MELROSE, Mass.–Residents of a small, quiet city seven miles north of Boston have been shaken to their core over the last six days as news spreads that a 12-year-old boy has gone missing after apparently setting out on a Back to the Future-style time-traveling mission to prevent the Manny Ramirez steroid scandal.
Harold and Martha Chavez last saw their youngest son, Joseph, on Thursday night after watching him play left field during a Little League game. (He wears No. 24, of course.) Upon returning home, their son learned the news that Ramirez had been suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball for steroid use.
As lifelong Red Sox fans, the Chavez family was understandably devastated to hear the news, especially their young son.
“Joey really took it hard,” said his mother. “He kept talking about how the Red Sox’ world championships were retroactively tarnished. Before he went to bed, he said something about going 88 miles per hour in a DeLorean to go back in time and stop Manny from taking steroids. I just thought he was really tired or maybe coming down with a cold or the pig flu.”
Unbeknownst to Mrs. Chavez, her son’s time travel talk may have been more than just a Hollywood fantasy.
“He fell asleep holding this picture he had taken of Manny Ramirez clutching the World Series trophy on one of the Duck Boats during the 2004 parade,” said his father, Harold. “When I came into his room this morning, my son was gone and there was just this void in the picture. Manny’s on the Duck Boat holding thin air. The trophy is gone…”
Not coincidentally, an old DeLorean sports car was reported missing on Friday morning from Sal’s Auto Body in downtown Melrose. The Chavezes do not know whether their son managed to penetrate the space/time continuum. (Plutonium is not a known commodity anywhere on the North Shore.) Nor do they have any idea which year he aimed to visit or how he planned to prevent Manny’s use of performance enhancing drugs.
“I just hope he goes back far enough to make sure (the Red Sox titles in) 2004 and 2007 still count,” said Chavez’s 18-year-old brother, Brian. “Right now we’re just kind of in this limbo. Are the World Series titles tarnished? No one knows for sure. Plus, I haven’t seen my brother in five days so it’d be nice if he came home.”
It has undoubtedly been a trying week in the Chavez household as well as within the entire Melrose community.
“Those championships were so important to so many people around here,” said Regina Rice, 72, on her way out of the dry cleaners. “To have those banners be tainted, tarnished or taken away would just be awful. My husband died in 2006 and I’m dreading the day I’ll have to visit his grave to tell him he never actually saw the Red Sox win the World Series legitimately. This young boy going missing just exacerbates the pain.”
Inside a local drugstore, Richard McCarthy, 39, lamented, “All our memories are ruined. The 2004 season wasn’t what we thought it was…Nothing matters anymore. This missing kid is our only hope. What am I going to do with all the newspaper clippings I saved from that year? Are all my old copies of the Boston Globeobselete?”
Concern over mementos from past World Series victories appears to be justified. In addition to an alarming acceleration of yellowing (or aging) of his Globe newspaper clippings, McCarthy claims other prized possessions have become flawed. “I have this ball that was signed by the entire 2007 Red Sox team. Everybody signed that thing…even the scrubs like Royce Clayton and Bryan Corey. But last week, I noticed some of the signatures were smudged and are either no longer legible or barely visible.”
When asked if she thought her son would eventually return heroically to present day as Marty McFly did in the famed 1985 movie, Mrs. Chavez became noticeably distressed.
“I’m with Stephen Hawking. I’ve always been skeptical of time travel,” she says, blinking back tears. “But my son has seen that movie about 50 times so maybe he’ll be able to figure it out. Who knows?”
When told the future (and, in turn, the present) is ultimately altered at the end of the famous movie, Mrs. Chavez breathes a small sigh of relief. Reality quickly returns, however. A moment later, she turns away to again check the picture of Manny taken by her son during the 2004 victory parade. Alas, the trophy – like her son – has yet to reappear.