by Bad Wolf
What would happen if you can buy today's paper yesterday?
A tall businessman in a dark gray suit ran through the large terminal at Pittsburgh Airport. He glanced at his watch.
"Oh shit!" said Andrew Peterson to himself. He had five minutes to catch the flight to Kennedy Airport and the gate was at the other end of the terminal.
Peterson ran on. Finally, he reached the gate where he was to catch his flight. He looked at the schedule over the service desk, praying he was not too late. It said Flight 509...designation...Kennedy...Canceled.
Peterson stared at the schedule in surprise. He was hoping he would not be too late for his flight; it appeared that he got his wish.
He approached the girl sitting at the desk. She looked up and smiled.
"Good morning, Mr. Peterson. Do you have another convention?"
"Yes, Susan. However, my flight was canceled." Peterson gave the girl his tickets to looks at.
"I see. The New York area has been hit by severe thunderstorms. Let's see if your problem can be solved." She looked at the computer and punched in a code.
"Flight 203 to Albany is still departing in three hours as scheduled. We can arrange for you to get a rental car to get to New York. There is also another flight that is scheduled to leave to New York at the same time. If you want I can make reservations on both flights."
"Thank you, Susan."
"Anything for you, Mr. Peterson."
Peterson decided to pass the time in the airport's bar. He ordered a draft of beer and angrily handed over more than two dollars.
"Ridiculous price," he muttered to himself, loud enough for the bartender to hear.
He drank the beer and a second one. He left the bar with a dollar tip on the counter.
Peterson walked towards the gift shops that he had passed before. He looked at the various shirts and gifts on sale-things he would not want for himself, but good for a present for someone.
Then he went into the bookstore. He went over to the business section and looked for specific books. One title caught his eye. It read: "Oil: The Life of Andrew Peterson. Peterson looked through the book, then put it back on the shelf. He already had a copy in his office. "Well-written," he had thought to himself. The author, nervous about lawsuits, allowed Peterson to read the manuscript before publication. Several changes were made and both men were satisfied-the author having his book on the Best Seller List and Peterson having only the positive aspects of Peterson Oil in print.
Peterson left the bookstore and went next door to the newspaper stand. He picked out a crossword puzzle book, two packs of gum the Wall Street Journal and a newspaper that he thought was "The New York Post". He paid for his items and walked back to gate 31 to get a status on his flight.
Susan was still at the desk. "Back so soon, Mr. Peterson?"
"How is the weather situation in New York?"
"Does it look like it will let up within the next hour?"
Susan punched up a code on the keyboard. "I have bad news, Mr. Peterson."
"What is it?"
"Flight 103 to Kennedy has just been canceled."
"Is the Albany flight still going?"
"Flight 203 is still departing on time."
"I will take that flight."
"It leaves in an hour from gate 25. We will have a rental car reserved for you. Just ask at the Hertz counter."
She exchanged his old tickets for the Albany ones.
Peterson walked towards gate 25 and sat down in one of the hard, uncomfortable seats.
He opened his newspaper to the business section. This was usually the first thing he read. Then he turned to the sports section. "Mets lose to Pittsburgh 1-0," passed before his eyes. His eyes went to another article and then jumped back to the previous one.
"What is this?" Peterson said to himself. "The Mets did not play last night. They were supposed to play the Cardinals, but the game was rained out."
Peterson closed the newspaper and stared at its title.
"Jesus Christ! This is not "The New York Post." It is one of those trash papers. How can people get away with writing papers called "Future Gazette?"
Angrily he threw the paper in the trash can.
"May I have your attention please," said the nasal voice over the loud speaker. "Flight 203 for Albany is now boarding at gate 25. Please allow parents with small children and handicapped people to board first."
Peterson stood in line, with his ticket ready. Soon he was in his seat, already forgetting about the newspaper.
Alas, if only Peterson had noticed the date on the newspaper, then he may have carefully read the articles, finding a specific one.
The morning after Peterson boarded the plane headed for Albany, many people were doing their grocery shopping or were commuting by bus, train or car to work. Some of these people had a daily ritual of buying newspapers. Some read "The daily News", some The Wall Street Journal," and some "The New York Post". The copies of "The New York Post" was the exact copy of "Future Gazette", the paper that Peterson bought the day before.
