The Book of Gateways Installment 27 (#BOG)

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We all rejoin at seven in the little locked office via the outside window.

“This is why Milo always kept this place locked. He used it to come here. Aw he kept my kitten calendar here.” Desimae goes to change the calendar to the correct month but then decides against it and leaves it. “He touched it last.” She says matter-of-factly.

“Are you ready for this?” Piers looks concerned. “You might feel nauseous and possibly even pass out. Are you gunna be okay?” He slips his arm through his second backpack strap. She nods and pulls her little backpack on. It almost looks like the character Domo but a sky blue version with a ton of multi-colored patches and little legs that swing back and forth when she walks. She named him Phil. We all file through our bags to make sure we have everything we need. Passports? Check. Bank cards? Check. Change of clothes? Check. Looks like we are ready to go.

“I’m a little nervous to put this many people through the gateway.” I swallow hard at the thought of half my body in Singapore and half my body in this office. The police wouldn’t be tired of me anymore.

“How bad could it be to get stuck between space jumps? You’d probably be severed instantaneously.” Desimae shrugs which causes Phil’s legs to swish back and forth. Piers sighs exasperated.

“Can we just do this?” He says opening the book to a page with a picture that read: “100 Year Old Dim Sum Shop…Singapore”.

“Well we know why Milo went to Singapore.” Desimae laughs.

“Grab onto me.” Piers says to both of us. Each of us puts a hand on Piers’ shoulder and another hand around his waist. We don’t want to get disconnected and turn into Swiss cheese.

“Three, two, one. Go.” Piers says as he puts his finger onto the starter circle and just like that we’re sucked in.

Through the blackness, I hear a gasp of air entering deprived lungs. My eyes open to the back of the restaurant before me, Piers underneath me, and Desimae beside me. Her eyes wide and searching her surroundings. “Whoa.” Is all she says as me and Piers stand up already used to the pressure of jumping through gateways.

“Need help up?” Piers yanks Desimae up by her forearm. Her whole body is shaking with adrenaline. “Are you okay?” She nods yes.

“Why don’t we try some food here? Milo obviously liked it. We should try it too.” I say bouncing on the balls of my feet. “It’s ten in the morning here, but anytime is a good time for Dim Sum.” With that, we all make our way into the little shop and are greeted by a small Singaporean woman.

“Ah! Riley! Oh my goodness, you take after Milo so much! Popping in whenever the wind blows you here!” She says with a wide smile. “Please, please come in! Sit down. We aren’t quite open yet, but for you, anytime!” She says and points us to a table.

“You know her?” I whisper to Piers. He shakes his head no.

“My name is Min. Milo has told me so much about you. Who are your friends?”

We all introduce ourselves and sit down at the table.

“How is Milo? Is he well? I haven’t seen him in a long time.” She says sitting next to us. A dread falls over me and suddenly we are stuck in a difficult position. I look to Piers.

“Oh, Min. I am, so sorry…” He looks down to his hands and suddenly Min seems uncomfortable. “Milo, was murdered about three and a half months ago.” Piers fidgets. Instantly Min’s eyes well up.

“Milo was a good man. Who would murder him?” Her voice cracks.

“We don’t know. Everything has been a bit of a whirlwind. The police haven’t found anything. I’m very sorry you’re just finding this out.” Piers pats her folded hands.

“And, I am sorry for your loss Riley. Whatever you want to eat today will be free, in honor of your loving uncle. He was a good man.” She says as a few tears dripped from her eyes. “It’s nice to know that so many people loved my uncle.” Piers smiles at her. She returns the kindness.

“I have so many books to return to you then. I was waiting for him to come back. He was going to pick them up the next time he came around. Anyway, I am so happy that you all came to visit. He told me this was his most favorite place in all of Singapore.” Min stood up and smiled proudly. “My husband Eugene should be in soon and we will cook you many delicious things and we will celebrate Milo.” She wipes fresh tears away.

We soon after met Min’s husband Eugene and boy could he cook. They brought us almost everything there was on the menu. We all shared great stories we had of Milo and in an instant, we had another glimpse into what kind of man Milo was. It was a great thing to see another layer of his legacy he left to another family in another country. He truly was a great man.

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The Book of Gateways Installment 26 (#BOG)

Hey guys, another installment is up! Don’t forget to like, comment, and share!

I awake to the sound of a series of taps. I open one eye to see Desimae fully dressed and sitting at her little table in the kitchen area with a single glass of orange juice and her phone in hand. She looks over at me and nods then goes back to her text.

“What time is it? How long have you been up?”

“Ten am. Since seven thirty.” She doesn’t look up. I get up and quickly get dressed feeling obligated and silly for sleeping so long.

“Alright, I’m ready. Should we meet up with Piers?” She shrugs and stands up. Today she sports a pale green shirt with a nineteen fifties pin up styled Medusa that says “Medusa, master sedusa.” Which I wish I owned.

“Want breakfast?” She still doesn’t look up from her phone.

“Sure.”

“Let’s go meet up with Piers and we will eat together.” She looks up at me. I nod and get dressed. We make our way to a little diner not too far from the book store. A fifties styled diner with a blue Cadillac car for its emblem and bright red neon lights that read “Cadillac Sal’s Diner”. Oh San Diego, you so differ from my little town in Maryland. We order in array of food to fill the table, say a prayer to bless it, and then dig in.

“So…” She pauses for a long time. “What’s the deal? How was Milo getting around the way he was? I know you’re doing the same thing.” She leans in expecting something great. Piers spends the next few hours talking to her about the book of gateways and our hypothesis on why Milo was targeted and killed. Which in short, someone became too interested in Milo’s travel and transportation of books, and when Milo wouldn’t give up his secrets…He was murdered. I mentioned Matt, our British canary that has been warning us about how dangerous it is. Desimae looks unsurprised as she sips her chocolate milk and pushes her eggs around in an uninterested way.

“Aren’t you lactose intolerant?” Piers comments. She shrugs.

“Aren’t you even a little bit shocked?” I ask surprised by her unsurprised reaction.

“I suppose not. I saw Milo take that book with him everywhere with his planner, although the book was much harder to catch a glimpse of. He must have figured out the science of the book to make those transporter boxes. I can’t believe that old man kept such a good secret.” She says thoughtfully, her eyes darkening the same way they did the night before. Maybe she feels that pang of bitterness too. The fact that he would hid something so big from the people he loves so much.

“But it’s not like he owes me anything anyways. Not my life to interfere with.” She says bringing her eyes to meet mine, and for the first time I see her smile with that darkened look. A mixture of anxieties and feelings like when a river and the ocean meet, not quite sadness but not joy either.

“So where have you been other than here?” She says calling over for a bill.

“Greece.” I say.

“That’s it? You’ve had this book for several months and you’ve only been to Greece?” Her smile now reminds me of the Cheshire cat from Wonderland. “I think that should change today.” She sends the waitress off with her card.

“Listen, before you get travel crazy this has been really dangerous. We’ve already been attacked and we don’t want you to be involved in this.” Piers says agitated.

“Piers, mah dawg.” She flicks her head in dramatic way. “I was involved the moment you got here in your little jumper machine. There’s no turning back now. Besides whoever is following you is gunna take some time to find you. They can’t track you the traditional way. There are obviously no flight records to San Diego. So you good homie.” She stands up and puts her card in her wallet.

“What kind of a person thinks of a paper trail?” I say jokingly.

“I’m pretty sure I have family in the mafia. Uncle Sal is always acting sketchy. Right Sal?” She hollers over her shoulder.

“What are you saying you crazy kid?” An older gentleman in a pair of khakis, a white shirt, and suspenders sputters to life from the far corner of the diner. I look at Desimae unconvinced to which she mouths “He’s crazy.” And twirls her finger by her temple. I just laugh and shake my head. We walk back to the book store and see that Lannah in all of her flowery woodland fairy glory has opened the shop and adorned the front desk with a new water lily in a bowl. For which an unknown reason bothers me. From the instant we walk in Desimae zeroes in on the lily and plucks a petal from its base and frolics to a nearby sitting chair. We follow her and sit down. This store is different. It’s also two stories but has white inside with geometric bookshelves to give it a sterile but inviting atmosphere. All the furniture is a dark wood and on the sides of some of the bookshelves are little succulents that are perched in little frames. Milo has yet again surprised me with his good tastes in design.

