For this prompt, I actually wrote a different ending than the one I ended up using. I thought I would include it here just for your own edification. Picking up just before the narrator shoots the father:
I gave another hard shove against the door and knocked the man backwards. He tripped over his own foot and fell on his ass. The door slammed back against the wall and I stepped inside.
He tried to get up and I knew he would come at me. Luckily I knew of the troubles in 1932 Argentina and I came prepared to protect myself. I pulled a pistol from my jacket pocket and fired into the man’s gut.
I grabbed the book and ran back to the point of origin.
When you travel from the future, back to the past, and back again to your own time, sometimes there are small resets to the timeline, subtle changes that are incorporated into your memory to help you adjust. Bradbury wasn’t entirely wrong about his butterfly effect. We were forbidden from making drastic changes. No one was allowed to go back and kill baby Hitler, for instance, or start up Apple Computers before Steve Jobs, but the history of this comic book began and ended in 1932 and after that it became a “whale”, a book people spend their lives searching for. So whatever happened to this copy, originally, there was little chance my taking it had effected anything.
Until I saw the headlines. They flew by, filling my head with visions and information. A young boy who saw his father gunned down in the middle of his foyer had developed a new obsession. He became very single-minded in his hatred of all things American, and eventually that boy grew to power and was elected president of Argentina in what was reported to be another rigged election much, like the one from the Infamous Decade.
In 1964, the boy and his army launched an attack on the US, killing millions and injuring twice as many. The country never recovered. We did eventually fight back the Argentinian army and drove them from our shores, but the damage was done, making the great depression of the 1930s look like a trial run.
I was sliding through the 1990s when it happened and the changes in the timestream caught up with my 2040 and the man who pioneered time travel research was never born, his great-grandparents having been killed in the Battle of Boston Harbor in 1973.
I stopped sliding and found myself having covered the distance, thank God. I was back in Casa Grande, Arizona, my hometown. It had been rebuilt since the war years, and I was still here, so that was good. But I was smack in the middle of one of the low points in comic collecting, right when everything went bust.
But, I thought, I could rebuild from here. I’d made one fortune, I could make another. And I already had my first book. In fact, many of those expensive books would be even cheaper now, so many years before the MCU spec began driving up the prices. I looked down at the treasure in my hand, that copy of BALLYHOP that I’d been so careful of. That’s when I saw what had been keeping the book on the table. Someone had obviously set a teacup on top of it, and when the man fell, he must have jostled the table; there was a still-fresh ring of brown where the teacup had spilled. All this, I thought, looking around at where I was and how things had changed, for a lousy tea-cup-marked cover. The one copy in existence and it wouldn’t even make a 5.0 grade.
Then the memories came rushing back. I had been ejected before the stream caught up and I suddenly “remembered” the story of the boy’s mother, who, upon seeing her favorite teacup lying shattered on the floor next to her dead husband, had been so filled with rage, she’d worked tirelessly to help the boy seek his revenge. She was the true brains behind his presidency, but for a woman in that part of the world to take power was unheard of in those times. I looked once more at the low-grade book in my hands and wondered if it had been worth it.
I sat down where I was, where the Arizona branch of the Time Institute had stood once upon a timeline. I opened the book and started reading, breathing in that paper and ink smell.