a TimeKeeperS story
by Samuel B. White
Bat Garrett wakes up one morning next to the wrong woman. Yet he knows she’s his wife. He also knows he should still be married to Jody because that’s who he went to bed with. As he bounces back and forth between two worlds, not knowing which one is the real one or whether one is just in his mind, he enlists the help of Garison Fitch in both realities. And somewhere in the background, there seems to be another person, lurking around the edges and watching Bat’s life. Bat and Garison realize they need the help of one other person to figure all this out: the Garison Fitch who lived in the 1700s!
Coming in July 2012 to Kindle & Nook!
Anthony Hodges, their young clerk and all-around office boy burst into the room while knocking and said, in his usual high-speed voice, “I’m so sorry to break in on you like this and I’m even sorrier that I didn’t do this sooner but there was a man earlier, sir, that I ran into just as I was going to the post office when you sent me out while you were talking to Mrs. Sims about that drainage problem which I really think is more of a matter for a tradesman than a solicitor and I told him you were busy with a client but wouldn’t be but a minute and he left and said he’d come look you up later.”
Garison, who was used to such delivery from his surprisingly under-caffeinated clerk, merely asked, “Did he tell you a name?”
“No sir. He just said he would come back and see you in—I believe the phrase he used was, ‘a little while’—and then he left before I could even ask him if he would like to see you, Mrs. McIntire,” he said to Heather, “But I got the impression he was very intent on seeing Mister Fitch and only Mister Fitch and he left but I suppose he could be here at any time now as it’s been at least an hour since I was at the post.”
“Have you ever seen him before?” Garison queried. “Around town?”
“No sir. He looked to be about your age or maybe a little younger, begging your pardon, though he didn’t really have gray hair he just looked like someone who had been around a bit, if you know what I mean, sir. He was oddly dressed. Like someone just off the frontier.”
“Thank you, Anthony. If he comes back, bring him in.”
“Yes sir. I, ah, the reason I’m here is that I saw him going in next door and remembered that he had been here earlier.”
Heather offered, “Would you like a tortilla, Anthony?”
“No thank you ma’am I don’t eat spiders,” he replied as he hastened out of the room, passing Jody as she entered and greeting her with a barely audible, “Good morning, Miss Jody.”
“Who do you suppose it was?” Heather asked, as she watched her father roll up the meat and some sauce in a tortilla and then did likewise for herself. Jody watched dubiously, but then laid down her paperwork and decided to follow suit.
“This is really good!” Garison told Helen with a smile. “Soon as you get the refried beans down, we can have real burritos!” Then, “I wonder who it was Anthony talked to? He was probably just someone looking for a lawyer. Thinks he needs to sue his neighbor over a property dispute or something.”
“I don’t know,” Heather commented. “Those back woods men usually settle their own disputes, with a long knife or a gun.”
“Maybe he wants to sue the fellow that stabbed him,” Garison joked, which Heather didn’t get.
Garison leaned back, savoring his food and casually listening as his daughters discussed various things, only becoming interested when they touched on the grandchildren. Jody had eaten in a hurry, then departed quickly to go take another deposition. Not only did moss rarely grow under her feet, moss that was already there was stomped into oblivion. She was back soon, her quarry not where he was expected. She had been unwilling to wait around for his return.
He found himself looking out the window and watching the people along the street. He spotted the man coming toward the law office again, wearing frontier clothes that didn’t quite look right, and thought it was the man he had seen earlier that had piqued his interest. He was an older man, with blondish-brown hair and was looking around as if more enthralled by the city of Alexandria than most. He was obviously from out of town, but Garison wondered if perhaps this were his first time in a big city—not that Alexandria was a metropolis, but it had been known to awe the person whose idea of a town was three buildings at a backwoods crossroads.
As the man came closer, there was something about him that seemed more familiar than earlier. Garison was pretty sure he had never seen the man before, but he reminded him of someone. Was it the walk? Something rang in the back of Garison’s mind saying the walk was familiar.
He looked more closely at the shoes as the man drew near. Just simple, brown shoes, dusty from the road, but they didn’t really go with the whole buckskin motif. And then the man was out of sight, but Garison could hear faintly the distant sound of the front door opening.
Soon, the office door was opening again and Anthony was saying, in his slightly-slowed-down-for-customers voice, “The gentleman has returned, sir.”
“Show him in, Anthony.”
The man Garison had seen in the street entered nervously, looking around with something like barely disguised awe. Then he looked at Garison and the disguise disappeared. He smiled and blurted out, “You’re Garison Fitch!”
Garison rose and gestured, “This is my law partner and daughter, Heather McIntire. And this lovely lady is another of my daughters—and the best cook in Virginia—Helen Robisson.”
The stranger turned to the youngest of the three ladies, a red-haired woman (whose hair was so spectacular, he thought, that the term was inadequate) and offered his hand, saying, “And you must be Jody. Is it still Jody Fitch?”
“It … is,” she replied cautiously, looking to her father for support.
“Wow. I’ve read—I mean, heard about—all of you and,” he seemed flustered. Finally, he wiped his hands on his trousers, then reached out with his right and said, “You may not remember me, but my name is Bat Garrett.”