Goodbye Norma Jean

A Time Travel Short Story by Larry H

Goodbye Norma Jean

by Larry H

More Stories by Larry H

 

“…And it seems to me, you lived your life like a candle in the wind–

Never knowin’ who to turn to, when the rains came in–

And I would have liked to’ve known you, but I was just a kid–

Your candle burned out long before — Your legend ever did…”

Elton John

**** May 21, 2065 10:35 AM

“Don’t do it, Steve, it’s stupid.”

“It’s not stupid.”

Melinda Gilmore was getting tired of arguing with her very bright but very stubborn friend. “All right, but think. Every time someone has tried it, something has gone wrong. It would open up too many possibilities!”

“That’s just been bad luck. We haven’t really run into any solid walls yet. And I have no reason to believe there is any quantum law preventing time paradox. I intend to continue trying until I get a definite answer.”

Missy looked at Stephen H. Baker, PHD, with a mixture of respect for a top physicist, and exasperation with a man obsessed with a dream that anyone else would have outgrown shortly after puberty…

Missy shook her head. “What’s done is done. The attempted Titanic rescue proved that.” She looked at her sandy haired co-worker. He had been considered the hottest brain at Ford Aerospace Propulsion Systems ever since he had developed the time machine from clues found in the Veda, and from some 1930’s alternate technology pamphlets. He also credited some very helpful work by one Steven F. Hawking, who had always maintained that any practical starship must also be a time machine. Since then, Dr. Baker had been interested in nothing except going back 103 years to meet his own maternal great, great grandmother, Marilyn Monroe, and maybe even bring her back with him to his own time.

Missy tried again. “Steve, listen to me. It won’t work. It can’t. This universe simply won’t tolerate time paradoxes. Even if you could meet her, you can’t change the fact that she died in a plane crash in 1965.”

“Fine. Show me the proof and I’ll personally disassemble the unit. “They stared at each other for a full minute.

“That’s what I thought. I’m going.”

Steve Baker sat at his desk watching the slideshow on his computer monitor.

Images of Marilyn Monroe taken throughout her career followed one another in a stately parade across the screen. Marilyn at a friend’s horse ranch, Marilyn swimming in a private pool, Marilyn standing on the famous grate, and dozens more, including screen caps from many of her movies.

Goodbye Norma Jean, though I never—

Knew you at all, ye had the grace to hold yourself,

While those around you crawled…

**** August 4th, 1962. 9 PM.

Steve Baker materialized in a broom closet, in an old motel his research said was just a couple of blocks away from Marilyn Monroe’s home in Paramount, CA. He had deliberately chosen to see her at a time in her life when she was just recovering from her failed marriage to Joe DiMaggio. He knew Marilyn would be home alone there for several more days with few if any visitors. He gave his briefcase a cursory check as he powered down the time circuitry and stepped out of the room. Nodding briefly to the cleaning maid as she stared disapprovingly at him, he walked out of the motel and found a telephone directory. He stopped briefly to get his bearings, and started out, heading toward her home. He found the address, and stopped at her door, feeling more like a lovesick puppy than the fledgling Timelord he thought himself while in the lab. Timidly, he knocked on the door. ” Norma Jean? Are you there?”

He heard footsteps, then the door burst open suddenly, and the face he had studied for so many years was suddenly only inches away. Her look of joyful excitement suddenly froze, taking on a puzzled look.

“Do I know you?”

Blushing, he remembered that only an old friend would have called her Norma Jean. His cheeks reddened, and he struggled to regain his voice. “M-miss Monroe, I mean,” he squeaked, “can I speak with you, please? It IS important.”

…Crawled out of the woodwork, and they whispered –

Into your brain, they set you on a treadmill,

And they made you change your name…

Elton John

“At this time of night? Can’t it wait until tomorrow?” She looked down the driveway and along the street, then looked back to Steve. Something changed in her eyes, she put on her crowd-pleasing smile and stepped back from the door. “Why not?” she said. Suddenly, Steve felt alive again. He brightened, and followed her into the room. “I don’t usually allow strangers into my… home…” she began in her sweetest little-girl voice, as she sat back on he divan suggestively. Steve felt sudden fear chill his spine. She’s acting for me! He thought, she thinks I’m just a fan. Stevie boy, you’ll have to do a whole heck of a lot better than this if you want to pull this off. “Miss Monroe, I just wanted to talk with you for a few minutes, then you can throw me out, call Securi-— the police, or do whatever you wish with me. My name is Steve Baker, and I am your great-great grandson. I came here tonight to try to bring a little happiness into your life.”

“Hold on, Stevie,” Marilyn interrupted, “I don’t have any great-great any kind of relations!” She lifted her head just so. “Just how old do you think I look?” she asked.

“Sorry, I should have told you, but I still don’t quite know how. I was born on June 5th, — 2138. I’m from your future.”

Marilyn looked at him skeptically. “I don’t suppose you can prove that?” she asked.

Steve smiled at that. “As a matter of fact, I can!” he said. “Let’s see, now. Here’s an old bicentennial quarter, a Nixon $2.00 bill, my pocket comp—, er, um, a really small computer. Here’s a CD player with some Golden Oldies on disk, and of course, my recall unit.” He spread the contents of his briefcase on the bed beside her.

She picked up the quarter, then the $2.00 bill. “Richard Nixon! What did he ever do to deserve this?” she asked derisively.

