Episode 1229

Draft Dodger

by: Tom Nicklis


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Theorizing that one could time-travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sebastian LoNigro set out to prove the String Theory that he had co-developed with his former MIT student, Samuel Beckett—an incredibly gifted genius who was destined for greatness.  After Sam’s sudden and untimely murder in 1973, a distraught Doctor LoNigro formed a strong bond with Sam’s older brother, Lieutenant Commander Thomas Beckett, and together, they both strove to ensure that Sam’s theories would not be forgotten.


Tom quickly rose in the ranks to Captain and eventually aided Doctor LoNigro in the development of a top-secret government project code-named Chrono-Leap, which was based off of a combination of the String Theory, and the work of the late Doctor Alexander Garner and his failed Time Displacer Unit.  During the initial test-run of the experiment, a malfunction occurred that endangered the lives of everyone inside the project.  In a bold attempt to shut it down, Captain Beckett bravely stepped into the Chronoton Accelerator...and vanished.


He awoke to find himself inhabiting someone else’s body in the past, suffering from partial amnesia and facing a mirror image that was not his own.  Fortunately, contact with his own time was maintained through brainwave transmissions with Doctor LoNigro, who became the Project Observer in the wake of the Accelerator incident, appearing in the form of a neurological hologram that only Captain Beckett can see and hear.


Trapped in an alternate timeline, Captain Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, putting things right that once went wrong.  All the while, he is subconsciously aware that another leaper exists somewhere, lost in time like himself, who holds the key to restoring reality back to what it once was.  Until that day arrives, Captain Beckett struggles to recall his lost memories of a “World Without Sam Beckett,” hoping each time to alter the hands of fate so that his next leap...will be the leap home.




        When the blue light of the leap in dissipated, Tom had to cover his ears. He needed to save them from all the offending noise around him.

        People were standing on all sides of him, causing him to feel like a sardine. People were bumping into him, and a pair of roaming hands grabbed Tom someplace that made him immediately uncomfortable. When someone was shoved roughly into him, it caused him to briefly lose his balance.

        After regaining both his balance and his composure, he took a look around. It was easy to see that he was in some kind of demonstration. Judging by what the other demonstrators were wearing, Tom was able to ascertain that he was back in the sixties.

        At the front of the crowd, standing on a podium, there was a man yelling into a microphone. It was hard to hear him due to the commotion of the crowd, but it was easy enough to tell that he was at an Anti-War Rally.

        This being the sixties, Tom figured the rally centered on the war in Vietnam, a war that Tom fought in and believed in. Closing his eyes and lowering his head, he said, “Ahhh geez.”



November 15, 1969

Washington D.C.


        Tom was sickened. One thing that had always annoyed him was these draft dodging, free loving, pot smoking hippies. Looking down at his own clothing, he saw that he was wearing a tie-dyed shirt with a peace sign on it. That left no doubt in Tom’s mind that he had leaped into one of those degenerates. The crowd then roared with a renewed vigor, bringing Tom back to reality. Tom looked back up at the podium and what he saw made him physically ill.

        Before his eyes, the very thing that Tom had fought so hard, for so long to protect was aghast in flames. The symbol of freedom and unity that so many brave men had died to protect was burning while the man at the podium was egging the crowd on to bigger and louder cheers. It made the former NAVY SEAL want to throw up. The man had just burned the American Flag.

        Immersed in rage, Tom yelled, “Hooyah,” and started pushing his way through the crowd, trying to make his way to the podium. When he got there, the speaker stopped yelling and looked down at Tom.

        “Eddie,” said the man. “Great, I didn’t think that you were going to make it. Come on up here and say a few words.”

        A little surprised at this turn of events, Tom allowed the man that he had an instant dislike for pull him up onto the podium. Once up there, Tom planted his feet and gave the man a right hook, connecting  directly with the man’s jaw.

        Caught off guard, the man went down in a heap, and Tom was on him. He managed to hit him a couple more times before at least three sets of hands grabbed him and pulled him off the man. They then threw him to the ground and started pounding on him, much to the approval of the crowd.

        Tom was covering his head trying to shield the blows, when surprisingly, the beating stopped. The man that Tom had just hit was pulling his attackers off. Tom could hear him yell, “Stop! Let him go.”

        Clearly shocked, one of the attackers turned towards the man and asked, “What do you mean let him go? He just decked you. Why should we let him go?”

        “Because he’s my brother.”

        Tom’s attackers just looked at the man that Tom had just hit. Then one of them asked, “What do you mean he’s your brother? I thought you said that your brother is for the cause. Why would he hit you?”

        “I don’t know why he hit me, but he is definitely for the cause. I don’t know what his deal is right now, but I’m going to find out. Take over for me, would you, Jeremy?”

        Waving the man off, Jeremy said, “Whatever you say, Johnny.”

        Johnny grabbed Tom by the shoulder and led him roughly off the podium. “What’s gotten into you, Eddie? Why did you hit me?”

        “Because you burned the American Flag,” replied Tom with the anger evident in his voice.

        “Yeah, only because you told me to.”

        Tom had to take a step back at that revelation. Knowing he had to tread lightly, he took a minute to compose his thoughts, and then said, “I was wrong.”

        “What do you mean you were wrong? You were one hundred percent right.” Pointing at Tom, Johnny continued, “You said that if we burned the flag, the media would take notice. They would report on it and our message would be spread, and you were right.” Then waving towards the crowd, he said, “Just look at all the media people that are out in the crowd today.”

        “There are other ways to go about it. By burning the American Flag, you are spitting in the faces of every one of our men that died over there.” Tom gave Johnny a quick shove. “You are spitting on every soldier that was wounded or taken prisoner. You are spitting on every pilot that was shot down.” He shoved him again. “You are spitting on everyone that has lost a loved one and everyone whose life has been changed forever.”

        “That’s not what we are trying to do, and you know it. We are trying to get them brought home so that no more of our guys have to die in a pointless war.”

