True Tales of Ms. Derring Do: Episode #27: Return to Blue Hawaii

The Betamax tape reached its end and the VCR began rewinding. Static. Her dad wouldn’t have erased it. Not after how she had begged for a tape of her own to record the weekly episodes.

Iris double-checked the connections and cables her dad had set it up decades ago and had not touched it since. Everything looked fine. Perhaps another tape? She rummaged through the milk crate and pulled out, “Halloween (10-30-1982)”. The memories re-surfaced. That was when she had wanted to be Derring Do. It had taken the Saturdays of that September shopping to assemble that outfit.

She ejected the tape and traced her scrawl, Tru Tails ov Ms. Daring Do. She set it down and inserted the Halloween tape.

With a burst of static, it started.

There was her six-year-old self, beaming with arms akimbo, in the hall. A too-large pith helmet with an olive band sat rakishly atop her head. Beneath the long white lab coat with folded-back sleeves, she wore an olivine T-shirt, brown leather gloves, khaki shorts, olive knee socks, and brown hiking boots. It was nearly perfect, but her T-shirt did not have the compass rose emblem. And the pince-nez would not perch; it had kept falling off.

“So, you excited for Kami’s party?”

Iris swallowed, hearing her dad’s voice again. She watched her younger self nod and then glance off-screen. “Four o’clock!”

Her dad followed her into the living room, where he continued to film. She fiddled with the dials and then plopped down in front of the old TV.

“So, what you watching this time?”

Ina.” Her younger self did not turn away from the TV, but instead began singing.

The remote slid from Iris’s nerveless fingers and clattered onto the parquet. She fought the compulsion to mouth the lyrics under the wave of memories coming from a forgotten horizon.

“Anak ko? Anak ko?” Her dad’s hand came into frame and shook her younger self’s shoulder. “Iris!”

Her younger self looked back, directly at the camcorder. “Wen, Ama?” Her eyes were distant. With a blink, she returned, focusing on her father, “What’s wrong?”

The view skewed as her dad set the camcorder on an end table. Then it refocused on votive candles flanking her mother’s portrait. “Nothing. Now, what I told you about Mommy’s show?”

“It’s one secret. No tell nobody, not even Kami.”

“That’s my girl. C’mon, you no like be late.”

It then jumped to her best-friend Kami’s combination Halloween-birthday party.

With the tape paused, Iris sat there, steeling herself, and then reached for her smartphone. With her memories guiding her, she searched. She found Checkers & Pogo. She found Professor Fun. Despite the faded memories of all those episodes, the opening and ending songs, she could not find Ms. Derring Do.

Iris rewound the tape and watched again as her younger self sat down. She hit pause. Kneeling down, she stared over her younger self’s shoulder, intent on seeing something, anything on the screen where there was only static.

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