cried. "I'm sorry! I'll do whatever you want! Don't hurt Phineas!"

"Don't hurt Phineas! Don't hurt Phineas?" He bellowed. His face contorted in an ugly rage.

Veronica cowered. "Please just relax, Sam. We'll talk about this! All of us!"

"Sam, listen to her!" I kept my hands out and my body at the ready to jump him, but I wasn't seeing a chance without breaking Veronica's arm in the process.

"Please, Sam, I'll do anything you ask, don't hurt anybody!"

It killed me to hear Veronica give in to this psychopath. The melodrama was just beginning.

"It's way too late for that, Veronica. I gave you all the chances in the world!"

Here it comes everybody.

"If I can't have you, no one can!"

Sam turned tail and ran with Veronica into an adjacent studio. I looked on momentarily stunned. What in the world just happened here?

Get a grip, Bogg!

All of Jeffrey's euphemisms pound me whenever I do something out of character, like stand still when a damsel is in distress.

Sam had gone off the deep end and I had to save her at all costs. I did a fast omni check, and of course, the light turned red just as I opened it. Nothing was ever easy in the life of a Voyager. This was all my fault for coming back here. I raced like the wind after them.