        Tom rolled his eyes at that comment. “Maybe to the people that are over there, it isn’t pointless. Did you ever think of that? They might be for the flag, apple pie and the Fourth of July. In training, they are pushed to their limits and then beyond to show them that they have their limits. Maybe that’s what Vietnam is doing for America, showing us our limits. That’s not a lost cause.” To Tom, this conversation was beginning to seem awfully familiar.

        Johnny shook his head. “Is that enough of a reason for our boys to die for?”

        “Well if it’s not, how about duty! They take oaths to God and Country.”

        “Eddie, what’s gotten into you? If you are so pro-war all of a sudden, why don’t you go enlist? For that matter, why are you even here?”

        Tom just stared at Johnny for a second before saying, “Exactly,” and walking away.



November 15, 1969

Washington D.C.


        Tom was glad that his host had some money on him. Since he was already in D.C. and because he really loved D.C., Tom decided to take the opportunity to do some sight seeing after leaving the rally. He didn’t know where his host’s car was or even what he drove. So, he hailed a taxi.

        He had spent a lot of time in D.C. when he and Professor Bobby LoNigro were trying to secure funding for Project Quantum Leap. In those days, it didn’t really leave much time to enjoy the history of what was around them.

        Now he had some downtime and he was going to take full advantage of it. The first step in that was to stop off at a store and buy some new clothes. He hated the clothes that his host was wearing and what they stood for. So he decided to get something a little more himself.

        Seeing as every other time he had been there, over the last several years at least, he was always in a suit and tie, he decided to go casual. He ended up with a simple blue pull over shirt and a pair of jeans.

        Wearing his new outfit, Tom put his host’s clothes in the bag from his new ones and stuffed them under his arm. They might not be his taste, but he was not about to throw them out on the kid.

        After leaving the store, Tom flagged down another cab and told the driver to bring him to Arlington National Cemetery. Not long later, he was standing at the graves of John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jackie. Standing there staring at the eternal flame that Robert Kennedy lit in memory of his brother and sister-in-law, Tom said a silent prayer.

        He remembered that infamous day in Dallas like it was yesterday. He was at the farm. He was watching his father teach his brother Sam how to drive a tractor. It was bringing back memories of when he originally learned how to drive one. He remembered that he was smiling when his mother came running outside. The three of them thought that they had done something wrong. His mother was yelling that someone had just shot the President and the First Lady.

        Years later, when he saw the Zapruder Film, he saw, three shots for JFK, one for Jackie. He could only hope that one day his leaping would land him on November 22, 1963. That way, he could change what was one of the biggest tragedies of the century.

        When he left Arlington National, he headed to the Lincoln Memorial. He was facing the South Wall of the Memorial reading the Gettysburg Address when Al finally showed up.

        “Hey, Tommy Boy, how’s it going?”

        “Al, I wish you wouldn’t call me Tommy Boy. What took you so long to get here?”

        “Sorry, Tom, Tina threw me a very private birthday party and she was my gift.”

        “Al, I didn’t know it’s your birthday.”

        “It isn’t.”  Al said with a glint in his eye and a grin on his face.

        Tom just rolled his eyes at the observer. “What have you got for me, Al?”

        After punching some buttons on the handlink, he read the information off the tiny screen. “Let’s see. It’s November 15, 1969 and your name is Eddie Roberts. You’re from Atlanta Georgia and you’re nineteen years old. You came to Washington, D.C. with your brother, a Johnny Roberts, for an anti-war rally.” His expression turned to one of amazement. Reading off the small screen, he continued, “Hey this is interesting, Tom, this was actually the largest anti-war rally during the Vietnam War. Ziggy says that there were two hundred fifty thousand people protesting the war during this rally.”

        Tom raised his eyes slightly at that, “I have to admit, those are pretty impressive numbers.  But, Al, these people were cheering as this Eddie guy’s brother was burning the American Flag.”

        Al visibly flinched at that before saying, “I know its sick, Tom, but people were doing that a lot back then.”

        “That’s no excuse, Al.” Noticing some people beginning to stare, Tom lowered his voice slightly. “They are making a mockery of everything we stood and fought for. They are spitting on the memory of the fifty thousand Americans that died in Vietnam, on their families, on their friends. It’s just wrong.”

        “Hey, don’t tell me. I was there. I was held prisoner for six years while these,” Al waved towards a couple of hippies walking by.  “These… hippies couldn’t even be bothered to support what we did over there.”

        “Sorry, Al. Why does Ziggy say I’m here?”

        “She doesn’t know.”

        “What do you mean she doesn’t know? There has to be something.” Tom looked over his friend’s shoulder and read the tiny screen. “What happens to this kid that I leaped into?”

        “He disappears on November 18, 1969 and is never heard from again.”

        Looking at his observer now, Tom asked, “What do you mean he disappears? Was he murdered?”

        “I don’t know.” Al glanced at the handlink again, and then threw up his hands. “There’s no information.”

        “Well that must be why I’m here.”

        “I don’t think so, Tom.” Al hit the appropriate buttons on the handlink and read the information. “Ziggy says that there is only a 24.3% chance that you are here to keep Eddie Roberts from disappearing.”

        With a confused expression on his face, Tom asked, “How is that possible?”

        “I don’t know,” said Al while shrugging his shoulders. “I know it doesn’t seem right. But that’s what Ziggy is saying.” 

        “Well, why don’t you go back and try to get me some more information then?”

        “All right,” Al used the handlink to open the Imaging Chamber Door and stepped through. “I’ll talk to you later, Tom.”


Project Quantum Leap

Stallions Gate, New Mexico


        Al walked out of the Imaging Chamber and placed the handlink in its cradle. “What have you got for me, Gooshie?”

        Looking at the information on his terminal, Gooshie responded, “There is nothing new to report, Al. Ziggy still doesn’t know why Tom has leaped into the life of Eddie Roberts on November 15, 1969.”

Now addressing the Parallel-Hybrid Computer, Al asked, “What’s the hold up, Ziggy? It doesn’t usually take you this long to find information on one of our visitors.”

