- Foreword: Writing Rochester's Futures
- "Interesting Times"
- "Culinary Capital, 2034"
- "Night Bells"
- "Hollow Lives"
- "The Naked Girl"
- "Time Enough for Love"
- "Day of the Bicentennial"
- "One City at a Time"
- "Want Not"
- "The Costs of Survival"
- "Getting Wet"
- "Top 10 Headlines, Rochester, NY, 2034"
- "North Star Pipeline"
- "The 2034 Lilac Festival"
- "Scotch and Sizzlenuts on the Resolute Bay"
- "Fads (or Why Jerry Loathes the Aliens)" [FULL TEXT, AVAILABLE ONLINE ONLY]
"Time Enough for Love"
Everybody has a crazy relative in their family. Mine’s an uncle. He’s been pulling the strings that make me dance since before I was born. That’s a pretty impressive achievement for a man who’s been dead for almost one hundred fifty years. It’s time to meet the man on the other end of the strings. I’ve a few choice things to say to him. The treasure, if there really is one, hardly makes up for a lifetime of interference.
My car navigates into Mt. Hope Cemetery through the stone and wrought iron double-gated entrance, into the open arms of a glorious October afternoon. I’m here to exhume the body of my uncle. But for now, I want to enjoy the moment, live only in the now. The leaves have just begun to drop, so the palate of sky and earth both share bold stokes of red and yellow. It looks like a scene van Gogh would choose, that he had this moment in mind when he mixed the paints that he used for Sunflowers.
A parking spot is open opposite the gates, just beyond a short, circular drive that feeds off the main entrance. The car parks itself smoothly, crunching through the golden carpet. The spot is next to a boarded up, oddly disturbing gothic chapel. A place like that, probably crawling with rats. Makes my skin crawl just to think about them. The limestone masonry blocks are stained with a hundred sixty years of hard winters and pollution.
The drive from Troy to Rochester has taken four hours. I needed to study for an important test in my EE Design course so I took the Thruway and let the car do the driving. Trouble is, I couldn’t concentrate.
I open the front door and unfold myself stiffly out of the GoKar econobox that brought me here. God, it feels good to stretch. My arms extend up over my head, making my blue shirt look several sizes too small, with sleeves that fail to reach the bones of my wrists. I inhale deeply. The air is heavy with the smell of autumn. I pick up a handful of the driest leaves and crush them in my fist until only a powder is left. Autumn doesn’t just have a smell, it has a taste as well. I touch a little of the leaves to my tongue. Ashes. Like the green fires of summer burned themselves out and the only thing that remains are these red and yellow embers, glowing stubbornly in the bright afternoon sunlight.
I visited Mt. Hope once when I was very young, but nothing about it looks familiar.
“Mr. Taggert?” A woman dressed in black slacks and wearing a red sweater is shading her eyes with a clipboard, waving at me. I begin to walk in her direction.
“James Alexander Taggert?”
What, is the place overrun with Taggerts? “Yes, that’s me.”
She waits, making no effort to close the distance, letting me come to her. As I arrive, her hand reluctantly comes up. It’s thin, with long fingers, like they were made for a piano player, for someone else than this short, glowering woman who hardly reaches my shoulder. Her hair is black and tied up into a bun at the back of her head. She hasn’t made any attempt at covering the gray, pretending to possess a youth that has begun to leak out of her. Maybe working in a cemetery teaches the pointlessness of such vanity.
I grip the extended hand in greeting. She pulls it away after the briefest contact. “Cindy. Cindy Wilkerson. I am an archivist with the Mt. Hope Association. I have been assigned to witness the exhumation.” She wears a deepening frown as she says it.
I pull a thick envelope out of a pants pocket. “Here are the papers. A true copy of the original notarized letter from my uncle authorizing me to open up his grave and recover certain curiosities that it contains. The contract Mt. Hope signed with him in 1885 pre-authorizing the opening of the grave in 2034, and the court papers ordering you to comply with the terms of said contract.”
Cindy accepts them with a barely disguised scowl. The Association fought my attempts to fulfill my uncle’s wishes, primarily on the grounds that since my uncle couldn’t have known there would be a James Alexander Taggert alive today to execute the conditions, the grant of authority to the individual bearing that name was flawed. The judge hadn’t agreed.
They might have his body, but they obviously don’t know him. His dead hands have pulled a lot of strings to ensure there was a James Alexander around to execute this provision of his legacy.
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