The Portals

By Binneyan Smith

Chapter 10


I don’t know about Danny, but I had butterflies all day on Prom Day. Don’t misunderstand; we both have been to dances before, but for some reason, when a ‘dance’ is called a ‘Prom’, my stomach becomes all jittery and my palms start sweating like a hose is running on them.

“Danny, are you as nervous as I am?” I asked.

Danny didn’t say a word. He just held his hand out in front of himself and I laughed as I watched it shake from his nervous condition. At least I wasn’t that bad.

“What are you nervous about, Dan?”

“Probably everything that might go wrong,” he said. “I’m really trying to impress Jamie and I don’t want anything to go wrong… but there are literally a couple dozen things that might.”

“Geeze, Danny, you’re the guy who is usually rock steady. Look, if anything goes wrong, we’ll just laugh it off and find a way around it.”

“What’s got you so nervous, Jerry?”

“Hehe. I’m afraid I might step on Taylor’s feet while we’re dancing.”

“That’s an easy problem to avoid – don’t lift your feet off the floor. All you have to do is glide your feet from side to side. If you don’t lift them, no one gets their toes stomped on. Now all you have to worry about is not letting the chaperones catch you grabbing Taylor’s butt. Hehehe.”

Right now we’re at Danny’s house finishing our checklist for tonight.

“Phones?”

“Check.”

“Cash?”

“Check.”

“Keys?”

“Check.”

“Prom tickets?”

“Check.”

“Boat cruise tickets?”

“Check.”

“Corsages?”

“Check.”

“Condoms? Hehe.”

“Check. Hehe.”

“That was the last item, Jerry. The limo is picking us up at our respective dates’ houses, so we better get going. Moms always want to take pictures and stuff, so we better leave at least forty-five minutes for that.”

“Are you ready for your parents meeting Jamie’s parents?”

“Yeah, but it should go good. They already met each other at the pool party on Memorial Day. How about you and Taylor; have your parents met yet?”

“Yeah. They met at the baseball game at school two weeks ago. They hit it off pretty good.”

“Well, I’m still worried about having my parents and Jamie’s parents ganging up on us before we leave. *sigh* Let’s tell the ‘rents we’re ready to go.”

And we were off. My folks took me to Taylor’s house and Danny’s folks took him to Jamie’s place. It was already set up for our parents to meet up with our dates… I think we have our moms to thank for that.

= = =

When we got to the Walsh residence, Mrs. Walsh answered the door.

“Hi everyone, Taylor will be down in a minute. Please come in and make yourselves at home.”

We did and Dad asked Mr. Walsh if he had any beer. The two of them walked out to the kitchen and that’s the last we saw of them. I was hoping that the limo would get here early and free us from the moms… but it didn’t. After my date came downstairs, all I could think was, ‘Why do I spend so much time with Danny?’ I presented my corsage to my date, but I was way too nervous to pin it on. Taylor was too, so our moms pinned them on us. It went pretty quick and there was no blood spilled.

Then the pictures started! Sheesh! Each mom had her own idea of how we should pose, so we were rearranged a couple dozen times. I kept wishing that I was in the kitchen with the dads. The moms had us standing with Taylor on the left and then with me on the left. We had to pose with me standing and Taylor sitting, and then with Taylor standing and me sitting. This went on for thirty minutes! Taylor and I ran out as soon as we heard the limo honk its horn. The moms took video of us running to the car. (I was surprised they didn’t have us come back and do it again… ‘just in case’.) We waved as we drove off and kept waving out the back window until we turned the corner.

Finally we turned around and sat down. It seemed that we were the first to be picked up! I guess the stars were in our favor after all. I looked up to the driver and recognized him. It was Malcolm, one of the Über drivers we used regularly.

“Hi, Malcolm! I didn’t know you worked nights,” I said.

“Hey, Jerry. In Prom Season, we all work nights. We gonna get Danny, too?”

“Yeah, he should be at the Bishop Street address.”

“Well, he’s gonna have to wait; I have another pickup before we get to Bishop.”

“I’m glad you rescued me and Taylor first! Our moms were going nuts with the pictures. It was like they were in a contest to see who could pose us more!”

“I wish we could have gone out to the kitchen with our dads,” Taylor added.

“Hahaha! That’s what I was thinking!” I said. Then I kissed Taylor’s cheek.