        The voice of the Parallel-Hybrid computer filled the room as she responded, “It seems that Edward Allan Roberts was drafted on September 12, 1969. However, he failed to report for duty as scheduled on November 18, 1969. After that date, there is no information available.”

        Al thought for a moment, then looking up at the blue orb that was Ziggy, Al asked, “He was drafted? Could he have maybe dodged the draft? Went to Canada, changed his name and shunned technology? Something like that?”

        “I estimate a 94.2 % chance that that is precisely what happened,” was the computer’s response.

        Looking down, Al spoke to himself, “So the kid went to Canada and dropped off the grid.” A nasty look appeared on Al’s face, “Coward. Well, at least that’s something to go on.” Then looking once again at the orb, he addressed the computer. “With this new information, can you predict why Tom has leaped into Eddie Roberts?”

        “Unfortunately, without the name that he used in Canada, I will be unable to ascertain with any certainty why Captain Beckett has leaped into Edward Roberts.”

        “Well, then I guess I’ll just go see our visitor and get that name for you.” A moment later, Al walked out of the Control Room and down the hall to the Waiting Room.

        When Al walked into the Waiting Room, he saw the Project Physiatrist, Verbena Beeks, sitting with the visitor. They were talking quietly in the corner. She was, in fact, so focused on the visitor that she didn’t notice the former Navy Captain enter the room.

Al had to clear his throat to get her attention. Startled, Verbena jumped a little and searched for the origin of the noise. Seeing Al, she politely excused herself from the visitor and walked over to him.

“How’s he doing, Doc?” asked Al.

“He’s a little swiss-cheesed,” said the pleasant looking physiatrist, “but his memory seems to be, for the most part, intact.”

“Good, cause I really need to ask him a few questions. Do you mind if I talk to him alone for a couple minutes?”

“Not at all,” replied Verbena. “I’ll just wait outside.”

“Thank you, doctor.” Al watched as Verbena walked out of the room before turning his attention to the kid still sitting in the corner of the room.



Project Quantum Leap

Stallions Gate, New Mexico


        A half hour later, Al returned to the Control Room and said, “Gooshie, have Ziggy run a check on a Robert Edward Allan. That’s the name the kid said he is going to use in Canada.”

        “Already done, Albert,” responded Ziggy

        “Great, fire up the Imaging Chamber. I’m going to go fill Tom in on what we found out.” Al then grabbed the handlink and made his way up the ramp and into the Imaging Chamber.

“Right away, Al.” Gooshie pushed the appropriate buttons to bring the Imaging Chamber on-line.


November 15, 1969

Washington D.C.


After a moment, Al found himself standing in front of the Jefferson Memorial. Looking for the leaper, he saw that Tom was reading a pamphlet on the history of the memorial.

Seeing his observer out of the corner of his eye, Tom kept his attention on the pamphlet in front of him and said, “You know, there was a time when I could tell you everything about these memorials, now I barely remember anything about them.”

“Yeah, well I still can,” said Al in a huff. “Not that I care to.” Al carefully avoided looking at Tom.

“Well, I love everything about DC. It’s not often I get to visit here as a tourist.”

“Yeah! Well, why don’t you try living on its streets!” barked Al now looking at Tom.

Looking up from the pamphlet, Tom asked, “You were on the street in DC, too?”

Refusing to meet Tom’s eyes, Al made a big show about looking at the handlink. “I don’t want to talk about it. So just drop it.”

“All right,” said Tom, giving in. “Do you have anything new for me?”

“Yeah, that’s why I’m here.” He punched a couple buttons on the handlink and read off the tiny screen. “Well, according to Ziggy, Eddie Roberts was drafted on… September 12, 1969. He was scheduled to report for duty on November 18, 1969. That’s why he disappeared.”

Tom shot a look towards his observer. “Are you trying to tell me that I’ve leaped into a draft dodger?” The disgust was clearly evident in Tom’s voice when he said, “I knew I didn’t like this kid for a reason.”

“Yeah, well anyways,” he ashed his cigar and continued reading the information off the tiny screen, “he dodged the draft and went to Can…,” he hit the handlink as the words stopped scrolling across the tiny screen. “ada, Oh, Canada. He then changed his name to… Robert Edward Allan. He gets married in a couple years and becomes an electrician. Five years later, he gets divorced. He returned to the states in 1977 after Carter pardoned all those draft dodging nozzles. Right now, he’s a single retiree with no kids, living in Seattle Washington.”

“So I’m here to make sure he reports for the draft,” said Tom. “That seems simple enough.”

“Yeah, well nothing is ever that simple. Ziggy gives it a 92.8% chance that the kid would go AWOL as soon as he gets back here.”

“If not for the kid, what could I possibly be here for?”

“Well… according to Ziggy…, there is a 96.4% chance that you are here to stop a bus, loaded with protesters, from crashing and killing just about everyone on board.”

        With his attention fully on the observer now, Tom asked, “What happened to cause the bus to crash?”

        “Well, according to the police reports, the bus driver was the only survivor. He said that about twenty minutes after getting on the road, a 1967 Pontiac GTO started speeding along side the bus before pulling in front of it and forcing him off the road.” Al looked Tom in the eye and allowed the information to sink in for a moment. When it had, he continued, “Anyway, the bus went over the edge of the road and started flipping. When it came to rest, it had rolled 128 feet downhill and ended up upside down.” Then, looking away from the handlink, Al dropped his hand and said in a somber tone, “The driver of the bus was the only survivor.”  

Tom took a moment to collect his thoughts, and then asked, “Did they ever catch the guy that ran it off the road?”

        “Yeah,” Al brought the handlink back up and began reading from it again, “Two days later, the car is found abandoned twenty-six miles from the scene of the accident. They traced it back to the owner… one Kyle Sharp. They brought the kid in for questioning and he confessed to driving the car. He said it was just a prank that went real bad. He’s still in jail.”

        “If I am here to stop a bus crash, why didn’t I leap into the driver? Why would I leap into this kid that has nothing to do with the bus?”

        “Ziggy doesn’t know, Tom. But there must be a reason.” Al was unable to stifle a yawn. “Man, I’m exhausted. I am going to head back and get some shut eye. If we find anything new, I’ll come back and fill you in. Night, Tom.” Al opened the Imaging Chamber Door and stepped back through.

        “Night, Al.”



Project Quantum Leap

Stallions Gate New Mexico


        Since being dismissed from Project Starbright after the vending machine incident two years ago, his life had been going downhill. He had lost everything he held dear to him.

Ever since then, he had been turning to the bottle more and more frequently. It had cost him every job that he managed to get after being removed from Starbright and being dishonorably discharged from the Navy. Eventually, it cost him his home.

A week had passed and the darkness was all encompassing. Everything had fallen out from beneath him. As he stumbled down the alley way, he couldn’t see fifteen feet in front of him. But he didn’t care about that. He still had the one object that meant anything to him, his flask.

The flask was the one thing that he would not allow them to take, couldn’t allow them to take. It had been a gift from his first wife Beth, and it never left his side. And tonight, Al was downing vodka from that flask.

        Suddenly a noise. Al spun quickly and looked behind him. “Who’s there?” he called, but there was no answer. There was no more noise. It was just his imagination.

        He turned again and began walking to the makeshift shelter he had made his home for the last couple nights.

        Another noise sounded behind him. This time it was a loud crash as a garbage can was knocked over.

        Al spun on his heels again. This time, with the quick turn, he stumbled and fell into some more trash cans. Shaking his head and awkwardly standing back up, he screamed, “SHOW YOURSELF!!!”

        Still nothing.

        “I know there’s someone there. Come out and fight like a man!” He stumbled again. Looking into the darkness, he still saw nothing. The silence surrounding him was deafening and he began to think that maybe it was all in his head.

        He turned back around and started walking again. He didn’t get ten steps before he was hit in the back with something long and hard. Immediately, he fell in a heap. Then, they were on him.

        They were hitting him over and over. Shot after shot connected with his body. A couple caught him in the head. He couldn’t fight back. He was pinned down trying to curl up in a ball to absorb the bulk of the shots. Then they started stomping on him. He could feel his ribs break.

        When the kick came, it was a swift, hard blow to his face. The force of the blow was enough to straighten him back out. As he lay there, he wasn’t unconscious, but he was close. He wasn’t able to fight them off, even when they took the flask he was still holding in his hand.

        The two men sounded as if they were a million miles away when Al heard one of them say, “I’ve got the flask, you get his jacket and his shoes.”

        The other man forcibly sat Al up and pulled his jacket off of him. When he had it, he pushed him back to the ground where Al banged the back of his head on the pavement. Then he took the shoes off the disgraced former Navy Captain’s feet.

        While he watched his buddy rob the homeless man, the first man pulled out a combat knife and said, “Now, to leave him with our calling card.” He then walked very slowly to the man that they had just assaulted and put the knife to his face.

The new pain barely registered for Al as he felt the tip of the knife slice into the skin of his left eyebrow. The man then sliced back towards his ear then came back toward his jaw and the point of his chin.

Al shot awake and rolled out of his bed. He scrambled to his feet and quickly rushed to the corner of his room. Kneeling in the corner, he covered his head to protect himself from the blows which were no longer coming. Then, after a full minute without being hit, Al summoned up the courage to look around the room.

When Al opened his eyes, he could still see the images of the beating he had suffered at the hands of those two hoodlums. In an attempt to clear his head, he squeezed his eyes shut and had to shake his head to remove the images remaining from his dream. It took a moment for him to realize where he was.

When he did, he slowly got to his feet and made his way to the bathroom. After walking to the sink, he turned on the light and ran the cold water. After splashing three handfuls on his face, he grabbed a face cloth and used it dry his face off.

Lowering the face cloth, Al looked in the mirror and saw the scar that they had left him with that night. Putting his finger to it, he traced it all the way from his left eyebrow back to his ear. Then he followed it down his jaw line to the tip of his chin.

As he did this, he remembered how the cops had shown up and turned their lights on. The man that Al had come to call The Professor was so startled that he dropped the knife. Not bothering to pick it up, both men ran the other direction.

The two police officers then got out of the car. One ran up to Al to start tending to his injuries. The other gave chase. He never caught them.

The officer that stopped to tend to Al’s injuries had radioed for an ambulance. When it arrived, they loaded him in and brought him to the hospital where he was treated for a concussion, three broken ribs, and a severe laceration to the face. Then they promptly shipped him off to the free clinic where he remained for a week.

They had tried their best to keep the cut across his face from becoming infected. Despite their best efforts, the cut became infected and he had to be treated for that as well.

After they released him from the clinic, all he could think about was revenge. He wanted revenge on them for attacking him in such a cowardly fashion, revenge for stealing his jacket and shoes, revenge for his scar.

All that he might have been able to deal with. He had scars all over his body from his six years spent in the POW camps. And although he would have almost preferred another beating rather than accept charity, the doctors at the free clinic had been nice enough to give him a beat up old Army Jacket and some shoes.

What he couldn’t deal with was losing his flask to those creeps. That flask was all he had left from his first wife Beth, the only woman he ever truly loved.

He shut off the light and walked back to his bed. Sitting down, he turned on the light on his night stand. Then opening the drawer, he pulled out the flask and read the inscription; “To My Darling. I Will Love You Always and Forever

Beth had given it to him just before he left for his second tour of duty. After that day, Al kept the flask on him almost every waking hour. He took it on every mission. It was his good luck charm. But one day he forgot it. That was the day he was shot down.

Six years later, he had returned home to find Beth, his Beth, had remarried. She had the Navy declare him dead and she remarried.

The Navy had sent her his things, the flask among them. When Al finally saw Beth, he asked for the flask back. She gave it to him, then asked him to stay away. He obeyed her wishes.

He took it back and held onto it, even when he lost everything else. He had to get it back at all costs and that wasn’t open to negotiation.

He thought it logical that the two men would promptly pawn the flask. So for a month and a half, Al walked from pawn shop to pawn shop in the Washington, D.C. area without success.

