Oscar Tubington was a bastard: at least that was the general consensus. When he was 35 he impregnated his secretary Abigail and she had insisted that he leave his wife for her. He didn’t want to get a divorce, but Abigail threatened to go to the authorities about the cocaine that he often romanced his clients with.
His wife had been furious and attempted to sue him for fifty percent of his talent agency. He hired a team of lawyers and she got a modest bungalow and child support until their ten-year-old daughter turned eighteen.
He and Abigail got married right after their baby was born and they had stayed married for some twenty years and had two more children together. Their marriage ended when Oscar’s car stalled out on the train track and he was killed by an oncoming Amtrak. He went to the afterlife and was sitting in the waiting room to see exactly what came next.
A woman’s voice called his name and he was lead to a small office that contained a woman who was so fat she resembled a lounge chair with a head sticking out of it. She was sitting on a reinforced loveseat. There was a beanbag chair directly across from her and she motioned for Oscar to sit down. He fell gracelessly into the beanbag chair and introduced himself.
“I know who you are, Mr. Tubington. I’m your judge.”
“My judge? What do you mean exactly, my judge?”
“I get to decide if you go to Heaven or Hell.”
“What, are you fucking kidding me? You’re God?
“I didn’t say that. I said I get to decide where you go.”
“And who might you be?”
“I’m Karen Kraft. We went to Jr. High together. You called me fat and made fun of me because I had a learning disability. I was like ten pounds overweight at the time. As you can see, I developed a horrible eating disorder.”
“This is my fault?”
“You and your friends.”
“I was like twelve.”
“Yes, I know, but so was I. I gave you the benefit of the doubt, but you were a complete schmuck. You cheated on both of your wives. You emotionally abused your children and you ran a dishonest business.
“I gave to charity.”
“For a tax shelter.”
“I patronized the arts. I owned a gallery.”
“In Portland. You opened it there because you knew you could get artist and buyers to come from California and buy and sell art in Portland, because there is no state tax there.”
“So obviously. I’m going to Hell.”
“Not necessarily, you may be able to redeem yourself.”
“Well, were running a little social experiment up here. You may be able to assist us.”
“What kind of social experiment?”
“Well, we’ve been doing a little study of history’s greatest monsters. We’re trying to find a common thread. We are particularly interested in the cases of Hitler and Charles Manson. “
“They were both failed artist.”
“Oh yeah, I remember hearing that Charles Manson tried to get into the Monkees.”
“Well, that’s an urban legend, he was in jail at the time. But he did try to make it as a singer and songwriter! If fact that has to do with your assignment. In the world you were a talent agent, yes?
“”Yes! And a good one.”
“Well, we believe that if Charles Manson had been a successful artist, the whole Manson Family Murders may never have happened.”
“So what do you want me to do?
“We want you to travel back in time and make sure that Charles Manson gets signed to a record deal.
“And if I am successful.”
“You’ll jump through that hole and right into the delivery room where you will be reborn,” She said pointing to a hole in the corner of the office.
“And if I fail?”
Oscar sighed. He signed the paperwork and agreed to go back in to me and see what he could do. He was dressed in an enormous aluminum suit. He leaped off what appeared to be a cliff.
Oscar awoke to the sound of an old fashion alarm clock. The room he was in was pitch black. He turned on the light to find himself in a cheap motel room. He took a shower and dressed in a wide lapel suit that had been laid out for him.
A delivery boy knocked on the door and handed him a San Francisco Chronical, coffee and a bagel. He looked at the date on the newspaper, it was March 22, 1967. He thumbed through the paper and saw that there had been a coup in Sierra Leone and that there had been an oil spill in Europe. He finally landed on the want ads and saw that an ad had been circled for a talent scout in the music industry.
Oscar picked up the rotary phone and dialed the number.