“Let’s go to Singapore!” Desimae smiles devilishly. I nod, Singapore seems like an interesting place.

“I told you, it’s dangerous. We can’t just take trips willy nilly.” Piers huffs as if gray hairs are starting to sprout from his fresh scalp.

“I’m sure it’ll be fine. Maybe, maybe Milo would want us to all take a trip together.” I say trying to ease his mind.

“I’m not so sure.” Piers huffs and runs his hand through his hair. “Let’s take a trip.” I look my clock which reads: 1:32pm. “Currently it’s four thirty-two am in Singapore. We should wait until it’s a decent time to go over there.” I say look back at my crew. They both nod.

“We’ll go after dinner around seven pm. What do you say? Spend a day in Singapore?” We all smile knowing full well we are about to embark on an adventure.

“Desimae! You little wretch! Stop dismantling my lilies!” Lannah shrieks from the desk.

“Gotta go! Be right-!” Desimae leaps from her chair unable to finish her remark. For the next fifteen minutes I watch two grown woman run around a book store (with paying patrons inside) and bicker over a lily. Maybe we should leave sooner than seven.

The Book of Gateways Installment 24th

By this time I think the police are fed up with coming and asking me about perpetrators who have already fled the scene. Thank God, Piers’ ankle is fine. Just a minor sprain.
Once everything calms down and the police leave Piers and I rejoin. Sitting across from each other on my white living room couch a few inches from where he was pinned down just a couple hours ago.
“This isn’t safe anymore. We need to lay low.” Piers says as he rubs his ankle.
“You need ice.”
“I’ll get it in a second.”
Silence. I don’t think either of us know what to do, and neither one of us wants to give up the book.
“My semester at the college ends in two weeks. I’ll try to finish it out. Maybe by that time things will cool off.” I clasp my hands together at his statement. Two weeks is a long time. Anybody could come back within that time.
“You don’t think they’ll come back? I’m afraid they will. I’m still shaky from earlier.” I fidget in my seat.
“I know you are but you did great today, thank you for helping me earlier.” Piers’ eyes water a little and grabs my hand. I let it rest there for a while. We both need the comfort.
“I don’t think we should travel during the next two weeks. Just to be safe.” He nods.
“The book should stay in the safe.” I nod. “We just have to be careful…that’s all.” Piers’ thumb strokes my hand thoughtlessly. That brings me into his gravity and I find myself drifting into his comfort. Before I know it my back is pressed to his chest. He kisses the crown of my head, but I don’t mind. All of this just exhausts me. I’m not sure how much more I’ll be able to stand.

~*~

Three days go by and nothing happens. Everything seems to return to its normal state. My nerves didn’t seem to receive the memo. Every noise, shifting shadow, and random stranger became a threat. I’m jumpier than normal, but I still return to the book store. I like to think Milo keeps me company while I stay there.
“Hello, beautiful.” I know who it is before I look up from my computer. My skin ripples into goose flesh.
“What are you doing here Matt?” I say clenching my desk.
“Don’t act like this is my fault.” He says advancing to my desk. He makes himself comfortable and sits on my desk.
“Get out.” I stand. “I don’t know what you’re angle is but you’re nothing but trouble. Get out.” I walk towards the door and open it. He sneers at me and walks towards the door, but before I can react he yanks me by my collar and slams me into the wall.
“Listen to me! You stupid half wit. I warned you, I told you to stop this and get rid of it. But you refuse.” He presses against me more firmly. I grown under his weight. “You’re just like him.” Instantly it registers.
“You knew Milo?” Tears pour out of my eyes.
“No.” He releases me. I slap him in the face as hard as I can manage and spit at his feet.
“You’re disgusting.” I say as tears drip onto my collar bones. I look over to see a mother and her little daughter hiding behind a book case. Matt catches on and clears his throat.
“Cesar… I’m-”
“Get out.” And he does.
I lean against the wall for support. Turns out the woman had called the police. They’re definitely tired of me by now.