My Time Traveling Cousin (Story #18)


Rodney was taking P_____ for a little over a month when the “vacations” started, which isn’t really what they are, but what do we know?  Anyway, the last time we saw him, he came by the house in a fake beard and gray long-hair wig, and all he could talk about was ZZ Top.  He’s bald, so we understood the wig to a point, but the beard was weird, even for Rodney, and ZZ Top?  Since then, we figured out that all of it is because he’s taking P_____, though of course, the pharmaceutical company doesn’t want to admit to anything—assholes.

Let me backtrack for a second because I know this is probably getting confusing.  A few months ago, we were having a little get together to celebrate Little T’s birthday, and Rodney shows up.  Before this, he never came out and when he did, he was just this sad-sack of a guy.  I’ve known him my whole life, and I’m not sure I ever saw Rodney smile once, let alone laugh.  But here he was tickling the little ones, flirting with some of the wives.  He even cracked a joke, and I think it was funny.

We already knew he was taking some medicine.  Something starting with a P and sounded like a dinosaur or an ancient warrior—tough to know which.  That’s what Rodney told us when he first told us he was going to a shrink the week before.  Aside from being a sad-sack, Rodney was also an open book.  Anyway, it turns out that when he went to see his doctor, she told him that he had some kind of condition, which as it turned out, also started with a P, but unlike the medicine, didn’t sound like a warrior or a dinosaur—more like something you’d eat at a Greek restaurant with a wad of pita bread.  We were concerned, but when we saw him at the get together, and we saw how changed he was, we were glad he got some help.

By the next time we saw him, we weren’t so optimistic.

All the cousins (there’s sixteen of us) were going to a Devil’s game.  When Rodney gets there, he’s still cracking jokes, but he has an ascot on and looks like that guy in Monopoly with the eye-piece.  He’s also grown out this pencil-thin moustache.   None of us know what to make of it, and he doesn’t say anything about, so we don’t either.  But then when we got to the stadium, he says he wants a martini instead of a beer.  We thought he was kidding, but he wasn’t.  He spent the whole game trying to get the beer guy to make a martini.

That was six weeks ago.  And since then, every time we’ve seen him, he’s different—completely different.  He has new outfits.  He talks different.  One time, he’s dressed up like an aviator from World War II, another time, like he’s a hippie with love beads on.  A couple weeks ago, he came to play cards at the house wearing these short-shorts and roller skates, and he kept asking us to slap him some skin, or some such thing.

As a family, we decided we had to do something.  We got Jack-Jack, one the younger cousins who (I have to say) is a little shady at times, to break into Rodney’s place because we wanted to find out what his meds were called.  Turns out that it’s a pretty new drug, and it works well for people who have what Rodney has—at least that’s what the pharmaceutical company site says.  But if you dig around, you find another story.  There are these blogs set up by friends and family members of people who take P____, and they all say that one of the side-effects is time travel.

We got a kick out of that one until Louis, who’s pretty smart, pointed out what the rest of us dumb-shits had missed: as crazy as it is, time travel does kind of explain how Rodney was acting.

We tried to ask Rodney about it the last time he was over.  But all he wanted to do was talk to Walter, our oldest cousin, who’s so much older than the rest of us because his mom was a little bit crazy—not like Rodney, but more like crazy in the sex-party-threesome kind of way.  So since Walter was actually around and owned a bunch of ZZ Top records, he was like Rodney’s best friend for the night.

After that, Rodney disappeared.  I mean, poof.  All the cousins are pulling favors with friends on the force—except for Jack-Jack, of course.  But after doing a little digging, Louis, who like I said before is the smart one, found out that after a while, P____ stops working right.  Eventually, the person taking it doesn’t come back from wherever they go.  Jasmine, who’s a lawyer and a hotty (she’s a second cousin, so I can say that) has been trying to get the pharmaceutical company to admit that this is a problem.  She would’ve sued the shrink, but no one can find her, either.

I don’t say this to the rest of the family because they’d get pissed, but I think it’s for the best.  I mean, I don’t want Rodney to end up in dinosaur times, or even like back in the day when they used to wear tights all the time.  But it wouldn’t be so bad if he ended up in the 70s—he seemed to like the music.  And not for nothing, but it sounds like there was a lot of free drugs and sex.  So maybe it’s good for him that he’s not coming back.

Big families ain’t easy.  Sometimes you got to get away to find yourself, right?  Most people move out of state, or abroad.  But maybe Rodney had to go farther.  A different time and place.  Hey, I hope he finds himself.  Whenever he is.



Tags: , , , , , , ,

Categories: fiction

Author:the circular runner

g. martinez cabrera currently lives in San Francisco with his lovely and talented wife. He holds degrees from Columbia and from the Harvard Divinity School where he spent three years thinking about lofty things. Since then, he tries to write some lofty and some not-so-lofty things down so others can see how lofty he sometimes is. When he’s not writing or spending time with said wife, he tortures young people with learning. He blogs at and Tumbls at

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