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Authors: John A. Heldt

Mirror, The (8 page)

BOOK: Mirror, The
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"I'm glad you liked my answer, sir," Katie said. "I can tell you the differences between lettuce types too if you want me to."

Ginny laughed again. One of the things she loved most about her sister is that she knew when to shut her mouth and when to pour it on.

"No, no. That's quite all right, Katie. I'm sure there are a lot of things you could tell me."

Ginny smiled.

That's the understatement of the year.

"I am curious about one thing though," Greer said. He turned to Ginny. "What brought you girls to Seattle? Most people these days move
to
California, not from it. Do you have an aversion to sunshine?"

"We like rain," Ginny said without thinking. "We also like mountains, water, and trees – and the Mariners too."

Greer laughed.

"I figured as much. You wouldn't be the first young ladies to move to this area in search of a sailor. There's a big naval presence here."

Ginny jerked her hand away from Katie's when she felt the sting from a pinch. She didn't need to be reminded that she had nearly sidetracked the conversation with a reference to a Major League Baseball team that did not yet exist.

"That's good to know, Mr. Greer. Perhaps we'll check out the ships real soon."

"You ought to. The 'Mighty Mo' is docked in Bremerton. Did you know that the Japanese signed their surrender papers on the deck of that ship?"

"We do now," Ginny said cheerily.

Greer held up a wrist and checked his watch.

"Well, I think I've kept you long enough. I said I'd let you go at ten thirty, and it's already ten thirty-five. Do you have any more questions for me?"

"I have one," Ginny said. "Since you have no proof of our grocery skills, would you like to see us bag groceries or stack tuna cans or spray the carrots? We work really fast."

Greer laughed.

"I'm sure you do. I think I have enough to work with for now," he said. "I'll let you know if I need more. I will, however, need to contact your reference. Would either of you mind if I did that today?"

"I wouldn't mind at all," Ginny said.

"Me either."

"Very well then," Greer said. "I think we're done. I'll show you out."

All three got up from their chairs. A moment later, Greer led the girls through a storage area and into the public part of the store. He weaved his way through customers evaluating cuts of meat, greeting some along the way, before guiding the twins toward the front end.

As they walked through the produce aisle, Ginny couldn't help but notice how much prices had changed. Shoppers could buy four cantaloupes – or ten grapefruits – for eighty-nine cents. Squash sold for twelve cents a pound, potatoes for three cents. Better deals could be found on the end caps near the front. A sixteen-ounce jar of peanut butter ran thirty-nine cents, a can of pink salmon forty-nine cents. Six cans of cat food went for a dollar.

Ginny also couldn't help but notice the friendly stares from four male clerks, including two who stopped putting groceries in bags as she and Katie followed the manager to the store's entrance. She issued a quick wave to one who smiled broadly as she passed by.

When Greer reached an out-of-the-way space between the front doors and several stacks of discount dog food, he halted, turned around, and waited for the girls to stop. When they did, he extended a hand.

"It's been a pleasure, ladies," Greer said. He shook two hands. "As I mentioned in my office, we need help immediately. Depending on how two other interviews go and what your reference has to say, you could hear back from me as early as four this afternoon. I take it you can still be reached at the motel."

"We can," Ginny said. "Just call the office and ask for Room 17."

"I'll do that," Greer said. "Thank you again for coming in."

The girls offered thanks of their own and then spilled out of the glass doors to a parking lot that had become far more crowded since ten o'clock. Ginny smiled as she got another eyeful of chrome, fins, and whitewall tires. This was most definitely another time.

"What do you want to do now?" Ginny asked. "We have the rest of the day."

"I want to do what we had planned to do in the coming weeks, before that awful mirror sent us here," Katie said. "I want to check out the campus."

 

CHAPTER 12: GINNY

 

Slurping down a root beer at a picnic table outside a campus cafeteria, Ginny finally put her finger on something that had bothered her all day. College students in 1964 did not wear denim – or wear it often enough to suit the sensibilities of one fashion-conscious time traveler. Eighteen to twenty-two-year-olds – on this campus, anyway – still opted for the upscale look.

