Scene One
Scene Two
Scene Three
Scene Four

Chapter One: Journey Home


Scene One: Departure
mgrasso> All right, folks, I think we're good to go.
*** Erica is now known as Gemma
mgrasso> All right, kids. How long did you plan on going?
James> i think it was something like ten days
mgrasso> So, the last part of August sounds good? You guys want to "meet" and discuss it?
Gemma> We already did that over email, didn't we? Sort of.
mgrasso> Yeah, true. Let's fast-forward to the trip.
Gemma> Hand jobs and scissors and leaving the next week and ... something.
James> ha
mgrasso> All right, so... are the two of you simply meeting at the airport?
James> I'll pick her up
mgrasso> It's an early flight, so we're talking 5:30 am or so.
Gemma> Damn parents home.. Ah, Gemma will be waiting outside.
James> alright, James shows up at your house, and hops out of the car to grab your stuff
mgrasso> James brings the Lincoln around to Gemma's home.
mgrasso> Gemma's parents, in their bathrobes, are waiting just behind her at the front door. They look slightly concerned.
* Gemma waves cheerfully to her parents and gets into James' car as soon as he has her sole suitcase loaded
mgrasso> (Just one suitcase, eh? Interesting)
James> I'm impressed Gem, *I* have a suitcase and a carry on
James> you notice right away that his carry on is his laptop.
Gemma> Oh, well, I have my backpack, too. But I'm a light packer...
* Gemma pats her backpack, which doesn't look very full
* Gemma glances at the laptop case. "So, were you going to get some work done or...?
James> vampire, redemption- it's a long plane ride
* Gemma nods as though she knows what James is talking about
Gemma> Ah.
James> it's a videogame
mgrasso> (heh)
Gemma> Ohhhh... video game. Okay. I don't play many of those.
Gemma> Although one time I found this website where they had a shockwave version of pac-man, only it was some guy eating pot leaves. Very strange.
James> James snickers
mgrasso> So, it's off to the airport.
James> do they have outside luggage check?
mgrasso> (Mellie?)
Gemma> (Yeah, but Tucson's airport is so teeny that it's usually not open)
mgrasso> Especially at this hour.
mgrasso> Gotta tote them in yourself.
James> James looks around him at the airport.
James> Logan this ain't.
Gemma> (It's a small airport, one building, one parking lot. Despite the signs that say "X Airline," all doors lead to the same big hallway. As far as terminals go, there's only two choices: A and B.)
mgrasso> Cool. So you make your way over to the ticket counter and pick up your tickets.
* Gemma eyes the nearly empty ticketing area
Gemma> You really know how to pick prime travel times, James.
James> james smiles as his eyes rapidly scan around for a dunkin or starbucks.
mgrasso> There is indeed a Starbucks in the terminal.
* Gemma stretches and yawns
mgrasso> You guys easily get your boarding passes (James booked e-tickets) and make your way to your gate.
mgrasso> So, coffee and then to the plane?
Gemma> Yup
mgrasso> Well, you can certainly grab some coffee before you board the plane.
James> James gets a large black-
James> want anything?
Gemma> A late.
James> James gets her a latte and a biscottie
* Gemma sweetly thanks James
* Gemma kisses his cheek. "Now let's get our groggy asses over to the plane. I want to see if there are any kids to scare with plane crash tales..."
James> James nods.
* Gemma calmly sips her late and looks around
Gemma> I hate airports.
James> why?
Gemma> They're very strange places.
mgrasso> The early-morning flight to Boston looks to be nearly empty.
James> this one isn't bad.
Gemma> It's very simple. BUt I was thinking more of the vibe.
James> wait till we get to logan, that place is what it would look like if hell threw up.
Gemma> Ooh. Well. There is nothing I would enjoy more than running around in the devil's vomit.
James> yeah, they have the same atmosphere as supermarkets.
Gemma> At least supermarkets have the big boxes of cookies...
mgrasso> "Now boarding flight 601 to Boston. All passengers may board at Gate 5."
