April Forever Chapter 3: A Qualitative Comparison
21 June 2010 Leave a comment
The clock read 8:00, which to Casey Jones seemed blasphemous: no way was he up that early. Not after Shadow’s 3:00 a.m. crying bout, which took half an hour to stop. And her other one, at five. And yet there he was—life was full of small miracles.
After checking on Shadow—sound asleep, the lucky little father-waker—Casey made his way to the kitchen, but not before running into the April who wasn’t his wife. She was watching the morning news—something about a claim by Tea Party Party economists that invading the Triceraton Republic would eliminate the need for taxes and solve the deficit—and looked like she’d been up for a while. “Geez Louise—how is it you’re up this early?”
“Oh—hey Casey,” said April who wasn’t his wife and had world-class breasts under that shirt of hers. “I’m just catching up on some news—the early bird gets the Peabody and all that. I don’t understand half the stories, but still, it’s a hard habit to break.”
“Gotcha,” said Casey, who didn’t get it at all. News to him were something that mattered to smarter, more employed people than him. If something truly important occurred in the world, he’d eventually hear about it from his friends or from April. The one exception to this (aside from anything having to do with the Purple Dragons) occurred on 9/11, whose events led him to spend the entire day at Angel’s grandmother’s watching the coverage with the rest of the people at their apartment complex, until a lack of food and sleep caused him to pass out from exhaustion.
“I’m going to make myself some breakfast,” Casey told April who was not his wife, had world-class breasts under that shirt of hers and looked all kinds of cute with her hair all messy like that. “You want any? I can make a mean pancake.”
“As long as it doesn’t include pizza or raw fish.”
He didn’t get the reference, but didn’t ask for elaboration. He left their visitor behind and arrived at the kitchen, where he set about the task of preparing breakfast.
For most of his adult life, Casey Jones had one simple philosophy when it came to food: if it had instructions more complicated than “add milk to bowl” or “insert in microwave and press buttons”, it was not worth preparing. After he and April became a couple, this slowly began changing, particularly after he discovered that his future wife (herself no big fan of cooking) found men who cooked to be quite sexy. Over time, he had acquired a modest repertoire of foods he liked to prepare, and pancakes topped the list (and no, the fact that several of its toppings could be applied onto the human body for impromptu fun had nothing to do with it, thank you very much). As he prepared to add the blueberries to the batter, he noticed that April who was not his wife, who looked all kind of cute with her hair tussled up like that and whom he now saw had awesome legs had joined him in the kitchen. “You want anything special in your pancakes?” He asked.
“Blueberries are fine.”
Casey watched the pancake mix for the telltale bubbles; once these popped, it was time to turn the semi-solid product around to let the other half harden. He’d finished his first batch of pancakes when he asked his visitor: “So, is there a Casey Jones where you’re from?”
“No,” said his guest. Upon seeing his disappointment, she quickly added “…t that I know of. There very well could be. In fact, it’s almost probable.”
Casey responded to this courtesy with a lopsided grin. “Thanks. By the way, once April wakes up, she’ll take you out to shop for anything you might need. That okay?”
“That’s fine. By the way, I never asked: what do you work at?”
Casey looked at the otherworldly journalist uncertainly. April—the one who was his wife, whom he loved unconditionally and who would always be a total babe—had told him about the importance her counterpart placed on career, and he’d hoped that she wouldn’t ask about his. “I…um…I do lots of stuff. I keep the building running, help out at the store…Oh, and I’m a mechanic—sort of. I mean, I help my buds out whenever their cars or bikes break down.” Smooth, Jones.
Casey tried to gauge April-who-was-not-his wife’s reaction, but found it impossible; her many notable physical attributes apparently also included a poker face. He hoped the lack of obvious disappointment meant that she did not in fact think of him as a general failure—he just didn’t agree, and he didn’t want to get into
As he finished the last of the pancakes, April—the one who was his wife, would always be a total babe, had awesome legs, breasts, and looked all kinds of cute with her hair all messy like that—joined the pair in the kitchen, and the three—plus Shadow, now brought into the dining room—had breakfast.
* * *
“Hey, April…do you ever wonder what your life would have been like if you hadn’t met the turtles?”
The two Aprils had been strolling through Prospect Park after a morning of shopping. After three hours of strolling through Brooklyn, April had everything she needed for her stay in alternate New York: underwear, a notepad, a packet of pens, a tape recorder (she’d have preferred a camera, but in the end they decided it would have been too expensive, particularly since her host was footing the bill), a disposable cell phone (other April’s idea) and a canister of pepper spray (ditto). Afterwards they’d gone to lunch at Martin’s, a hamburger place she loved in her universe, and which was fortunately intact in this one. With nothing else that needed doing, they’d decided to stop at the park to unwind.
Her companion did not take long in answering. “Assuming I were even alive and not in jail for colluding with Baxter Stockman? Probably working at a tech job somewhere and growing unhappy.” The shop-keeper’s eyes looked troubled as she said this; this was something’ she’d obviously thought about before. “Why do you ask?”
“Well, it’s just that, well, how can you not think about it? One day I’m hotshot reporter April O’Neil, the next I can’t take a step without having to play babysitter to four manic-depressive turtles, getting kidnapped, or discovering a new mutant monstrosity—it’s the sort of thing where you end up dividing your life between ‘before’ and ‘after’, and I wonder what could have been—you know?”
The reporter felt her counterpart’s eyes upon hers, all sympathy and understanding. “Hell yes. God knows I’ve had times when I wished I’d never met them. And I won’t deny that they’ve caused me a lot of grief over the years. It doesn’t matter. They’re family.”
“But they can be so annoying! Can you believe that Leonardo once threw open tubes of lipstick at my paintings? He called it ‘target practice’—and he’s supposed to be the responsible one!”
To her surprise, her counterpart was actually taken aback by that. “Sounds like your turtles are more of a handful than mine are,” the shop-keeper opined. “But yeah, that will happen too—I know I’ve wanted to kill my turtles once or twice when we lived together (and I’ll tell you about that later): but let me tell you something: a few years back, the turtles disappeared—poof!—into thin air. We heard nothing about them for a fucking year. And you know what? That was by far the hardest year of my life.”
Now it was the reporter’s turn to look concerned. “What happened?”
“Lots of things. Little things that combined with big things. My father had a stroke, and after spending about a month in the hospital, he had to stay with my sister until he died a few months later. Then there were the money problems caused by the hospital bill and the economy… Also, I discovered that nobody will hire me because apparently I am no longer considered qualified enough to do tech work I could do in my sleep.
“Granted, the bad stuff didn’t happen because the turtles weren’t there, and having them here wouldn’t have prevented any of it from happening. Still, it’d have been easier if they’d been there. Mikey’s jokes, Splinter’s advice…I could have really used them. It would have made all the crap I went through a bit more bearable.”
April remained silent as she heard her counterpart, partly because there was nothing she could say, and partly because her account seemed so foreign. Granted, she knew what a stroke was, and had a theoretical understanding on how the economy worked, but these things had always been just that—theoretical. In her world, nobody ever got strokes or got cancer or ever went to the hospital for anything not related to the effects of some weird ray or potion. Death was something you heard happened in some places but never affected anyone you actually knew. To have someone actually have to deal with these things and the Shredders and aliens and Technodromes…how did the people in this universe do it? It gave her a new level of respect for the people in this skewed mirror universe.
“But I’m just rambling,” said the other April. “The guys eventually returned, and things eventually got better. Crap won’t stop happening with them here, but I’d rather face it with them than without them—even if it means losing more breakables than the proverbial china shop.”
“I see,” said April. She did, in fact, feel that way towards the turtles—sometimes. Half the time, they were the funniest, most heroic, best people one could hope to know. The other half? Well, the kindest way to put it would be “children”. Specifically, two-year-olds. Raised by wolves—which when you considered the reality, wasn’t that far from the truth. Given Splinter’s ability to remain calm in the middle of a tornado, he wasn’t sure how his students turned out the way they did.
And if they were gone for a year? Assuming the Shredder and his goons didn’t end up conquering the world, she didn’t know how she’d feel. She’d have to find something else to cover, that’s for sure. And her relationship with her boss would probably improve. And she’d probably get kidnapped a lot less. Aside from that, she had no idea.
The two Aprils continued their stroll, stopping occasionally to appreciate some interesting sight or another. As they stopped to pet two adorable dogs and chat with their owner (who didn’t seem to mind at all having two attractive women just walk up and start talking to him), they heard a sudden “boom” in the distance.
As both women scanned the area for the source of the sound, they spotted a plume of dark smoke rising about three blocks away. As they watched the spectacle, April spotted a black and white streak speeding through the New York sky. Not a bird. Not a plane.
“Probably Silver Sentry,” the older April explained, with the indifferent attitude of someone for whom flying men were as common as jaywalkers. She, on the other hand, was entranced, not just be the idea of real-life superheroes, but by a familiar feeling in her gut: a story. Taking out her new notepad, a pen and the tape recorder from her shopping bags, she left the other items with her counterpart, and with a hasty excuse, set towards the scene of the event.
* * *
When April the shop-keeper finally reached the scene of the explosion—an apartment complex across the street from the Methodist Hospital—the site had already been cordoned off to keep inevitable onlookers at bay, and the fire was mostly under control. Her reporter counterpart, immediately visible in her jumpsuit (now liberally mottled with black stains from the smoke—according to one of the onlookers, she’d entered the burning building and had rescued a teenaged boy) within the gaggle, was interviewing one of the firemen not working with the blaze. Silver Sentry, she heard, had come and gone, staying only long enough to get the tenants out from the burning edifice and to make sure the N.Y.F.D. would have no problems with the fire itself. Fortunately, the incident’s location meant there was no shortage of medical personnel treating the affected tenants.
As she neared her “sister” in order to inform her that her continued stay at her apartment was contingent on her never pulling that stunt again, April noticed that her counterpart was practically beaming. This was it: her element. This is what she was meant to do. For the second time in as many days, April found herself growing jealous of her other-dimensional counterpart.
“Hey, April!” The reporter said, turning to her as she saw her approaching. “Give me just a couple more minutes, and I’ll be done, okay?” She returned to her fireman interviewee, whom April noticed was paying an inordinate amount of attention to the reporter, and was actually trying his hand at flirting with her. Unfortunately for him, his advances seemed to be going over their target’s head, although this did not deter him from writing down his phone number on the reporter’s notepad.
True to her word, April was soon done with the interviews and reunited with her counterpart. As they walked to the nearest subway station in the first part of their trek back home, the two Aprils talked about the events that had just transpired.
“So, are you going to call that fireman?” April the Shop-Owner asked, vicariously happy at the attention her counterpart had received.
“Who, Paul? What do you mean? You mean, to confirm his statement?” her double said blankly.
“You didn’t notice? He was into you! You should ask him out—he was hot.” Figures—her one chance to the “Sex and the City” gal-pal thing, and it turned out to be with the one for whom men where apparently not a factor. “Anyway, change of subject. Did you really enter the building as it was burning?”
“Yeah, I did,” the reporter said, with a smile that plainly expressed how much she’d loved it. “I wanted to see how the Silver Sentry worked, and then I saw a kid that needed help. So I helped—how could I not?”
Again with that certainty. April didn’t know whether to admire her counterpart or to shake her until she regained a measure of sense. Had she herself ever been that stupid? While, assaulting a U.S. Government base or taking on the Technodrome hadn’t been highlights of rational though, she could at least justify them. This…? No wonder the reporter’s turtles had to rescue her as often as they did.
And yet there she was, none the worse for wear, and with the sort of afterglow she herself only rarely managed to emit. Even the fire seemed to have left her untouched, outside of token damage to her clothing. Clearly someone—God, the universe, some cosmic writer—was keeping her under its aegis. And if one was indeed blessed, why wouldn’t one take those risks?
Finally, the two Aprils arrived at Hell’s Kitchen, and after a few minutes’ walk towards one of the old Irish-American streets still (relatively) untouched by the neighborhood’s encroaching gentrification, they arrived at the 2nd Time Around antique store—home.
* * *
He truly was blessed, the man formerly in the baseball cap thought, as he observed the two women entering the antique store. After getting a glimpse of the woman in yellow the day before, he had expected never to meet her again, leaving his memories of her exquisite form to haunt him for the rest of time. But God, as always, was with him; as he took the subway to nowhere in particular, she saw her again, a demon in bright (if slightly smudged), form-fitting yellow—and with that glance all his uncertainties evaporated. “Thy will be done”, he said to his invisible conversation partner.
Thus, he had followed, and had ascertained the woman’s living place. Now it was just a matter of time.
Notes: As fans of the old cartoon already know, there is indeed a Casey Jones in the old cartoon universe; April as I’m writing her has yet to meet him. For the record, this all takes place between seasons two and three of the old toon—Turtles Forever, on the other hand, takes place sometime in the middle of season 2.
Although I don’t recall if Reporter April’s age was ever set in stone, I consider her to be twenty-six for the purposes of this story. Shop-Keeper April, on the other hand, is thirty-one. Casey is either thirty-three or thirty-four, depending on what month I decide he was born in, and Shadow is between three and six months old.
As for what reporter April plans to do with all her notes on the fire, read on.