Part II The Lord Lav Saga
I woke to the sounds of Jenkem choking on one of his own snores. Jesus, that guy is loud, I thought. Big and loud. Why do the lights hurt so much? Ugh. Fuck hangovers. I blinked, enjoying the split second of relief that came when I closed my eyes, until I forced myself to keep them open against the pain. I looked around, not believing I was back on Earth, even if it was Southampton (UK, not NY). Notkelly was sprawled out on her bed, still in her tattered clothes from last night. Jenkem was snoring next to her on the floor and Charles was flat on his back on the sofa, hands clasped peacefully against his chest. He looked dead, like he was in an invisible coffin.
“Charles,” I whispered quietly. “You alive?”
The old man’s head turned in my direction. I couldn’t see his eyes behind those dark glasses… I thought he was blind, but it felt as though he was peering into my innermost mind. I tried to pull my gaze away when he smiled grimly and said, “What the hell else would I be?”
“I dunno, just checking.”
“Ughhh,” came a groan from the bed. “Shut the fuck up,” Notkelly continued, annoyance audible in her muffled voice. A grinding sound came from the hallway outside her door, louder and then quiet, then louder again. “I SAID shut the FUCK up,” the dazed cellist roared.
“That wasn’t any of us,” Charles said, leaping off the couch and running to the door. I was again surprised at how quickly he moved for such an old man. He pressed his face against the door, looking through the peephole. “Notkelly,” he said, turning to look at her, “is there usually a port-a-john in your hallway?” So Charles apparently wasn’t blind.
“A whaaaaat?” Notkelly asked, last word drawn out as if it were a yawn.
“I believe you call them port-a-loos on this side of the pond,” Charles said.
“I know what a port-a-john is,” Notkelly replied. “I lived in NYC, the whole damn city is a toilet. I’m still half asleep.” Her brows furrowed as she blinked a few times in rapid succession. “And no, that’s not normal,” she said. She gripped the edge of her mattress with one hand and spun, whirling out of bed in a twist of appendages. She landed on her feet, cello bow in hand–no idea where it came from, by the way–and took a step toward her front door just as someone knocked on the other side. Notkelly was at the door in three long strides, looking through the peephole. “Who is it?” she asked.
“Lord Lav,” replied the man in the hall, “and I’m here for Chris.”
All eyes were on me. Charles was looking at the door as if in a trance. Jenkem was standing behind me holding one of Notkelly’s lamps, ready to strike the unseen man on the other side of the door. “Who the fuck is Lord Lav?” Notkelly hissed, turning to look at me through narrowed eyes.
“No idea. Why not open the door?”
Notkelly shrugged and did just that. The door swung open to reveal a bald man with a pipe, wearing a tailored dark wool jacket that reached down to his knees. “Oi, oi ‘ow the devil are we?” he said with a mischievous grin, then blew a long stream of bubbles from his pipe. “I’m Lord Lav.” He took three steps into Notkelly’s apartment, past all our open mouths and expressions of shock, then spun around as if taking in his surroundings. “This place is a pile, yes it is.” He turned to look at me. “Ah, Chris!” he took one long stride over to me and threw his arms around my shoulders. I must have looked shocked because Lord Lav said, “Didn’t mean to shock you, what with the hugging and all. I guess you don’t know me yet, least not as well as I know you.”
“What?” I asked, confused. “How could you possibly know me? We’ve never even met.” I looked at my bandmates, and they were all looking at me with expressions of doubt. I didn’t blame them, because Lord Lav seemed so familiar with me that I was beginning to question my own memory.
“Well, we will,” Lord Lav replied. “Or would. I guess I should say we ‘ave now. Would’ve met eventually, but recent events have forced my hand and our paths must cross sooner than fate alone would demand. Don’t worry too much about the continuity, from what I’ve been told it’s all wibbly-wobbly and timey-wimey anyway. Best not to dwell on it.”
Notkelly stood up. “What do you want with Chris? And if you’re a time traveler then why are you here in my apartment,” she said, hooking her thumb at me, “instead of catching us last night during the battle of the bands at Seeba? Or even catching Chris alone before he met us?”
“Look, missy,” Lord Lav laughed, “you have to understand most of this stuff happens in the UK because there’s a limited programming budget at the BBC–uh, I mean …”
Charles cleared his throat. “You’re here now and that’s all that matters. What do you want with our friend Chris?” I could feel my heart swell with pride. Last night these guys helped out with the punk equestrians, and now they were making sure this Lord Lav character was legit. A guy couldn’t ask for better bandmates.
“That’s easy, I need his blood,” Lord Lav replied.