James> but they play music that controles how fast you walk... I saw it on 20/20 once.
James> shall we?
mgrasso> (heh! damn Technocracy!)
Gemma> Sure.
James> :)
* Gemma stands and swings her backpack over her shoulder
mgrasso> You guys get on the plane and settle into your coach seats.
Gemma> I can't see that as being true. I've been to the grocery store a few times and I just feel so lost. I wander around slowly. I'm lucky if I find what I was sent for.
mgrasso> You begin taxiing.
James> the slow wandering, that's what it's about, they play music in a slow meter, and they put stuff they want you to buy at eye level, and the colors are meant to break your spirit... they're so furking banal.
Gemma> That explains the dread I feel at having to go there.
James> absolutely. Ever hear of "homeruns" or "beansprout"?
Gemma> Papi sent me for bread once because Rosalva was busy doing something... Anyway, I came home with a small box of detergent. He was *not* happy.
Gemma> Homeruns? Beansprout? Only on sports and salads.
James> James laughs
mgrasso> You are beginning to take off.
James> they're internet services that do your shoping for you, they started out just doing food, but now you can even buy clothes or a tv that way
Gemma> Nice. I take it you make use of their services?
James> I don't do much shoping, other than technical shit, but I will.
Gemma> Technology... I feel lucky when I can run a computer without crashing it. How do you deal with it all the time?
mgrasso> Okay, you're in the air. Kill five hours. :)
Gemma> (They grab a stewardess and lock themselves in the first class bathroom... ;) )
mgrasso> Whoa!
James> ha
James> I have a vibe with it, like some people "get" art, and some people "get" people, I "get" computers
Gemma> Oh. I'm trying to see what I "get."
Gemma> I don't care what Livia said, her thing wasn't quite... you know.
James> /me smiles
James> (grrR)
James> yeah, the dom thing and the god thing kinda clash don't they?
Gemma> More than you know.
* Gemma drums her fingers on her thighs
Gemma> I can't believe I have to sit still for ... how much longer?
James> four hours and 52 minutes....
Gemma> Oh.
James> we can bug the stewardesses for extra peanuts and free drinks.
* Gemma stretches her legs out
Gemma> I don't know why people complain about th eroom on planes.
Gemma> I have plenty of leg room.
mgrasso> In fact, here comes the drink cart.
mgrasso> Stewardess Marian quite resembles the mortal seeming of your friend Ingrid; her makeup gives her face a plastic, angular affect.
mgrasso> She bends down and asks "Would either of you like coffee or juice?"
James> Do you have any Jolt?
mgrasso> "Uh... no, I'm sorry!"
Gemma> You look really familiar...
* Gemma squints at the stewardess
* Gemma leans over James' lap to get a closer look
Gemma> Have you ever -- no, never mind. It's silly. I don't need any drinks, though. Thanks for asking.
* Gemma settles back into her seat
James> I'll have a coffee, black
mgrasso> She pours a cup into a styrofoam cup and hands it to you.
mgrasso> "Careful, that's hot!"
Gemma> I wonder if there are parachutes on this thing...? Gemma says to no one in particular.
James> no shit sherlock, James mutters as the stewardess walks away
mgrasso> (*snort*)
Gemma> I think she was the original model for the horse-jacking-off picture...
* Gemma watches the stewardess do her thing
James> nope, but our seats can be used as a handy floatation device incase of emergency water landing over kentucky.
James> ha
Gemma> Oh, great! We can float in the dirt and smell the asses of a thousand strangers.
mgrasso> (Shall I land the plane now, or do you guys have more things of importance to discuss?)
James> so- (James seems to be trying to avoid taking out his laptop and becoming engrossed)
James> no, nothing more to discuss
Gemma> (yeah, let's land)
mgrasso> All righty!
Gemma> (can gloss over logan? :) )

Scene Two: Arrival
mgrasso> You pull into Terminal A... the oldest terminal at Logan. It doesn't take but a look at the architecture to realize it's 1950s.