Most women wore dresses or at least blouses with skirts that ran to their knees. Most men wore slacks and button-down shirts. Some donned jackets and ties. Few wore jeans. None wore threadbare jeans. If counterculture fashion was on its way, it had not yet arrived.

"So what did you think of the boss man?" Ginny asked.

Like Katie, she wore a striped yellow Dacron dress she had picked up on Saturday. It was her first fashion concession to 1964 but probably not her last.

"I thought he was nice," Katie said. "I could work for him."

"I could too."

"Do you think we'll get the jobs?"

Ginny shook her head.

"No. Not unless the other candidates are felons. Would you hire two people who have no experience and only one reference and live in a no-tell motel? I wouldn't."

"I wouldn't either," Katie said.

Ginny paused to look at three young men who approached her table. None looked like the blond junior who had given her a ride into Seattle, but all showed the same level of interest. Each returned her gaze as they walked through the outdoor dining area and exited for points beyond.

"There are a lot of cute guys here."

"I haven't noticed," Katie said.

"Baloney."

Katie blushed as she lowered a hamburger to a plate that sat atop a plastic tray.

"OK. I've seen one or two."

Ginny rolled her eyes.

"You saw that many at Greer's," she said. "Don't think I wasn't watching, Katie. You were checking out the guy who dropped the cantaloupe, and he was checking out you."

Ginny sighed.

"He should have been looking at me. I'm the one who just got dumped."

Katie laughed.

"You can have him. I don't need a boyfriend."

"Of course you do. Everyone does. If it comes down to it, we'll just divvy them up. You can have Cantaloupe Boy, and I'll take the other three."

Katie smiled.

"That sounds fair," Katie said. She paused for a moment as more college students, two highly attentive men, walked by. "We should be careful though."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean we're interlopers, Gin. We're intruders. We don't belong here. We were never meant to meet these people, much less date them. We have no business messing with their lives."

"You mean like Dad messed with Mom's?" Ginny asked. "Chew on that for a minute, Sis. If Dad had minded his own business in 1941, we wouldn't be here."

"I know. I just think we should be careful."

Ginny gave her sister a disapproving stare.

"We
will
be careful. We'll be fine. They'll be fine."

"I guess you're right."

"Of course I'm right," Ginny said. She smiled smugly. "Look, Katie. There's no law that says we can't have fun while we're here. If we have the opportunity to date some guys, we should take it. Then we can go back to 2020 and date them again when they're like . . . seventy-five!"

"Yuck! Now you
are
crossing lines."

Ginny laughed.

"Someone has to do it," Ginny said.

Katie shook her head.

"Well, that someone can be you. I prefer guys that aren't as old as Grandpa."

Ginny smiled. She preferred younger guys, too, though she didn't have a specific aversion to college men two or three years her senior. She thought of Steve Carrington as she dragged a French fry through a puddle of ketchup.

"What do you think Steve is going to say to Mr. Greer?"

"What did you tell him to say?" Katie asked.

"I just told him to use his imagination and make us look good."

"In other words, we'll have to add another chapter to our colorful past."

"There's nothing wrong with that."

"Yeah, there is. We're living a lie, Gin. Sooner or later, lies catch up to people."

Ginny looked away for a moment as the sun, in hiding for most of the day, finally broke through an assemblage of puffy clouds to the south. She knew Katie was right, at least in principle. They would probably best serve their interests by telling the truth as often as possible.

When she returned to Katie, she found her staring at the main library, a Collegiate Gothic colossus that loomed over the center of the campus like a Roman cathedral. Named after a former university president, the facility had changed little since its construction in the 1920s.

"What are you thinking?" Ginny asked.

"I'm thinking that even if we somehow find our way home, going to college won't quite be the same as we had planned."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean we'll be different people," Katie said. "Did you really listen to Mom and Dad when they talked to us at the beach? They didn't describe their time travels in glowing terms. Dad still refuses to go into mines – and he's a geologist, for God's sake. Mom still has a thing about theaters. By their own admission, they're not the same as they used to be. That's sad."

