Kory looked at the careful block printing lined up on the tiny square of notebook paper clutched in his hand. His damp shirt hung askew, and his left shoe was untied and trailing a line of mud behind him. A harried swipe to his forehead left his wayward hair standing on end as he huffed in annoyance at his forgetfulness. The paper, which was creased and smudged with dirty water, didn't look much better. In fact it looked very much as if it had been ripped from someone's pocket spiral and then promptly dropped in a puddle. (Which it had.) He read it again just to be sure.
Friday. Under the clock. Train Station. . Or else. Kennedy.
He looked around frantically, then let his eyes settle on the board holding the clock. It had Gate 3 in bold letters across the top of panel. The clock also read . Late. So very late.
A quick visual search of the area did not produce a cynical red head tapping her foot and giving him the stink eye. Where could she have gone? And why had everyone else picked this week to go out of town, forcing him to be the one responsible for picking her up? Kennedy was going to kill him.
He had gotten so focused in on his research he'd almost missed the snooze timer going off on his computer planner for the umpteenth time. He was so close to solving the formula. He could feel it. Not, he admitted to himself with a sigh, that he would have been any less involved in his books and theories if he hadn't been close to a solution. Thank heavens Kennedy knew him well enough to have set a back up timer on his computer, or he'd have never remembered. Maybe he could call her. Scrabbling through his pockets, he searched for his cell phone. An image of his cell sitting on the shelf above his computer where he had plugged it in to charge earlier this afternoon floated through his mind. He could feel the panic level beginning to rise.
A tug at his sleeve brought his attention to an older Indian gentleman standing in front of him. He blinked once or twice, trying to place the familiar face. Coffee shop? Bookstore? Post office? No. Where else did he go?
"Kory Evanston, no?" the man's soft voice repeating itself for the third time brought him back to the present. Train station ...or . Late.
"Yes. Have you seen Kennedy?" he blurted, then nearly slapped his own forehead at his stupidity. Of course the man didn't know Kennedy. Fortunately his question was interrupted by quiet laughter as the man handed him a second square of paper torn from his pocket notebook. This one dry and neatly folded. Vaguely he wondered how the man had gotten a piece of paper from his notebook.
As he took the paper, he saw the hooked curve of scar running the length of the man's thumb from a fishing accident. He felt memory clap into place. The owner of the curry shop in the corner where Kennedy had made him go to lunch before she left. Saying, not only was it her favorite shop, but absolute tradition as well. She had made especially sure to introduce him to Mr. Kapoor. That meal had been amazing.
"Yes. Not for a few days though. Not since you were here before. She left you this though. Thought you might show up early, apparently."
The early part was enough to snag his thoughts back from alternating waves of anxiety over finding Kennedy and memories of the tasty saag paneer he'd enjoyed. "Early? But I'm late."
It took a minute for the meaning to sink in. Thursday. Not Friday. Quickly he bent his head and unfolded the paper.
Trial run. See you tomorrow, sucker. Kennedy.
Sure enough. She'd set his timer for a day early. His whole body went limp with relief and a huge smile cracked his face. He hadn't forgotten her after all. She'd have never let him hear the end of it.
The man held up the white bag containing a styrofoam take-out box he'd been holding in his other hand. "She also thought you might want dinner."
"Saag paneer?" he asked hopefully as he took the bag.
The man gave him a wink before turning to head back to his curry shop. Kory took his dinner and nearly danced back to his car and his research. He hadn't forgotten Kennedy after all.
It was only as he slid in behind the steering wheel of his Blue Beater (a Kennedy nick), sweet relief still coursing through him like a double shot espresso, that the terrible truth of the matter began to sink in. He was going to have to do this all over again tomorrow. The remembering. The showing up. On time. Evil. His twin was evil.
The elderly bird-like woman, carefully picking her way across the wet parking lot with her cane and her umbrella, saw him begin hitting his head against the steering wheel and then did her best to pick up her pace and get away as quickly as possible.