Alexis, Sherri, the Foil and the Likelihood of Other Portland…

My neighbor, Alexis, who lives two apartments down the hall from me, is missing. I heard a rumor about her this morning when i was out doing errands. I overheard two women talking about this building, and about how weird things always happen here. And i thought to myself, well, weird things happen around here because the Fates live upstairs in the penthouse. All three of them. They’ve been gone for awhile though, on vacation or whatever. So things are weirder than usual.

This is what i heard about Alexis. I heard that she got on this building’s elevator three days ago, and it took her back to 1974!  I know, right?!  How insane is that?  I tell myself it can’t be true. But then again, stranger things have happened, and not only in this building but all over the city. There’s a wild tale going around that there’s another Portland. No, not Portland, Maine. It’s called Other Portland, meaning Portland in an alternate dimension. I laughed about that all the way home from the grocery store, but, i didn’t take the elevator back to the ninth floor.  I took the stairs.  I’m not getting on that thing as curious as i am, and i’m extremely curious. One could call me nosy.

A thought jumps into my mind as i relax on my couch with a piece of home made peach pie and a glass of iced tea. I have a key to Alexis’ apartment. Two months ago, i dog sat for her when she was in Green Bay visiting her sister and brother in law. I love Al’s poodle, Doro. She’s such a sweetheart and so smart.  And now that i think of it, if Alexis is gone, what about that precious pup?  Who’s taking care of her?  Anyway, before i returned Alexis’ key, i had it copied. I know what you’re thinking. Why?  Well, i’ve had my suspicions about her for quite awhile. I think she could be a spy or a witch. This is the perfect time to snoop around her place, that is, if she really has disappeared.  No one has seen her, and there are three newspapers stacked outside her door.

Yes. I decide to do it. I rinse my glass and plate, leave them by the sink, get my purse, her key, and my key of course. I don’t go anywhere without locking my door, even if i’m just going down the hall. I wouldn’t want anyone snooping around in here while i’m gone.

I open my door, look both ways, see no one, lock my door and head for #916.  The hall is dead quiet. Usually there are a couple of people milling in and out, but no one is around. I slide the key into her lock, and i’m in! Everything looks normal. Her apartment is always neat with everything in its place. I take a seat in her reading chair and take a good look around. No Doro. I hope she’s okay and with her beloved human. Did Al go away by accident or on purpose? Did she plan to go to Other Portland and take Doro with her?  I think, listen to yourself, Sherri!  You’re thinking about an imaginary place.

Just now, i hear a knocking sound coming from the kitchen. Yes, it’s a knock. Or four knocks. Three knocks close together, then a few seconds later, one knock. My heart is in my throat. I say, hello out there?  Anyone here?  Again, the knocks. I slowly walk toward the kitchen and peer in the doorway. I swallow a big lump. The knocking is coming from inside the silverware drawer.  Do i open? Of course! I’m being ridiculous. Nothing alive is in that drawer. I slowly open it. I see a set of wooden spoons, one of those containers for silverware, and a roll of aluminum foil. And, this freaks me out, the roll of foil jumps out of the drawer and up to the counter. I jump away. The roll bounces a couple of times on its own. Do i swat it like a fly?  What the hell?! I reach out with my right hand to grab it. It’s not moving now. It looks like an ordinary roll of foil. I hold it up in front of me with my left hand and unroll a big piece of the stuff with my right. Yep, normal foil. But then it speaks!  It says, Sherri!  It’s me, Alexis! You must help me! Please, Sherri! I’m trapped in 1974 with a wacko bunch of people! Then, of all things, i see Alexis’ face in the foil i’ve pulled, but haven’t torn off.  She does indeed look frightened.

How do i help you, Alexis?

It’s the aluminum foil! That’s the key. You have to bake something delicious, cover it with a big piece of foil, then get on the elevator! I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. That’s how i got here.

I look at Alexis’ face in the foil. She looks sane enough, though frightened.  Maybe she’s lost her mind. Then again, this could be real, or i suppose it could all be a dream.  Only one way to find out.  I say, okay. I’ll do it. She looks relieved. And i say, what should i bake?

M. Raynes


The Poodle and Agent 36 In 1974

I tear a large piece of aluminum foil off its roll and carefully cover my just made, delicious smelling pan of chicken and biscuits. It’s a gift for the Three Fates. They live in the penthouse of my apartment building. Well, actually, the dish is a gift for McIntyre, the Fates’ butler. The Fates are all out of town in diverse locations. No one knows when they’ll be back. There’s trouble all around. And, as you may have heard, Chronos, the God of Time, is missing too. Just when we think he’s been found and is returning to his job, we learn that he’s not coming back after all. He’s given the searchers and agents the slip yet again. What a delinquent! I hope he’s punished somehow when he’s found. But then, he’s a God, so i’m not sure how that could happen.  Also, i should confess that this isn’t a gift for McIntyre. It’s a bribe. Chicken and biscuits are his favorite dish, and i make a mean rendition. I’m heading up to the penthouse in a few.

I’m Alexis Bex, by the way, or Agent Thirty Six as i’m known at the Agency. None of the Fates, Lena, Isabelle or Stephanie know who i work for. Neither does McIntyre. I saw him at Book Club night before last and decided that getting in good with him could get me into the penthouse.  Plus, i think when we discussed Difficult Loves by Italo Calvino, we both felt kind of a romantic spark. He’s pretty sexy, and it’s been a long time for me. Oops, getting off track there.

I tell my poodle, Doro, that i won’t be gone long, give her a few pats goodbye and head upstairs. I live on the ninth floor. The penthouse is floor twenty eight. This should be interesting. I’ve never been inside before, but I’ve heard the Sisters throw some wild parties when they’re home.

I think this is the longest it’s ever taken the elevator to reach this floor. Bizarre. Finally, it arrives, the doors open, and i board. It looks odd in here, like it’s altogether a different elevator. The walls look like they’re covered in gold foil. I just pushed the button for twenty eight, and it was the number twenty eight. Now i look, and the button says 1974. The buttons are all glowing purple. There are still twenty eight buttons, but they all have years printed on them. Instead of floor number nine, where i live, i see the year 1965. I look for the button to stop this thing, but there’s no longer a stop button.  I should have arrived at the penthouse floor by now, but this elevator won’t stop. It’s moving achingly slow, and i’m freaking out.  I hear a bark. I look down, and Doro is sitting at my feet on my right. I almost drop the chicken and biscuits when the elevator comes to a dead stop. It’s as if someone has pulled a rope to emergency stop a train. What the hell?! It seems an eternity, but the doors finally open. Doro barks again, and we quickly get off the elevator. There are a dozen people in what looks like a giant living room-library. They all look at us and smile, and one of them says, Alexis! Welcome! We’ve been waiting for you!  And you brought Doro! Wonderful!

I look around and think, i really am back in 1974, and i’m dressed all wrong for this party. Well, if it’s potluck.. at least i haven’t come empty handed!

M. Raynes



What is the scent of Time?

Of roses, honeysuckle, lilacs,

apple pie?  Dependent on mood?  Sadness – anger- confusion – contentment – impatience or happiness —

A month of impatience – an orchard of apples. A week of sadness – white lilies at a graveside.  — Fleeting happiness, a bouquet of lilacs – a fortnight of anger, rotten eggs and tart lime

Maybe none of these – Its own odor that’s impossible to place —

A foreign, lost aroma from another world

When it visits, it’s not enough even if wisely spent – anger smells sick, sour – of time squandered. Regrets. Lost time. Second and third guesses. It flies in.. flies away. The scent of a brief rain shower –

The scent of a Sunday afternoon movie – root beer float, popcorn, packaged snacks –

The scent of time passed in the woods – Never wasted. We don’t linger long enough….  Remember all before it forever departs..

M. Raynes

Melinda, the Duke and Other Portland

So, let me get this straight.. i’m talking to myself, always a bad sign.. I answered my door ten minutes ago to sign for a package.  I walked back to my bedroom to climb back into bed, and i ended up here. Here.. is a bedroom that isn’t mine. What’s more, i’m greeted by an adorable Westie who talks, who tells me i belong here, and i’m wearing my ring on the wrong finger. When am i going to wake up from these crazy dreams i keep having?  First, i dream of a talking rabbit and the Three Fates. Now i’m dreaming of a talking dog and a strange place where i most certainly don’t belong, no matter what this dog says.

I realize i’m speaking out loud when the westie says, yes, Melinda, you belong here, and it’s not a dream. I’m real, and this room is real. In fact, this whole big house is real. You just might not remember it right away. I’m going to help you with that. Or we are, the Duke and i.

I say, i need to sit down. I feel dizzy and queasy.

Pup says, sure, Melinda! Sit on the bed. Lie down if you want. The bed is yours, after all. So is the house, and the sixty acres it sits on. Back in Other Portland, you had no acreage and a small two bedroom apartment. Isabelle sent you back here via the ring. The ring you’re wearing on your right hand. It should be on your left. I’m sorry, i’m talking too much too soon.  It’s a bad habit of mine. I’ll let you rest. My name is Alcott, by the way. I texted you.. back there.

I slowly sit down on the bed at its foot. It’s a high bed, and my feet dangle like a seven year old’s. I let out a heavy sigh and say nothing.  I want quiet. I close my eyes. I’ve been lax in my meditation practice lately, and i’ve been eating too much dessert. Too much sugar, not enough focus. I blame those things for my restless sleep and bizarre dreams. Wake up, Melinda, wake up! This time i remember not to say it out loud. I open my eyes and look around the room. I look down at my right hand and see the gorgeous sapphire ring. I’m leaving it on this hand. Then i look down and see Alcott sitting patiently a few feet away. Well, i figure, this is a dream. Maybe i should go with it and have fun. Ask little Alcott some questions. Why the hell not? Then perhaps i’ll wake up.

I say, so, Alcott. Will you answer a few questions?

Sure, Melinda. I’ll answer anything you ask!

You mentioned Other Portland. What does that mean?  And i think to myself, geez! Do i really want to know?

Alcott says, you were living in Other Portland Oregon, circa 2017. If i may elaborate on that.. this is Alternate Portland, circa 1974. Also in Oregon.

Now my head is aching. I ask, is this Oregon on the same planet? Because if it is, how could it be?

Well, yes, it’s the same planet. But, as you know, Chronos is, shall we say, taking a break. You know, he’s been at the same job for such a long time. Even the God of Time needs rest and relaxation!

My headache is getting worse. My eyes are still closed. I ask, and who is this Duke?  Someone i know well?

Yes. You know him very well, Melinda. He’s your husband. You’ve been married to him for eight years. In this Portland, you’re thirty five years old, exactly like in Other.

I sigh heavily. I think, so, i have a husband. I smile to myself. My mother used to worry that i’m too headstrong to find a man to put up with me. Her words. I always told her headstrong is a good thing. Ha!

So, his name is Duke?  Duke what?  What is this place?  Do i own it?  Am i wealthy?  Am i your human, Alcott?  I love dogs and all animals. What do i do for a living?  Oops! I guess now i’m the one who’s talking to much.

But she responds right away. She says, i told you i’d answer anything, so here you go!

You husband’s name is Jonas Vandermark, Duke of Eighthworth. He’s not named Duke, he IS a Duke.  And as far as this house, yes you own it. You and Jonas together. You both own this and two other homes on the island. Yes, you’re wealthy. Very much so. How you and the Duke became wealthy is another story though, and you might want to wait on that information. I expect you’ll remember things slowly.  And, yes, Melinda, you are definitely my human. We love each other very much! You are also human to two cats as well, a rabbit, and two other dogs, a Pomeranian and a Scottie!  As far as what you do for a living, that can wait too. It goes along with how you became wealthy.

I take a deep breath. I feel better, but still a smidgen nauseated. Alcott sits quietly, waiting for me to respond. I open my eyes, and i see a tall, sexy man standing in the doorway, smiling at me. Long red hair, the bluest eyes i’ve ever seen, and a slender,  muscular swimmer’s body. I can tell. This house must have a pool!

