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Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 26: Takano 21
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Hastings 194
As the salesclerk turned toward her, Tommy spotted--what did they call ear buds back in the time when they were larger and only went in one ear? Some people still used them for hearing aids, but at one time Tommy knew that they were used with transistor radios. This girl was not much older than Tommy, and it didn’t seem likely that she would be working as a salesclerk in a department store if she were deaf.
“What are you listening to?” she ventured.
“Oh!” the girl responded, somewhat embarrassed. Then she rattled off four letters. Tommy must have looked puzzled for the moment that it took her to realize that was a radio call sign, because the girl continued. “Ricky Nelson right now.”
“Oh. As I said, I just moved back here from Japan--I’ve been here less than a week, so I’m really out of it as far as what to wear, and just about everything, like what music is popular, how to find good television channels, what games people are playing. Anyway, I thought I should start with some clothes that fit in, what girls my age wear, like, when they go to that food place across the street.”
“Well, I can certainly help you with that,” and she reached into her pocket and turned a dial on a little box Tommy decided must be an old transistor radio. “How much do you want to spend?”
“As little as possible,” Tommy joked. “But I’ve got fifty dollars, and it would be nice if I could have two outfits, complete with, like, stockings and underwear.”
“We can do that,” the girl said. “By the way, I’m Dorothy; call me Dot.”
“Dorothy? Like the girl in that movie? Were you named for her?”
Dorothy laughed. “Goodness no, I’m much older than that. No, a lot of American girls are named Dorothy; I think there were six of us in my school.”
“Oh, well, I’m Tomiko, but I prefer to be called Tommy.”
“Tommy? That’s a boys’ name here.”
“Well, Tomiko is a popular Japanese girls’ name; I’m named for my grandfather, but of course he has the boy version, Tomio. I took Tommy when I was little, before we moved to Japan, because it was less, what’s the word, ethnic?” Dorothy nodded.
“Well, Tommy, let’s see if we can get you some clothes.” Starting with a cloth tape measure to get some sizes, Dorothy pulled together a couple of blouses and skirts similar in style to those Tommy had seen on the girls at the burger place, and pointed her to a fitting room to try them. “Tell me which ones you like; you should be able to get two without any trouble.”
Tommy settled on two of the blouses and two skirts, and by the time she came out Dorothy had assembled a collection of undergarments and knee socks. “Shoes,” she said. “You can’t go around in sneakers. They’re for gym and for kids playing outside.”
“Oh,” Tommy said. “Well, my job is taking care of a kid who plays outside a lot, but I guess I’ll need regular shoes for everything else.” Dorothy took time to make sure that Tommy had a pair of decent but not overly expensive shoes that fit comfortably, then Tommy paid for everything.
Dorothy looked at her wrist, and Tommy realized she was wearing a watch. She should probably get one of those, but not this week.
“I finish in ten minutes,” Dorothy said. “Why don’t you go into the fitting room and put on one of your new outfits, and then we can run over to Stewart’s and get a burger while I try to fill you in on stuff like music.”
“Sounds good,” Tommy said, and took her bags back to the fitting room.
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 #361: Characters Explore. 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: