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Out in the West Texas town of El Paso
I fell in love with a Mexican girl.
Night-time would find me in Rosa's cantina;
Music would play and Felina would whirl.


- Marty Robbins (El Paso)

=/=



Meeting concluded, Carmen didn’t really know much more about Parker than she had before. Saint Catherine’s? GIUS? What the -?

So the guy had been, perhaps, Catholic, or at least had gone to a Catholic High School. Had it mattered at all regarding his death some eight or so years after he must have graduated? She didn’t think so.

But Avery, at least, seemed eager, and less of a pain than she had initially thought. With Parker having played the clarinet, the death - and then restoration of singer Chrissie Hynde at Kent State in 1970, and the preservations, and then losses of musicians Jiles P. Richardson, Ritchie Valens and Buddy Holly in 1959, Carmen was beginning to wonder if music, perhaps, was important to the other side. It certainly seemed so.

She engaged her implanted Communicator. “Otra, I wonder if you might do a little digging - get Avery to help you - into music. For anything that isn’t already in the master time file, create a file and we’ll load it onto everyone’s PADD. I want us all to be able to pull up music sales; the names of singers, songwriters and musicians; and anything else you can think of that has to do with music that you think might be of help - I want us all to be able to pull those up at a moment’s notice.”

“You mean like the invention of instruments, names of promoters and spinners, that sort of thing?”

“Yes. I’m sure Avery will have plenty of those kinds of ideas. Let’s keep the creative juices flowing. Calavicci out.”

=/=



Otra was about ready to do as she was told when her office door chimed. “Yes?”

“It’s me,” said Rick.

“To what do I owe this visit?”

“I, uh, I was wondering,” he said, “I’ve got a mission.”

“Why wasn’t I told?”

“Oh, it’s a very secret one,” he said conspiratorially. “I’ve been asked to take Sheilagh on a quick temporal vacation, show her that this can be pleasant.”

“I thought she was staying. Maybe you won’t have to,” she pointed out.

“I dunno. Until I hear otherwise, I’m gonna assume we’re going. So, uh, I was wondering, since you can see alternate scenarios, what’s a good place and time? You know, where things are pleasant but don’t have too much of a chance of things really blowing up in our faces if things go a little, to borrow Kevin’s word, caca.”

She smiled, chavecoi turning a kaleidoscope of colors and waving a little. “Actually, I don’t really know what would fit the bill completely. But I’d recommend something after October of 1957, after Sputnik goes up.”

“Good idea - there’s much less a chance of a panic or of us being worshiped like gods if we slip up in any way. Carmen had suggested a place with, what did she say? Ah, yes, ‘fabulous clothes’.”

“Crystal would know best, but, huh, there’s always the time and place of one of my absolutely all-time favorite movies.”

“A movie set? Uh, no thanks.”

“It’s not a movie set! It’s a pity, here I am, a half-blooded Italian girl, and I can’t go. But you, I doubt you’ve got any Italian going on, but you could. It’s just not fair sometimes.”

He thought for a moment. “I’ve got Irish, English, French and a smidgen of Chinese going on. There’s Russian Jewish, too. I don’t think there’s any Italian in me. So, uh, Italy. When in Italy, Otra?”

“1960.”

“Really? What movie are we talking about?”

“Give me your PADD a second,” he complied, and she clicked a few things on hers and then tapped the two PADDs together in order to transfer the data. “Here you go. I’ll give it to Crystal, too, so she can be inspired. But now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some research to do.”

Rick left. Once he was out of her office, he looked at the name of the file that she’d transferred to the PADD. It was La Dolce Vita.

=/=



“So I was thinking, we’ve got overall sales figures for music, but we should have the charts, too,” HD said to Otra, after they’d been working a while.

“Charts?”

“They used to do this, you’d have top sellers in various genres, by week.”

“Don’t we get that from the sales figures?” asked Otra.

“This is more granular. Like there’s the album, Dark Side of the Moon. It charts for, like, a decade.”

“Why would it matter if someone changed that?”

