cover image for The Portals: Chapter 4

I don’t know where to start. OK, let’s back up a few minutes. Danny appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. Wait. It wasn’t really out of nowhere; it was from the basement door next to the doggie door at the front of the building on Nova Avenue, but he was supposed to be five blocks away at the Summit Avenue building. How did he get here? I was looking at my phone and waiting for him to text me. I looked up when I heard the door open, and before I could react, Chuck was barking and running towards me. Danny had a huge grin on his face and he told me to come with him.

+ + +

Ed: Danny here. Sheesh! Jerry was frozen in place and I had to actually punch him in his arm to get him to respond!

+ + +

“But… But how did you get here? You’re supposed to be at Mrs. Scott’s building!”

“Jerry, if you come with me, I’ll explain it to you. C’mon, let’s go.”

I slowly followed.

The basement door had closed. Danny gave me a key and told me to try it in the door. I know that the permission letter was sent out to all the tenants, but I was a little nervous about entering the building.

“Look, Jer, we have keys, so we’re not breaking and entering.”

“Yeah, but we are entering!” I countered.

“Just check the key and make sure it fits the lock in the door, OK?”

I sighed and did as he said. The key fit into the lock and it turned with no effort. I grabbed the doorknob and pulled the door open. Chuck and Danny entered first and I followed. I removed the key and closed the door behind us. It was anticlimactic… it was an ordinary basement storage area. No big whoop.

“OK, turn around and look at the doors from this side,” Danny instructed. “Do you see the signs over the doors?” he asked. I turned and looked up and saw the signs that read ‘Nova Front’ and ‘Nova Rear’.

“Yeah. That’s kinda strange. We’re in the Nova Avenue building; why do we have to be told what street this is?”

“It’s to double-check before you go outside.”

“Huh? I don’t get it.”

Danny said, “Follow me, Jer,” and he walked out of the storage room. I walked out after him and found that we were in a hallway with storage rooms on either side. Over the door to each of the storage rooms was a sign with a street name on it – the streets matched those that housed all of the Chicago buildings. Although I was starting to understand, I still had to see more. I left Danny in the hallway as I perused the other storage rooms. I was dumbstruck; I truly couldn’t speak. I went back in the hallway and looked at Danny. He was staring at me and laughing.

“What?” I asked.

“Jerry, your mouth was moving, but nothing was coming out of it. You looked like a fish! Hahaha!”

“Hehehe. Bite me!” I said. “So let me see if I have this right… all of the buildings are tied together? But if that’s true, where are we?”

“I don’t know… yet. Remember, dude, I just got here too. Why don’t we check our keys in all the doors and make sure they fit? We can also look out each one to make sure the signs are right.”

We walked to the far end of the hallway and started. Danny took the right side and I took the left. There were eight storage rooms on each side and we were finished in about ten minutes. At the other end of the hall was an open door. It led into what looked like a break room. There were a number of chairs and a couple tables, a sink, a refrigerator, a stove, a microwave and two shiny stainless steel dog dishes on the floor. One had water and the other had kibble. Next to the dog dishes was a doggie bed. Chuck was in it watching us. There was a large bag of dogfood in the cabinet next to the sink. Another door in the kitchen led to a stocked pantry, and a third door led to a room with a couple of beds. It also had a bathroom with a bathtub, a shower, a sink and a toilet.

There was one more door, but it was locked and our keys didn’t fit the deadbolt lock. We walked back to one of the tables and sat down. Danny found an envelope on the table with ‘Danny & Jerry’ written on it. He opened it and read aloud:

“Confused? Don’t be. You’re beginning the best adventure of your lives. We know you have numerous questions and don’t know which one to ask first, but be patient. For now, you’ll be working for the company part time. Which company, you wonder? Why Express Worldwide, Incorporated, of course. You both are messengers and you’ll be responsible for delivering packages to our clients. Don’t worry guys. The packages are unsealed, so you can see what’s in them. They hold nothing illegal.