“Come on, Jerry, we’re not at school now.” And then Taylor grabbed me and applied a lip lock to me. I surrendered.

“Hey!” Malcolm yelled, “If you make a mess back there I won’t let you out until it’s cleaned up!”

It’s hard to kiss when you’re laughing, so we sat back and held hands. We saw Malcolm checking his rearview mirror. He was laughing, too.

= = =

The next stop was at Emily’s house. The way she and Jason ran out, we figured they had too many pictures as well. Hehe. In fact, when Jason and Emily got in the car, the first words he said were, “Good grief! The next person who aims a camera at me will find out what a suppository is!”

Next we picked up Jamie and Danny at Jamie’s house and they too seemed a bit camera shy. Then we hurried to pick up Ethan and Madison. We were surprised that they didn’t seem as worn out from posing as the rest of us were. Madison explained it: “My dad’s a professional photographer, so he knew what to expect and how long he could depend on us to go along with all the posing. We were finished in fifteen minutes. The rest of the time we spent talking and waiting for you guys.”

“Wow!” Danny said. “If I would have known that, I would have asked Madison to the Prom!” And Jamie promptly smacked him in the back of the head.

“Well you didn’t, so yer stuck with me for the rest of the night!”

“Yes, dear.”

Geeze! They sounded like an old married couple! And then they kissed and made up.

= = =

Before long, we arrived at the ‘Dancing Feet Ballroom’ where the Prom was being held. The sign in front had three dancing penguins above a banner that read, “Welcome Jane Burne High School”

Malcolm came around and opened the door for us. Danny and Jamie were the last two to exit and Malcolm asked Danny when we wanted to be picked up. He told him that the reservations for the Navy Pier boat ride were for 10:30. Malcolm suggested that we leave at 9:45, just to be sure. Danny said he’d make sure we were here waiting at 9:45 and Malcolm wished us a good time before he pulled the car away to the livery holding area for a two hour nap.

As we walked to the door, we each took our date’s arm to get ready for our grand entrance. Hehe. No one seemed to notice us. At least the DJ (DJ Sean) was playing recent music, rather than the stuff my parents liked. The lighting was subdued, but not dark. At least it wasn’t as bright as daylight.

The dance floor had a huge mirrored disco ball over it and when the lights hit it, the reflection shimmered throughout the room as the ball turned. The mood was perfect and Taylor and I took to the dance floor. The beat of the drums and the bass licks kept us all in time with the music. DJ Sean was a master! He played song after song, all by different artists and all different music styles, but all of them continued the same driving beat. As we looked around us, all we could see was a sea of bobbing heads as the crowd followed the beat of the music.

I don’t know how long we were dancing, but we were sweating our butts off and decided to take a break. We walked over to the refreshment stand and I ordered two Cokes for us. As we drank the Cokes, we realized that it was way too loud to talk, so we went back outside. Taylor spoke first.

“Jerry, this is great! I can’t believe the music! I wanted to keep dancing forever!”

“I know! It reminds me of a DJ I met in France a few months ago, François Chevalier. He plays a lot of gigs in France and England. Dan and I got to go backstage at one of his concerts”

“I’m impressed! How did you get to France and how did you meet François?”

“It’s something I wanted to tell you about. Dan and I got jobs a little over a year ago. We work for a delivery company and we get to travel a lot. France and England are only a couple of place that we’ve been.”

“But you never miss school; how can you travel if you’re in Chicago every day? I’m confused.”

“Taylor, what are you doing tomorrow? I could show you. It’d be a lot easier than trying to explain it all.”

“Tomorrow would be fine. What time?”

“I’m sleeping in tomorrow… how about noon. Is that good for you?”

“Noon is perfect! I’ll get my dad’s car and get you. But for now, are you ready to dance some more?”

“Yes! Lead the way!”

= = =

When we got back to the dancefloor, Charlie Puth was singing ‘Attention’. Taylor and I put our hands on each other’s hips and glided along with the song. The slow songs were a bit quieter than the fast ones, but still not quiet enough for us to hear each other. I moved my hands to Taylor’s butt and pulled myself closer so I could go mouth-to-ear. I used the old Verizon line and asked, “Can you hear me now?”

Taylor laughed and said, “Yes.”

