Portals: Chapter 7 cover image.

The Portals: Chapter 7

By Binneyan Smith

Chapter 7

After our trip to Paris, we realized that we don’t have to be late ever again! For instance, on August 15th we travelled a few hours back in time so we could deliver the contract to François Chevalier before 18:00 Paris time. Then we travelled back to 07:00 on the same day so we could get some rest and still make it home on time, so the ‘rents wouldn’t freak. Well, that was just the start of it.

As far as time travel goes, we remembered what Older Jerry and Danny told us the first time we met them – we can’t travel back to before we were born, and we can’t travel forward to any time that we hadn’t lived through… which is moving forward every moment. We didn’t understand why, but we took Older Jerry and Danny at their word. After all, they are us.

It took us a few days to realize the potential of time travelling within our 16-year lifetimes. As long as we didn’t do anything to change any events, we could travel back and forth as much as we wanted. We realized that we could use time travel to give us extra time to study – and sleep – and still be on time for all of our classes and stuff. Older Us said we needed A’s rather than B’s – this is how we would get them. Life was getting better!

Of course we used time travel for pleasure, too. For instance, we were able to get bleacher tickets at Coors Field on August 20th. They have ticket kiosks right near the gates. There were plenty of empty seats – the Rockies weren’t doing so well; they were under .500. And that paid off for us. We saw Kris Bryant’s 369-foot home run to center field. It was beautiful! The Cubs won 9 to 2 and Danny and I had a great time! That was the first of four games we saw this year. We were surprised how many seats were available at Cubs road games. Home games for the Cubs are usually sold out in the summer.

We made another trip to Paris, too. François Chevalier invited us back for a party he was throwing in early September. I guess we made a good impression on him the first time we met. We were talking with one of the other party guests and we asked what François did for a living. Louis (he pronounced it ‘Louie’), the guy we were talking with, was surprised that we didn’t know that François was a famous DJ. We apologized and told him that we had been been to France once before, so we had no way of knowing.

Louis smiled and said, “Apologies are unnecessary, François is very unpretentious and he still remembers where he came from. As you can see from the furnishings around us, he likes nice things, but he doesn’t like to seem ostentatious.”

Danny agreed and asked, “Have you known him very long?”

Since I was born. He’s my older brother.”

I’m surprised,” Danny replied. “You two look very different.”

Haha! We hear that often. François looks a great deal like our mother and I resemble our father.”

How close are your birthdays?” I asked.

As I said, François is older; he was born on 30 June 1998. I was born on 14 June 1999.”

Oh. You’re Irish twins,” Danny said.

No, we are French,” Louis told him.

Danny chuckled. “I’m sorry, Louis, ‘Irish twins’ is an expression. It means that two siblings were born within a year of each other.”

I’m not so good with English yet. I still learn new terms all the time,” Louis replied.

Louis, your English is much better than our French,” I said. “Danny and I are still in high school in America, and we just started studying French this semester. How did you and François learn English? You both speak it so well.”

Thank you, Jerry. We also studied it in school, but we didn’t get to practice it very often until François became a DJ. When that happened, we started travelling to England frequently for gigs. That helped a lot.”

It shows,” I said. “You even speak it with a bit of a British accent.”

Yes, so I’ve been told. But it makes sense that I would. It is how I heard the language first, so naturally it is the way I mimicked it.”

You said that you and François both travelled to England,” Danny noted. “Are you a DJ, too?”

This time it was Louis’ turn to chuckle. “No, no. I am cheap labor. I run the crew that sets up François’ equipment, lights, turntables and other items. I’m a roadie, I think you call it.”

Danny smiled and said, “That’s a very noble occupation. I hear that the girls like the roadies.”

Yes,” Louis replied, “And the guys,” he said with a wink.

No way!” I exclaimed.

You would be surprised at the number of times they have come on to us at the different venues. They think it will give them an advantage to meet François… sometimes it does,” he said with a smile. “What about you two? What do you do? How did you come to meet François?”

Those are easy questions,” Danny said. “We go to school fulltime and work as delivery boys after school. We met François when we delivered a contract to him last August.”

You came from America just to deliver a contract? Both of you? You must be very good at your jobs to be trusted to fly so far to deliver a contract!” Louis observed.

I became a bit tense, but I shook it off right away. I hoped that Louis didn’t notice. I glanced at Danny and saw that his face was turning a bit red; he was nervous, too. I hope he doesn’t ask any more questions about our ‘work’.

Oh… I see I have embarrassed you! That was not my intent; please forgive me.”

Danny sheepishly smiled and said, “You’re forgiven. We just don’t take compliments well,” he continued.

Just then a member of the house staff approached Louis and whispered something in his ear. “My new friends, I must tend to another matter now. It was pleasant meeting you. Please enjoy François’ party. I’m sure we’ll speak again.”

We thanked him and he left.

Danny, we have to work on a cover story. I almost panicked for a second!”

I know what you mean. We should have expected that. I’m glad he took our panic for embarrassment.”

+ + +

ED: Danny here. Since then we developed a cover story that won’t make our jobs seem so unusual. Now back to the story…

+ + +

School started on September 6th, the day after Labor Day. As we said above, we started taking French classes, as well as our core curriculum. Good Grief! We couldn’t believe how many silent letters French has! At least we weren’t the only ones who noticed, but before long we were getting A’s on our quizzes and tests. Of course, having an unlimited amount of time to study helped a lot, not to mention trips to France to practice. Hehe.