The first "Post" headline that caught most people's eyes was "President of Prestigious Oil Company Dies in Plane Crash." The article went on to say:
Andrew C. Peterson, Jr., son of Andrew C. Peterson, SR,. and Catherine F. Peterson, was killed when the plane he was a passenger on crashed. Flight 203, on its way to Albany, New York, crashed shortly after take-off, when one of its engines blew up. Peterson, along with the 50 other passengers and crew members died in the crash. There were no survivors.
Peterson, President of Peterson Oil, originally had reservations on Flights 509 and 103 for Kennedy, New York. However, due to severe weather conditions, he caught the doomed flight to Albany.
Peterson began his successful career in oil twenty-five years ago...
Joe Smith was a very rich man. This was unusual because he he was not a successful businessman like Andrew Peterson (who by this time was forgotten except by family, close friends and associates.)
Joe Smith was a compulsive gambler; a lucky one. He won almost every bet he made. To learn how he got those gambling skills, we have to go back in his past.
Joe Smith was a loser. He barely got his high school diploma. After that, he went to college and dropped out two years later, after changing his major several times. He had trouble finding work, and when he did so, he did not keep the job for long.
One morning, after a fruitless search for work, Joe stepped into a church. There were no services at this time of day. The door were unlocked for people wanting to pray or read passages from the Bible. Joe sat in a pew at the back of the church. He clasped his hands together, bowed his head and attempted to pray.
After a few minutes of groping, he said, "Lord. Help me get money for rent and food. That is all I am asking for. Please, Lord. It it be thy will and in the name of your son, Jesus Christ."
Joe stood up and walked out of the church. An old man approached him on the street.
"Want a newspaper?"
"Sorry. No change."
"Take it," the old man said, handing Joe the paper. "You pay me when you get money."
"Thank you," Joe said, taking the paper. He started walking away, but was stopped.
"Before you go, a word of warning. Read the paper carefully."
The old man turned around and walked away. Shrugging to himself, Joe walked back to his place with the newspaper rolled up in his hand.
At his apartment, Joe was reading the newspaper-whose title was "Future gazette-while eating a peanut and butter sandwich.
"What is so special about this paper? It is just like any other."
He glanced at the date on the paper. It was June 5.
"Today is June 5.
Joe turned the pages of the paper. In each upper corner it read, "Future Gazette, Sunday, June 5."
"I do not understand this. Today is Saturday. It is as if this paper was printed one day in the future. It must be a misprint. But wait a minute, they have the winning Lotto numbers listed-they should be in tomorrow's paper."
Joe got up and went into his bedroom and got some change from his jar. He ripped a piece of paper from his notebook. He went back to the kitchen and wrote the winning numbers down.
"Well a dollar and a dream. I have a hard time picking the numbers anyway. I might as well try these. Even if I get four winning numbers, I can at least pay my rent.
He left the apartment to go to a local store.
6:00 a.m. the alarm clock rang. Joe got out of bed. He knew he could not get back to sleep.
he went into the kitchen and started to heat a kettle of water.
The store would not be open until 8:00 a.m. He wanted to know if his luck had changed.
"If I won the Lotto, there is so much I can do. I can pay all my bills. I can move to a much better neighborhood. I can improve my wardrobe; it would not be necessary for me to look for bargain sales. I can even travel."
The shrill whistling of the kettle brought Joe out of his reveries.
"Stop thinking like that," Joe thought to himself. "Do not think about the future until you are positively sure about it. How many times have you been disappointed when something happened the way you did not want it to be?"
Joe put a teaspoon of coffee into a cup of hot water. Then he added some cream and sugar. He drank the coffee and the caffeine suppressed his hunger.
Finally, 8:00 a.m. came. Joe went into the bedroom and got more change out of his jar. Then he went out of his apartment and walked towards the store. It was brisk for a day in June. However, it was not a long walk.
Joe went into the store and pick out "The New York Post". he knew the Lotto numbers would be listed. He paid for the paper and walked back to the apartment. He decided to wait until he was inside to check out the numbers.
Once inside, Joe placed the paper on the already cluttered table. He opened to the third page and got his Lotto ticket out of his pocket. He looked at the various winning lottery games:
Daily No. for Sat.: 639
Win-4 No. for Sat.: 2821
Keno nos. for Sat.: 7, 8, 11, 12, 14, 25, 26, 32, 40, 43, 44, 47, 48, 50, 56, 59, 62, 68, 72, 76
Lotto 54 nos. for Sat.: 3, 4, 5, 10, 53, 54 Supplementary no.: 49
Joe's eyes went back and forth from the numbers on his ticket to the ones in newspaper print. They matched up!
"I won!" Joe yelled, jumping up and down. "No more job hunting! No more worries about food or rent."
A week after Joe's big break, he waited outside the church where he had first met the old man. He needed to speak to him. He started to walk away, but then caught a glimpse of a familiar figure at the end of the block.
"Is it him?" Joe asked himself. "I believe so." He began to run towards him.
"Excuse me, Sir."
The old man turned around. "Yes? Are you talking to me?"
"Do you remember me?" Joe asked. "You gave me a newspaper just over a week ago. "Future Gazette" was the name of it."
"Yes, I remember you. Did that paper help you?"
"Yes. It has helped me win a large amount of money. The only problem is I did not know what to make of the paper. I did not believe such a paper existed."
"You do not believe?"
"I believe now. The next day I bought a copy of "The New York Post". It was an exact replica of the one you gave me."
"I take it you want another paper."
"If you have another one, yes. I will repay you for your kindness. If you want a new house, I will be able to help you."
"No. Use the paper to help you, but also help others. Many people are in need."
"I will give money to different organizations. I will make donations to the church."
"I will tell you what to do. Do you have a mailbox?"
"Yes, I do."
"Each night when you are finished with the paper, place it in the mailbox. Then in the morning a new paper will be there. Do you still have the paper I gave you?"
"It is in my apartment."
"Good. Use that paper."
"You warned me to read the paper carefully. Why?"
"One person carelessly threw the paper away. If he had the patience to read it, he would still be alive today."
Joe Smith built up his riches. He was able to play the Lotto, bet on the horses and bet on sporting events with confidence that he would win. He invested money in the stock market, knowing when to sell.
Joe grew wealthier and wealthier. In a few weeks time he went from a two room apartment in a bad neighborhood to a beach house on Fire Island.
Joe kept his promise to the old man. He gave some of his money for housing development improvement projects, the church, the Red Cross and other organizations.
He lived a life of bliss and happiness for over a year. Then one fateful day, the paper arrived as usual.
Early one morning, Joe came home from a long night of gallivanting in the clubs. He checked his mailbox before going into his house. The new edition of "The Future Gazette" was already there.
Humming, he carried the paper into the house.
"I wonder what new fortunes are in store for me?" he said to himself as he plopped himself on the couch.
Joe's humming stopped abruptly in a gasp of horror. He stared unbelieving at the headline:
Rags to Riches Playboy Joseph Smith Killed in Firebombing.
"It has to be another Joe Smith. It just cannot be me."
However, as he continued to read the paper, he knew his fate was getting bleaker and bleaker. The article explained about how he made his money through gambling and the stock market. His death being accidental was considered very unlikely-it was believed that a bomb was in-placed in his Ferrari (Investigation still pending). Possible suspects included drug lords and casino racketeers.
Joe threw the paper from him.
"What in the hell am I going to do?" he said to himself with tears filling his eyes. "I do not want to die. I can not sit around and wait for the person to plead with him. I will not be able to convince him I am not fixing the games. I wish I never heard of "Future Gazette." Then I would never had known that I was going to die the next day."
Joe head jerked up. "Wait a minute," he said to himself. He got up and walked to the paper. Turning back to the article, he reread it.
"This date is not tomorrow. This is to happen in a week. There is enough time to prevent my death. Didn't the old man tell me to read the paper carefully."
Three weeks later Edward Bauer entered his new house in Southern California. He was carrying his copy of "Future Gazette." A short time ago he had been running for his life. That was before he had resumed his new identity. Before he had been known as Joe Smith.
When Joe had found out of his untimely demise, he got to work. He packed several bags of his most prized possessions and clothes. He would have to leave a lot behind. However, in several weeks he would be able to replace everything he lost. Then he caught a cab to Kennedy Airport and purchased a one way ticket to California.
After a few days, Joe was able to get his money transferred to a bank in California. He was able to restart his dream and was soon living again in luxury. He had his name changed so that it would seem as if Joe Smith had disappeared from the face of the earth.
Ed was wiser than Joe. While he used the "Future Gazette" to buy and sell stocks, he rarely used it to gamble. When he did make a bet on a sporting event, he made sure he would lose sometimes so he would not draw the attention he did when he lived in New York. As long as he won more money than he lost, he would still be able to build up a fortune.
Edward Bauer would continue to live in this state, until the "Future Gazette" informed him that it would be wiser to depart.