An Alternate History

I. Prelude to an Entry Into the Pure Land

I reckoned my twin brother was using a time machine when he died. He developed the thing at home, while on sabbatical from his job as a poetry professor. When I first heard his ideas about time travel, I gotta tell you, I fucking laughed. I thought he was full of shit. "Too much red wine and Hugh Everett and mierda like that”, I yelled over the phone repeatedly as he went into further and further detail each week. Then one day he was gone.

His daughter, Meadow, found what certainly appeared to be Albino’s dead body, half dressed in his old boy scout uniform, holding a bloody toothbrush in one hand and a condor’s claw stolen from a Shuar medicine man in the other. She told me that he looked like he was going somewhere.

His only slightly obese form – he had also recently claimed that he was losing weight by using small bits of random text gleaned from the Necronomicon and folded into his morning repast of green chile and tortillas while repeatedly praising Brion Gysin – was wedged between the shiny new toilet he had purchased last week at Lowe’s and the tub which he had repeatedly been told to do a better job of cleaning by his wife, a professor of engineering at the state university down the road from their palatial manor, which besides this unforeseen tragedy, was known for its loudly psychedelic lawn parties. That place was called the Rock House, in case you want to know.

I found out that Albino died at exactly 10:37 AM mountain daylight time on a gray day just before Halloween. My sister, Dr. Arcoiris used Facebook to instant message me the news – and here I thought she was ringing me up to bitch about her “janky” patients. Anywho, before I had time to react, the doorbell sounded, my dog Falkor barked and I floated over to the front door, still sobbing from the doctor’s disastrous disclosure.

The man from Amazon, who happened to be dressed up for Halloween as a sexy witch hat with ostrich feathers and semi-automatic ammunition arrayed around his brim semi-appropriately, held out a small package. He asked if I was Rudy Carrillo, pronouncing my name in such a way that implied that he thought I was one of the Sopranos. I did my best uncle Junior, pushing up my eyeglasses menacingly, invoking Angie Dickenson, and telling him to fuck off before grabbing the package and almost slamming the door on his thin, bluish fingers.

The package, of course, was from Albino, now dead, now dead. I repeated the phrase to make sure I had a basic understanding of the premise of the narrative that would follow. Afterwards, I just stared at the package for a couple of hours. I put Bleach by Nirvana on repeat and finally got around to opening the small package around 1:37 PM while rocking out to “Big Cheese” and dropping some epic bong tokes. Inside there was a sangwich baggie, the kind we used  for weed when it was still a crime to keep the stuff in your pockets.

I thought the fucker sent me a joint from beyond, but I was wrong. Wrapped up inside the plastic baggie was a small piece of paper, precisely cut. Totally square, 2.5 inches per side. And the preconceived transmission device was written on, albeit crudely, in Albino’s barbaric manner. I fiddled with the piece of paper for a few seconds before reading what was on one side of it.This is what the secret note, perhaps a note sent from beyond the grave, said:

It’s 2124. Everything is still the same. Humans are still a greedy, oversexed tribe of fucking hairless primates. JK. It’s a total fucking utopia, ja ja. But I can’t go into specifics here. Dial my phone number. Be Seeing You. Al.

Of course he had to reference the fucking Prisoner. Of course. “Who isn’t a prisoner?” I gravely intoned as I dialed his number, expecting Al's same old voice message, the one where he pressed a bong into the microphone while making the thing bubble obscenely as some Leonard Cohen song or another played in the background.

Mang, was I surprised. After about 2.5 seconds of digital static that sounded like part of a now-abandoned Thom York experimental postmodern musical masterpiece, my twin brother’s voice chimed in, drunken as usual. This is what the recording said: “That’s not me. Out there in Ohio, it’s not me”. That shocking statement was followed by, what else, bubbling noises and a hacking cough. Albino cleared his throat and continued. “That’s some fucking facsimile of me that I sent back using the condor claw. Serio. Dude was wandering around the ruins of my house, but like, 100 years from now.”

I was just about to hang the fuck up when the digital static came back, much louder and sustained than before. I held the phone away from my ear, kinda enjoying the noise while wondering how Radiohead had fallen so far from grace. Just then a foot came through the line. JK. What really happened was this: I heard my brother screaming over the hiss and he was screaming. “Go get a copy of Carly Simon singing ‘You're So Vain’ and be playing it next time you call me! And not some digital shit either … Fuck, now I’m sure something is wrong with this scene, what the fuck…” That’s where the recording ended.





Rudolfo Carrillo

Rudolfo Carrillo is a writer/artist living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Carrillo holds a BFA  from the University of New Mexico and is currently a graduate student in the UNM English Department. His art work has appeared at 6o6 Gallery, Raw Space, and the ASA Gallery; his literary work has been featured in Typo Mag, On Barcelona, and Maverick Magazine; his work as a journalist has appeared in many regional publications. Carrillo was the news/music editor at Weekly Alibi – where he wrote as August March. Rudolfo recommends the New Mexico Black Leadership Council.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Thursday, May 30, 2024 - 22:22