We also got to go to Canada for the first time. (Other than our exploration missions last spring.) This time we were delivering a prototype printed circuit board for NEB Space Planning in Brampton, Ontario, just outside of Toronto. They needed it quickly and they couldn’t wait through the delays of U.S. and Canadian Customs. I guess technically we were smuggling, but it would have gotten through anyway. We just shaved off the waiting time. 😀

+ + +

ED: OK, if you’re not a baseball fan, this next part will make your eyes gloss over and roll back in your head.

+ + +

We were tempted to watch the Blue Jays and Indians in one of the American League Championship Series games, but the ticket prices were way too high, even in Canadian dollars.

But that didn’t mean we couldn’t see any of the Division or Championship games. I don’t know what it is about the people in Los Angeles, but their fans only go to games that can determine which team goes forward. What I mean is, if it’s a five game series, they never go to the first two games – they don’t think those games are important enough. Danny and I were able to get decent tickets in LA for the NLDS game 3, the first game to be played in LA, against the Washington Nationals on October 10th. The Nats won 8 to 3.

+ + +

ED: Am I the only one who thinks the Nationals “W” on their hats and jerseys look like they were stolen from a Walgreens sign?

+ + +

We also got into NLCS game 3 in Los Angeles on October 18th. Again, it was the first game of the series played in LA. The Cubs lost to the Dodgers 6 to 0. *sigh* But the Cubs won the series, so they got to advance to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians.

+ + +

ED: OK, that’s all the baseball stuff for now… I think.

+ + +

October 10th was a school holiday in Chicago – Columbus Day. It honors Christopher Columbus for getting in a boat and leading two other boats into uncharted waters until they found land and indigenous people, which they took and whom they enslaved, because why not?

So since it was a holiday, we didn’t have to do anything other than get to Los Angeles for the game, which we did. Fortunately, we didn’t get a 15:30 text, so we didn’t have to work that day.

October 18th was a school day – a Tuesday – so we had to manipulate time to allow us to both do our regular stuff – school, work, homework, etc. – as well as go to LA to watch a baseball game. Remember how much you hate all those word problems you have in class? Danny and I actually have to use them in real life!

OK, Los Angeles is two hours earlier than Chicago, don’t forget that. We’re already using a 24-hour clock. If you forgot, any time from 13:00 to 24:00 is PM. To figure it out, subtract 12 from the hour. If you don’t understand this, you fail and have to do the year over. Period. Full Stop.

The game started at 19:08 Chicago time. (1908 is also the last year the Cubs actually won the World Series. Who says Major League Baseball doesn’t have a sense of humor?) This means that we didn’t have to change anything during our school or work day. We work after 15:30 and our deliveries have to be made no later than 18:00. We had already told our moms that we were staying at each other’s houses after watching the game, so that left the night open for baseball.

When neither of us got texts at 15:30, we went to LA and grabbed a bite to eat. We got to LA about 14:00 (LA time), so we had plenty of time to get to Dodgers Stadium. When we arrived, we picked up our tickets from the Will Call booth and went inside. We each took dozens of pictures and countless selfies. It was a fun night, but it would have been better if the Cubs had won. Unfortunately, the Dodgers won 6 to 0. We got back to the breakroom about 01:00 on Tuesday morning, so after playing with Chuck, we went to bed. The best part about this place is we never need an alarm clock. When we woke up at around 10:30, we showered and dressed and ate. Then we did our homework.

We finished about 13:15 and we went into the control room. Well, that’s what we’ve come to call it anyway. Remember the day we went to the roof? We used our new keys to let us out of the Chicago Hub and into the control room, where we got into the freight elevator for the trip to the roof. Well today, after exiting the Chicago Hub, we went to the control panel at the door and set the date to 2016.10.19 and the time to 07:55 and we went back into the Chicago Hub. We had done this before, so we quietly walked to the Summit Avenue door and went to school, leaving Jerry and Danny (yes, us) sleeping in their beds.

It’s amazing how much better you feel when you actually get a good night’s sleep. Danny noticed it too. We understood more and we understood faster than with our old ways. Who knew that Mom was right when she told us we needed a good night’s sleep to do well in school?

= = =

At that moment, exactly four years in the future…

Jerry, we have to go back and see young Danny and Jerry again.”

Another reminder in your journal?”

Yeah. Every time we got a visitor from our future, I logged it in my journal and set an appointment on my calendar.

Lemme guess… for four years later so we could go back in time to help our younger selves?”

You got it.”

What are we doing today?”

We have to remind them not to depend on time travel so much.”

How do you always know exactly when to travel back to?”

That’s easy. I always wrote the time that I made my entry in the journal. We just have to go back to the same date, but ten or fifteen minutes earlier. Let’s go.”

Back in 2016, Danny and Jerry are in the breakroom doing their homework when Chuck jumps up and goes to the control room door. He sits, wagging his tail like a feather duster on the floor. Finally, the door opens and Older Jerry and Danny walk in.

Hi guys. We have to talk to you about time travel and what it’s doing to you.”

To be continued…

Copyright © 2016 Binneyan Smith

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