Moshe Visits the Met

the met

© Roger Bultot

Moshe Katz was in New York visiting his Tante and Feter, and they made the San Francisco Private Detective play tourist, including a visit to the Met’s Diamond Jubilee. Then things got ridiculous. He’d heard of Marian Anderson, but who the hell were Judy Collins, Yo-Yo Ma, and Itzhak Perlman?

“Alright, Mr. Watson, I’m going to give you a hand. The local cops don’t know how to handle this sort of thing, but my cases are more unusual.”

“We’d appreciate anything you can do. If word ever got out…”

“Relax. I’ll find out who here has a broken time machine.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

I became dismayed when I realized that the photo was of a recognizable place, but I didn’t recognize it. Then Google image search came to the rescue. It’s the Metropolitan Museum of Art, otherwise known at the Met.

According to Wikipedia:

The museum celebrated its 75th anniversary (which it termed Diamond Jubilee) with a variety of events in 1946, culminating in the anniversary of the opening of its first exhibition on February 22, 1947.

What is coincidence. I created a San Francisco private detective named Moshe Katz who operates in 1947. He’s featured in the stories Death Visits Mexico and Son of Kristallnacht. So I decided to create a New York mystery for him to solve. Normally, his cases are rather mundane, but for this tale, I decided to change his history a bit.

Again, according to Wikipedia:

In 1954, to celebrate the opening of its Grace Rainey Rogers concert hall, the museum inaugurated a series of concerts, adding art lectures in 1956. This “Concerts & Lectures program” grew over the years into 200 events each season. The program presented such performers as Marian Anderson, Cecilia Bartoli, Judy Collins, Marilyn Horne, Burl Ives, Juilliard String Quartet, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Artur Rubinstein, András Schiff, Nina Simone, Joan Sutherland and André Watts, as well as lectures on art history, music, dance, theater and social history.

I didn’t read the paragraph carefully and was wondering how all of those performers could have been at the Met at the same time. Then I read more carefully, but the damage was done. What if there were a time machine accident and they really did appear at the Met simultaneously, and specifically on February 22, 1947?

Oh, Thomas J. Watson was the Met’s Vice President in 1947 and Tante and Feter are Aunt and Uncle in Yiddish.

You can read about the Met’s history to find out more. To read other stories based on the prompt, visit

54 thoughts on “Moshe Visits the Met

    • But Rochelle, Moshe is a detective, not a technician; how can he be expected to repair a broken time machine? We may certainly expect of him the marvel of deducing the nature of the problem, but tracking down the malfunctioning machine and someone capable of repairing it might be just a bit beyond his admittedly-prodigious capabilities, don’t you think? It could, nonetheless, offer very interesting possibilities for a longer story — for example, perhaps he might locate some all-but-invisible portal from which each of these anachronisms emerged (perhaps even deducing that it moved around per some pattern that he must identify and map to predict its next location), enter it to another time where the malfunctioning machine is operating, locate its designer (who might be injured and in need of help), and work together to resolve the problem and return each anachronistic visitor to his or her own time (including himself).

      Worse, the assumption of a broken-but-repairable time machine might be over-optimistic. What if the phenomenon is currently a random natural anomaly that strikes virtually unpredictably like lightning, even it were initially triggered by some future experiment that ranged out-of-control or beyond its design parameters? Of course, one must consider why it would be striking musicians particularly and dropping them into the Met in 1947 — if, in fact, that is all it is doing — hence it is not entirely random. Whether that characteristic could be manipulated with the help of the machine that started the phenomenon, in order to resolve the problem, is a process that could be hard to imagine and even harder to design (or for a writer to describe).

      It might even require yet another generation or two of further research to perfect the technology of controlled time travel before it would become possible to open portals into 1947 at the Met in order to seize the anachronistic visitors/victims at the moment of their arrival and return each one to their own time at the moment after they had been extracted from it, so that their memory of the event would be minimized and seem nothing more than an unexpected daydream or momentary hallucination. An even better solution might be to open a portal prior to the experiment-gone-wrong, in order to send an agent who could prevent that experiment and its failure along with its consequences.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s interesting. I didn’t remember having read that story when I wrote my second paragraph above about precisely that sort of accident. I was just pursuing logical possibilities.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve been puzzling over how a set of anomalous time bubbles from the CERN experiment could have selected specifically a few musicians and the event at the Met. I have one idea, albeit a little far-fetched: you mentioned a vibration at the collider when the experiment began to generate its time bubbles. Suppose, then, that this vibration set a condition that keyed each bubble to resonate with an identical vibration or musical tone wherever it might appear across the timescape. Each of the anachronistic performers had to have been extracted from his or her time already with their instrument in hand and dressed for a performance, in order to fit the Met venue, Suppose further that a performer at the Met had also struck such a tone, with all its signature harmonics, providing a focal point to establish a cascade effect whereby the first of the extracted performers was brought to 1947 in the midst of their performance, which they continued. Then, as they struck the same tone in 1947, the next performer’s bubble resonated as they also played that tone in their own time, bringing them to the 1947 performance as the subsequent performer. Again, as they played (or sang, in the case of Collins) that tone, the process repeated. In this story, it appears that only three bubbles operated to transfer performers from their own performance times back to the 1947 event at the Met. Now, in your CERN story, the woman physicist returned to her original time automatically, as if the bubble had only a finite duration. Perhaps we might leverage that notion to return our anachronistic performers also to their own times, as soon as the musical vibrations of their individual performances ceased to echo from the walls of the Met.

        I’m not sure how we might fit Moshe’s detective work into such a scenario, since the problem would be self-correcting and thus leave few traces to indicate what had occurred, unless somehow we sweep Moshe himself into such a bubble’s field to bring him to their source at CERN. Then, of course, we would have the problem of getting him back to 1947, unless there were yet another lingering bubble with which he might somehow resonate and be carried back to the Met, then escape the bubble’s field in order to remain there.

        Granted, it’s a little far-fetched to link the notion of quantum resonance with musical resonance, but such mechanisms are not foreign to scifi.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. What a funny story about how you got the idea for this, I love the bouncing thought process. And yes, it’s always seemed to me that once you introduce time machines into a world, pretty soon after you have to deal with time machine mistakes!


    • Thanks. Moshe is a private detective, not a repairman. He needs to find out who has the time machine in order to discover if it can be fixed by the owner. ProclaimLiberty’s response to Rochelle is a very detailed description of the relationships.


    • Yes, but in 1947 Judy wasn’t quite eight years old yet, Itzhak was only about eighteen months old, and Yo yo wouldn’t be born for yet another eight-and-a-half years. None of them was quite ready to appear at the Met — which is probably a good thing, since an encounter with their adult selves might have been catastrophic. I do think, though, that Moshe was a little too quick to jump to the conclusion that someone present at the event was in possession of a broken time machine. The evidence of anachronistic visitors indicated some time anomaly, of course. But there was not yet any evidence of a machine on the premises or even located within that time period, nor that the operator of such a machine was even present, rather than having projected the visitors to that time from another time. Nor could he have ruled out the possibility of a physicist’s experiment in another time having gone awry, as suggested in the story that James linked above about “The Woman Who Fell Into Time”. But Moshe’s comment was justifiable as an off-the-cuff response to Mr. Watson’s anxiety. I’m sure his actual investigation would be more circumspect and comprehensive.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Wonderfully imaginative story and equally great comments from your friends. Love it all. Time travel is one of my favorite subjects. Just wish I was inventive enough to write that way myself.


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