CHAPTER SIXTEEN

        *Something changed!*
        Sam studied the hologram standing behind Bingo across from Sam. The hologram 
looked like his normal self. He looked the exact same way Sam saw him earlier 
that morning, except now he was dressed in an electric blue shirt, black slacks 
and a black vest with multi-colored polka-dots, instead of his orange suit. His 
appearance did not change at all.
        Something else changed. It was something that was hidden beneath the surface. 
Something that was hard to see, yet stood right in front of Sam's face. Clues 
that were so miniature, but lead to information what was monstrous.
        Al took out a cigar out of his pocket and lit it. He indicated the Mexican 
omelet that his younger self was eating. "I had one this morning."
        Sam wanted to clarify what was happening right away. He left the table, and 
walked towards the bathrooms near the far wall opposite the counter. "Back up!" 
Sam commanded as a look of extreme confusion took over his face. "Will you, 
Al?"
        "What do you mean?" he asked as they entered the men's bathroom. "All I said 
was that I had a Mexican omelet this morning."
        "No, I want you to repeat exactly what you said before that."
        Al wondered why his friend was confused over the simplest thing. "I told you 
the diner's omelet's were great, but not as great as my wife's." He grinned 
impishly. "She can really cook in the kitchen, but she really sizzles in the 
bedroom," he added.
        "Which one?" Sam asked wondering which out of his five wives he was talking 
about. Sam was only answered by a confused pondering stare. *Ok, maybe, he 
forgot, again,* he thought. *It doesn't make a difference which one. Maybe, everything is perfectly normal 
after all,* Sam thought trying to get all of this thoughts straightened out. 
Something, though, was still putting him at ill ease. He looked down at his 
friends left hand, and saw the dull gold ring. He examined the wide gold ring on his friend's finger, as if he was a 
scientist looking through a microscope at a newly identified living organism. 
"What happened?" Sam indicated the ring. "Last night, did you elope with Tina?"
        Al's confusion grew in extreme intensity as he pondered his friend's question. 
"Who's Tina?" he asked in all sincerity.
        Sam could not believe that Al really did not know who Tina was. Al and her 
were supposed to be lovers for the past four years. *How could a person not 
know about someone he was in a relationship with for that long?* Sam questioned 
to himself. *Something changed!* "Trust me, Al. You do not want to know!" Sam 
stopped for a minute thinking about what to say. He wanted to get the mystery 
of Al's life solved as soon as possible. "Then, why are you wearing a wedding 
ring?"
        "'Cause I was married for the past forty years."
        *I am not on planet Earth!* Sam thought. *I don't know where I am, but it's 
not anyplace I know. Maybe, that car really did hit me, and right now I'm in a 
coma and dreaming all of this. Of course, people usually don't dream when in a 
coma. Maybe, I'm just in a deep sleep on David's cot.* He reached up towards 
the bump he received on his head, and discovered that it hurt too much for him 
to be just dreaming. 
        "You've been married for the past fourty years," Sam said slowly trying to 
figure out the information as if it was said in a secret code. *Al's not 
supposed to be married! Well, not married now! He's supposed to be married five 
times, none of which were for a longer period of time than eight years. Even if 
he had stayed married to Beth, he would not have been married for forty years. 
They got married in 1961, not 1959. He said that they had only met in 1959.*
        "Yeah, we just celebrated our fortieth anniversary last night," he said. "It's 
weird that our anniversary fell on the same night we first really fell in 
love."
        Al words echoed in Sam's ears. "Kelly! You married Kelly!"
        "Finally, you're starting to remember," he said as the door began to open.
"I think that bump you got affected your memory, but you're finally getting it back."
        *I'm not getting anything back,* Sam thought looking directly at Al. *I don't
have anything to get back. I know everything, but also nothing.* 
        The bathroom door opened. "What did you say about Kelly?" the young man asked 
as he entered the bathroom.
        "Nothing," Sam lied.
        He walked over to the sink glancing around the bathroom noticing David was the 
only other person in the room. "Who were you talking to anyway?"
