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Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 11: Takano 16
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Tommy had supper with Tammy. She wasn’t sure how authentically Italian any of it was, but the sauce was tasty with plenty of meat in it, the meatballs homemade and quite good, and the spaghetti--well, it was spaghetti, or maybe Mrs. Billings said spaghettini or something. Whatever it was, she enjoyed it, and was impressed that Tammy was able, with some effort, to wrap the long noodles around the tines of her fork. She had seen people do that, mostly her Italian friends, but had never really tried to learn it. She had Tammy show her, and by the end of the meal she was managing it adequately. Mrs. Billings served them vanilla ice cream with chocolate sprinkles for dessert. Tammy had done well with the spaghetti, containing the sauce admirably, but the ice cream was very much all over her face before long.
Mrs. Billings bathed and dressed Tammy for bed, and Mr. Billings arrived home in the midst of this. Tommy stayed in her bedroom during this time so as not to create a stir, but then once Tammy was settled Mrs. Billings came and got Tommy to introduce her.
“Dear,” Mrs. Billings said, “we have a house guest tonight. It’s a long story which I’ll tell you over dinner, but she saved Tammy, and needed a place to stay for the night. Tommy, this is Mr. Billings. Jack, Tommy.”
Tommy extended her hand, which Mr. Billings obligingly shook. “Tomiko Takano,” she said, “but almost everyone calls me Tommy.”
“Welcome,” Mr. Billings said. “I hope we can make your visit comfortable.”
“Oh--well, I’ve been camping in the woods with a couple of blankets for the past couple weeks, so the rug in a room with central heat would have been more comfortable than that. I’m sure I’ll be fine.”
“I’d better read to Tammy so she can go to sleep,” he said, and took the stairs two at a time.
“Is there anything I can get you?” Mrs. Billings asked.
She didn’t know. What did people do before the Internet? There was television, wasn’t there? In fact, there was one in the other room, where she and Tammy played with the blocks. “Would it be possible for me to see what’s on T.V.?” she asked.
“Certainly! I’ll just close this door so we don’t bother each other.” And Tommy found herself alone in what she took to be the living room.
As she approached the television she realized that nothing on it looked familiar but that it had a dark screen dominating the center, and even that was oddly convex and a muddy green color. There were two large dials with numbers, and a smaller button. The upper of the two numbered dials ran from two to thirteen, with the letter “U” separating the thirteen from the two; the lower had a 14, and then various numbers increasing into maybe the eighties. She played with these, and found first that the upper dial clicked from number to number but had a ring around the outside that moved more smoothly, while the lower dial had a smooth movement. She did her best to put these controls back in their original positions, since they did nothing helpful at this point.
The smaller button turned smoothly as well, but again turning it achieved nothing.
She wasn’t totally clueless. She knew that cable television identified its channels by numbers, and it made sense that the top dial selected the twelve basic channels. The “U” must then switch to the other dial, which would probably be the premium channels. None of this was of any use to her, though, if she couldn’t turn it on.
Suddenly her fingers slipped and the small button pulled outward. There was a very quiet high-pitched squeal, a flash of light on the screen, and sound through the speaker. The immediate problem was that the sound was very loud, but given that she had worked out most of the controls the little button was almost certainly the volume, and counter-clockwise was the direction for lowering volume in those devices that still used dials. She quickly had the sound at a decent level. The question, though, was how to get the picture. Before she could consider it further, though, the screen began to light up and come into focus, and she was looking at two men sitting at a desk with papers in front of them. They were apparently reporting the news.
She watched this for a few minutes, but realized she knew none of the people. She clicked the top dial one position, and was surprised to get nothing but fuzz and white noise--not a fuzzy image, but no image at all. She clicked it again, and got two different men reporting the same news.
It seemed to be a good time to watch television if you wanted to know the news. Tommy didn’t. She turned off the device and headed up to her room.
Plugging in her phone and her tablet, she confirmed that they were charging. She had some videos on the tablet and some games on the phone, but at the moment she realized that she was very tired. This morning she had walked several miles through the woods with a centaur to meet a witch, who had electrocuted her, so that winding up in Nagasaki she was arrested, and was buried in the rubble of the jail when the bomb fell, then saw the mysterious woman appear, and caught the child thrown to her, took a bath, ate lunch, played in the afternoon, ate dinner--she had not slept in all that time. It was time to sleep. She changed into fresh clothes, noting that she hadn’t really brought any sleepwear, and settled into bed. Tomorrow she would need to be well rested, as her journey would continue.
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 #355: Versers Resettling. 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: