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The Rain Check
Timejacker #2-C
© 2023 James LaFond
Enumclaw, Washington
Jamie felt good in his new warm clothes, old new clothes that is, some of The Captain’s old duds from his younger days in and out of the service, that no longer fit his mature frame. Jamie, shrunken with age, fit these just fine. He felt younger somehow as he noted that the dogs had stopped whining outside the pump shed. Pulling on a leather jacket, and looking down at his new dry boots, a present he supposed, he glanced over at the mud-caked wet boots he had worked in drying by the wood stove.
‘There is no wood stove in the pump shed. I have a space heater. Wow, maybe I’m losing it, or maybe…
He noticed the bright sunlight peeking through the curtains of the pump room window next to the door and wondered, ‘Did I pass out, fall asleep?’
Afraid he had missed the chance to help The Captain finish clearing the alder dead falls leaning perilously close to his power line, he opened the door with his right hand, not his usual habit, and noted that he still held the Fred Meyer Rain Check Voucher in his left hand. Out into the clear sunshine he stepped, onto an asphalt parking lot, the lot of a Fred Meyer supermarket. Fearing the loss of sanity, he turned to look back at the shed and saw, that he had stepped out of a shopping cart corral.
An icy ache played in his guts, his mind swam, his ears rang like church bells and the world spun.
‘No, no—I will not swoon.’
Gripping his last shreds of dignity, he looked to his hand and then saw the coupon, and realized, that he had lost time, hours, as the sun had but another hour to linger behind—Mount Rainier, a half hour drive from the pump shed in Selek.
“I’ve been drinking too much,” he declared, shook his head, recalling that the last few times he stayed up drinking that he did not recall going to bed, that his brain had stopped making memories.
‘I suppose The Captain dropped me off—probably to get a case of beer somewhere that doesn’t scan your I.D. for every alcohol purchase while I get the chocolate for his wife. He’ll be right back. Get to it.’
Jamie walked through the front door of the store and the layout had changed. It was laid out like a 1970s five and dime, like G.C. Murphies back in Baltimore.
‘Am I in a supermarket nightmare again,’ recalling his many recent nightmares about still being stuck working in that terrible business.
As a young clerk said, “Welcome to Fred Meyers,” he felt better and began looking for the candy aisle and... the store layout was different in the back, like a 1980s box store. So he went right and that section of the market was laid out like a 1990s super store.
He grew worried that he was insane or trapped in a dream, but was reassured when he came across a back register, like they used to have in J.C. Penny department stores. Two women stood there and the cuter one smiled and waved and he asked, “Chocolate almond bark?”
“Yes, Sir,” she smiled, pointing left, “down that aisle, past the admin office, with the greeting cards.
“Thank you,” he nodded as she looked at him with a sexual hunger that should not have been there, not for the wreck he was.
The hallway separated various office spaces through which people could be seen bustling to and from through frosted glass doors. At the end of the aisle was a greeting card display in the form of an old English Victorian library. There, in the center of the room, was a Dewey Decimal card index station, which had atop it, a pyramid of Deuce chocolate almond bark, for $4.98.
The Rain Check voucher in his left hand said, $5.06 and did not specify the item.
Jamie returned to the rear register and the cashier and book keeper, who had been the one making eyes at him, were heading up front with their tills. The book keeper flashed her pretty brown eyes and said, “We can check you out at the front register, Sir. This is strictly rear echelon.”
‘Who talks like that? She must be former military.’
A janitor, who he thought he recognized as George from Baltimore, then realized that George blew his brains out 20 years ago, placed a cone on the floor and said, “Sorry, sir, you’ll have to wait a half hour. The floor is wet.”
Jamie felt much more aggressive than he had in decades, and snarled, “Not today,” and walked right past George, or whoever it was that looked like George.
George blocked his path and said, “Sir,” and Jamie snarled, “No sense in getting fired for beating me up in here. I’ll see you on the lot,” and side stepped the goofy janitor who began shadowing him as he headed up front with the rain check in left hand and chocolate in right.
“I’m sorry, Sir. I didn’t realize your were a champion—wow, JASOC Land Navigation Challenge 2002. That was before The War On Terror got gay!
“Not me, I’m just a bum. This is someone else’s jacket.”
George, he could not shake that this was George, kept shadowing him until he got to the desk. There was no register, but a desk.
‘I guess there was a merger and this became some weird-ass headquarters store.’
