Chapter VII

	The sensation of being yanked away, as if in the nick of time, was still
with Sam as he was dumped, with the usual lack of warning, into the life of --

	He was still a bit disoriented and couldn't see clearly.  Not good.  Sam
blinked rapidly and shook his head, hoping to clear it.

	To his dismay, he found himself staring back at a roomful of students, all
seated behind desks.  He was a teacher. *Great.  I leaped into the middle
of a lecture.* "Um . . . " he stammered, looking down at the desk he was
sitting behind, hoping to find some notes.

	No such luck.

	The abrupt ringing of the school bell saved him, for the moment.
Grateful, Sam stood up and returned the greetings of his students as they
departed.  He waited until the last had left before breathing a sigh of
relief.  The clock mounted on the wall behind him told him that the last
class of the day had just departed, and he let out another sigh for good

	Now that he was alone, Sam got down to business.  Judging by the styles
worn by his students, he guessed it was the 1950s.  He glanced down at his
own attire.  Sam found himself wearing a grey wool skirt and jacket, with a
cream silk blouse.

	*Wonderful,* he thought. *I'm a teacher.*  He stood up and surveyed the
room. *Well, I'm not a science teacher.*  Resigned, he crossed over to the
window and looked out.

	It was snowing.

	If there had been any doubt in Sam's mind about being a teacher, it was
immediately erased by the snow covered, fenced in school yard.  Beyond the
school yard  was a row of houses, some brightly decorated with Christmas
lights and light up yard statuary.


	*A woman teacher, in the ‘50s, around Christmas.  Pretty good for only
being here less than fifteen minutes,* Sam thought, watching the younger
school children playing in the snow.

	A movement closer to the school building caught Sam's attention.  A girl,
possibly a junior or senior, stood near the low wall in front of the fence.
 The wall blocked her from the wind, but it also kept anyone in the yard
from seeing her.

	The young woman glanced left, then right, but not up.  Sam couldn't make
out her face.  She was wearing a hat and a brightly colored scarf.  Out in
the open, she would have stood out like a beacon.  Seeing that scarf, Sam
couldn't help thinking about Al.  It was something that would have appealed
to the quirky admiral.

	*Speaking of which, where is he?*

	The girl turned out to be luckier than Sam.  The person she was waiting
for arrived.  A young man, her own age, came up to her and immediately took
her into her arms, kissing her.

	Embarrassed and startled, Sam jerked back from the window.

	"There you are."

	Sam jumped.  A woman, probably another teacher, stood in the classroom
doorway.  "Gena, Dwight's waiting for you."

	"Oh.  I was just straightening up," Sam improvised.  He hoped ‘Dwight'
wasn't a student.  Sam still didn't know what subject Gena taught.

	"Here.  Let me," the woman said, pulling the blinds without so much as a
glance out the window. "You just get your things together."

	Sam had no other choice but to get ready.  He found Gena's things, but
didn't have a chance to go through her wallet because the other woman was

	"I told him to wait outside," the woman was saying to Sam, "since he's all
bundled up."

	"Uh, thanks," Sam said, following his guide out the door and down a flight
of steps.

	"Well, I'll see you in the morning, Gena," his companion opening the
stairwell door.  "Goodnight."  Without another glance, she disappeared into
the building.

	For a minute, Sam stood in the empty stairwell, wondering who Dwight was
and how would Sam find him.

	There was a short flight of stairs down and another door.  "I guess that's
the way out."

	A blast of cold air and snow struck him as he stepped out onto the stoop.
Standing a foot a way was a little boy, barely visible under his hat and

	"I was worried you forgot me, Grandma," the little boy cried out, voice
muffled by his scarf.

	*This must be Dwight.*  "Uh, I'm sorry, Dwight.  I had to straighten up."

	Dwight reached up, awkwardly, for Sam's hand.  The little boy was wearing
a snowsuit, making his movements stiff and clumsy.

	Sam started walking, no clue which way was correct. *Come on, Al.*

	"Why are we going this way, Grandma?"

	He went with the first thing that came to his mind, which was almost the
truth.  "My mind wandered for a moment, Dwight."

	"Mrs. Grayson, can I have a word with you?"

	It took a moment for Sam to realize the person was speaking to him.  He
turned to face the speaker.  "Yes?"

	"I'm Mrs. Carmichael.  Dora," she said, as way of introduction. There was
a boy around Dwight's age with her.  Her son, Sam assumed.  "We're on the
pageant committee," she added after a moment, when she realized that Sam
was staring at her blankly.

	"Um . . . "

	"I live two houses down from you," she prompted.

	"Ah.  Yes.  Mrs. Carmichael.  How are you?"  Sam asked cheerfully.  He
still didn't know her from a hill of beans, but she lived near Gena, and
that meant that Sam could follow her home.

	"Oh fine.  I was wondering if we could talk?"

	Sam nodded and the four of them headed out.  As they walked, he took
careful note of his surroundings.  Dora Carmichael went on about costume
problems and casting woes.

