Justin stared out of his office window as the rain pelted down outside. He cast a disgusted look at his typewriter and basket of balled up paper. He sighed closing his eyes trying to focus on his new play. He crossed the room and sat back down at his desk and typed three lines only to tear the sheet from the carriage, screw it up and throw it on the floor. Justin leaned back in his chair pinching his nose between his thumb and forth finger and took deep breaths. He pushed his chair back sending it crashing to the ground as he stood, grabbing his briefcase he walked out the door. His agent James Bass exited the elevator, brushing dripping wet bond hair out of his jade green eyes. He stopped dead as he saw his client obviously going home in the middle of the day
“Does this mean you’ve finished the play Justin?”
“But its nearly finished right?” Bass asked hopefully.
“So where are you going”
The blond agent was beginning to get a very uneasy feeling about this, they were on a tight schedule on this one.
Justin got in the elevator and pushed the button to the ground floor.
“Is Brittany going with you? James asked.
“Probably not, we broke up.”
“Oh” was all that James Bass could say as the doors had already slid shut.
Justin drove home and threw a few things in a bag, grabbing his shaving gear and toothbrush he jumped into his corvette, he picked a direction and put the peddle to the metal. He flipped on the radio and fiddled with the controls until he finally found a song that met his approval. He’d been driving for a couple of hours when he passed a huge old hotel. He slammed on his breaks and reversed back and studied the building. It was well over a hundred years old and very elegant. This would be perfect.
Justin checked in and a porter showed him to his room.
“Here we are Sir.”
The grey haired gentleman opened the door and put Justin’s bag inside. He opened the curtains
“My names Joey, If you need anything I live in the cottage just down the lake path.”
“Thank you Joey.” Justin handed the elderly man a five dollar bill
“Have you worked here long?” Justin asked.
“I’ve been here since 1910 Sir. I came here as a little boy with my parents.”
The young man looked at the porter impressed
”1910, wow that’s a long time.” Joey just smiled
“If there’s nothing else Sir have a good day.”
Justin whistled out a breath as he considered the possibility of living in the same place for 70 years, even more marvellous was the fact Joey was still carrying bags for the hotel guests. He threw his bag on the single bed and surveyed his room. Basic was the word that came to mind. No radio, no tv, but there was a desk. maybe just maybe he’d get some writing done.
The reception area was buzzing as he walk down to the restaurant, He was greeted by the Matrie’d.
“Yes Sir can I help you?”
“Errm yeah I’d like a table please.”
The Matrie’d Smiled
“I’m sorry sir the restaurant doesn’t open for another 40 minutes May I make you a reservation?”
Justin made his dining arrangements then went in search of something to occupy his time.
The hotel had a few shops and he visited them all. He spent ten minutes browsing through a rack of leather flying jackets before deciding they were too grossly overpriced to waste his hard earned money on. He left the shop and carried on down the corridor to The Hall Of History. The entire history of the hotel was depicted in one way or another. Justin spent time examining the delicate pieces of jewellery, some old menus and check-in books in a glass display case. The hotel had also displayed a collection of newspaper articles in glass frames. The blond writer couldn’t resist reading a few of the more interesting looking ones.
Then he saw it. It hung in the centre of a bare wall, nothing else near it. Above it a small skylight filtered the suns rays down on it. Justin moved closer, the sun glinted off the glass obscuring the picture. He was mesmerised as he closed in on the artefact. He took a sharp breath as the beauty of the man reached his eyes. A simple black and white photograph set in a mahogany frame edged in gold.
The young man pictured seemed lost in thought, his eyes closed, his lashes long half moons laying gently against his cheeks. He wore a hat pulled low on his head, a white button down shirt topped with a waistcoat, his hands resting in his lap. A hint of a smile played on his lips , he looked serene. The young playwright looked eagerly to see who the lovely young man was and was disappointed when he found the name plate missing. Justin stood studying the old photograph for the next hour, until he knew every shadow that fell over the tranquil man, every curl that escaped the confinement of the bowl shaped hat, too dazed by the alluring face to move.
Reluctantly Justin checked his pocket watch and dragged himself away and went to dine, luckily the restaurant had a table free, his original reservation having passed over an hour ago. He sat alone eating his rib-eye steak, the claret was good but his attention kept wondering back to the beautiful man portrayed in the hall of history. Justin wiped his mouth and got up. Going directly to the reception desk he struck the small silver bell on the counter.
Joey Fatone came out of the back office and smiled pleasantly when he saw Justin.
“Mr Timberlake, How may I help you?” Justin smacked his lips
“There’s a picture, well old photo of a young man in the history hall over there and I was wondering .. there’s no name.”
Joey thought for a while then realisation dawned on his wizened old face
“I know the one Sir. That would be Mr Chasez, Joshua Chasez. He was a famous actor in his time, actually that photograph was taken here in 1912. He was performing in a play at the hotel theatre. I remember him well. Such a gentle soul.”