When he gave up the hope of finding it in a pawn shop, he started searching for the two men that had attacked him. In this, he had a lot more success. He came across another victim of theirs, but the scar that he had went all across his face. He directed Al to an old abandoned warehouse.

The man left Al with one final word of warning. “I wouldn’t go there if I were you. They’ll kill you as soon as look at you.” Then the man walked away.

Al took the warning in stride and went to the warehouse anyway. When he got there, the windows were boarded up, but the door was kicked in. Al approached the door and looked inside. Not seeing anybody, he entered quietly and started searching for the two men that had attacked him.

It was a small factory, so it didn’t take long to realize that there was nobody there. He did however manage to find a small office they used as a bedroom. He tore it apart looking for the flask, but found nothing. Figuring that one of them must have had it on him, he sat down on a box and waited for their return.

About a half hour later, he heard some commotion as the two men entered the building. Standing up, Al stood there as the Navy Captain he no longer was and faced the doorway that led to the small back office.

This was a stance he used many times against his subordinates whenever it was necessary. Here, he did it with the hopes that it would have the same effects on his attackers.

He was watching from the shadows when the men entered the small former office and stopped dead in their tracks.

“Who the hell are you,” yelled the first man.

“And why the hell are you in our warehouse?” continued the second.

Al stepped into the light. To the men, the light seemed to shine off the scar that they themselves had inflicted. The man that Al pegged to be the leader took one step forward. “Hey, I know you. You’re that guy we were working on, what was it, two months ago. But the cops crashed the party.”

This was the first time that Al had gotten a good look at the two men that had attacked him in such a cowardly fashion two months before. He was going to show these men that he was not intimidated, so he didn’t say anything. He just studied his prey with fiery eyes as he took two steps forward.

The man that Al had pegged as the leader was about 5’8” tall and 160 pounds. He had black hair and a muscular build. Al’s first thought as he sized up his prey was that if that man had any kind of brain, which he obviously didn’t, he could be dangerous.

His buddy was shorter and fatter. There was a kind of uncertainty and fear in his eyes that told Al that he could make the man cry with barely a look.

He took note on how the two men stayed together instead of spreading out to attack from both sides. This told him that they were not used to this type of confrontation. It was in that moment that Al knew that he had the upper hand.

“Everyone else instinctively knows to stay away,” said the leader taking another step forward. “But you, it looks like we will need to teach you another lesson.”

Without a hint of fear or intimidation, Al said, “I’d like that. I’m always ready to learn something.”  Noticing the men stop dead in their tracks, he took another two steps forward. The look on his face, the tone of his voice, his whole demeanor told them that he owned them. His voice was one of defiance when he said, “What are you waiting for? Teach me Professor.” When the cowardly men didn’t move, Al asked with the same authority, “What’s the matter? Is school out for the day? That’s really too bad. I crave knowledge. I also crave the flask you stole from me.” Al made a big production of clenching his fists and cracking his knuckles to drive home the fear that he saw in their eyes.

“That’s what this is all about,” asked the man Al had come to call the Professor while pulling the flask out of his pocket, “this stupid flask?”

It was the wrong thing to say. With a speed he had not shown in years, Al closed the remaining distance between himself and the two men and gave the Professor an uppercut. The Professor went down quickly dropping the flask in the process.

His buddy tried to grab Al, but was unable to hold him when Al elbowed him in the solar plexus. When he was released, Al turned on the man and, using his boxing skills from his Golden Glove days, started hitting the man with repeated body shots. Then with an uppercut to the jaw, he knocked the man out cold.

Al didn’t believe in kicking a man when he was down. So he walked to where his flask lay and picked it up. He returned it to its rightful place in his pocket and sat on some boxes to wait for the Professor to wake up. When the Professor started to stir five minutes later, Al got up and walked over to him.

Kneeling over him, Al slapped him hard across the face. “Get up,” he said without emotion before walking back to where he had been sitting. He pulled out a cigar he had come by earlier in the day, bit off the tip, and spit it at the Professor. He pulled out a match and lit it as he said, “You made a mistake when you attacked me. If I hear that you attack anybody else,” he put the flame to the cigar and lit it. Then, shaking the flame out, he finished, “I’ll kill you.” His voice was indifferent as he said it.

Getting up on one knee, the Professor spit out some blood and said, “You caught me with a cheap shot you…”

“You mean like you and the fat man did to me. Only I didn’t use a weapon and I decided to stick around and face you. I didn’t run away like a little school girl.”

“Why didn’t you just go to the cops?” The Professor finally managed to stand upright.

Al took a long puff off his cigar and sat there a moment before he answered, “Now where’s the fun in that?” Al got up and stubbed out his cigar, making sure not to ruin it. He would smoke he rest later. “Now it’s just you and me, man to man.”

The Professor charged Al and tried to hit him in the face. Al easily ducked the blow and came up with a blow to the Professors ribcage. He could feel the man’s ribs break as his body lifted a couple inches into the air. He hit him again and again. Each time, the Prof’s body left the ground with the force of the blow.

When he stopped the body shots, Al lifted the Prof’s head and gave him a left hook, connecting solidly with his jaw. The force of the hit caused the man to spin twice as he was falling to the ground. He did not get up.

For a moment, Al stood over the man he had called the Professor. His adrenaline was pumping and his fists were clenched. He looked at the Professors unconscious form and had to resist the urge to start kicking him.

Instead he pulled the flask out of his pocket. It had a calming effect on him as he kissed it and returned it to the pocket from whence it came. Then he searched unsuccessfully for his jacket and shoes for a couple minutes. When he didn’t find them, he left.



When the memory had played itself out, Al, still sitting on his sweat soaked sheets, looked at the flask one final time. He had had it ever since that day. Even when he was drying out at the Sanctuary House, he had held onto it. Vic and the rest of them had seen how much the flask meant to Al so they allowed him to keep it as long as he agreed to random checks to make sure it was empty.

Then, placing the flask in his bedside drawer, he turned out the desk lamp and, within minutes, was asleep.