We started a conversation and talked through the next six songs, each one a slow one. Then a familiar song started and it came back to me like a happy memory – Jason Castro was singing If I Were You. (https://youtu.be/zMuywEi6FHU ) I couldn’t help joining in and singing along. In half a second I was smiling because Taylor was singing too! We looked into each other’s eyes and our lips met… The song ended just before Danny tapped me on the shoulder.

“Sorry, dude. We have to meet Malcolm for our ride to Navy Pier.”

“Be right there…” Taylor and I kissed one more time before walking to the parking lot.

= = =

As we were waiting for Malcolm, I put my arm around Taylor’s waist and asked, “What are the chances that both of us would know that obscure song?”

“I know what you mean. The only place I could find it was YouTube. It’s seven years old and only has about a hundred thousand views. It deserves a lot more than that.”

“No kidding,” I said. “Do you know who wrote it? I’ve been looking for ages and haven’t been able to find the composer or the lyricist.”

“Nah. But if you find out who it is, let me know.”

“I’ll do it! Hey, I just thought of something… this could be ‘our’ song.”

“Yeah it could! I know I’ll never forget it.”

We looked around and saw everybody was ready and waiting, and then we saw our limo pulling up. When it stopped, Malcolm rushed around and held the door for us. “I see everyone is here. That’s a first,” he said. Once we were in the car, he closed the door and returned to the driver’s seat. “You guys are going to Navy Pier, right?”

Danny answered in the affirmative, and we were on our way. As we were driving to the Pier, we were all talking about the Prom and the fun we had been having dancing and talking. Jason and Emily had us in stitches talking about how neither of them were very good dancers, but no toes were lost. Ethan and Madison said they loved the music and the DJ. Danny brought up a story about how we got to meet a DJ, and then he told how he and I actually got to go back stage at the DJ’s concert. Taylor squeezed my hand and asked if that’s what I was talking about. I nodded in response.

Before we knew it, we had arrived at Navy Pier. Again, Malcolm opened the door for us and before we went to the tour boat, Malcolm asked when we would be back. Jason told him that the cruise left at 10:30 and returned at midnight, so we should be ready to be picked up about fifteen minutes after we got back.

“Good,” Malcolm said. “I’ll have time to grab a bite to eat.”

= = =

We waited for Malcolm to drive off and then we headed to the dock. When we made the reservations, we found that the sightseeing boats were all the way down near the end of the pier, just past the stained glass gallery. A lot of the people were staring at us; I guess they don’t see people in formal dress very often. When we arrived at the right slip at the pier, Jason and Ethan and their dates lead the way, followed by Danny and me and our dates. It was about 22:15 and we were allowed to board. All was going to plan… until they got to Danny, Jamie, Taylor and me. The ticket taker was scanning the barcodes on our tickets and he asked the four of us to step to the side.

“What’s the problem?” Danny asked.

“I’ll be with you in just a moment,” the ticket taker replied.

We were confused as could be; the other guys got through with no problem. Why had we been asked to wait? This was frustrating, to say the least. Finally, the ticket taker came over and said, “We can’t let you on the cruise. Your tickets have already been scanned. Your tickets are not valid. What did you do, have your friends give you their tickets after they boarded?”

The four of us were shocked! “No sir!” Danny protested. “These are the tickets that we downloaded and printed! You guys must have issued the same tickets to two customers. This is ridiculous! I want to see the manager!”

“Sir, I am the manager, and your tickets have been used already.”

We were about to make a scene about it, but the boat pulled away from the dock and started the cruise… without us. In frustration, Danny said he was going to call the PayPal and cancel payment.

“That is your right, sir.” And he walked away.

= = =

What were we to do? We paid for the cruise, but it left without us. Danny was going bonkers when I asked him, “Where should we go instead, London or Paris?”

Danny stopped in mid-rant and a huge smile plastered itself on his face. “Jerry, we’ve been to both already, why not let our dates decide?”

Now Jamie and Taylor were the ones who were surprised. They talked to each other for a couple of seconds and then looked at us and said, “Paris!” And off we went.

We had to get to the Chicago Hub so we could transfer to the Paris Hub. Danny pulled out his phone and opened his Portals App. There was a spoke of the Chicago Hub only a block and a half from Navy Pier, so we each took our dates by the arm and started walking. Ten minutes later we were in the Chicago Hub and we went through the Control Room to the Paris Hub. I walked up to the Paris control panel and thought for a minute. “Danny, what time do we want to get there, eight or nine o’clock?

