Simon was getting frustrated. He’d spent just enough time in 2008 to have gained an appreciation for the amount of information people had at their fingertips, but in 1951, there was no such luxury. He’d spent most every afternoon for the last month at the library, poring over phone books from all the cities he could get his hands on, and reading the limited selection of newspapers the library had, hoping against hope to find some indication of where Emily was. He didn’t see much of Marcus these days, which was probably for the best. After some initial resistance, Marcus had really taken to this time period. He didn’t talk about what he was doing, but it obviously involved making money, as one day soon after they’d arrived, he announced that he’d be paying for their expenses, and soon, five and ten dollar bills had started appearing on Simon’s dresser. Whatever he was doing also involved a gun, a fact he’d been awfully proud about, telling Simon all about his new toy one night at the corner restaurant. Simon knew the gun and the money were all about Marcus reasserting some sense of power in their relationship after what had happened with the umbrella, but there really wasn’t anything to be done about it.
Besides, it freed him up to waste his time trying to find Emily.
They’d been here long enough that the leaves had turned, and his walks to and from the library had gotten not just depressing, but downright uncomfortable. More and more, he’d been using the umbrella for its more prosaic purpose, and he really was starting to dread spending the winter here.
On a particularly unpleasant Saturday evening, he found himself walking through a spitting rain to meet Marcus for dinner in Little Italy. Simon didn’t particularly enjoy these meals, but it kept Marcus civil and it gave him a chance to explore some of the city. He passed the Hull House and some of the homes for single women that had sprung up around it, and once again thought about knocking on their doors to see if anyone had heard of Emily. He shook his head and laughed – he could just imagine how well that would be received – a strange man inquiring about a woman on her own, especially given that many of them women were probably on the run from someone.
The restaurant was warm, and the food smelled wonderful. Marcus might be overbearing and obnoxious, but he knew his food, and Chicago had more than its share of good places to eat. A half-empty bottle of wine sat on the table in front of him, and Simon could tell that Marcus was in a particularly ebullient mood. He sat down, ignoring the stares that they still got – a black man and a white man eating together attracted more attention in this era than it probably would have back in his time.
“Simon. Glad you could make it.” Marcus’ speech was slightly slurred, and Simon steeled himself for a possible confrontation. It had been so long since that last night in Japan that it almost seemed like another life, but the tension came back more quickly than he would have expected. But there was no explosion – just more smiles.
“Marcus, what is it? I’ve never seen you like this!”
“I know. It’s wonderful. Goddamn wonderful. Simon – I’m in love.” Hearing Marcus’ excitement about a woman brought back his sadness at his inability to find Emily, and he had to fight to keep a neutral look on his face.
“Well, that’s wonderful, Marcus. Who’s the lucky girl? Tell me about her.”
“She’s beautiful, Simon. Fuckin smart. She works in a bank just down the street from here, too.”
“How wonderful for you. Is…is she coming here tonight?”
“Yes. Or at least I hope so.” Marcus paused. “To tell you the truth, I haven’t actually met her. She doesn’t look like the kind of girl I could just put my Marcus moves on, Y’know? I mean, well, she’s a white chick. And I don’t want some cracker shooting me for talking to her. But she eats here every Saturday night, and tonight’s her lucky night. You’ll help me, won’t you?”
Marcus looked plaintive, an emotion Simon had never expected to see on his usually belligerent face, and his heart softened a bit at the sight of this big man, brought down by a woman he was afraid to talk to.
“Of course, Marcus. If I can help, I will.”
“That’s great. That’s great, Simon. I know we had some rough moments there, back in the past, but it’s better now, don’t you think – oh, there she is!”
Simon turned to face the door, but all he could see was a rustling behind the curtain that separated the coat room from the main restaurant. He didn’t want to stare, but he just had to see this woman that had gotten so far under Marcus’ skin. A slim arm pushed the curtain aside, and she stepped out.
Simon recognized her instantly.
Come read more about Emily, Simon, and the Time Travelling Umbrella here: https://projectgemini12.wordpress.com/tag/time-travelling-umbrella/.