It had taken six years, but he had finally been repatriated and was now returning home to his loving wife Beth. He had just paid the cab driver and was walking up the front porch to the door. What little gear he had left was slung over his shoulder as he walked up the three steps to the front door.

Years earlier, the Navy had sent Beth his belongings, including his house keys. That’s why when he got to the door; he knocked with his left hand. An unnatural amount of light shined off his wedding band and nearly blinded him.

He took a moment to clear his vision and almost fell backwards down the stairs when a strange man answered the door, his door. “Who are you and why are you answering my door?”

“Your door,” asked the man? “What do you mean your door? This house belongs to my wife, Beth.”

Those few words inflicted more pain and anguish than the Vietcong did in the entire six years he was held prisoner. That pain was front and center in his face and his voice when he asked, “What do you mean your wife Beth? Beth is my wife.”

“No Al. She fell in love with me and had the Navy declare you dead. It’s tough luck. Better luck next time.”

Al gave the man a final look before forcing his way through the front door and into the Living Room. For a moment, he stopped dead in his tracks and looked at the record player. It was playing their song, Georgia on my Mind by Ray Charles. That was salt in an opened wound and it only made his heart yearn for his wife more.

He looked straight ahead and saw an opened door at the end of a long hallway. Instinctively, he knew that it was his and Beth’s bedroom. That was strange considering that their bedroom had always been right next to the Living Room, but he didn’t dwell on it.

What caught his attention was the fact that there was a massive amount of pure white light shining out of the doorway. It made it impossible to see anything that was inside the room.

Al started running towards the light, but with every step, the hallway got longer and longer. He started running faster, but the harder he tried to get there, the further away the doorway got.

After running as fast as he could for five full minutes, Al stopped and looked at the doorway of light. He was no closer now than he had been when he started running. If anything, he was further away. When he turned around and the man Al now knew was Dirk Simon was standing right behind him.

Dirk was looking at Al with warmth and understanding. His voice was very soothing when he said, “I know it hurts Al, but Beth thought that you were dead. Everybody did. You can’t blame her for wanting to get on with her life, and she has now.” Dirk put his hands on Al’s shoulders and turned him back towards the doorway.

The light was gone now and Al could see Beth clearly. She was walking back and forth in front of the door, singing silently to a baby that she held in her arms. From behind him, Al heard Dirk say, “His name is Alex. He’s our son.” For the first time since before his capture, Al felt defeated. Then in the same soothing tone, Dirk said, “She’s happy Al, really happy. Don’t take that away from her again.”

Al was crying now. He took two more steps forward and he was now right in front of the door. Beth was only feet in front of him when she finally looked up from Alex and said, “I’m sorry Al.” There were tears in her eyes as she shut the door.

Al woke up with the tears still streaming from his eyes. He sat up and turned on the light on his night stand. He then spun in his bed and put his feet to the floor. Then he put on some slippers and walked to his closet to get ready for the day ahead. There would be no more sleep that night.  



November 16, 1969

Washington D.C.


        This one was apparent to Tom. He had to get on the bus that would be crashing. He knew that they would probably have some sort of passenger list that his name wouldn’t be on, so he decided to get one of the other passengers to invite him along for the ride.

After considering how to go about doing that for a moment, he started thinking that with the free love attitude of the sixties, he might be able to flirt his way on. But the question was, who would he start flirting with?

His answer came when he saw this cute little blond start to load some bags onto the bus. He had walked over to her and offered her a hand. While he was putting the last two bags in place under the seating area, he saw the Imaging Chamber Door open out of the corner of his eye.

Sometimes Al’s lecherous side came in handy. Tom didn’t know anybody that was better at picking up woman, so he slyly asked for some pointers on what to say to the cute little blond, Julia, to get her to invite him to come with her. It had taken some fancy footwork, but, with Al’s help, it had gotten Tom on the bus.

        He took a seat near the middle of the bus. He would have liked to be in the front near the driver, but Julia was sitting in the middle and Tom didn’t think it would be a good idea to sit anywhere but next to her since she was the one that got him on in the first place.

        Then, sure enough, just as Ziggy had said, they had driven about twenty minutes when the GTO appeared. The driver, whose name Tom remembered was Kyle Sharp, drove up behind them and started flashing his lights and honking his horn. He was swerving from lane to lane. At one point, he cut the car sharply to the right getting back in behind the bus, narrowly missing an oncoming car. A moment later, he returned to oncoming traffic and passed the bus, remaining very close to the side as he did it.

        Pulling in front of them, Kyle started braking quickly to cause the bus driver to hit his brakes to keep from running into the back of them. Then he started swerving between lanes in front of the bus.

        Then the bus driver did something that struck Tom as weird. He opened the door. He reached for the broom that he used to sweep up with after everyone was off the bus. Shoving it between the gas pedal and the seat, he stood up and said, “Now you damn, draft dodging hippies will get what you deserve.” Then he stepped to the door and jumped from the bus.

        Tom was shell-shocked. All he could think about was how Ziggy could have missed that. When Julia had screamed a little, it brought Tom back to reality. Moving quickly, he got in the center walkway and moved to the front of the bus.

  When he got there, he pulled the broom from its place between the seat and the gas pedal, and threw it to the ground. Then he got in the seat and started to apply the brakes, but he was too late.

The bus was approaching a fairly sharp, right hand curve going way to fast. Tom hit the brake and tried to steer it around the corner. The bus was way too big and didn’t corner worth a damn. Its high center of gravity caused it to flip onto its side.

The sounds were terrible. The metal sides of the bus were scraping against the pavement leaving a trail of sparks in its wake. Tom would have rather heard someone run their fingernails across a chalkboard then hear that sound. Glass was breaking as the bus scraped along the pavement until the friction of it all brought the bus to a screeching halt. That was bad enough, but the worst of it all was the people screaming.

         The terror he heard in those screams was almost unbearable. There was pain and anguish evident in each individual scream. The biggest horror of it was that he could hear each individual voice clearly. His first thought after the bus finally came to a stop was that he would hear those voices clearly until the day he died.

