He was singing,
"Bye-Bye, Miss American Pie."
Drove my Chevy to the levee,
but the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
and singin’, "This’ll be the day that I die.
"This’ll be the day that I die."
– Don McLean (American Pie)
The Perfectionists never, ever met in the same room, or even on the same ship or planet. None of them even knew how many of them there were in the movement, and that was even better.
Pleading ignorance was easy when one was actually was ignorant. Things were changing, though, and having a leader was beginning to make sense as a concept.
The leader would assume an enormous risk by knowing the names, and all of the ways to reach, the members of the movement. In exchange, that person would be given wide latitude and near complete authority. They would vote and discuss and give a bit of lip service to the movement being a democracy, but the truth was, the movement’s members wanted someone to take the reins already. Many of them were weary of perpetrating little bits of what was, essentially, temporal graffiti. They longed to make changes that were pariotric.
Beyond that, they also wanted someone with a firm hard, and a vision, to take them down a defined path. Not every path would do, of course, but at least they’d be on some sort of a path. Most of them figured, once the dust settled, that they’d be able to begin directing things their own way soon enough.
Therefore, they chose as their leader someone who was in it – at least on the surface – for the betterment of mankind, and not for a family’s own personal glory, or to bring lovers back together or for any such smaller ambitions. The leader’s goals were – they had to be – far loftier than that.
The first meeting was scheduled for the same day as the Temporal Integrity Commission’s interviews. It consisted of audio only – no pictures would be allowed during the transmission, and voices would be masked. Once again, it was an effort to create and maintain ignorance of any identifiers surrounding the other members of the movement. None of them would be able to tell names, accents or even genders. And with continually changing vocal harmonic masking, it would even be impossible to tell how many people were on the call. Three? Three thousand? Who knew?
“Whaddaya got?” Kevin asked Carmen. It was just the two of them, sitting in her office.
“Not much. There are – I need not tell you – some political factions that enjoy using human history as their own personal playground. Either side of the pond – it doesn’t seem to matter.”
“Temporal Cold War heating back up again?”
“Possibly,” she allowed, “But the time period is odd. Who would care about 1959? When they were last poking around in time, it was for almost two centuries after that, and it involved the NX-01.”
“There’s the one incident, yes, but that was for the early twenty-first century. 2004, perhaps – it’s still a difference of a good forty-plus years.”
“Hmmm,” he said, “What is it about 1959? I mean, I get the feeling that our Scout – you know, that Boy Scout or Girl Scout who thinks they’re doing some sort of wondrous good deed here – I get the feeling that the Scout didn’t want to take Civil Rights away by saving three lives. I mean, there’s the matter of Valenzuela – uh, his stage name is Ritchie Valens, I checked. Would someone who goes to some trouble to save a Mexican-American fellow really want to make life harder for African-Americans?”
“I can’t say. Maybe our Scout is of Mexican ancestry, and is looking for an advantage.”
“Then why save Holly and Richardson? The plane coulda taken off with someone else on board instead of Valenzuela – Jennings, maybe,” Kevin mused.
“Waylon Jennings,” she said, “It almost did take off with him aboard. Just a coin flip decided who would live that day, or die.”
“I bet that did happen, and in more than one scenario,” Kevin said.
“But that’s not our universe,” Carmen said.
“It’s funny,” Kevin said.
“There was a pop song written about it – and it’s filled with all sorts of wacky pseudo-religious mythology. It’s called American Pie, and it refers to February third of 1959 as The Day the Music Died. And now it’s The Day the Music Lived. Odd.”
“Perhaps,” she got up and looked out her viewing portal, and looked back toward the Milky Way galaxy, “It seems useless to speculate. I, I’m thinking of hiring that ancient computers specialist,” she changed the subject abruptly.
“Sheilagh,” Carmen read off a PADD, “Forty-six. No real family to speak of and she can pass to high security levels, I suspect.”
“Good,” he said, “It’s, uh, it’s hard to keep all of this a secret when you’re married. Not that that matters anymore.”
“I knew you were going to confide everything to Josie the minute I hired you. But it turned out fine. You miss her a great deal, don’t you?”
“Of course, like I’d miss my right arm if it were detached. And, yanno, I sometimes, Carmen, I get distracted, by work or whatever, maybe watching a game. And then I pull myself up short, and I realize I’m not thinkin’ about her. Then I feel guilty about that. Or I – God help me – I feel almost a sense of relief, like the, the burden of caring for her has been lifted. And I, uh, I feel guilty then, too. It shouldn’t feel good that she’s gone. It should never feel good.”
“Kevin, you’re allowed to feel what you feel.”
“No,” he said, “I’m not. Now, about hiring that computers gal ….”
I met a girl who sang the blues
and I asked her for some happy news,
but she just smiled and turned away.
I went down to the sacred store
where I’d heard the music years before,
but the man there said the music wouldn’t play.
– Don McLean (American Pie)