I read a collection of Sci-Fi short stories back in the 1970's or early 80's that had one about a couple in love who kept losing each other. The book was my dad's so the story itself could be much older than that. I am very fuzzy on the details as I was young when I read it and it was so long ago. I believe the woman/girlfriend was "taken" (by some bad guy aliens??) while she was sleeping. I think it involved time travel and the man had to search through time to find her. After he found her, when he was asleep one time, he somehow was then "taken" and I think transported through time and had to fight his way back to her again. He may have been some sort of police officer. I just remember in the end, at night when they went to bed, the couple always wore handcuffs so they were never separated when they went to sleep ever again. Does this ring a bell with anyone?

(There is a possibility it is in a short story collection that also contained " The Twonky " by Lewis Padgett (1942), as I remember reading that story around the same time)

1 Answer 1


"The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag" by Robert A. Heinlein; first published in Unknown Worlds, October 1942 (available at the Internet Archive, click here for download options); has its own Wikipedia page. It's a perfect match, except that it's a novella rather than a short story, and it doesn't involve time travel. The protagonists are private investigators, a married couple:

The firm of Randall & Craig, Confidential Investigation, maintained its night phone in a double apartment. This was convenient, as Randall had married Craig early in their association. The junior partner had just put the supper dishes to soak and was trying to find out whether or not she wanted to keep the book-of-the-month when the telephone rang.

The handcuffs are the clincher. The conclusion:

He wears a beard, but it is not so much a peculiarity as a necessity, for there is not a mirror in the entire house. They do have one peculiarity which would mark them as odd in any community, if anyone knew about it, but it is of such a nature that no one else would know. When they go to bed at night, before he turns out the light, he handcuffs one of his wrists to one of hers.

However, if there is a collection that contains both "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag" and "The Twonky", the ISFDB doesn't know about it.

  • 3
    There is no time travel in "The Unpleasant Profession", though there is an alternate dimension accessed thru mirrors. Everything else does sound like this story.
    – Andres F.
    Jun 18, 2013 at 1:55
  • Wow! That was extremely fast and very helpful. Thanks so much!
    – Christine
    Jun 18, 2013 at 3:28
  • 3
    The Bird is cruel. Oct 30, 2014 at 14:52
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    Such a great story.
    – Broklynite
    Jan 28, 2016 at 12:07
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    For anyone looking at this later: It's possible OP read and confused another Heinlein story, "Job: A Comedy of Justice" which DOES contain unintentional time/dimension travel, not-quite married lovers, and a fear of separation. Feb 27, 2016 at 15:53

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