I am at a loss for something to write tonight. I have been busy and absent minded. It’s my own fault. Since I refuse to leave you friends hanging, I will share a short story with you that I wrote a while back. I’m a little proud of it because I won a writing contest with it. I hope you guys like it, and I promise I’ll have something new for you next Tuesday. Thanks! And take care. -BW
In Time for a date
“Time travelers often go somewhere -anywhere- not because they want to go, but because they want to be anywhere but where they were. Sometimes, however, where they were comes with them.”
-The Gerald Hopkins Manual of Transdimensional Time Travel
Algernon Lane stepped out of the smoking booth and adjusted his clothes. The shirt and pants felt heavy on his body, and entirely inefficient. He began to believe the purpose of these trips was to convince him of how utterly happy he was to live when he did. For the moment, however, he lived somewhere else.
The night was black and cold.
Algernon tapped a control on his Sub-Etha, and the booth he arrived in disappeared in the same puff of wispy smoke that it had brought with it. It would be back in the morning to pick him up.
At the end of the lane, Algernon could see the lights of the house lit up like the proverbial Christmas tree. Inside, people were partying their poor little brains out, dancing, singing, and committing social faux pas that would be totally unacceptable in any other setting. Thank goodness for parties. Algy revisited his mental list of acceptable words and phrases for the century, took a deep breath, and mingled imperceptibly with the crowd.
He brought a bottle of champagne and two glass flutes out of his pocket, the ones he had prepared for this special occasion. It was his most common “in” to a party. He went in the back door.
“Hey,” he said, sticking in his head, “has anyone seen a little redhead? She promised to meet me in the garden.”
The assorted crowd in the kitchen (mostly men. At parties, women tend to gravitate to the bathroom. It’s a strange fact of life, and is known commonly in the 25th century as Bunbury’s law.) Shook their collective heads no -like sheep- and said things like: ‘Too bad, man.’ in perfect 2016 vernacular.
In the 25th century, men do not address each other as ‘man’. It’s dreadfully reminiscent of stating the obvious, which is the 23rd century’s domain.
Algy worked his way to the living room, where a record player operated at full tilt, full blast. The dancers were terrible. Algy tried for a moment to show them how dancing is really supposed to be done, was ridiculed, and gave up on the previous generation. He stopped momentarily by the buffet table -littered with miniature sausages, cheese, and a Raccoon- listened to some fatuous conversation, and tried to find the bathroom.
The party already had him whipped. Once in a while Algy will adore the party he goes to, hoping his time there could be a little longer. At some he enjoys himself. But at most he wants to leave before his ride can arrive. The more Algy saw, the more he wished he could leave behind. Tonight may see him hiding in the garden with his own champagne bottle, awaiting the rising of the sun.
Until then, however, Algy needed to see the bathroom.
Algy is absolutely captivated by bathrooms. Nothing in the world thrills him so much as to see the antiquated fixtures of modern waste disposal. His friends hardly believe the stories he brings back of toilets, sinks, and once -a bathtub. Such things are too unbelievable to be true. They tell him that surely things cannot have changed so drastically. Algy assures them that bathrooms truly have. Bathrooms change all the time. People rarely do.
Algy makes these trips for more than bathrooms, of course. He also travels for the girls. Girls of all kinds are interesting. Men are cool too, but Algy is a boy, so men don’t exactly interest him.
Algy sought the host and found him hiding under a table without his pants. He asked where he might find the bathroom.
The host told him he might find the bathroom absolutely anywhere, but it most positively was at the top of the stairs. Algy thanked him and dismissed himself.
He found the bathroom at the head of the stairs, surrounded by a gaggle of females. At his first parties, Algy had thought they were waiting, and stood around for hours until he realized the bathroom had been empty the entire time, and that the girls stood around talking near the bathroom ‘just in case’. Just in case of what, Algy never learned.
Occasionally Algy finds a girl who makes the trip worthwhile. Most times he finds girls who only make the trip worth a little while.
Standing outside the bathroom, leaning against the doorpost, was a girl who suddenly made his trip worthwhile.
She had long legs, short hands, and wide eyes set even wider apart. From the look of utter boredom in her eyes, Algy could be sure of her intelligence. The thoughts in her head spoke of giving up on the whole of humanity, and in that moment Algy loved her because he had often done the same.
“Hello.” Algy said, once he had walked up to her. “My name is Algernon Lane.”
Her wide set eyes looked back at him.
“That’s nice. Now why don’t you take a hike?”
“Sure. Care to come with?”
The girl, amused by his retort, considered and accepted.
“Where are we going?” she asked.
“I don’t know. How about to the dining room and dance up a storm?”
She wrinkled her nose with disgust.
“We’re going outside to watch the sky.” she said. There was no room for argument.
