by Luc Reid
"If I ever tell you I want to get married again," my friend Rick told me when his divorce finally came through, "I want you to punch me in the face. Hard."
"I'm not kidding!" he insisted. "Promise me."
"I'm not going to punch you," I said.
I figured he'd drop it, but half an hour later, I found myself saying "OK, fine. If you ever try to get engaged again, I'll punch you."
Nine months later, Rick blew into my kitchen with two oversized bottles of Belgian beer.
"Guess what?" he crowed. "I'm engaged!"
"To who?" I said. "Not Marie, right?"
He popped open the beers on the counter. "Oh, I know she comes off a little cold-blooded right off, but you'll warm up to her, seriously."
Obviously I didn't punch him, but I mentioned a few important facts: Marie was always making Rick do things her way. She'd screwed her uncle over on that loan. She left hot water running. And my dog, who was a great judge of character, hated her.
"And Rick," I said, "you told me to punch you if you ever said you were getting married again."
"I meant to somebody like Erika!" He said. "This is completely different."
I hardly saw Rick over the next two months, but one day he called me from the police station.
"Assault?" I said when I picked him up. "They took you in for assaulting her?"
"Yeah," Rick said. "Good thing my cell phone does video. You want to see her scratching herself? It's actually kind of hot."
Did I mention I time travel? It's no big thing: it just happens sometimes when I'm asleep. I think it's usually when my brain gets stuck on something. I go to sleep and wake up maybe a few months or a year earlier.
That's what happened about a week after the assault incident: I looked over at my calendar clock one morning and noticed it was four months earlier than when I'd gone to bed. So I got up and called my broker. (Well, how do you think I got this huge house and the pool and the cars and everything, an unemployed slacker like me? First the lottery, then investments.)
After that, I went out with some of the same girls I had the last time and got an early start cutting back on my cholesterol. I was just taking my fish oil capsules one afternoon when Rick walked with two oversized bottles of Belgian beer.
I punched him.