Gemma> Charming!
mgrasso> (That's where you came in that time, Erica :) )
Gemma> (Oh! Yes! I thought the whole place was like that...)
mgrasso> (Nope, that's the ancient ugly wood-panelled terminal :) )
mgrasso> The two of you debark the plane, and it's about 2 pm local time.
mgrasso> The terminal is crowded, but amongst the throng, there are two people there to meet you.
mgrasso> (Over to you, Mandy!) :)
James> A short, puggy woman, with red curly, short hair, looking like an old lady in the way she dresses but no more than 50 comes running up to meet us
James> Jimmy jimmy, she calls- it's so good to see you
James> she has a havy acent, hebrew mixed with bostonian
James> she pulls his face down and kisses him on the cheek repeatedly. After that, it's clear the welcome is over
* Gemma watches the scene with much interest
James> what do you mean coming out to visit dressed like that? you never call you never write- I never see you any more- Jimmy, don't you love your mother.
Gemma> !dice 5 6
* DiceWell Gemma rolls 5d10 at difficulty 6. S/He gets 2 successes.
* DiceWell 7 4 2 3 10
James> Ma-a (james sounds like a teenager annoyed with his parent)
mgrasso> (Is dad around?)
James> as you make your way over to bagage claim, surrounded by throngs of people bustling about, you are joind by a tall, square shouldered stoic gentleman
mgrasso> "Oh, and who is this?" James' mom walks over to Gemma and reaches out to her face, pulling Gemma;s face towards her.
James> he looks like he's on leave from the army, or maybe a self important rent a cop.
* Gemma 's eyes bulge in surprise
James> ma this is Gemma.
Gemma> I --
mgrasso> "James, what a cutie you have here!"
James> Gemma, this is my mom, Mary, and this is Glen.
mgrasso> "Hi, Hhhhhemma, I'm Mary, over there is Glen! Welcome to Bawwwwston!"
James> (ha!)
mgrasso> Glen walks over to James, puts a hand on his shoulder and says, "You got bags?"
Gemma> Nice to meet you.
* Gemma smiles at James' parents
Gemma> !dice 5 6
* DiceWell Gemma rolls 5d10 at difficulty 6. S/He gets 4 successes.
* DiceWell 8 8 10 2 10
mgrasso> Glen waves back and smiles ever-so-slightly to Gemma.
mgrasso> "James? Wake up, I said, you got bags?"
James> (what time is it here?)
Gemma> I bet baggage claim here is nowehre near as simple as home.
mgrasso> 2 pm
mgrasso> "All right," Glen says, "let's get you kids' bags."
mgrasso> Glen sets out like an explorer out into the terminal.
mgrasso> Mary, meanwhile, is staying close to Gemma and James.
mgrasso> "So, Hhhhhemma, tell me, how was ya trip?"
James> Glen! (James calls after him) we have to go to baggage claim C.
Gemma> It was fine. Our stewardess was a former model.
mgrasso> Glen looks back and says, "Oh? Why don't you show me the way then." with a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
Gemma> I hope you didn't wait long for us, ma'am.
mgrasso> "Oh really! Well, with yoah looks, deah, *you* should be a model!"
* Gemma smiles modestly
Gemma> Oh, I don't think I could do the things they do..
James> I will then, *sir*
James> !dice 6 7
* DiceWell James rolls 6d10 at difficulty 7. S/He fails the roll!
* DiceWell 10 1 3 6 3 3
James> wp
mgrasso> "Of course, *you*'ve got a figyuh, unlike those stick-thin little ongepochet girls in the magazines."
mgrasso> James wanders around for a while, unable to pinpoint the location of the baggage claim. It's been a while for you. :)
mgrasso> Try again, same diff.
James> !dice 6 7
* DiceWell James rolls 6d10 at difficulty 7. S/He gets 3 successes.
* DiceWell 2 6 8 8 2 10
* Gemma grins and tells Mary, "Oh, yes. My mother always said I had child-bearing hips."
mgrasso> Ah, much better. James slips downstairs, quite stealthily in fact, and arrives at baggage claim just in time for the siren and light to sound.
mgrasso> "Good, we got the kids, we got the bags, so why don't we go home, I've had all sohts of food cooking all day long, Jimmy. All yuh favorites!"
