Oh great regret
like the flavor of wine
Only grows deeper
with the passing of time

Theodore Clifford Harris









Stockton Dupres had been able to live without Ophelia
all those years because it had been his choice to abandon her.
But now that he had gone back in time to change that outcome
and she rejected him, he was inconsolable.

"It was for the best." He told himself.
But inside, he was shattered that she would choose another over him.

Every day he thought about going back to his own time.
But each day he would be drawn to the taverns
where he would self-medicate himself into oblivion.

Drunk and belligerent, Dupres repeatedly made a spectacle of himself in the dance halls. He was becoming a mascot to the patrons who kept the drinks coming in order to entertain themselves at his expense. He would dance on the tables until he toppled over in a stupor. The men would then play toss the drunken squirrel until he landed in a place where they were too drunk to find him. He was completely humiliating himself but he didn't care.

Late one morning he awoke to find himself lying
in a muddy corral with a hoof print on his chest
where a horse had stepped on him in the night.
"Why can't I just die like other squirrels?"
he mumbled to himself as he staggered to his feet.

He squinted in the light as his eyes came to rest on his
formerly insane self-staring back at him.

"Just look at you." The other squirrel scolded in a disgusted tone.
The hungover Dupres had nothing to say in response.

"You have messed everything up," the other squirrel went on.
"I am nothing but a pathetic drunk in the future, thanks to you.
There is no rebel squirrel army and squirrels are hunted more than ever in Kentucky."

Dupres sat back down in the mud and closed his eyes. "I'm tired."

"You have to get back to your own time…and STOP with the booze."
And with that, the other squirrel walked up to him and
pushed him backward into the mud.

But Dupres made no attempt to get back up.

The formerly insane Dupres shook his head in disbelief.
"You are just lucky that I'm having a moment of clarity today."
And he grabbed Dupres by the tail and dragged him out of town.
When they came to the tree of time, he heaved and pulled then rested.
Then he heaved and pulled some more until he managed to get
his drunkard self into the branches.

Dupres began to climb down the tree and realized two things:
1) He was alone;
2) He was not strong enough to hold onto the bark so he tumbled to the ground.
When he tried to stand, his legs began to shake in weakness.
He looked at his legs and strained to see the rest of his body.
To his astonishment, he realized that he was a baby!

Before he could give his new predicament any thought,
he saw a cat pop its head up out of the tall grass.
He was helpless and could not even dream of running away or fighting.
So he lay as flat as possible and tried not to breath as the feline approached and hovered over him.

To be continued . . .



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