“You mean what didn’t he do!” Steve replied. “Made peace with both China and Russia, ended the longest war in US history, put the first men on the Moon… It was 30 years before we saw that kind of leadership quality in American politics again.”

She shook her head in disbelief. “He wasn’t even much of a Vice President. You should have seen him debating Jack. President Kennedy,” she corrected. “I never would have believed this!”

Steve looked askance at her and said “Kennedy. You know you’ll end up ruining him, don’t you?”

“Me? How could I ruin the President?”

“Easy!” he replied. “Historians are fairly certain you were seeing him at this time. Within the next few months, the press will get wind of it, and the gloves will come off. They’ll have a field day. Jackie will sue for divorce and end up with some rich Greek oil magnate. The Kennedy family will never recover politically, and you will wear the Scarlet Letter for the rest of your life.”

“But it doesn’t have to happen that way. I think I know a way for you to be famous. Loved by everyone just like you always wanted.” He held up his hand to her as she opened her mouth to object. “You are famous right now. Popular. A legend in your own time. And if you were to disappear now, that legend would grow. Then when you reappear with me in my time, you’ll be the most popular woman alive. We can’t miss! What do you say?”

Crawled out of the woodwork,

And they whispered – into your brain, Hollywood-created superstar

—And fame was the price you paid…

Elton John

Marilyn stared through him, her eyes glistening with inexplicable tears. Steve watched, horrified that he might have triggered any number of ghastly thoughts in her mind. Disappear? How stupid are you?

Slowly, her attention returned to him. She gave a small, sad smile, and shook her head. “I’m not going with you. You can only offer me more of what I already have. My life is already too empty. You know, I never really wanted to be a star. It’s just, what I do well. I know a lot of people, but I don’t think I have any real friends. No one is interested in me. Just plain… me. You called me Norma Jean. But she doesn’t exist anymore. She starved to death years ago. Marilyn gets lots of attention. But none of it is real. I think she may be dying, too.”

Her incipient tears began to fall. “All I ever really wanted was the warmth of a family, or even a few close friends,” an ironic smile flashed, then faded slowly. “…And so I married Joe, who was never there when I needed him.” Marilyn looked straight at Steve now. ‘I’m afraid you’ve wasted your time. I’ll have to ask you to go now.” Steve nodded once, ashamed for what he had made her feel.

**************

Steve stuffed his things back into his briefcase, and Marilyn showed him to the door. “I’m sorry.” He said. “I only wanted to… meet you. Make things better.” He shook his head, eyes downcast.

“It’s all right.” Marilyn responded, the professional actress once again. “Please. Be happy. There isn’t enough happiness in the world. Good night.”

He walked back toward the motel and the broom closet, and stepped in. He pushed a sequence into his keypad and activated the power relay, and slammed into the solid quantum wall that he had never believed in.

Goodbye Norma Jean, from the young man in the 22nd row

Who’s seen you as something more than sexual,

More than just our — Marilyn Monroe.

Elton John

Marilyn turned from the door, and walked back to her bedroom, speaking softly to herself. “Famous. I could do with a lot less fame if I could get just a little more love.” She turned on the taps, preparing for a bath, “Jack! He said they’d find out about Jack! No. They mustn’t! I’d die if he… if he… die? If I died…” She turned the water off and returned to her bedroom. Going to the dresser, she rummaged through the top drawer. She had been having trouble sleeping lately, and her doctor had reluctantly given her the barbiturates she had demanded. She found them, removed the cap, and swallowed a handful of pills. She picked up a half-empty bottle of Jack Daniels, and took a swig. Then she took another handful of pills and repeated her actions. She slipped off her shoes and lay back on her bed. “Famous!” The word was nearly a curse on her lips. “But I’ll be loved by everyone. Loved? I’m not loved! Nobody loves me. I’m just a… a body. See?” She pirouetted in front of the mirror, Her voice slipping into a baby girl’s singsong as the pills took their effect.

“Tits and ass! That’s what they want! Tits and ass! Tits and ass! That’s all they want is tits and ass, tits and ass!”

She continued the mindless singsong and began removing her clothing.

“That’s all they want, that’s all they get, is tits and ass, tits and ass!” Slowly, the drug did its gristly job, depressing first her thoughts, then her breath, and finally, her life.

Loneliness was tough, toughest role you ever played–

Hollywood created superstar, and fame was the price you paid.

Even when you died, oh the press still hounded you, all the papers had to say– Was that Marilyn — Was found in the nude…

Elton John

Sunday morning, August 5th, 1962, Marilyn Monroe was found lying nude, face down, on her own bed. Dead. Los Angeles County Coroner Thomas Nouguchi found a fatal concentration of barbiturates in her blood. Conspiracy theorists claimed that it was no suicide, that somebody had killed her. Atty. Gen. Robert Kennedy, the CIA, the Mafia, even the KGB seemed to have had cause, but nothing was ever proven.

**** May 21, 2065 10:15 AM

“Don’t do it, Jimmy, it’s stupid.”

“It’s not stupid.”

Melinda Gilmore was getting tired of arguing with her very bright but very stubborn friend. “All right, but think. Every time someone has tried it, something has gone wrong. It would open up too many possibilities!”

“It’s just been bad luck. We haven’t really run into any solid walls yet. And I have no reason to believe there is any quantum law preventing time paradox. I intend to continue trying until I get a definite answer.”

Missy looked at Dr. James M. DiMaggio, PHD, with a mixture of respect for a top physicist, and exasperation with a man obsessed with a dream that anyone else would have outgrown shortly after puberty…

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