        The whole time Al was right next to Tom, yelling at him to hold on. And somehow, through all of that, Tom managed to remain in his seat. Al was still right next to him when Tom lowered himself from the seat. He straddled the still opened doorway and looked down. The ground was about three feet under the bus which told Tom that the front of the bus ended up off the road.

        Carefully, he started making his way to the back of the bus, checking on injuries as he went. The first eight people he checked were a little banged up, but other that some cuts and scratches, the worst injury he saw among them was a broken wrist.

        Then he saw Linda. She wasn’t moving at all. Her blond hair was now red from the blood that was coming from her nose, mouth, and a gash in her head. One look told Tom that she had died instantly.

        He felt awful. This was a girl he had been talking to for that last half hour. It had taken all of five minutes to see how full of life she had been. She was obviously a very bright and happy person, easy to talk to. She had only been eighteen with her whole life ahead of her. That was all gone now. All that was left was an empty shell that had once been such a beautiful girl.

        As he made his was down the rest of the bus, he found a few more injuries, and some seemed very serious. There was one more kid that was obviously dead at the scene. He kneeled down at the kid’s head and began to cry.

        Al punched a few buttons on the handlink. His tone was somber when he said, “When all is said and done, four of the passengers died as a result of the accident. Two were D.O.A. and the other two die later tonight.” Al hit the handlink lightly twice and lowered his head. “Ziggy says the paramedics won’t be here for almost an hour. By then, there was nothing they do.”

        Tom didn’t care who was around. He looked at the observer and yelled, “What the hell take them so long!?”

“Nobody knows about the accident until a car drives by in about a half hour and sees the bus lying on its side. Cell phones don’t exist in this time, so the car that discovered the bus had to drive to the nearest phone and call the police. It all takes time.” Al pulled up some more information on the handlink and read it to Tom. “According to the autopsy reports, it wouldn’t have made much difference if they had gotten there any sooner. There was massive internal bleeding and brain hemorrhaging.”

“I’ve got to get these people out of here,” said Tom as he put one man’s arm around his shoulder and helped him to the door. Once he got the man outside, Tom saw the driver stumbling away from the scene of the accident.

After gently helping the man to the ground, Tom turned and ran towards the bus driver that had set the bus up to crash. Even from a distance, he could tell that the drivers arm was broken. That didn’t stop him from grabbing his shoulder from behind. Spinning the man, he gave him a right hook across the jaw, knocking him out with the one punch.

It was only then that Tom remembered the ’67 Pontiac GTO that had been racing along side the bus. Standing up full, Tom looked left and right. The car and driver were nowhere to be seen. He then looked back down at the unconscious form of the driver. “Well, they are going to get him later, but this time, you are going to pay too.”

Tom picked up the man’s unconscious form and brought him over next to the bus. He then laid him against a tree and used his shoelaces to tie his hands behind him and around the trunk. Then he returned to the bus and began getting the rest of the survivors off the bus.



November 16, 1969

Washington D.C.


Tom sounded defeated when he asked, “What happens Al?” Tom was sitting in a chair in the hotel room that he had spent the previous night in. He was leaning his head in his right hand, sobbing.
        Al punched some buttons on the handlink and said, “You changed history. Now only four people died in the crash rather than everybody but the driver.”

Tom finally looked up. “What happens to the driver?”

After calling up the information, Al said, “That would be Jonathon Heart. He spent the rest of his life in prison.”

“What would make him rig the bus like that?”

“Well, according to Ziggy, this guy was a veteran of World War Two and a stout supporter of the Vietnam War. He was just a little too fanatical about it.”

Tom stood up and walked to the window. “And the driver of the GTO, what happens to him?”

Al took a puff off his cigar and read Tom the information. “Kyle Sharpe, Ziggy says that he doesn’t spend the rest of his life in prison, but he doesn’t get off Scott-free either. He loses his license for reckless driving and evading responsibility.”

“Still looking out the window, Tom leaned his forehead against his forearm and asked, “If everything is working out, then why am I still here?”

Al keyed the question into the handlink and said in a voice that was an octave higher than normal, “Oh, this is weird. Ziggy says that we have to convince the kid to report for duty.”

“So, that means I’m here to report for duty.”

“Ziggy says no. It has to be the kid’s decision to go. She is predicting that if he reports, he will become a medic and save a lot of lives. I guess this bus accident sort of stays with him.”

Turning around and looking at Al, Tom said, “How am I supposed to do that when I am here and he is with you?”

Al shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know. Leave him a note.”

Tom gave Al an annoyed look and said, “Come on Al and get serious. You’re there. You can talk to the kid and convince him to report for the draft.”

Al got a look on his face that told Tom that he was not thrilled with that idea. Al walked to Tom, holding his cigar between the fore and middle fingers of his right hand. He pointed it at him and said, “Tom, if you are going to try to get someone to convince someone else to go to Vietnam, it’s better to find someone that wasn’t a prisoner of war for six years. It’s better to find someone whose life was not destroyed by the Vietnam War.”

“Al, believe me. I know that you have a lot to be bitter for. You lost more than most people because of that war, but I know you believed in it. You wouldn’t have done a second tour if you didn’t. If this kid is destined to save a lot of lives, you have to try.”

Al stood there with his head down for a minute before he said, “I’ll try.” He then opened the Imaging Chamber Door and retreated through it.


Project Quantum Leap

Stallions Gate, New Mexico


        Al walked into the Waiting Room and cut right to the chase. In a very understanding manor, he looked at the visitor and asked, “Why are you dodging the draft?”

        Eddie Roberts was not expecting the bluntness of the question, but he did not get defensive when he answered, “It’s a pointless war. And I don’t think that it’s right to force someone to fight, and possibly give their life for a cause that they don’t believe in. Now, if it was for a cause that made sense, that might be a different story.”

        “What is it about the war that you don’t believe in?” Al had sat down to get to the same level as the kid so as to not be threatening in and way, shape, or form.