        Sam smiled. "Why would I be talking to anyone?" Sam said. "There's nobody in 
here, except me and you." Sam laughed to himself. For once in his life, since 
he started leaping, he was not lying in order to cover up a conversation with 
Al. The truth could cover up everything just fine.
        Bingo turned on the faucet. He grabbed a paper towel, wet it ad started to rub 
a dark red spot on his shirt. "Bubba's such as jerk," he said. "He was trying 
to put ketchup on his eggs. Somehow, more ketchup got on me than his plate."
        "Bubba was always a real klutz," Al reminisced.
        "Kelly said that I should get it out right way," Bingo said scrubbing his 
shirt with the shredded paper.
        "I say we should get out right away," Al stated afraid of talking to Sam in 
front of a special person. "We have to talk."
        Sam held up his hand to the side of his face forming the shape of a telephone. 
        "Follow me," Al said as Sam and him walked out of the bathroom and into the 
short hallway just trough the door. Sam stepped into the phone booth picking up 
the receiver. "I can't believe that I was that young once. When I was younger, 
I looked identical to my son, Salvatore."
        "You and Kelly have a son?" Sam questioned.
        "Eight," Al stated, "but you know that."
        Bingo walked out of the bathroom and went over to Kelly, who was clearing a 
table nearby.
        "If I didn't know better, I would think that kid's my son, instead of myself. 
Sal is even the same age, and is even training to be a Navy flyer, just like 
his old man."
        "So, Sal was born in -"
        "1975," Al filled in.
        *The sam year his Uncle David was born.* Sam also remembered Al told him he 
was still a POW in Vietnam in 1975, and then in a military hospital. No way 
could he have a son. "Weren't you still in the war?"
        "Why would I still be in 'Nam in '75? I only had one tour of duty over there, 
and then I got assigned to work for NASA."
        *Everything else was different. Why not that?* Sam thought.
        Sam and Al looked over to where Bingo and Kelly were standing talking as 
few minutes ago. Right then, Bingo and Kelly had their arms tightly around each 
other and their lips firmly pressed together.
        "If any of my daughters always acted the way their mom used to, I would send 
them to their rooms and never let them out."
        *Daughters? Why not!* "How about your sons acting like their dad?" Sam asked 
knowing that was even worse.
        "Them too," he added as an afterthought. 
        "How many daughters do you have?"
        "Four girls and eight boys," he told.
        *Four plus eight equals* "Twelve! You and Kelly have twelve kids! What are you 
rabbits?!" Sam said.
         "Yeah, I guess we are. Can't you see my ears?" he joked. Al looked over at the future mom and dad kissing. He remembered 
how they always seemed to their hands all over each other as a young couple in 
love. Many years later, a simple gentle touch from her could send her could 
send intense feelings of love and passion roaring through his entire body.
        "You have one really big family."
        "I know. As Kelly says, 'It's twice the size of the Brady Bunch, and on the 
first time around.' Plus, we have about six grandkids already. You gotta see my 
house on the holidays. We had a get-together last night, and my entire house 
was packed with my family. There were more people at my house, than there is in 
Grand Central Station at rush hour," he said he thought about all the enjoyment 
he always had with hs children and grandchildren. "That kid has no clue of what 
he just stepped into."
        The handlink chirped telling him to get back to business. He took it out of 
his pocket and raised it up to look at it. "I don't know how you did it, but 
David is no longer in danger of getting hurt."
        "So, I should leap out any moment now," Sam stated.
        "Yeah, get ready," Al said as the two of them got ready for Sam to leap. Al 
began to look puzzled, when no sign of any leaping was to occur. "Gooshie! 
Tony! Why isn't Sam leaping?"
        Tony looked down at the console, and back up to the Ziggy's large unit on the 
ceiling. "He isn't ready, yet, pop!"
        Al looked at the handlink, and saw there was one last thing for Sam to 
do. He squinted at the colored lights and screen on Ziggy's handlink, examining 
the data frowning as a father would looked at a child's bad report card. He hit 
its side, before reaching into his pocket. He gabbed the shiney object from his 
pocket and unfolded it.          