"It is sad," Ginny said, "but it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with our situation. Dad's best friend in 1941 was killed in World War II. Mom left her two best friends to find him and then got separated from Dad – and us – for five months. I don't expect to do anything but return to the same life we had and pick up where we left off."

"I wish I had your confidence."

"You can have it. You just need to change the way you look at all this."

"Really?" Katie asked. "And just how
should
I look at this? We're in 1964, Ginny. Nineteen sixty-four! We have no reason to believe we'll ever see home again. That's just a lie you tell yourself to keep from turning into a blubbering mess like me. Am I right?"

"No. You're not right."

"We'll see. You don't even know if that blasted fair is still around."

Ginny dug in. She understood Katie's frustration, but she was tired of being second-guessed. She was as confident of seeing home again as she was of seeing the next sunset.

"That's where you're wrong, Katie. I happen to know for a fact that that 'blasted fair,' as you call it, is coming back."

Katie glared at her sister.

"Is that so?"

"That's so," Ginny said. "When you were in the shower this morning, I did some information gathering in the motel office. There's a rack in there full of fliers and pamphlets on coming events in western Washington – a whole bunch of them. One of those fliers just happened to advertise the Cedar River Country Fair. Ever heard of that? The fair runs September 6 through September 12, Sunday through Saturday. The dates and days match up exactly with 2020."

Ginny hated being blunt, but she was growing weary of her sister's pessimism. She stared at Katie as she looked away and began to get misty. Miss Waterworks was starting up again.

"There's more too," Ginny said.

"What do you mean?"

"The fair flier listed all of the major attractions, including the House of Mirrors."

Ginny reached across the table and put her hand on Katie's.

"Everything is coming together just the way it should. We
will
go home. I know it. We just have to be patient," Ginny said. She smiled. "Until then, let's settle in and enjoy the ride."

 

CHAPTER 13: KATIE

 

When the twins spoke to the desk clerk at the Coed Court, after four hours of clothes shopping, they learned that two men had called for them while they were away: Wade Greer and "a guy named Steve." At Katie's insistence, they went back to Room 17 and called the former first.

As the sister who was "better with people," Ginny did the honors with Greer. She called the manager and learned in the first minute that the big man wanted the little women to work as courtesy clerks. When Ginny finished jumping up and down, she told Greer that she and Katie would accept the job offers and report to the store, as requested, at eight thirty the next morning.

"This is cause for celebration," Ginny said after hanging up the phone. She hugged her twin. "It's time to break out the Nehi!"

Katie laughed.

"What did he say? What did he say?"

Ginny took a second to catch her breath and then looked at her sister thoughtfully, as if preparing herself for an important speech. In some respects, she was.

"If you give me a minute, I'll tell you. Mr. Greer said a lot of things. He said he liked how we conducted ourselves and answered all of his questions. He loved our enthusiasm," Ginny said. "Oh, yeah. He also
loved
your 'sweet-potato seminar.' That's an exact quote."

Katie beamed.

"What else? Did he say what our hours would be?"

"He did, sort of. He wants us to work a variety of shifts in the next two weeks – to learn the job and see different people – and then work mostly afternoons and evenings."

Ginny looked at Katie more closely.

"Are you OK with that?" Ginny asked.

"I am."

Katie was too. Never in a million years did she think she'd be OK with a job that paid a buck twenty-five an hour, but never in a million years did she think she'd have to find work in 1964.

"If it's any consolation, the store closes at nine. So we won't have to work late-night shifts or graveyard or anything crazy. Mr. Greer also said he'd do his best to schedule us at the same time, though he couldn't make any promises."

"That's OK. It's not like we didn't work different shifts at Pennington's," Katie said, referring to the siblings' employer in 2020.

"I agree, but that was still nice of him."

BOOK: Mirror, The
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