August 16, 2016


Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

SF Trope: The Good Guys travel through time to stop a historical Bad Guy, usually Hitler
Current Event: “The Academy of Fine Arts Vienna rejected [Hitler] twice, in 1907 and 1908, because of his ‘unfitness for painting’.” (

Johannes Klingle and Shoshanna Barbivai glared at each other across the room. She said, “Why do I have to go with him?”

The technician looked at both of them, then shrugged, “I just run the time machine. I don’t make policy.” He tweaked a control, then turned away to make adjustments to a touchscreen on the wall behind the console.

Johannes said, “Feeling’s mutual, lady.”

She snorted and said, “I’m surprised you’d even talk to me.”

Johannes – Joe – shook his head, “I’m a American Democrat. We’re trained to be inclusivist to the exclusion of all else.”

“An American and a Jew...”

He cut in, “...walked into a bar…”

She cut him back, “I don’t drink, so the rest of the story would go, ‘and she watched as the stupid American teenager got sloshed and pissed away the opportunity to do whatever it was he was supposed to be doing.”

“I’m not a teenager.”

“That only changed last night,” she said.

“Yeah? Well I read your dossier, too. You’re here as a last resort to save the military career of ‘Daddy’s little girl’ – oh, and I wouldn’t toss around the part about Americans getting sloshed. From what I read, apparently you didn’t need a bar to get wasted...”

They were standing face-t0-face when someone in a white lab coat walked into the room, took one look at them, pointed a wand and depressed a button.

Both Johannes and Shoshanna gasped and fell to the ground, writhing in pain. The woman in the lab coat released the button and said, “You’re a matched pair of fools. That’s why you’re here. This is the first in a series of time travel experiments and you’re both under arrest by the governments that shipped you here. Johannes – you’re here because not only did you do a DUI, you ran over a Republican Senator’s daughter. She’s still in ICU and the murder charges are pending. Shoshanna, your father said this will be the last time you embarrass him if you fail. I have in my possession papers that will remove you to,” she glanced down at a tablet computer she held in one hand, “Ravensbrück – if you don’t ‘get your act together’. You also both have a pain enhancing device clamped on to your brain stem. You’ve seen a demonstration of what it can do. While it may not work in the past, no one is entirely sure of that. So we’ll have to see.” She smiled a Reaper’s smile at both and said, “Your mission is to convince the Director of the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna to admit Adolf. The Director’s name is Gustav Wessely. You’ll be brother and sister visiting your great-grandfather on his deathbed. Adolf is your mother’s sister’s brother-in-law’s son. He’s been in trouble, but he’s a good kid. A little lazy, but he had problems with father.”

Shoshanna stood up slowly, shook herself and glanced down at Johannes. “Who the hell are you and what am I supposed to do to make that happen? From what history says, Hitler was a mediocre artist. Even I could have painted circles around him.”

He nodded and said, “That is exactly what you are going to do. And Joe there on the floor is going to help you.”

“How’s that?”

“The future possible Führer of all of Germany is deathly afraid of beautiful women. He’d never talk to you. But he loves drinking – especially when other people are paying. Between the two of you, you’re not only going to give him watercolor lessons,” he said looking at Shoshanna. “You,” he pointed at Joe on the floor, “Get up. You look like a fool. You’re going to get him drunk and them teach him how to talk to women.”

“Him?” Shoshanna exclaimed.

“Me?” Johannes exclaimed.

“Yep. The dynamic duo.”

“Who the hell do you think you are?” Johannes shouted.

The man in the lab coat smiled and said, “My name is Frank Adolph Hitler.”

“Who the hell would name their kid that?” said Shoshanna.

“Famous artists often name their children after themselves. Often times the next generation passes the name of an important ancestor on as well.” He bowed, sweeping on hand dramatically backward then stood up, adding, “I am one such descendant of one such ancestor – in a very, very different timeline than the one you two came from.”

Names: (Modern) Israeli; German/Austrian

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