	"And I don't think we should have to choose one of the girls from St.
Cecilia's to play Mary," Mrs. Carmichael was saying as they turned onto
Maple Street.

	"Maybe we could hold auditions.  Or pull names from a hat," Sam suggested.

	"Well --," she stopped abruptly.  "Pull names from a hat?"

	Sam shrugged.  "Why not?  It's fair."

	She shook her head.  "That'll never get committee approval.  I think you
should stick with auditions."


	"Of course.  You're in charge of casting."

	*Oh boy.* "I guess I'll let the committee know on Sunday that --"

	"Sunday?  You should tell them tomorrow, at the committee meeting.  The
casting is scheduled for Saturday."

	They stopped in front of a greyish white brick house, with a waist high
chain link fence around it.  Dwight let go of his hand and awkwardly
climbed the steps.

	"Right.  I, uh, I forgot about the meeting tomorrow."  He glanced up at
Dwight on the stoop.  "Well, it was nice talking with you, Mrs. Carmichael.

	The other woman and her son walked away as Sam joined Dwight on the steps.
 He didn't
have to fumble for the keys.  Someone on the inside was opening the door.

	"Hi, Aunt Eudora," Dwight cried out as the door opened to reveal the face
of a careworn, older woman.


	Aunt Eudora drew Dwight into the screened in porch, fussing over him.
"You're late," she snapped in Sam's direction.  "And come in before you let
all the heat out."

	Sam snatched up the mail before coming into the house.  "We had company on
the way home," Sam explained absently, as he looked at the mail.  He was
looking for years, names, addresses, anything that would help him until Al

	"It was Mrs. Carmichael," Dwight informed Aunt Eudora as she helped him
out of his snowsuit.

	She grunted.  "Well, that explains it then."

	The address on the mail told Sam he was at 813 Maple Street,  Kearney, New
Jersey.  The majority of the mail was addressed to `Mrs. Walter P. Grayson,
Sr.' *That would be me.  I think.*

	"Well, sister, are you going to stand there all day?"  Eudora shook her
head at her ‘sister', and then she and Dwight went into the main part of
the house.

	*So,* Sam thought, working on his boots. *I have a sister named Eudora, a
grandson named Dwight, a husband named --,* he stopped and sat up.  He
opened one of the envelopes, revealing a phone bill.  All the bills
appeared to be addressed to the lady of the house.  Sam remembered that,
after his father died, the mail was addressed to `Mrs. John Beckett'. *So,
she's a widow.  And it's December,* he glanced at the bill. *1955.  I'm in
Kearney, New Jersey.  Wherever that is.*

	Leaving the boots next to Dwight's, Sam ventured into the house.  He found
himself in what looked to be the formal living room.  It was probably off
limits to Dwight.  Further in, he poked his head into a room with a bay
window.  There was a desk, several book cases, and file cabinets. *Gena's
office.* This was a good place to stow the mail, Gena's purse, coat, and

	There was no mirror in the office for him to see what he looked like, but
further exploration brought him to the full bathroom.  Gena Grayson was a
handsome woman and probably turned a few heads in her day.  She was also
the epitome of the woman of her time.  He could almost imagine her having
tea with Mrs. Eisenhower.

	Sam smelled dinner being prepared, and heard Eudora tell Dwight to keep
his hands out of the cookie jar.  Venturing to the back part of the house,
Sam saw Dwight disappear down a flight of carpeted steps.  Curious, Sam
peered down the well-lit staircase and he was surprised to see that it was
a finished basement.

	Following the smells, Sam found the kitchen.  Eudora wasn't there and
there was no way she could have gotten passed him.  Sam was perplexed until
she emerged from another door on the other end of the room.  The pantry, no
doubt.  "Where's Dwight?"  She asked Sam.

	"I think he snatched a cookie and disappeared into the basement," he
informed her, looking around.  "Need any help?"

	"No.  Why don't you go upstairs to my sitting room and wrap gifts," she
instructed, ushering him through the door she had emerged from, "until
Dorothy comes home?"

	This wasn't the pantry.  It was  . . . a foyer?  A flight of stairs led up
on his right, and a door on his left led into the wash room and pantry.
Another door on the far side of the laundry room led to Heaven-knows-where.
 Sam realized that, once upon a time, there was a separate dwelling, with a
separate entrance.  "Uh, so, when is Dorothy coming home?"

	Eudora gave him a strange look. *Right.  Gena would know when she'd be
home.  Dorothy's probably Dwight's mother.* "I mean, did she tell you she'd
be home later than usual," Sam amended.

	"Not yet."  She gave Sam another hard look and went back to preparing dinner.

	Sam gave a frustrated sigh and headed up the stairs.

	  What could possibly be keeping Al?  Sam worried when his partner didn't
show up in a timely manner.  Usually, it was trouble with the Visitor that
kept Al from making an immediate appearance.  But Sam couldn't see Gena
being too much of a problem.  Turn on a little of that legendary charm, and
he'd have her cooperating in no time.  No, there must be something else
that needed Al's attention.  Sam wasn't sure how much longer he could
stumble through without information from the Project.

	*I need you here, Al.*