        Eddie shrugged his shoulders. “The United States is sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong. It’s a half a world away and it certainly doesn’t concern us. There is no reason for us to be there.”

        Al lowered his head and leaned forward. His elbows were on his knees and his hands were clasped in front of him. He then turned his head and met Eddie’s gaze. “Do you really believe that or are you just reciting the propaganda you got from those Anti-War protests you have attended?”

        “Al, look at all the people that are dying over there. Don’t you think that when people give their lives for their country, it should mean something?”

        “It does mean something. Kid, I’ve known more people than I care to admit that gave their lives in Vietnam. Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that they all believed in what we were trying to do over there, but they were willing to die to protect the American way of life. If there was ever a good cause for someone to give their life, that’s it.”, He paused a moment to choose his words carefully, then continued, “Kid, there were a lot of lives lost and a whole lot more that were changed forever, but should we have been in Vietnam, absolutely.”

         “And how about those lives that were changed forever? I would like to hear just one of them saying that we should have been there.”

Al pulled a cigar out of his pocket and lit it. After taking a couple puffs, he said softly, “You just did.”

Eddie didn’t know what to say. But, after a full minute, he finally did speak. “You look like you are doing quite well though.”

There was bitterness in his voice when he said, “Yeah, well looks can be deceiving.” Al didn’t like where this conversation was heading one bit.

“What do you mean looks can be deceiving?” Eddie could tell that Al was very reluctant to share his Vietnam experiences. He didn’t look like the type of person to open up to anybody, let alone a stranger.

        Al didn’t know what to do. He knew that this would probably come up, but he didn’t like to share what he went through with just anybody. But he couldn’t ignore all the lives that would be saved if the kid decided to report for duty. It was that thought that finally made Al say, “For me, it has been almost thirty-five years since the War in Vietnam ended. My life has been in the toilet ever since.”

        Eddie was listening intently. His voice was soft and understanding when he asked, “How so?”

        It was physically painful to tell this kid even a little bit of what he went through in Vietnam, but he had steeled himself to what he knew he had to do. “I was a jet jockey during Vietnam. While on my second tour of duty, I was shot down and taken prisoner.” Al’s expression became one of anger as he stood up and started pacing, “For six years, I was held prisoner in a tiger cage that was too small to stand up in and too narrow to sit down in. Everyday for six years, I was tortured and had to watch as friends of mine were tortured too. The ONLY thing that kept me alive was the thought of returning home to my wife Beth!” He was seething with anger when he said, “Then, when I was repatriated in ’73, I found out that my wife had run off with another guy!!!”

        Eddie was dumbfounded that Al had gone through all of that and still believed in the War in Vietnam. He started to say something, but thought better of it, deciding instead to let Al speak. It sounded like he really needed to get all this out.

        Still pacing the room back and forth, Al was waving his hands wildly, nearly burning Eddie with his cigar. “After I got back and found that my wife had declared me dead, I turned to the bottle to drown my sorrows. When I wasn’t drinking to silence the ghosts, I was making passes at anything in a skirt. That got me married and divorced five times. Eventually, my drinking got the better of me and I was dishonorably discharged from the Navy.”

He didn’t even pause to breath. It was like the floodgates had opened and he was powerless to stop talking. “After that, I went from job to job, losing each one because of the booze. Eventually, everything caught up with me and I ended up on the streets.” Al got close to Eddie and started tracing the scar on his face. “That’s where I got this, the streets of D.C. It’s only recently that I was able to dry out and start to get myself together. I lost absolutely everything because of the Vietnam War and I would fight in it again in half a heartbeat. I…”

Al stopped dead in his tracks. Did he just say that he would go on his second tour again in half a heartbeat, even knowing what he knew now, somehow Al knew it was the truth.

Eddie remained silent for a long time before asking, “You would do it all over again even knowing everything it cost you, why?”

Al took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He was no longer yelling when he answered, “Kid, it’s not about Vietnam. It’s about preserving the American way of life.” He paused a moment, then continued, “We have the greatest gift ever imagined, freedom of speech. I mean, you live in a country where you can say anything you want about our President. In other parts of the world, if you say something negative about the leader, you can be shot. And don’t you like living in a country where you have the right to assemble these peaceful demonstrations without fear of reprisal from the government. I think it was worth going through everything that I did and then some to make sure that we have those freedoms. I wouldn’t want to imagine a world without them.”

Eddie didn’t make a sound for a full minute, but when he spoke, he asked, “Al, would you mind if I had a little time to myself to think.”

“Sure kid. I’ll be back in a little while. If you need anything, just ask for me out loud.” Al pointed at the observation deck high up on the wall. “Someone will get me.”

Without another word, Al headed out the door and to the Imaging Chamber. He had to fill Tom in.



November 16, 1969

Washington D.C.


        Al closed the Imaging Chamber door behind him and said, “Hey Tom. How’s it going?”

        Tom looked up at the sound of his observer, “Hey Al. Did you talk to Eddie?”

        “Tom, don’t you ever ask me to do that again.” Al was not happy, and the glare in his eyes and the tone of his voice let Tom know that.

        “So you talked to him,” Tom said excitedly.

        “Of course I talked to him.”

“How did it go?”

“I think I got through to him. He asked for some time alone to think things through.” Then raising the handlink, Al read some new information to Tom. “Apparently, now there is a ninety-eight point nine percent chance that he will report for duty as scheduled.”

Standing up, Tom asked, “Then why haven’t I leaped?”

“According to Ziggy, you’ll leap once the odds reach one hundred percent. Right now, they’re at ninety-nine point two.”

“So what happens to him?”

“He goes to Vietnam and becomes a Navy Corpsman.” Then Al’s face turned to one of complete surprise. “Oh, this is interesting. He does two tours of duty and saves a lot of lives.”

“That’s great.” Tom was smiling now. “You just helped to save a lot of lives. Thanks Al.”

“No problem.” Al looked at the handlink, then said, “Bye-bye Tommy Boy.”

“Al, I thought I asked you to not call me To…” then, as the odds hit one hundred percent, Tom leaped.


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