Terrance

The door opened slowly, and an old man ambled in. His cane clicked against the concrete floor, drawing the patrons’ eyes toward him. He looked to be about 80, had short grey hair and sharp eyes. They looked his way and Mort rounded the bar to help the gentleman to a seat.

“Welcome. Can I help you to a seat?”

“May as well. My bones hurt today. Raining in my time.”

Mort didn’t say anything, but led the man to the closest booth. Once he was settled, Mort asked the obvious. “Get you anything?”

“Coffee, if you got it. Black.”

“Sure.” Mort left to grab the coffee and was back quickly. There was always coffee brewed here. He set the cup down in front of the man. “What’s your name?”

The man took a sip of coffee and grinned at Mort. “Terrance. Nice to see you again, Chauncy.”

Mort shook his head. “Sorry, but my name is Mort, not Chauncy.”

“My mistake. You have the same accent, and it’s been a while.”

Mort pointed to the seat across from Terrance. “May I sit?”

“Sure, sure.”

Mort nodded and sat. “Tell me about Chauncy?”

“I met him the only other time I came in here.”

“Tell me about it?”

Terrance nodded. “It was 1953. I was seventeen. Church was just finished. I was on my way home with some two other friends. A car drove up next to us, full of white farm boys. They were started jeering and making fun. Normal stuff. My friends couldn’t take it anymore. I told them to calm down, to ignore it, but they didn’t listen.” He frowned. “I hated staying quiet, but I knew if they thought we were uppity, they might cause us problems.”

“They did, didn’t they?”

“Yes, sir. Anthony said something, and the truck stopped, and the boys got out. We tried to run, but there were too many. Two grabbed Anthony. Another three grabbed Michael. I ran. I was on the track team in school. It was a poor school, but I was still able to participate. I knew how to breathe right and knew not to look back. I outran the white boys, but they caught my friends.

“I could hear them talking about a lynching long before I ran out of hearing range. The boys were still chasing me, and I prayed to God to help me. That’s when I found the door. Weirdest thing, too. It was in the middle of a stone wall. I went by that wall many times before and it was never there. I went in, and the boys didn’t follow me. This place was empty, except for Chauncy. He gave me a cola and let me stay for a long time.”

“I’ve never heard of anyone named Chauncy. Do you know what time he was from?”

Terrance squinted his eyes as he thought about it. “I don’t believe he ever said.”

“This may seem like a strange question, but do you know what he drank?”

“Something that looked like whiskey. An amber liquor. Didn’t think to ask.” He said it with a smile on his face.

Mort smiled as well, then took a slow breath. “What happened when you went back?”

“Chauncy let me stay the night. I left in the morning, and was on my guard the entire time. I went home, found out that miraculously, neither of my friends were killed. My family thought I was killed, but I told them I was able to hide in the woods and fell asleep. My dad whooped my ass for being out all night, but they were happy to see me alive.”

“From what I know of that era, you three were lucky.”

Terrance frowned. “When are you from?”

He smirked. “England, 1500s. I’ve listened to a lot of stories though, and I know what the world is like to people of color during that time.” He frowned. “And for a lot of other times, too, unfortunately.”

“There are good people out there though. You and Chauncy. Others out in the real world, too.”

“Why did you stay away so long, Terrance?”

“We moved to Chicago. My dad had an offer in the meat plants and he took it. His brother was up there. There was still racism, but it was better. We were able to go to better schools and mom found a job too. We did all right. I decided to go into law.”

“Were you a lawyer?”

“Things happened, and I had to take care of mom. I wasn’t able to finish school, but I was able to make enough money to get my siblings through college. I ended up working for my younger brother, who did become a lawyer. I was his assistant.” He looked proud of his life.

Mort nodded. “Sounds like a good life.”

“It was. Is.” He chuckled. “I’m not done yet.”

Mort smiled. “What brought you back here?”

“I decided to see if I could find the door again. I wanted to thank Chauncy again for his kindness and I wanted to have a drink with him.”

“Well, in the years since, he’s moved on. I’ve never heard of anyone with that name here.”

Terrance frowned gently. “Why did you ask what he drinks?”

“I know what the regulars drink. It’s one of the few things I can remember well. If you knew what he drank, it might help me to find out if he has been here since.”

“I’m sorry I can’t help you with that.”

Mort held up his hands. “Don’t be. It was a shot in the dark.”

Terrance smiled and nodded. “Well, I’m sorry that he’s not here. If you ever see him, please pass on my thanks.”

“I will. I should check on the other customers. If you’re staying a while, I’ll be back to talk some more, if that’s all right.”

“Sure, sure. I’ll be here, resting my bones.”

“I’ll be back with a refill if you would like.”

Terrance looked into his cup. It was half full. “In a few minutes. I’m all right for now.”

Mort nodded and left the booth. A few minutes later, a man in tattered but clean clothing walked over to Terrance and asked to sit. When Terrance nodded, the man sat down and said the usual.

“I’m Sergei. 3685.”

Terrance looked astonished for a moment, then nodded. “Terrance. 2015.”

“Interesting times.”

“Aren’t they all really?”

“I suppose. I lived to see the first African-American president. I didn’t think I would see that.”

“Ah, yes. President Barack Obama. History was kind to him. The next one though, was not seen kindly.”

Terrance held up one hand. “Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know yet.”

“No problem. We’ll talk of other things. I like to ask about people’s favorite food.”

Terrance’s eyes lit up. “That, I can talk about forever.”

Sergei smiled and leaned in. “Tell me all about it.”

Terrance smiled with happiness and started telling Sergei of his favorite meals.

 

 

 

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