The Whenabouts of Burr

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Authors: Michael Kurland
Tags: Science-Fiction, Time travel, alternate universe, parallel world, aaron burr
down the street to a luncheonette to call the President. Then he called his son at Romero Associates to arrange relief for Nate—his son promised him an operative by two in the afternoon—then Ves sat down and ate a small breakfast: poached egg, toast, and a glass of low fat milk. Then he went back up the block and rang the bell of the brownstone.
    A short, dumpy woman with startlingly orange hair, wearing a passion-pink housecoat, appeared out of one of the side rooms and came to the door. Clutching a broom firmly in her left hand, she peered through the glass panel at Ves. “Yes?” she mouthed through the door.
    â€œMrs. O’Gorman?” Ves asked politely. “I wonder if I might ask you a few questions?”
    â€œWhat?” she mouthed. He couldn’t hear her, and it was clear that she couldn’t hear him.
    â€œA few questions!” Ves stated loudly at the door.
    The lady mouthed something more, in obvious agitation, and waved the broom up and down a few times for emphasis. Ves couldn’t hear a sound from inside the door.
    â€œOpen the door,” Ves said, carefully moving his lips to the pattern of the words, “open the door.”
    â€œArb grab aaab!” the lady mouthed firmly from behind the closed door. Finally however, seeing that none of this was driving Ves away, she did open the door to the extent permitted by her chain lock. “No more rooms!” she announced firmly, squeezing as much of her face as she could into the crack.
    â€œInformation, not a room, I want,” Ves said hurriedly and ungrammatically, before she could slam the door. “I’ll pay!”
    â€œPay?” The word caught her attention. “How much? What do you want to know? Let’s see the money.”
    Ves took a ten-dollar bill out of his pocket and waved it in front of her. Her little eyes lit up, and she took the chain off the door. “Come in,” she said.
    â€œI’d like some information on your tenant,” Ves said. “The gentleman who left about an hour ago.”
    â€œCome, sit down,” the lady said. “Have a cup of coffee. What do you want to know?”
    Ves came into the kitchen with her and accepted a rose floral cup of a watery brown liquid he couldn’t identify. “Anything you know about him,” Ves said. “How long he’s been here, what he does during the day, any visitors he has had; is there anything at all unusual about him.”
    â€œA week tomorrow,” the woman told him. “I don’t know what he does, but he brings home books and magazines and papers all the time. No visitors and nothing unusual. Is that worth ten bucks?”
    Ves handed her the bill. “Nothing else?” he asked. “Nothing out of the ordinary?”
    â€œVery quiet man,” the landlady said. “Gave me rent a week in advance. In gold.”
    â€œGold?” Ves said, his voice betraying his fascination with this bit of news.
    â€œIt’s legal,” she said. “I checked.”
    â€œA coin?” Ves asked.
    â€œWhat then, a nugget?”
    â€œMexican?” Ves asked.
    â€œI wouldn’t take no foreign money,” the landlady declared with patriotic virtue, fishing out the coin and displaying it in the stubby fingers. It, indeed, was not foreign. An eagle, minted in Philadelphia in 1833, it was as American as the president whose face was on the front: Alexander Hamilton.
    â€œHamilton never was President of the United States,” Ves said, half to himself.
    â€œThat’s what you say. That’s my coin and you give it back right now!” she exclaimed. And forthwith she reclaimed it.
    â€œVes! Can you get over here right away?” the patch behind Ves’s ear asked in Nate’s voice.
    â€œWhere?” Ves asked, touching the button.
    â€œWhat?” asked the landlady.
    â€œThere’s a Turkish bath on North Dakota and Y ,” Nate’s voice

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