The morning after discovering the void, Bartram was awoken by the ringing of his telephone. He checked the time: 9:00 am. He sat up and looked at the readout on the caller ID and did not recognize the number. He allowed the machine to answer, "Sorry, we missed your call..." When the machine beeped to record a message, Bartram listened as the caller proclaimed, "Bright Side Construction is in your area today and we are offering you this special deal..." One recording talking to another recording. Bartram disconnected the call.
He got out of bed and made his way to the bathroom. Splashing water on his face, he recalled the object floating in his drive. He wondered if it was still there. He quickly went through his morning rituals. Ten minutes later he was dressed and headed outside.
He located the void without problem. Before attempting to gaze through it, he looked over at McKinney's bedroom taking note that the curtains were parted slightly. They were now in same position as the first time he peered through the floating bauble. But not parted wide as at the end of the day. He brought his eye close to the void with the McKinney bedroom once again in the background. It was daytime on the other side, yet not the same time of day. The shadows on the house did not match up. Plus, the bedroom curtains were wide open through the void's view. Bartram thought this over. He recognized that he was looking through some sort of time distortion. Yet he was not certain if what he saw was the past or the future. He studied the McKinney drapes trying to decide if they were exactly ajar as when he first looked through the void. With only his memory to rely on, he could not ascertain minute details. He wished he had paid stricter attention.
Still, the idea of a time distortion excited him. Then it dawned on him, he could rotate around the void a little more and look at his own home. Why hadn't he tried this last night? He quickly turned to view the back of his house. As he swirled an image in his driveway blurred by. He turned back to focus on his drive. Someone was leaning their back against his side door. It was one of the McKinney boys. He was breathing hard and had a frightened look on his face. Bartram watched spellbound as the boy composed himself regaining his breath. The young man stood up, looked up and down the driveway, then swiftly darted over to the fence and jumped over. Bartram spun around the void watching the boy sprint across the back yard and inside his house through the McKinney patio door.
What the hell was that about? What was the boy doing at his house? Boy? Hell, he ain't no boy. The McKinney kid was in his twenties. Which one was it? Bobby or Jimmy? He should know; he watched the boys grow up next door. Let's see, Jimmy was in the military, wasn't he? This must be Bobby, the older of the two. He wasn't sporting the proper hairstyle to be in the service.
Bartram tried to recall the last time he set eyes on any of the McKinney kids. It has been a few years. The last one to leave the nest was the girl. He was relieved when she had moved out, taking that loud crap music with her. Too often he would be bombarded by her crappers spewing out insults to authority and women. If they hadn't known each other for so many years, he would have called the police to complain. Instead, he talked to the mother and she promised to have the daughter not play the music so loud. That worked for about a week and then the deafening bass beat of the music would start up again. He talked to the mom several times with the same results. Finally, he bought ear plugs, and although they did not completely rid the obscene sounds, they did make it tolerable. Trouble was, he missed many a phone call because of the plugs. Well, that was all in the past. His relations with the neighbor wasn't the same after. There was no animosity, kids will be kids, but their once friendly attitude had been reduced to simple cordiality.
Bartram looked directly over at the McKinney household. He wondered if Jeanette's son was visiting. He walked down his driveway to the front of his house. Looking next door he saw no additional vehicles, only Jeanette's old Volkswagen in the drive. About a year back Bartram had asked her why she quit using her garage. She told him that ever since she started living alone in the house, she wanted any possible burglars to know that someone was home; having her car visible somehow gave her a sense of security. Bartram deduced that Jeanette was home and her son was not there.
Returning to the void, Bartram peered through it at the McKinney house again. There was no human presence to observe. He began studying the shadows to decipher what time of day he was seeing. The current time was 9:17 a.m. and the shadows on McKinney's property suggested that the sun was directly overhead, around noon. But noon of what day? Bartram tried to think of way to tell the date the void was privy to. He knew it was roughly the same time of year and not winter. Yet it could be a day or a week from now or perhaps even year from now. A year ago? How about looking at vegetation? That may work. The McKinney's have rose bushes along their garage. Bartram swiveled around the floating view port to look at the neighbor's garage. Through the void the ground, where the rose bush currently bloomed, was covered by lawn. No roses. How can that be? Even if Jeanette were to pull out the rose bush tonight, it would still take a while for grass to grow over the area and blend in with the rest of the lawn. Bartram tried to remember how long ago the bushes were planted. He kind of recalled Robert, Jeanette's late husband, being the one who planted them. That was at least ten years ago or more. Bartram thought that his ex-wife may have given Robert the cuttings to start the bushes. Yeah, that's right, his ex use to be pretty friendly to Robert, along with every other man she came across.
Bartram had not thought about Julia in years. They only had known each other for two months when they married back in 1993. The marriage lasted twenty months; half of which was waiting for the divorce to be finalized. Bartram got a little lucky in the settlement. He got to keep the house, which still had twenty years of mortgage left, but unfortunately Julia was awarded the bank accounts, which could have paid off the house and still leave enough for trip to Paris. He knew Julia would blow the money within a couple years, and he was certain she did. He still had the house, which he managed to pay off early, and all the furnishings. His home has been free and clear for three years. He also had built back a considerable savings in the bank. Good thing, too, now that he is retired.
He thought back to the summer of 94 when Julia would put on her bikini and do yard work. She loved to strut her stuff. All the neighbors noticed her. The men liked what they saw. The women scoffed at her. Julia loved all the attention, both good and bad. She loved being the center of attraction. Bartram wondered what she looked like today. Would she still be performing her seductress act? Or did she lose her audience when age finally caught up with her? He was glad she was no longer in his life. That period was one emotional roller coaster that he never wanted to ride again.