The old mans thoughts seemed to wonder briefly then he snapped back to the present.
“Is there anything else I can help you with Mr Timberlake?”
Justin thought for a moment the said
“Yes, you could point me in the direction of the theatre.”
Fatone held out his hand indicating the desired direction
“Just follow the path down to the lake Sir.”
The younger man thanked the porter and set off down to the lake.
The picture of the sedate beautiful man played on Justin’s mind, he felt drawn back to it time and time again, spending hours after hours just sitting staring. He resolved himself to find out as much as he could about Joshua Chasez starting in the library. He pawed through book after book finding pictures and small articles about Joshua, things like where he was born, he whistled long and low to see his birth date was the 8th of August1891.
He read reviews about plays he had performed in, and how natural and talented he was, while still managing to create an air of mystery about himself. Justin was flabbergasted to discover to read that the performance at the grand was his last ever, and that he had dropped out of the public eye becoming a virtual recluse. The young writer thumbed through the pages of an old stage magazine and almost fell out of his chair as the old man from that night all those years ago stared back at him. His hand automatically found his pocket watch as confusion filled his head. The old mans words came flooding back to him. Words he hadn’t thought about for eight years came flooding back to taunt him.
“Come back to me.”
Tears welled in Justin’s eyes dripping slowly down his face and dropping on the colour photo. Joshua’s steel blue eyes bored into his soul.
“Please ... come back to me.”
Such sadness overshadowed those eyes, not like the other pictures he had seen, the ones where Joshua was vibrant and alive. This old man in the picture merely existed. Justin scanned the article quickly and jotted down an address. Then he cleared away all the reference materials and went back to the hotel.
He tossed and turned all that night, unable to erase the steel blue orbs from his memory. At one stage he got out of bed, got dressed and went down and stood in front of Joshua’s picture staring at the lovely creature, wondering what had changed him so much, why had he become that lonely old gentleman. Justin clenched his fists angry that someone so beautiful had seen so much sadness. His mind made up he went back to his room stripped quickly down to his shorts and climbed into bed.
He closed his eyes but could only see Joshua’s face, the curve of his face, the curls lose of the hat framing his face as he leaned up into Justin, arms snaking around his neck pulling him down, their lips touching in a feather like caress, becoming more bold and more urgent by the second.
“Come back to me.” he felt Joshua’s breath on his chin as they kissed again. They pulled away from each other and Justin looked into the eyes of Joshua the old man, his arms were still wrapped round Justin’s neck.
“Please Justin, please.” Justin woke up with a jolt the memory of the vivid dream still branded in his memory, he checked the time. 8 o’clock. He jumped out of bed and headed for the shower. Thirty minutes later he was his car driving out to the last known address of his obsession.
By the time he reached the ancient house the rain was belting down in torrents, he slipped his car into park and made a dash for the door. Justin stood on the door step dripping wet a small pool forming around his shoes, he rang the bell again and after a few minutes the door swung open.
“Oh .. erm .. hi” He suddenly felt awkward and intrusive
“Ma’am My name is Justin Timberlake I’m researching Joshua Chasez, I was wondering if I could talk to you for a few moments?”
The woman that stood behind the open door regarded him suspiciously. Her grey bespectacled eyes flashing.
“Why Mr Chasez?” Justin began to stutter
“I.. erm .... erm you see I’m thinking of writing a play about him.. I’m .. er um a playwright you see.”
The door started to slam shut in his face, with out thinking he jammed his foot between the frame.
“Please” he said his words suddenly rushing to get out before she called the police on him.
“I’m not really writing a play, I just want to know about him, and why he gave me this?”
The woman looked at the outstretched hand and gasped
“Where did you get that?” She demanded.
Justin handed her the watch
“He gave it me, eight years ago, at a play I wrote.”
She opened the door wide inviting Justin in.
“That watch, it was very precious to him. He never let it out of his sight. It disappeared the night he died.”
Justin stopped in his tracks.
“He ..he’s dead.”
His heart filled with pain and he blinked back tears that threatened to fall. He was dead.
The woman turned out to be Joshua’s housekeeper and companion . When he passed away he had willed all his fortune to her and she had kept on his house out of her love and loyalty for him. The housekeeper opened the door to a room filled with memorabilia.
“ I’m saving these to donate to the museum.” She explained.
There was the costume he had worn in one of his plays standing in the corner displayed on a dolly, Different pieces of costume jewellery and under the window was a musicbox, a model of the grand hotel. Justin lifted the lid and a beautiful melody flooded the room.
“He had that made after he stayed there in 1912. He changed after performing there, they say he grew cold and uncaring, But that wasn’t the Josh that I knew. He was always caring and thoughtful with me. But he was so sad, so lonely. He never married even though he was greatly sought after. He just faded away year by year, little by little. Until all that was left of him was an empty shell.”
Justin listened to the tragic life of the beautiful young man.