James> You know I'll eat anything you make ma
* Gemma reaches over and smooths James' hair
Gemma> And what *are* your favorites, dear?
mgrasso> "Hhhhemma, you should see this boy. He used to make his own sandwiches in third grade: sliced bananas, lucky chahms, ketchup, and potato chips between two pieces of pumperknickel!"
James> so what did you make ma?
mgrasso> "Oh, you know, I've got nana's old recipe for knishes, I've got the brisket in the oven right now, I hope the poor thing doesn't burn by the time we get home." James' mom says. James' dad says, "Yeah, you haven't been home since they really fucked up this city with that goddamn Big Dig." James' mom hushes up his foul-mouthed dad. "Glen, not in front of the girl!"
James> I hear it's bad now.
Gemma> Big dig?
mgrasso> And you get a very good opportunity to see how bad. As you depart from Logan, you can see the backup, already, at 2:30, into Boston through the tunnel. You depart on route 1A north which goes, apparently, to "Revere, Lynn, and Salem."
mgrasso> Glen, driving, says, "I'm not going through Boston. I don't have a death wish."
mgrasso> James realizes this means it'll mean more time in the car with his parents. :)
* Gemma sits silently in the backseat, watching the scenery
James> James looks appologetically at Gemma, with sort of a "don't say i didn't warn you" feeling.
* Gemma affectionately rubs James' thigh and gives him a "it's not that bad" kind of smile mgrasso> "So, Jimmy," Mary says, "you nevuh answered me. What is it, with the nevuh calling, or writing. You're on that email 20 hours a day, you can't send a little email to your parents? I worry about you."
James> ma, I'm busy, and it's not "that email" it's my job.
mgrasso> Gemma sees huge oil tanks and refineries out her window on her left and right.
mgrasso> She also sees a sign for "Suffolk Downs" horse racing as you speed along 1A.
mgrasso> As you are racing along the route, a driver in a white Saturn passes you on the right at about 60 mph and flips your dad the finger.
mgrasso> Glen silently seethes as you putter along.
mgrasso> "That reminds me, James," dad says, "how's the car holding up?"
James> Jame's temper flares up, especially when he realizes he's not at the wheel and theres nothing he can do.
James> glen, she's a beaut you'd never believe all the shit she's gone through and still running like she was new
mgrasso> "Hmph. That's good. I'm glad to hear it. You know, you should really go see your granma while you're out here, before you kids go down and enjoy that house your grandfather's blood sweat and tears paid for down the Cape."
mgrasso> (no Empathy roll required to detect good old-fashioned Jewish guilt. :) )
James> James nods. How is gram?
mgrasso> Glen sighs, and for the first time, Mary seems less than ebullient. "She's worse, James. Much worse. She doesn't recognize us most days." One point of temp. Banality for each of you.
mgrasso> There's big-time sadness and negative energy coming off both James' parents.
* Gemma looks down at her lap and clears her throat
James> oh. James says, not knowing what to say.
mgrasso> "Anyway," Glen says, his voice barely cracking, "you could see her tomorrow morning before you leave. Visiting hours in her care unit is at 10 am."
mgrasso> You arrive at the Goldstein home. (Description, Mandy?)
mgrasso> "Don't worry!" Mary says as you exit the car, somewhat down. "A nice big meal will fix all this!"
James> it's a pretty typical turn of the century newengland home, tall and proud looking, it's painted brown, with a open porch in the front. A very small front lawn, and I'm sure Gemma's never seen just regular houses set so close they almos touch
* Gemma takes it all in
Gemma> I can't get over how *different* it is. I'm too used to the spread-out west.
James> They have a chainlink fence, viciously protecting the little bit of property they have. It's 3 stories tall.
mgrasso> "See, Hhhhemma, that's what we call in New England a three-deckah!" Mary points to her home.
James> you know, we could walk to the corner store in less then five minutes Gem.
Gemma> In Arizona we tend to waste our land, just spreading out and out...
mgrasso> "Yeah," Glen says, "why don't you kids pick up some wine for dinner." Glen hands James a 20.
Gemma> Corner store? Sure! Let's go. I could use a nice walk after all that sitting.
James> Kappys!
mgrasso> Heh, yeah.
mgrasso> The package stoah!
mgrasso> (Okay, convo away, kids. I do want to get to at least the seeing grandma thing tonight.)
Gemma> (so we're heading towards the store?)
James> yup
mgrasso> Yes.

Scene Three: Kappy's
James> as you turn the corner, James shakes his head
Gemma> Good ... heavens.
mgrasso> (heh!)
Gemma> I can't believe I met your parents.
James> what do you mean?
* Gemma shrugs
Gemma> I just never thought it'd get this far.
James> oh, you mean... normally meeting the parents comes after, other stuff.
* Gemma nods "yes"
Gemma> Usually, yes.
James> I met your
James> 's on the 1st date
Gemma> Er... sort of. You got off light. Believe me.
James> I'm sure, your dad doesn't even remember me.
Gemma> You know, they were a little upset that I came here with you without you asking to so much as date me, much -- um, you know. Travel with me.
mgrasso> You enter the air-conditioned, cardboard-redolent aisles of the super liquor store, Kappy's, as you talk.
James> heh, sorry, I stoped asking for anyones premission when I turned eleven.
Gemma> Yeah, sadly, they're still stuck in 1850s Mexico.
James> !dice 2 8
* DiceWell James rolls 2d10 at difficulty 8. S/He fails the roll!
* DiceWell 10 1
mgrasso> You guys grab a bottle of wine, and as you go to checkout, the checkout girl, loudly smacking gum and sporting a huge puff of thickly-hairsprayed hair, says, "Omigod! Jimmy Goldstein!" It's Barbara Agostino, James, and she graduated high school with you.
James> Barb! longtime no see- what've you been up to?
mgrasso> You can smell the scent of nicotine under her Juicy Fruit, the fatigue under her eyes, and the weariness of her demeanor. Another point of temp. Banality.
mgrasso> "Been working here since high school. You?" She quickly checks out your wine. She was one of the "popular" kids at HS, James. It's a shock she remembers you.
James> (I figured)
* Gemma tries not to stare at Barb's crusty hair puff
James> I went to BU, I've got a really solid position out in a tech company in tucson-
mgrasso> "Ah, that's good. Well, that's $9.75." She gives Gemma a slight glance like, "Who the hell is this person."
* Gemma gives Barb a faint smile
James> James smiles a big grin and heads out
James> You have no idea how good that felt.
Gemma> You have no idea how much her hair horrified me...
Gemma> And just how did that feel good, anyway?
James> James laughs. But, I don't know, her boyfriend used to beat me up- she was the kind of kid who made me not want to have to go to school and deal with the shit, and now she works at Kappys
Gemma> Ahhh...
* Gemma smiles
James> How should I introduce you? James says suddenly
Gemma> That depends.
James> on?
Gemma> On how much you pay me.
* Gemma playfully whaps James on the butt
James> oh, I said "for 50 bucks an hour, can I call you my prostitute?"
Gemma> Hardly. For fifty bucks you can claim I'm your personal assistant.
Gemma> Although whenever i'm out of ear shot, you're free to claim I give you the best head ever.
mgrasso> (May I move things along a bit, butt-whappings notwithstanding?)
James> sure
Gemma> sure
mgrasso> I'm going to take the dinner with the parents as read.
mgrasso> Needless to say, the food fairly horrifies Gemma with its strange blandness.
Gemma> (She squirts lemon that she digs out of her backpack on everything to make up for it... :) )
mgrasso> Heh.
mgrasso> Mary keeps exhorting "Hhhemma" to eat. "Doesn't this girl eat anything?"
James> James keeps looking at Gemma appologetically.
* Gemma keeps patting James' leg under the table

Scene Four: Memoirs of a War
mgrasso> All right. You guys pack up the car the next morning, but you do have to stop at the nursing home to say hello to James' grandmother Hannah.
mgrasso> (The parents gave James his old room and Gemma the "guest" room. :D )
James> James goes up to the main desk to ask for his grandma's room, squirming uncomfortably
mgrasso> "Oh yes. Hannah Goldstein. Follow me." The nurse behind the desk, black and of Caribbean extraction, leads James and Gemma through the disinfectant-scented halls of the home.
* Gemma quietly asks, "Why is she here, James?"
mgrasso> The wing, or ward, that Hannah is in is more of a medical ward. There are more nurses here, and the rooms look less homey and more like the rooms in a hospital.
James> she's sick, and we can't afford to keep her home.
Gemma> How is she sick? Anything specific, or just age?
Gemma> Or -- I'm sorry. I shouldn't be asking.
James> It's okay. The truth is, I really don't know.
mgrasso> You walk into room 152, and see her resting. Her off-white nightgown is buttoned up to her neck. She lay on her back, her sharp-featured but elderly features twitching in the midst of what could be a dream.
James> James balks at the door- maybe we should just let her sleep...
Gemma> No, go see her.
* Gemma puts her hand on James' arm
James> I- I hate nursing homes, I'd rather have them put me out of my misery than leave me somewhere pitifull like this.
James> He looks pained, and then walks into the room
* Gemma follows him in
mgrasso> James approaches the hospital bed, and Hannah begins to stir.
James> Gram? bubby?(not sure how to spell it, it's yiddish)
mgrasso> "Aaron? Is that you?" She peers through slitted eyes to look at James.
James> No no Gram, (tears well up in his eyes) it's me, James.
mgrasso> "James! Oh dear, I thought you were... a man I knew once. There are things I remember, you know. He told me to write them down in a book so I won't forget. That's what he did."
* Gemma quietly goes over to a dresser where she picks up a framed photograph. She studies it intently.
Gemma> !dice 7 6
* DiceWell Gemma rolls 7d10 at difficulty 6. S/He gets 5 successes.
* DiceWell 10 9 6 10 9 5 2
mgrasso> "I have his only book, here, in my dresser." She creaks to point at the dresser.
James> Oh Gram, (James is talking to him self more now than to her) I miss you so much, and I miss pappi... (he walks over to the dresser)
mgrasso> "He wants you to read, James."
James> James takes the book and sits beside her bed, opening it.
James> out loud?
mgrasso> It's a diary of your grandfather, James. From 1944 to 1947.
James> oh gram! James exclaims
mgrasso> "The man showed me things. Such wondrous rainbows and monsters. So many times..."
mgrasso> "It's getting so I can't remember anything but the sunlight, James. The sunlight on the Thames."
James> James touches her hand
mgrasso> "The clouds over Bletchley Park. The rain on the picnic. The dragons in the underbrush."
Gemma> !dice 6 5
* DiceWell Gemma rolls 6d10 at difficulty 5. S/He gets 3 successes.
* DiceWell 5 3 7 2 6 4
mgrasso> As James touches his grandmother's hand, she falls into a deep sleep, murmuring to herself, "You haven't really even met him, yet, James. Not yet."
James> sleep gram- please sleep. he hums her a little bit of a Jewish lullabye before walking softly out of the room, book intow
mgrasso> James, want to breeze through the book?
James> sure
mgrasso> First thing you notice off the top, is that the front page is stamped with TOP SECRET U.S. ARMY CID / EYES ONLY MI6
mgrasso> There's a publisher's mark on the front page: Ritter Journals of London, Grant Street, S.W. 3
mgrasso> The journal begins on August 14, 1944. "Have been briefed by Colonel Andrews of Naval Intelligence. My place on the Enigma team is with Dr. Turing and the others in the reverse-engineering department. I could crack this code in a week, given the opportunity.
mgrasso> "But I cannot be alone for too long, for that could be a 'security' problem. Bloody idiots."