He says, hello my sweetheart and partner in crime!  Welcome home! ….


M. Raynes

The Westie and the Sixteenth Sapphire

I awaken, look at the clock on my nightstand and see that it’s 3:20 am. I think it’s September something, but i can’t be sure. I do know for sure, though, that my bedroom is filled with a light blue fog that resembles cotton candy and smells like hyacinths. I take a deep breath, and my head spins a little. It’s like there are flowers blooming out of the hardwood floor around my bed. I had the wildest dream i’ve ever had. I lie back down to mull it over. I could still be sleeping and dreaming of the fog and its scent, but no. I’m wide awake.

I dreamed of the Three sister Fates’ penthouse, a rabbit named Alcott, a ring that supposedly belongs to Isabelle, the middle sister, that i stole back from Eris to return to Fate. The door to the penthouse opened when Alcott said the password, and i couldn’t believe what i saw, but that’s when i woke up.  What did i see that i couldn’t believe?  I can’t remember. But it was a dream, right, i ask myself?  I open my eyes again, and the fog has cleared, but the floral scent is still there.  I roll over on my right side and stare at the clock. The Fates really do live in the penthouse of this building. That part of the dream is true. They’re all away from home at the moment, and have been for awhile. Time is also gone. That fact is getting extremely tiresome for everyone.  How dare he take off the way he did?  He has a job to do. So many people are trying to find him and bring him home. Thing is, how can you tell a God what to do?

Well, i think.. I’m awake, i might as well read awhile. I open Haruki Murakami’s A Wild Sheep Chase, chapter five, sit up, fluff my pillows and decide to stay awake. No more weird dreams for me, at least for now. I just become focused on reading when i hear my phone, also on my nightstand, buzz with a text.

Melinda, Alcott here. That startles me. Alcott.. the name of the rabbit in my dream. The rabbit who could talk. … In one hour, your doorbell will ring. Isabelle’s delivery dude is bringing a package. Don’t be alarmed. Just sign for it and feel free to open.

Okay. Now i’m really losing it. A rabbit is texting me. I should go back to sleep after all. This cannot be happening. Then again, maybe it’s a person named Alcott who’s texting me. I laugh out loud and text back..

Alcott, are you a rabbit? (I mean, i might as well play along.)

A text comes back.. No. I’m a dog. A Westie.

I laugh again. This is entertaining. I guess it could be a real weirdo texting me, but then i think of my dream. I also realize the hyacinth scent has dissipated. I put my phone back on the nightstand and go back to my book. I read three chapters, and then, my heart pounds faster. I hear the doorbell. It’s 4:25 am. It’s been an hour. Do i answer the door?  Is there a maniac out there?  Then again, i could be dreaming. I get up, put on my robe and go to the door. I look through the peep hole, and yes, it’s a UPS guy. I’d no idea they deliver at this hour. I open the door and am handed a clipboard. I sign, Melinda Sorenson, and the guy hands me a small wrapped box. It has lovely blue wrapping and smells like.. hyacinth.  The delivery guy nods and walks away. I close the door and tear open the package. I’m dreaming anyway, right?

I open the little box within the box. It’s a magnificent lavender sapphire and gold ring,  not tourmaline like the ring in my other dream. I try it on because, why not?  It fits perfectly on my right ring finger. The gem must be at least four carats. It looks great on my hand.

I realize i’m tired and head back to my room and bed. But, i walk into my room, and there’s a bed, but it’s not my bed. It’s an enormous canopied bed with what look like blue velvet covers. The covers are pulled back. And there’s carpet under my feet. There’s a large oak wardrobe off to the left, and three floor to ceiling windows.  The wallpaper is blue and white, handpainted, i think, with blue and yellow hyacinths. A little Westie runs over to greet me. She says, welcome back, Melinda!  Fate has brought you back to where you belong. The Duke will return shortly. You’re wearing your ring on the wrong hand…

M. Raynes