“Go for eight. That’ll give us more travel time if we need it.”

Our dates were totally confused.

By now we were familiar with the Paris Hub and knew a few shortcuts. Soon we found ourselves on L’avenue des Champs-Élysées. I looked at Taylor and Jamie and asked, “Would you like to get a bite to eat before we go dancing?”

= = =

Ten minutes later, we were at Le Boudoir at 25 Rue du Colisée. I think our dates were impressed, especially when the waiter came over and Dan and I spoke with him in French. We asked Taylor and Jamie if they had any preferences or if there was anything that they didn’t like. Neither of them had any objections or preferences so we ordered for them. To be certain, we kept it simple and ordered Côtelettes de porc dorées – browned pork chops. It came with smoked celeri mousseline and black pudding pie with herbs. We loved it. Taylor and I shared a small pastry for desert, as did Danny and Jamie. We knew we could probably order wine, but we opted for water. Naturally, the waiter brought us Perrier.

During dinner, we answered a slew of questions about how we got to Paris. We tried to explain about worm holes, but they didn’t quite get it.

When the bill came, it seemed reasonable and I paid with my company American Express card. Heck, it’s my card and it’s being paid for with my money, and I’m the one who will OK it when the bill comes in, so why not? 🙂 I guess the accountants will have to figure it out later.

After dinner, we all needed to exercise and burn off some calories, so we went to a nearby dance club. Now I was able to hold Taylor the way I wanted to at the Prom. After all, this was Paris – the City of Lights… and love. After an hour of dancing, we were ready to go back to Navy Pier and meet the other four when they got back.

Soon we were at the Paris Hub, on our way back to the Chicago Hub. Danny punched in the time and date in the control room and ten minutes later we were walking towards the boat slip on Navy Pier. But something didn’t seem right. Danny noticed my quandary and told me to check the time. I pulled out my phone and it said it was 21:00, not midnight!

I looked at Danny and he had a shit-eating grin on his face. So THIS is how ‘someone else’ used our tickets! We walked over to the gang plank and the ticket taker scanned our tickets and passed us right through. When we got on board, we found a place where we had a good view of the gang plank. Ethan and Madison and Jason and Emily got on board and they didn’t even notice that the four of us didn’t make it. All we had to do was to wait till the boat pulled away from the dock and stop our friends from looking back at the dock so they wouldn’t see the four of us missing the boat, so to say.

The four of us found a cozy place to sit and we enjoyed the trip up and down the Lake Michigan shoreline. The weather couldn’t have been better. When we started the cruise it was about 75° (about 24°C), and the first quarter of the moon was showing on a wonderful, clear night. As we were sitting along the railing, Jamie and Taylor were shooting questions about the portals at us left and right. We answered them as best we could. Then Jamie asked a great question, “What would have happened to us if we didn’t use our tickets when we got back from Paris?”

“That’s easy,” Danny said. “As soon as the earlier us scanned their tickets, we would have disappeared and we would have missed Paris. That’s why I used them. I didn’t want to miss the experience we had there.”

We all responded with “Neither did I” simultaneously.

= = =

The rest to the cruise was perfect. Taylor and I were exploring the stars and exploring each other. It looked like Danny and Jamie were doing the same. But all things have to come to an end, and soon it was coming up on midnight and the boat was returning to Navy Pier. We wanted to check out the anchor from the USS Chicago, but that will have to wait for another time. Right now, we had to go meet Malcolm and, unfortunately, end this night.

Malcolm was waiting when we got to the entrance of Navy Pier and we were soon on our way. I don’t know what arrangements the others made with their dates, but I opted to walk home from Taylor’s house. But Taylor wouldn’t hear of it. “Babe, get in my car. I’m driving you home.” We got in another make-out session, but my condoms were never opened. *sigh*

= = =

About noon the next day, my doorbell rang. When I answered it I was pleasantly surprised to find Taylor standing there!

“Taylor! Come in!” I said, and we hugged like long lost lovers, even though it was less than ten hours since we saw each other last.

“Jerry, you owe me a tour of your workplace.”

“I completely forgot about that, but I’m glad you didn’t. Should we see if Danny and Jamie want to join us?”

“They’re already in my car. All we need is you.”

To be continued…


Copyright © 2017 Binneyan Smith

Binneyan@live.com

@Binneyan

Published June 16, 2018