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Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 2: Takano 13
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Hastings 186
Tomiko sat on the park bench, staring into the park across the street, seeing nothing. The police had arrived, and were questioning the truck driver; they had asked her to wait, so they could take her statement. What would she tell them?
Well, she’d just come from a place in which satyrs and centaurs had tried to help her. Maybe what she saw was normal in this world. What was normal, anyway? This had to be a dream, and she should expect it to be not normal.
But then, when you dreamed things that weren’t normal, for some reason they always seemed normal. That had not been her experience so far. There were things that seemed strange.
Tommy shook herself. There was a police officer standing in front of her addressing her.
“Sorry, officer,” she said. “I’m still a bit in shock.”
“Understandable. So let’s start with your name?
“Tomiko Takano. Everyone calls me Tommy.”
“To-me-ko-ta-ka-no,” he repeated, as he wrote on a notepad. “So, Tommy, where do you live?”
“Delaware,” she said without hesitation. He raised an eyebrow, so she thought she should add something. “I’m traveling. My dad says it’s very educational.”
“I see. So where are you staying?”
“Well, I just arrived here, and haven’t found a place yet. Usually I camp.”
“And where were you before you arrived?”
This was getting complicated. “I actually don’t think anyone ever told me the name of the place. It was a forest, maybe some kind of wildlife preserve or something.”
“So, Tommy, what did you see?”
“I’m afraid that what I thought I saw seems rather impossible, but I can’t figure out what I must have seen that confused me.”
“All right, what did you think you saw?”
“I had been sitting here, on this bench, for a while, kind of staring into the park across the way, just resting. Suddenly I saw what I decided was a woman, but dressed in this bright red robe and on her hands and knees on the grass. I couldn’t figure out how she got there without me having seen her already, but there she was. She turned around and sat, and then she stood, I think. I also stood, and walked toward the curb to get a better look at her.
“At that moment, everything got confused. I heard someone scream, I think, and I heard the blare of an air horn, and the hiss of air brakes, and the squeal of tires. Turning, I saw that there was this huge truck coming down the road, and there was this little girl toddling across the street right in front of it. I had no idea what to do.
“The woman in the red robe, though, apparently knew what to do. I realized that she was running straight toward the girl, very quickly. As I stared at this disaster in progress, she shouted something--I think she said, ‘catch’--and then the child was hurtling through the air directly at me. I opened my arms, and as the child crashed into me I stumbled a few steps and fell backwards onto the grass, and wrapped myself around her. She was crying, and occupied my attention for a moment, but a woman ran over, a different woman, I think it was her mother, and took the girl from me. I turned back and saw the truck, jackknifed like that, but no sign of the woman in red. I thought for sure the truck would have hit her, but if so, wouldn’t there be, well, there isn’t, is there?”
“Thank you, Tommy. If I have any more questions, how can I find you?”
She was at a loss. Suddenly a voice from behind her spoke, a woman’s voice. “She’ll be at my house for the next few hours, at least, officer.” Tomiko turned to see the woman she took to be the little girl’s mother, holding the girl. “I’m going to help her get cleaned up and give her something to eat. It’s the least I can do under the circumstances.”
“Very good, ma’am. Can I have your name and address?”
“I’m Janet Billings,” she said, “four four two one Brookside Lane.”
“May I ask what you saw, Missus Billings?”
“I think less than everyone else,” she said. “Tammy had let go of my hand while I was talking to one of the neighbors, and when I turned back I saw her walking into the street, and I saw the truck coming toward her. I screamed, but I also saw this red blur rushing from the park. I started running this way, and I heard the truck’s horn and brakes, but it cut off my view. I heard a crunch, an impact of some sort, just as Tammy flew out of the street into Tommy’s arms. She fell backwards, but kept Tammy safe. That’s really all I saw. I don’t know what the truck hit, but Tammy seems to be fine.”
“Thank you, ma’am. If there’s anything else, we’ll be in touch.”
The police officer walked back to the truck, and appeared to be examining the damaged grill.
“Was this like this before?” he called.
“No, sir,” the truck driver replied. “It was fine when I pulled out of the lot this morning.”
He sat on the bench next to Tommy, clearly shaken by it all.
“So,” Tommy said, “what do you think the woman in red was?”
“I’d guess it was an angel,” Missus Billings said.
“Yeah, maybe,” the driver replied. “That, or a valkyrie or something.”
There was silence for a moment, and then the police officer called for the driver to come help get his truck moved. Missus Billings spoke to Tommy.
“If you’re all right,” she said, “our house is just a couple blocks this way. Let’s get you cleaned up and fed.”
Tommy stood, still somewhat shocked by the events. “Thank you. Yes, I think I’m O.K.” She started walking in the direction indicated.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #354: Versers Reorienting. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: