The blue haze transported him through time, as it always did, and for a brief moment during transit he was simply himself again. B-J was gone, and only Sam remained – whoever "Sam" really was. He thought it had been Dr Who's observation that 'a Man is the sum of his memories…' if that was indeed the case, then Dr Samuel John Beckett – Scholar of six doctorates and seven degrees and time-traveler extraordinaire – didn't amount to very much.
Already, his memory was Swiss-cheesing again and hard won recollections were fading away, despite his desperate attempts to hold on to them.
Yet Sam refused to wallow in self-pity, even if given the chance. That was not his nature. In any case, he had no more time for looking backward. He began looking forward – to discover who he would become in this latest Leap, where and when he was 'landing' and, most importantly, why…
…The vast outdoors of Alta were now replaced by a vast indoors. Sam had Leaped in to a huge bedroom that could only be described as opulent. The walls were papered in Regency stripes. The carpet was a deep piled Axminster in a rich, almost regal, shade of purple. The drapes were in matching velvet, and tied back with deep golden silk cords.
Sam was standing by a four-poster bed, curtained all around in finest filigree lace, with silk sheets and a pale lilac floral quilt. Atop the bed rested a brand new suitcase and a battered old brocade carpetbag that looked capacious enough to hold Mary Poppins' hat-stand.
Evidently, his new host was packing – or unpacking – it was impossible to be sure which at this stage. He was holding a folded white cotton garment. He shook it out to reveal a pair of old-fashioned ladies' knickers, which he could not have dropped quicker had they been ablaze. He looked down at himself and made a mental amendment: his 'hostess' was packing.
'At least she wears sensible shoes.' He noted with relief – his hatred of high heels unabated. Sam was wearing a pair of sturdy, squarish lace-up brown leather brogues, with stout heels no more than one inch thick. Above these the legs were encased in something in excess of forty denier tights – not quite surgical stockings, but the accent was definitely on support rather than glamor. The calf-length skirt consisted of two-inch wide pleats of herringbone tweed in a tasteful shade of deep russet. The upper body bore a slightly paler twin-set comprising V-neck jumper and cardigan in Trevira.
The figure itself was short and dumpy. The hands were freckled with age and the third finger; left hand displayed a well-worn gold wedding band.
At this point, Sam noticed an US passport protruding from an outer pocket of the carpetbag, which he snatched up eagerly. Once opened it revealed a head-and-shoulders photograph. Sam studied the round face, subtly made up, silver-grey hair lightly permed, crow's feet etched deeply round blue-grey smiling eyes.
'And who might we be, my dear?' he asked himself as he lowered his eyes to the listed personal details:
NAME: Mary Theresa Bridget McGillicuddy (nee O'Shea)
D.O.B: July 14 1932
PLACE OF BIRTH: Clonakilty, County Cork, Republic of Ireland
NATIONALITY: Citizen of the United States of America
MARITAL STATUS: Widow
Sam let the document slip through his fingers. Turning his attention to the fitted wardrobe that filled the wall at the foot of the bed, he faced the full-length mirror as he inevitably did. Shrugging his shoulders, Sam reflected with mild amusement:
'Dear God, now I'm Mrs. Doubtfire!'
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