Algy assented and led the way down the stairs.
“Wait,” he cried, and dashed back to look at the bathroom. It wasn’t anything special. Not really anything to write home about, although he did later.
Algy and the girl walked through the confusion to the back door. Somewhere along the way Algy had acquired two miniature sausages on toothpicks. He offered one to the girl.
“Hey,” one of the men in the kitchen said. “You found your redhead.”
Algy laughed, nodded, and didn’t even bother to correct the man. This girl’s hair was purple.
The girl wandered to the garden without Algy’s help and plopped down on a stone bench, placed specifically for the purpose of helping couples smooch in the moonlight.
“I am so sick and tired of the present.” the girl said.
A miniature sausage in his mouth, Algy couldn’t rightly respond, so he let the girl keep talking. Unfortunately, she didn’t.
“What’s so awful about the present?” Algy asked, “The bathrooms are kind of cool.”
The girl rolled her eyes.
“I hate the present.”
“Even the bathrooms?”
“Yes, even the bathrooms.”
“That’s a pity.” Algy said.
The girl nodded. For several tiresome minutes, Algy didn’t have anything to say.
“So you hate the present, you say?”
The girl nodded her head yes.
“Just wait until you see the future.” Algy said, instantly regretting it.
The girl smiled and looked at him through the corner of her eye. Algy wouldn’t have been able to see it in the darkness, but something inside the house caught fire in that moment. It illuminated the back yard quite nicely.
“I suppose all that’s left is the past.” the girl said. Algernon Lane was absolutely certain he had found the woman he absolutely loved. If she could only share his passion for bathrooms.
“And bathrooms.” Algy added.
“What’s up with you and your fixation on bathrooms?” the girl asked.
“You have to admit that they’re pretty cool.” he said.
“No, I don’t.”
“To each their own, I suppose.”
“Yeah, to each their own.”
Under the moon and the burning house, the stars danced.
“So tell me about yourself, bathroom man.” the girl ordered.
“I’m from the future.” Algy said.
The girl laughed. It was short and more like a bark.
“Then tell me what’s gonna happen tomorrow.”
“Why is it that when you tell a girl that you’re from the future, they insist you tell them what’s going to happen tomorrow. This happens every time!”
“Every time what?” the girl asked.
“Every time I meet a girl from the past when I’m time traveling.” Algy answered.
“You’ve met other girls in the past?”
“Sure, tons of them, I guess.”
The girl laughed like a dog again and gave him another look. The house was really on fire now.
“What were they like?” she asked.
“Oh, they were always nice, I guess. It really depends on what you like. Ladies in the eighteenth century are very prim and feminine, but you can’t help but think that they’re nothing but a hundred levels of falsehood, all the way down.
“I dated a girl from the Jurassic era once. That was real different.” Algy said. “We both had this huge language barrier, but she didn’t mind that I ate my raw meat a little messily.”
The girl stared at him.
“I swear, that’s what girls from the past are like. You don’t have to believe me, you can ask them yourself.”
“I don’t believe you.” the girl insisted.
“If you’re really a time traveler from the future and can go anywhere you want to go, then why would you come here, to the boring present?”
“I’m beginning to wonder myself.”
The girl shook her head.
“I know you’re not from the future.”
“And how’s that?”
“Because you can’t tell me what’s going to happen tomorrow.”
Algy swore lightly under his breath and went on a rare tirade.
“People seem to make the mistake that if you’re from the future then you suddenly become omniscient, or something. I don’t know, and don’t care what happened yesterday, and I certainly don’t care what happens tomorrow.
“If I really cared about what happens in history, I would visit important times and places, like the Peloponsian War, or the War on Reality. Since I don’t, I just hop around and take in as many parties as I can hold.”
When he had begun talking, the girl had laughed, but had grown quieter and quieter, until now, when she was absolutely silent.
“Are you serious?” she asked.
“As seriously as I can be.”
“Like, just how serious?” she asked.
Algy looked at her face for a long minute. The house behind them was in embers now. It had burned quickly. All around the two of them, stars were falling, and the sun was beginning to rise in the southwest.
“What’s your name?”
“Allison, look at me,” Algy said, “and guess how serious I am.”
The girl cocked her head, took him by the shoulders, and didn’t take her eyes off of him for a solid fifteen minutes.
“Holy crap,” she said at last, “you’re a time traveler.”
“That’s what I said.”
She began to hyperventilate.
“Why did you tell me you’re from the future. Why didn’t you just leave me alone?”
“Telling girls you’re from the future seems to turn them on.” Algy said.
“You wait right there,” she said, “I’ll grab my purse and maybe a little makeup. I’ll be right back and I’ll go along with you.” She disappeared in the twilight morning.
Algy smiled sadly and touched his Sub-Etha. He was gone.
Maybe some other time.