By G.P. Avants
Not everyone who ever lived has gotten recognition for their accomplishments. Do you know the name of Queen Elizabeth’s primary school teacher? How about a neighbor of Martin Luther King JR, who quietly modeled faith under persecution? How many everyday “nobodies” made the American dream a reality just because they lived out what the Declaration of Independence touted?
In my novel, Chronolocity: A Fistful of Chronotons the time-traveler Mr.Cross has spent a decade of his life studying the lives of unknown people in history. He concluded that if some of these people’s lives had been different, the future might have be a better place. Armed with a desire to bring many underdogs into the spotlight, he is on a mission to help course-correct some injustices done to certain unknown people.
In the following excerpt , Mr. Cross shares the tale of Juan Juberous a man whose ideas were taken from him and never received the credit for his accomplishments.
“You’re changing history.” Levy feels that itch at the base of his skull. “Does that include me?”
“If affects us all.”
“That’s making your head spin.”
“Whoa, wait.” Mr. Cross gives the time out sign. “Better to show you than to tell you.” With his remote, he animates a computer-generated cursor. It floats silently in the lower right corner of the screen as Mr. Cross points it at one child. He circles him on the viewer.
“Computer, enhance and magnify, please.”
A friendly female voice responds. “My pleasure.”
Levy’ eyes are riveted on the boy with shoulder length reddish-brown hair.
The boy sits listening curiously, almost motionless in his seat.
“Who am I looking at?” Levy studies the enraptured boy. “You said he’s famous or…will be famous?”
“This is the past. Everyone here will be famous.” Mr. Cross raises his pointer finger at Levy. “In their own way.”
“Uh, huh.” Levy fingers are spinning nervously.
“His name is Juan Juberus.” Mr. Cross pauses and waits for a sudden awareness or look of surprise from Levy. “Never heard of him?”
But Levy just shrugs.
“He worked for American Steel for thirty years in the mid 20th Century. He was a hardworking man who showed up every day to run his drill press.” Mr. Cross holds up a finger. “To some he was just a grunt on the line, by Juan’s inventive mind raced with ideas to improve the factory’s efficiency.”
“So,” Levy begins. An inventor I have never heard of before?
“Being a loyal and honest company man, he shared his ideas with his supervisors who in turn took the credit, fame and fortune for his brilliant ideas.”
“Ah, he got the shaft.” Man! See, that’s why I guard my ideas under lock and key, well at least in my notebook in a secret compartment in your backpack.
Mr. Cross points at Levy. “Right. That is why we are breaking him of the nasty habit of breaking Brazil nuts with his teeth.”
Levy raises an eyebrow. “What? How is that going to help him?”
“It’s the same problem George Washington had. He ruined his teeth that way and had to wear artificial teeth. That is why he never smiled in his portraits.” Mr. Cross waves a hand. “But that’s another person’s story.”
“I have to tell you a little tale about Juan Juberus to get the whole picture. Something the history books never did.
Levy frowns. “So, how’s fixing his teeth going to benefit him in his future…or is it his present?”
Mr. Cross puts his thumbs in his belt loops. “Have you ever been embarrassed by a defect in your life? Like a pimple, a lisp, or bad teeth?”
Levy runs his tongue over his teeth. Yeah, still. “Ah, well, I used to hate my little crooked teeth.” Mr. Cross snaps his finger in acknowledgment. “I got over it though…mostly.” But I would get them fixed in a heartbeat if we had the money.
“The Juan you see there is about eleven, almost your age, right, Levy? He grew up the middle child in a family of seven. He felt like the invisible child in many ways. So Juan would have to prove himself capable of hanging with his older brothers, while at the same time a protector of his younger siblings.”
I am an only child. I wonder what it would be like to have brothers and sisters?
“He would do anything on a dare. He almost died twice from eating toadstools and not mushrooms,” Mr. Cross counts off the boy’s escapades. “narrowly escaped three train collisions in his car, fought off a rival street gang in his hometown, and broke insanely hard objects with his huge teeth, like walnuts and Brazil nuts.”
Levy’s eyes widened. “He really did all of that? Come on. What do they call those folk stories?”
“No, he did and at least his family and tiny town in Puerto Rico, Juan Juberus is a legend.” Mr. Cross points at the young man in question. “But you see all those years of breaking objects, especially hard-shelled nuts all but destroyed his winning smile.”
“But, wait he’s smiling. He has all his teeth.” Levy gets closer to see Juan’s face.
“You are seeing his childhood version before all the permanent damage was done.” Mr. Cross purses his lips. “Juan missed many opportunities because he was very self-conscious. I am going to give him one small bit of his confidence back.” Mr. Cross runs both his fingers over his own mouth creating a big smile. “I will remind him to crack nuts with a nutcracker, heck even a rock, but by Juan, not your mouth.” He smirks. “And maybe, just maybe make him be a little less impulsive.”
“That seems pretty insignificant.”
“You’d be surprised how that one little thing will equate to larger things down the road.”
“How can that end up fixing things for the better?” Levy scratches his still itchy, crusty head.
“So, in some way in his adult life he is going to stand up to those thieves who stole his ideas?” Levy furrows his eyebrows. “Just because he feels better about his smile?”
Mr. Cross sighs. “Don’t discount the small things.” He sweeps a hand across the screen. “History books have often overlooked little accomplishments, but their effects have actually changed the course of history.” It’s all about the “if’s” given to us.”
Levy’s heart leaps. Like don’t lose hope. Real heroes start from the bottom.
“I will tell you that Juan is learning how to protect his teeth from future nut cracking. One side benefit is showing him the importance of keeping that winning smile intact.” Mr. Cross switches to another child. “Moving on…”
Do you have a family member who is a local legend or an inspirational to you? Tell us their tale.
Get more personal with history at ChronolocityHQ.com.