“His blood?” Jenkem asked. “What the fuck do ya need his blood for? You a vampire?”
Lord Lav looked Jenkem up at down. “No, I’m a time traveler. Please do try to avoid blurring lines between fantasy and reality.” He turned to me. “I need your blood for a very specific reason,” he said, grinning.
We all looked at Lord Lav, waiting for him to continue, but he just stood there wearing a goofy grin. “Well?” I asked. “What’s the reason?”
“Oh, right,” Lord Lav said, holding his finger in the air. “I need the blood of someone from twenty-first century Earth.”
“So …” I began, making sure my math was correct, “you came to the twenty-third century to get me? Why not travel to Earth in the twenty-first century and get any random person?”
“Right genius, this one,” Lord Lav said, laughing and looking at everyone else. I think they were all wondering the same thing I’d asked, so he got a pretty cold response. “I would do that,” Lord Lav continued, smile fading from his face, “but there are copyright issues. ‘Nother time traveler with a similar vessel spends a lot of time bangin’ around twenty-first century Earth, goes by the name of the doc–actually, it doesn’t really matter. Main thing is I need someone who could beat box and work a deck. I have a big show tonight and my other guy fell through. By which I mean he fell through a multidimensional vortex and I’m not entirely sure where he went. If you help me, I can take you home when we’re done.”
“Ah, okay,” I said, stretching my arms and cracking my knuckles. “You should have just started off with that and saved us the time. Let’s go.”
“Wicked!” Lord Lav exclaimed. “Follow me,” he said, stepping out of Notkelly’s apartment. He spun to the right, then pulled open the door that read “PORT-A-LOO” and disappeared inside.
I turned to my bandmates. “You’re not really gonna go with him, are ya Chris?” Jenkem asked.
“Yeah man, I’ve heard stories about what happens if you follow another dude into a portapotty,” Notkelly said. “Watch out for your cornhole, if you get my drift.”
“Personally, I don’t see what the problem is,” Charles chimed in.
“I thought you couldn’t see at all?” Jenken asked.
“Look guys,” I interrupted before Charles had a chance to respond. “I understand if you don’t come with me. This isn’t my original time.” I motioned through the door at the portable toilet in the hallway. “If there’s any chance he can return me to my home …”
“Well, it’s decided then,” Charles said. “We can’t let you go alone. If you’re going, we’re coming with you.” Notkelly and Jenkem nodded in agreement.
I smiled and said, “You guys are the best.” I turned and walked out into the hallway, then into the port-a-loo, the three other members of Drunk Pedestrians close behind.
The port-a-loo was much nicer inside than I expected and, more importantly, much larger. The room was at least fifty feet long, and it looked like there were stairs that led to another level. Lord Lav was standing behind a curved metal table that sat in front of several gears and levers. Those were attached to a wide glass cylinder that extended from floor to ceiling. Inside the cylinder was a swirling mass of colors, glittering metallic liquid mixing and churning with an almost life-like pulse. Lord Lav spread his arms wide. “Welcome to the TARDIEST,” he said. “Time And Relative Dimension In Einsteinian Space-Time. Looks like–”
“That’s a horribly offensive name,” Notkelly said sharply, crossing her arms against her chest. “And it uses the word ‘time’ twice.”
Lord Lav pointed to the door behind us. “Door is there if you don’t care for it, missy,” he said, then turned back to me and continued: “So the TARDIEST looks like a portable bog on the outside, but as you can see it’s bigger on the inside.”
“That’s what she said!” Jenkem said. He got out exactly one ha of a laugh, then look confused and mumbled, “Uh, wait.”
“Anyway,” Lord Lav continued, not even acknowledging Jenkem, “the TARDIEST is my time vessel. Won it in a poker game. Welcome. Ready to depart?”
I nodded and Lord Lav started to reach for the one of the levers above the steel table. “Wait,” I said. He stopped. “Where’s the bathroom?”
Lord Lav looked annoyed. “No bog in the TARDIEST. Real oversight, innit? You’ll ‘ave to use hers,” he said, tipping his head toward Notkelly. “Make it quick though, yeah?”
So, for the first time in my life I exited a portable toilet in order to go use the restroom. I came back a few minutes later and the Drunk Pedestrians set out on our first trip through time. ‘First trip?’ you’re probably asking yourself. ‘I thought Lord Lav was going to take him home after the gig?’ Damn good questions you’ve got there. Turns out time travel is more of an art than a science, and we were musicians, not chrono-artists. On the plus side that means I’ve got some more stories, but the happy ending of going home still eludes me to this day. We killed it on stage with Lord Lav that night, but that’s a tale for another day.