Authors Note: This story takes place after The Reunion when Jeffrey is 13 years old. As teenagers do, he begins to think about big issues, such as "Why are we here?" and "What is the meaning of life?" Over several voyages, Bogg helps Jeffrey to start figuring out his own answers to those questions. I tried my best to handle the death in Chapter 12 as respectfully and realistically as possible.
Chapter 1 Steve Martin
Phineas Bogg and Jeffrey Jones landed on a slight grassy slope and each rolled over once before they sat up. They both glanced around quickly, experience telling them that they could be in danger. But all seemed peaceful, and they smiled at each other, lots of landings were worse than this.
"This looks like a college," Jeff observed, looking around at the large brick buildings as he stood up. They were behind a few large trees and Jeff peeked around them and saw grassy lawns and a few students walking on the paths that criss-crossed a wide expanse of grass. "What's the date?"
Bogg took the omni off his belt and opened it, "Long Beach, California, 1964, red light." As Bogg put the omni back on his belt he spoke again, "know anything about Long Beach, California?"
"I know that," Jeff said pointing to a large sign that stood over a wide road that appeared to be the entrance to the institution. "California State University," he read.
"Oh," Bogg said, looking around.
"And I know him, but he looks so young!"
"Who?" and Bogg walked over behind Jeff so he could look over his shoulder through the trees. He saw a young man about to toss a coin, not 8 feet from where they were standing.
Jeffrey walked forward and touched the man's arm, drawing his attention away from the coin toss. "Hi, I'm Jeffrey, this is my father, Phineas Bogg," he said. Since the adoption, he had started introducing Bogg differently, based on how he felt about the situation they were in. Phineas had started joking with him about how hard it was getting to keep his title straight, when it changed from voyage to voyage.
"Phineas? Bogg?" the man said staring at the two voyagers. "That name has a strange sound to it. Kind of funny, did anyone ever tell you that?" he asked.
Bogg cleared his throat, "yeah, it's come up," he stammered and his mind flashed back to the first time Jeffrey had heard his name. He could still hear the kids tone of voice as he asked, 'Phineas?' It wasn't his fault that his name had become less popular over the years.
"You're Steve Martin, aren't you?" Jeff asked, oblivious to his partner's discomfort.
"So what're you doing with that coin?"
Martin sighed, "I'm tossing this coin to make a decision because I have no idea what to do."
"What decision?" Jeff asked as Bogg looked on, still confused as to who Steve Martin was or how history could be effected.
"I can't put it off any longer," he said, and his voice betrayed his stress. Jeff waited for him to continue, "I need to pick a major."
"A major what?" Bogg asked, hoping to contribute to the conversation.
Jeff rolled his eyes, how in the world had Bogg gotten along without him, he wondered. Instead of responding to Bogg, he addressed his next comment to Martin. "What are your choices?"
Steve laughed, "I really don't see how a kid I've never met can help me, but okay kid, Philosophy or Theatre, what do you think?"
Jeff smiled, this would be easy, he thought to himself, but because it was so important, he wanted to be sure, so he asked a question, "you mean Philosophy, like in Plato and Aristotle?"
"Yeah, Plato, as in 'What's the meaning of life, why are we here', that kind of stuff, but I've never heard of this Aristotle guy, is he on campus now? There's a lot of philosophical stuff going..."
"You've never heard of Aristotle?" Jeff asked.
As Steve Martin shook his head in confusion, Jeff backed away and turned toward Bogg. They moved back behind the trees as one and began to talk.
"Bogg everyone knows Aristotle," Jeff began.
"Yeah, even I know he was a famous Greek philosopher, but who's this Martin guy?"
"He's a famous comedian, or will be."
"Okay so let's go see about Aristotle."
"Give me a minute and I'll fix Steve Martin."
"I don't really think a comedian is that important, we've got a major philosopher who's missing."
"Not important? Of course he's important, he'll make millions of people laugh and forget their problems."
"He's just a comedian, Jeff."
Jeff paused, "look, when I was eight, my grandfather died. I can remember sitting with my dad after the funeral when everyone was so worn out they couldn't even stand up."
"What does that have to do with..."
"Because someone put the TV on and Steve Martin was doing one of his routines, and," Jeff stopped and felt a lump in his throat, "my dad laughed. I didn't even know what the joke was, but it made me feel good that he could still laugh."
Phineas Bogg stared at his partner, keeping a rough expression, but inside his heart melted. When the kid was upset, it always had this effect on him. He would do anything to relieve Jeffrey's distress. "Okay, go fix him," he said, putting his hand on Jeff's shoulder. Jeff wiped his eyes and took a deep breath. When he was sure he could speak normally, he walked back to Martin.
"Mr. Martin, you're a natural born comedian. I've seen you in clubs around here. How could you want to study Philosophy?"
"I've just always been intrigued with it." He paused, "you've seen my act?"
"Yeah, and trust me, you should pick Theatre as a major."
Martin smiled, "okay kid, thanks," and he took the form out of his bag and Jeff watched as he checked the box for Theatre. "Guess I better turn this in," he said and turned toward the building, "thanks."
"Any time," Jeff said and ran back to Bogg, who was opening the omni.
"It's still red," Bogg observed.
"It can't be, I straightened out Steve Martin."
Bogg showed it to him, "well, Aristotle isn't a philosopher in this timeline, so once we straighten him out, this wouldn't even have happened."
"Oh," Jeff whispered, "yeah." He'd been so wrapped up in his memories that he hadn't even realized that. "You knew that, didn't you?"
"Why'd you let me talk to him then?"
"Like I could've stopped you," Bogg began, "besides, it'll be an advantage when we come back after we fix Aristotle. It's nice to have a previous conversation to help you stay grounded."
"Yeah, so you have some idea of what to expect next time."
Jeff stared at him, he like the term grounded, it was very easy to get mixed up when you were traveling through time.
"So, when and where was Aristotle?"
"I don't think I know for sure," Jeff answered uncertainly.
"Well, if you get us close and there's a red light, the automatic mode will kick in and take us there."
Jeff paused and when Bogg looked at him he had a strange look on his face. "What's wrong?"
"Did you hear what Steve Martin said while we were talking?"
"Not really, what?"
"He said 'what's the meaning of life, and why are we here."
"So why are we here, Bogg?" Jeff asked and tilted his head to the side as if to show his confusion.
"We're here to fix history kid, you know that," Bogg answered in a surprised tone of voice.
"I know, but," and Jeff paused, "I mean, why are people on earth at all?"
Bogg stared at his young charge. He had never felt prepared for his guardianship of Jeff, and now he felt at a total loss for words. "I don't know, but they are."
Jeff stared at him and sighed, and Bogg had the feeling that Jeff had given this topic some thought before today, and that it would come up again. "Try 350 BC, Macedonia"
"Grab on," Bogg said, glad to have a change of subject. He twirled the dial and they disappeared.