The book keeper, who had great tits under that brown sweater, smiled at Jamie, glanced at some suits leaving the office area, who were rolling out what looked like ammo crates in a hurry and said, “Will that be all, Sir, the almond bark?”
“Yes, and I’m paying with this rain check voucher.”
A security guard, who looked just like deceased actor Heath Ledger, touched Jamie’s shoulder and Jamie snarled, “Hands to yourself.”
The guard walked behind him and began speaking into his phone in some code. The janitor was still shadowing him, smiling at him and the women.
The book keeper said, “You have to sign it, on the back. Hurry up. It loses value every ten seconds.”
Jamie noted that the value of the coupon was already down to $4.98, the semi metallic “paper” having a self correcting function of some sort. He turned it over and it read Pentagon Time Service Voucher.
‘Wow, The Major was somebody,’ he mused as he signed on a line that seemed correct and handed it back to the book keeper, noting that the value was now only $3.96.
Jamie quipped, “Miss, just keep it. It’s not enough to buy the bark,” and he left the chocolate on the desk and smiled to her as she grinned, “Major, welcome back aboard and thank you so much for your service!”
She and the cute little cashier, clicked their heels together and saluted, “Saturn Fi!”
“Later,” he grinned, wanting to get out of this madhouse as soon as possible.
George the janitor and Heath the guard—which was so weird because they were both dead and George had been a security guard at Store 45—walked out with him. The young stud security guy, in his 1950s cop hat said, “Sir, you can’t go,” and grabbed his arm.
Jamie turned and went for a shovel hook to the gut, which caused Heath to wince even as Jamie stopped the punch before contact, figuring he couldn’t hit hard enough to discourage the young fellow.
Heath then grabbed him again and Jamie got fire angry and smashed a right into the floating rib, snapping it off, then came up with a shovel hook into the solar plexus, smashed the kidney with his right as the kid buckled, then split the sternum with a left hook and doubled to the nose, breaking that.
The kid was suffering, standing, broken, bleeding and in pain, trying to breathe.
‘Wait,’ thought Jamie, looking at his hands, which did not appear so arthritic, noting also that his sag skinned bone rack body was filling out the Team Yankee camo T-shirt with a swell of muscle which he had never possessed in his prematurely broken life, ‘I can’t do that—I could never do that, never had a healthy enough shoulder to do a double left.’
‘Shit, I could get arrested.’
“Hey, George, please make sure he’s okay. He seems a decent enough guy and I’m having a really bad day!”
“Yes, Major,” said George, as Jamie turned away and walked towards the shopping cart corral, out of which walked a blond headed man in silver sunglasses and a gray pin-striped suit.
Jamie saw himself in those sunglasses and realized that he was not himself, that he looked like, well, a version of him that he had always wished he could have been. The man stopped and smiled, “Welcome back aboard, Major. Thank you so much for reenlisting—you have been missed!”
“Am I dreaming?” asked Jamie.
“No, Sir, for you are not The Dreamer. The Dreamer, as you know resides beyond Time, and we are, albeit blessed with operational mobility within Time, yet creatures of it.”
“This isn’t me, man.”
“Have you forgotten, Major,” said the man, as he took off his sunglasses and Jamie recognized the shelf-bending, mind-screwing customer at Shoppers #45, who had asked him that strange question about writing and prophecy, hell, in 1998, when he was working on his first book.
“Major LaFranc, we have a situation, and, I must apologize for speaking to your ascendant self, the You that should have been, when you are in fact animated by the soul of he who had said no. I am Colonel Alaric, sir.”
Jamie touched his chest, “Am I dead?”
“Yes, Major, both of you, it seems died at the same time and our recovery effort has placed the homeless indie author in the body of the Timejumper.”
“I’m sorry—really sorry,” apologized Jamie.
“Oh, Major, The Dreamer Knows, He decided, apparently, that transmigrating the soul of the loser into the body of the doer would better serve Eternity. We do have a problem, however.”
“We need to rob a train?”
“Of what shipment?”
“You, Major, or should we say, “Jamie LaFranc, author of 235 books. We must take you before your write Timejacker, and you, I know well, will recall exactly when you thought you had that idea, which was not your idea at all, as none of them are, but rather your perception of The Dreamer’s song.”
“Wow, the dogs really were whining above me, not behind me.”
“Indeed, so like Valkyries they attended thee,” said Colonel Alaric as he replaced his glasses over his striking blue eyes and they became an infinite horizon that spanned for a mere instant.
Major Wingspan
thriving in bad places
shrouds of aryаs
let the world fend for itself
advent america
plantation america
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