“I dunno,” he said, “But it might affect how much money Pink Floyd - uh, that’s the group that put out that album - it might affect how much money they make.”

“Possibly,” she allowed. “It’s so different when a society has money.”

“Well, the Ferengi still do.”

“Yes, and they never let us forget it.”

“That reminds me. Can I buy you a cup of coffee, Otra?”

“There’s no buying here.”

“Of course not,” he said, “I’m just asking if you wanna take a break. Don’t the flowers need a drink or somethin’?”

Chavecoi - they’re called chavecoi,” she said, “But you’re right. They need a break, and I suppose I do, too. But no coffee.”

“Tea? Orange Juice? Milk? Tofflin Juice?”

“Tea is fine.”

They walked to the cafeteria together. The only other people in there were two Calafan women, both silver. One had hair, the other did not. They waved when they saw Otra, and then flicked their fingers.

“What does that mean?” he asked as he got a cup of coffee from a replicator.

“Oh, it is - maybe your lucky day.”

“Mine?”

“Yes. It’s a kind of a silent catcall. They must think you’re attractive.”

“Huh,” he got self-conscious and smoothed his hair back a little with his fingers. “Dunno about the bald chick.”

“She’s the younger one. Most of their signs of aging are the reverse of ours. The one with hair is probably around fifty,” Otra explained. “I doubt the other one is even thirty.”

Kevin and Von, a Ferengi engineer, came in and the Calafan women started to flick their fingers again.

“I guess I’m not the only game in town,” HD said.

“I suppose not.”

=/=



Rick found Sheilagh. “Come walk with me.”

“Uh, all right,” she said.

“I assume we’re still on?”

“For what?”

“Vacation,” he said.

“Oh, uh, yeah, I guess so.”

“You don’t sound that enthused. You really think I’m that bad a traveling companion?”

“No,” she smiled. “I want to give this a chance. I do! I just wonder if it’ll do any good.”

“Well, Otra - who is great with these kinds of questions - she thinks 1960 Italy will be great fun and with minimal chances of anything awful happening.”

“Oh she does, does she?”

“Feel free to veto it if you must.”

“No, um, that’s okay. Another Pre-Warp time, eh?”

“Yep, and with money and all that that entails,” he said.

“I don’t even think that any humans will have gone into space by then.”

“I do believe you’re correct,” he said, “Gagarin doesn’t go up until 1961, if I’m remembering history right. So we can relax and sightsee and pretty much think of anything but here, and now.”

“Does Carmen know of the proposed date and place?”

“No, but I’m sure she won’t object. I doubt that pariotria will be anywhere near us. We’ll do every single one of the touristy things you can do. Head to Rome, Pompeii, Siena, Naples, you name it. We’ll destroy our diets. You’ll shop ‘til you drop, if you like. Whaddaya say?”

“Um, all right,” she said, “Long as I can get comfortable shoes.”

“I think that can be arranged.”

=/=



Crystal was excited once they told her. “Oh, this will be fun!” she clapped her hands in delight. “You’ll get capri pants and boatneck tops for casualwear. I am thinking of Jackie Kennedy and Anita Ekberg,” she said to Sheilagh. “And you!” she said to Rick, “JFK all the way, with a little Marcello Mastroianni thrown in for good measure,” she thought for a moment. “You’ll need a lot of money. I think this is before most big credit cards. Be careful you’re not mugged.”

Carmen came in. “I understand you have a date and a time.”

“Oh, the clothes are the best!” gushed Crystal. “Oh, and Rick, you should be very clean-cut. Your hair shouldn’t even hit the back of your collar. And Sheilagh! Flowing waves for you - very Ekberg, very Ava Gardner, I am thinking. Oh!” she ran out of the room to get something.

“She’s the most excited person in this room,” Carmen said.

“I’m almost sorry we’re not taking her,” Rick said.

From the other room, Crystal replied, “I heard that!”

=/=



Blacker than night were the eyes of Felina,
wicked and evil while casting a spell.
My love was deep for this Mexican maiden;
I was in love but in vain, I could tell.


- Marty Robbins (El Paso)



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