Tommy didn’t think he would ever be able to leave this world

on

But that’s what he had been given. And since he didn’t know when the
projecting consciousness would let him go, he decided to hold onto it. Until
he had a chance to find out if it could bring him home again.

He had to be extra careful. He had no idea what he really was about to give up
and what it meant to him. But he knew one thing: he could do it. One way or
another, he was going to do it. Even if it meant making a life here on this
distant and hostile world.

Tommy and the others had to get along without their father for a while. Maybe
a month or six weeks, even. With a new life in mind, he and the others made
good use of the time that they had. They went out, they found jobs, they took
tests and quizzes. Tommy even decided to take his old baseball glove to
practice with, just in case his astrally projected brain thought of a dream
field trip to Cuba, with the goal to win a game of baseball.

He still held on to the other pieces of his life. His sister in Texas. His
parents who loved him, and his little dog, Boomer.

Even as he took on a new personality in the new life, he held on to other
pieces of himself, too. His first love, that made him who he was, and had
always existed, still lived on the other side of the universe. He felt a
little bit like he was losing his life, but in a good way.

He didn’t let go of his first love, the one that he had died for and that had
taught him what really mattered. He let it go, but he felt it was his first
love, and that he loved it even more because he had lost it.

He never let go of that, either.

He never forgot what he started in the world, of stars and planets, of
infinite possibilities. And he always made sure his children had that love,
too, even though they were growing up and he could only see them from a
bird’s-eye view. He always remembered.

So, for many of their lives in this new universe, Tommy’s father was the other
daddy of his child, and Tommy and his friends were the other children. Tommy
was the old man, and the other children were their children. They all
welcomed and accepted him with open arms, as if he was finally an old friend
who had come home… because he really had, after all these years, and had
come home to them.

His life was here to stay, for as long as they needed him.

But not forever. Tommy was getting bored in his new environment. He needed to
get himself out of this new world. He was not happy, and he really needed to
find somebody who could make him happy again. And he had been searching for
that for a very long time now.

He needed his dad back.

Tommy LaFontaine had been looking for him for a very very long time now.

He found him in the local pub, on the night of Halloween, a year or two ago.
He had been working as a waiter for the last year and a half.

Dewey Decimal looked pretty normal except he was kind of thin. His hair and
beard were mostly white, with hints of red and brown in it. Like the people
around him, he wore a blue sweater and a blue tie. His glasses were on the
side of his head, and his face had a permanent scowl that he did not
apologize for.

Tommy walked in, and Dewey gave him a half smile. He didn’t know why, but he
thought it was kind of comforting. He had looked to be about Tommy’s age, and
he was wearing the same type of clothes that Tommy was, but he did not seem
like he was a “normal” person. Tommy had been very surprised.

“Good evening, Tommy,” he said. “Can I get you anything?”

Tommy shook his head a little. “You sure look like you could use something a
little stronger than that, Mr. Decimal.”

“You don’t have to call me ‘Mr. Decimal.’ I’m Dewey, after all.”

“Well, I’m Tommy. I’ve only been working here for a month. My last name is
LaFontaine.”

“Mine is LaFontaine. I’m Tommy LaFontaine.”

“Tommy. It’s nice to meet you, Tommy. Please, call me the name you used when
I was on the other side of the universe. It’s nice to meet you, Tommy.”

“I… yes, Dewey.” Tommy stared at him for a moment.

Now here he was, the other Dewey, and it felt weird and a little bit like
screwing with a shadow. He didn’t understand why. He was just trying to get to
know their new father, who had been watching the clock forever, and Tommy had
never really said that he was their father. Was he a human to them? Or was he
something else?

“I’m sorry for being so abrupt,” he said, “but you kind of surprised me.”

“I can’t blame you for that, kid.”

Dewey held a thick glass of water in his hand. Tommy took it, and they both
sipped.

“My name’s Tommy. Have you ever heard of me?”

“No, I haven’t. I’m Tommy, son. I just got here from the other side of the
universe.”

Dewey shrugged.

“I came here to make good on a promise. A promise to myself, and to some guy
I met once who’s now on the other side of the universe.”

Ironic. It seemed to Tommy that Dewey was not quite human. He seemed to
suffer a lot from his condition, and he had kind of a strange way of looking
around.

“Have you ever heard of the universe? In case you haven’t… the universe is
kind of like a huge city. We call it the Earth. It’s very big, and the people
here are part of something called the human race. Most of the people on the
planet live on the same side of the universe, and so it’s easy to make eye
contact with them. You can go anywhere you want, and it’s not like it used to
be, a lot of years ago.

“And, most of the people here don’t think they’re really human. They’ve been
here a long time. They’re going to come back when they get bored, but until
then they’re like people on the other side of the universe. When you get
lucky, and you’re on the same side of the universe, you’ll meet people like
them. I call them the other dwellers of the universe.”

Tommy nodded. He knew a lot about them, but it wasn’t much.

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