	Sam watched his friend curiously as Al put the 
circular gold-rimmed glasses on. "You wear glasses?" he asked knowing this was 
something else that was new, kind of like a cherry on top of a birthday cake. 
Even though his clothes were the same, his glasses made him seem older and more 
mature as well as smarter. His glasses brought out the extra wrinkles in his 
face and new gray and white hair caused by all of the worry and care he gave to 
his family throughtout the years. Sam felt as if Al was given a new face to go 
along with his new life.          
	Al pushed the bridge up on his nose looking while down at the handlink. "Not 
as much as I should," he answered, "but basically all the time. Sam, what's up 
with you today?"        
	"Uh, nothing," he answered afraid to tell Al the truth, because telling him 
the truth would mean telling him all about his alternate life, a life that did 
not include a wife, tweleve children and a load of grandkids to go along with 
everything.        
	Al looked at the handlink. "Well, you're here to do one last 
thing? That's why you didn't leap."
        "Well, what am I here to do?"
        "You're here to," he said before Ziggy cut off. He shook and hit the handlink 
tring to get it to work, but it did not. He sighed taking a puff from his cigar 
as he shook his head looking up at Sam. "Tony, what's wrong with Ziggy?" he 
yelled towards the control room hoping his son would tell him what was going 
on, and get it to work or at least get it to tell Sam what his mission is.
        "Maybe, it just decided to take a vaction with its girlfriend, kinda like 
what I was planning to do, before you made me give it up to work," Tony said 
annoyed at his father and at Ziggy. Thanks to his fater, he had to give up 
going to Vegas with his girlfriend, who also worked at the project, and thanks 
to Ziggy, he probably has stay all night trying to fix whatever when wrong, and 
won't even get a chance to even see her at all.
        Al was glad Sam could not hear Tony at all.
        "Al, we're working on it," Gooshie said glad he never had to work with 
anyone in his family, except for his wife in the project research department. 
"Somehow, Ziggy stopped with only the word, 'couple'. It's not telling us 
anymore about anything."
        "Thanks, Gooshie," Al replied. "Sam, all it says is 'couple.' I think you 
probably have to do something for somebody."
        "Who? Me and Kelly?" 
        "Or me and Kelly?" Al stated. "Don't know. Then, there's David and Liz; of 
course, right now, you're David."
        "How did you know about David and Lizzy?"
        "Found out you had a date with her tonight before I came here," Al stated. 
"Nice way of getting out of a fight; find someone else. Actually, my ol' 
buddies and I only fought when he had to, which usually meant that either we 
were 'defending our honor' or were trying no to be killed by some nozzle, like 
Michael. I don't remember any fights ever breaking out within the group. I 
guess that we always thought there were plenty of women in the world, and 
plenty for each of us. My ol buddies thought I lost my mind, when I told them I 
was going to be the first in our crowd to get married. A few months later, 
David was married. I guess misery loves company."
        "Who did David marry?" Sam asked.
        "My sister-in-law?" Al asked. "It's Liz, why?"
        *Lizzy! That was the name of the girl I met today! The girl I have a date with 
tonight!* "Lizzy?" he repeated slowly.
        "Yeah, my sister-in-law," Al said. "She's a very nice person, but I don't 
think I could stand being married to her like David can." 
        *Why?* Sam asked sacrcasticaly. *I already messed things up for you. If I 
didn't mess things up, I would not have played matchmaker to a couple already.* 
He simply said, "I won't."
        Al smiled at the three young guys at the table. His look was a comination of a 
man reminicing remaining distant yet longin for the days of youth, and a 
father looking at a disobeying rebellious son. "I was pretty wild back here. 
The only reason why we ever became friends was that I grew up, and you got 
older. I don't think that kid over there would ever be best friends with the 
freshman resident genius at MIT."
        *I don't know,* Sam thought. *Just give them a few decades, and keep 
everything in the original history, and trust me. They already are!*

Monica