Every Friday is payday and today you’ll find $100.00 deposited in each of your accounts. Your debit cards are in this envelope. They’re good in any ATM and the ATM fees will be charged to the company, so all of your pay is yours. The PIN for each is 4321. You can change them online.

“During the school year, you’ll deliver packages after school. You will each earn $50.00 for every package delivered, in addition to the $100.00 per week. You guys have been planning to start a delivery service. That’s no longer necessary; it’s been done for you. All you have to do is show up Monday through Friday and deliver packages that you’ll pick up from the clients. We’ll text the information to you at 3:30 each day. Today will be a little easier – there isn’t time to get to the client to pick them up, so we asked Mrs. Scott to do that for you. You can pick the packages up at her apartment. The packages must be delivered by 6:00 pm today, recipient’s time. One package is going to Washington, DC. The other is going to Denver. Deliver to DC first, and then to Denver. I think you can figure out why it has to be in that order. One more thing… the recipient must sign for the package or we don’t get paid. If WE don’t get paid, then YOU don’t get paid. You have enough information to get started. Good luck!”

“Wow!” I said.

“No kidding!” Danny answered. “It’s 4:15 now, and DC is an hour ahead of us – 5:15. We have 45 minutes to deliver the package! Let’s get to Mrs. Scott’s place quick.”

Then he gave me my debit card and he pocketed his own. We walked through the Summit Front door and then around to Mrs. Scott’s building and rang the bell. Mrs. Scott answered and when she recognized Danny’s voice, she said the packages were just inside the door and she buzzed us in. Sure enough, two packages were there and each was small enough to fit in a backpack. Calling up the stairs, we thanked Mrs. Scott and grabbed the packages before heading to The Portals; we got to Washington, DC an instant later. Danny used his Uber app to get us a ride. While we were waiting for the Uber driver, we talked a mile a minute about what had just happened. We were confused, but I think we wanted to get paid as well.

Seven minutes later, the Uber driver arrived. We told her the address, and while she drove us there, we peeked into the package. It was just a bunch of papers. Whew! No worries.

Uber dropped us off at 5:50 pm, DC time. Then we ran into a problem. The security guard wouldn’t let us into the building. We had nine minutes to zero dollars. Sheesh! Then I saw the customer’s phone number on the paperwork. I called and she answered.

“Ms. Bowman? This is Jerry Collins from Express Worldwide. We’re at the front door with your package, but security won’t let us in the building.”

“Wait there. I’ll send my secretary down.” She hung up and two minutes later we were on the elevator to the 15th floor. Ms. Bowman signed for the package with a minute to spare. She thanked us and the secretary escorted us back to the ground floor. In a matter of moments, we were on the curb and waiting for an Uber driver to take us back to the DC portal to Chicago.

When we got back, we didn’t waste any time. We already had the package and had looked in it to make sure it was legal. It was, so we ‘portaled’ to Denver. We got to the recipient’s office at 4:32 pm, so there was no drama this time. He signed for his package and we were back in Chicago by 5:57. The time changes were a bit confusing, but we both knew what the time zones were throughout the United States – even for Alaska and Hawaii, so that helped out a lot. Fortunately, our phones updated to the new local times as well.

When we got back, we perused the pantry and the refrigerator. I picked a bag of peanuts and a Coke. Danny’s choice was the same. We sat down at one of the tables and I couldn’t believe how tired I was!

Before we left, I called my mom and told her that we had jobs at a delivery company and we’d be home in about thirty minutes. Danny’s mom didn’t answer, so he left a message and said he was going to my house.


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After supper we were in my room watching a DVD when I asked, “Where do you want to go tomorrow, Dan?”

“Someplace warm. How about back to Phoenix?”

“Sounds like a plan. We can go to the break room and leave our jackets there so we don’t have to carry them.”

“Good thinking. We can check on Chuck, too. The pantry had some doggie snacks in it, so that won’t be a problem.”


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To be continued…

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