“I have to go now, thank you for talking with me.”
He turned to go and he spotted a book on the side.
“Hey” he said brightly
“My old college professor wrote this.” He turned the book over in his hands ‘Time travel and the possibilities’
“He read that time and time again. It was one of his favourites.”
The blond gave his thanks once again shaking the housekeepers hand. When he got back to the hotel he went straight to the hall of history and stood gazing at Joshua
“Who are you Josh?” He asked “And how do you know me?”
Kids were rushing around the corridors attempting to get to their next lectures on time when Justin arrived at his old college. After spending several minutes re-orientating himself he set off for his old home room. His professor was sitting behind his desk marking papers. Justin tapped on the door and went in.
“Professor Wright could I have a word please?”
The professor looked up over his narrow glasses at the curly haired man.
“ Aren’t you a little old for my classes young man?”
Justin held out his hand “Justin Timberlake sir, I was in your physics class about ten years ago.”
“What can I do for you Mr Timberlake?”
Justin hesitated unsure where to start.
“ I read your book ‘Time travel and the possibilities’ Sir is time travel possible?”
The professor took of his glasses and took a sharp intake of breath.
“About 20 years ago I was visiting relatives in Austria, I was staying in an old hotel, I mean a really old hotel. Everything gave the feeling of the past.”
Justin felt excitement stirring in his belly.
“But did you go back in time?” Wright looked Justin in the eyes.
“You have to understand that if I did it was only a flicker of time. There was to many modern things round me.”
“But did you travel back in time?” Justin pushed for an answer.
Justin sighed and brought his hands up to his face clasping them together and hooking his thumbs in his mouth as he became lost in thought.
“Justin, you must disassociate yourself completely from this time. The smallest thing and it won’t work or you will come crashing back to your own time.”
Justin went back to the Grand inspired.
The writer was resolved. Joshua had begged him to come back to him, and that’s what he was going to do. Justin visited all the antique shops he could find. He bought a suit, hat and shoes, he also bought money, all the coins and notes he could lay his hands on that were specifically dated 1912. Then he went back to his room.
He stood in front of his mirror he smoothed down the old fashion pants and buttoned his jacket, he placed the hat on his head then took it off again holding it to his chest.
“Hello Mr Chasez... You don’t know me ... but you will.” Justin practised in the mirror
“ Mr Chasez .. You don’t know me but you will.” He sighed deeply
“Joshua ... Josh.. you don’t know me .... But you will.” I’m crazy, Justin thought I finally lost it. He looked at himself in the mirror again.
“This will work” He whispered “It’ll work.”
He stuffed everything in his room into the closet and sat on his bed and began to record in a small tape recorder.
“Its June 15th 1912, you are in the Grand Hotel, Joshua Chasez is performing in a play in this hotel on June 15th 1912. You are here its June 15th 1912. Joshua is here. It is June 15th 1912.”
Satisfied he closed the curtains and lay down on his bed in total darkness he pressed play and lay back. The tape went on and on.
“Its June 15th 1912.”
Justin hit the stop button in exasperation.
“Damn, damn, damn.”
He swung his long legs off the bed and stormed down to the hall of history almost confronting the serene picture. He paced up and down
“Its not working Josh. Why isn’t it working?”
He turned his back on the portrait. His eyes fixed on an old register encased with other hotel memorabilia an idea occurring to him. Justin ran down the lake path to the old porters home and began banging on the door urgently.
There was a sound of shuffling then the upstairs bedroom window opened and a very baffled head peered out into the darkness.
“Joey, I need to ask you something . Open the door.”
Joey peered down at the over-wrought young man.
“Mr Timberlake.? What, what’s wrong?”
Justin ran his fingers through his blond locks
“Joey please its important, the registers, the old registers where do they come form?”
“The attic Sir!”
Justin was getting more excited by the minute.
The attic was thick with dust, it caught in Justin’s throat as he sorted through the old books throwing them aside when they proved to be the wrong ones. Then it was in his hands. June/ July 1912. He hastily opened the pages flicking through as fast as he dared . Yes. Here it was June 12, 1912, Joshua Chasez, the signature was cursive almost feminine in appearance. He closed his eyes and turned two pages, He was here, he was really here. At half past 10 on June 15, 1912 Mr Justin Timberlake of New York had signed into the hotel, room 451. Justin sighed deeply closing the book and clenching it tight to his chest. He sat for ten minutes just controlling his breathing before going back to his bedroom.
He lay back on his bed and pressed play. His voice filled the air saying over and over the date. Realisation suddenly struck the young blond as he clicked the recorder off. He got up quickly and slung it into the closet along with all the other trappings of the twentieth century. He lay back down and started to recite in his mind the phrases that were now all to familiar to him.
” Its June 15,1912, you are in the grand hotel, Joshua is here in the hotel on June 15, 1912.” He was feverish but he kept on and on until he lost consciousness.