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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Time Travel

Back in the days when I was Top Dog Roadie for the concert of shows called The Tour - and I think I have written about this: it dealt with religious apparitions, rather like Fatima in its day - I learned a good deal about the world and the flesh. This is a story about the world; the world of physics to be exact.

Most venues required an entire build-up of facilities, from high-tech sound equip to the banal matter of porta-potties. We had contacted local vendors months ahead, and as the hands of time tore off the pages of the calendar, our contacts increased, and we spelled out in excruciating detail our needs: we were an infinite paint-by-numbers-project that had a ravenous appetite, and would their "palette" suffice our needs?
We left nothing to chance.
Actually, we left randomness to chance. We were not aware of that at the time.

As a result, I was not ready for Hessel, Michigan.

Each year, Hessel has a classic boat festival, and it goes back to the time of when the witch king of Angmar was still a jolly good fellow (...and so say all of us!).
Hessel is located in the UP (Upper Peninsula) of Michigan, and it is a small village, and it is not at all the usual venue one might assume desirable for our "concerts", but we "answered to a higher power", and Hessel was one of the places listed on all those t-shirts...

We were there the week after the boat show.

Long story short, during the first evening I get a call from Security that there had been a "skirmish" out yonder by the porta-potties. Details were sketchy, and I thought it best to leave the A/C comfort of my Southern Comfort trailer and wander over to check things out.

We had ordered 15 potty units. We had received 15 units, and we had placed them more or less in a row under the oak trees on the northeast corner of the property. When I arrived in my The Tour Golf Cart © , I could pretty well see what the problem was; there were only 7 potties under the trees. Some of those were tilted at precarious angles.
Eight units had been stolen.
Except Security told me they had been around the area, and if a truck had come and lifted off eight potties, someone would have seen it. No, the potties had vanished. So... like, who wants - or needs - eight porta-potties, laden with their unique chemistry?
Was there a new drug manufactured from the potty chemicals and uric acid and what-all-else is in a porta-potty?

Security directed my attention to a couple small groups of agitated folks. It turns out they had witnessed the whole thing: while their pals and buds were using the porta-potties, everything disappeared in a flash of light. Now their friends were not here.
They wanted to know if this was, like, part of the show, and I assured them it was not. Just then, John Constable, the local sheriff drove up with all lights flashing. As an aside, I always refer to the local cops by nicknames based on the names of English painters. It helps keep me focused. The NYPD was run by a nice guy named Gainsborough, as I recall.

After stories had been taken, I went back to the office, the sheriff following me, and once there I put in a emergency call to Benny's Porta Johns, from whom we had rented these units. Benny had a 24-hour hot line, which was his home phone, and the missus answered on the 10th ring: it was almost 11:00 PM and she sounded as if she were hot, indeed, about being disturbed at that time of night.

I eventually got Benny on the phone.

There was about 10 minutes of fuzzy-wuzzy, sleep-befuddled slapstick we had to wade through to begin our conversation, but he eventually began to get up to speed.

"Oh... I see." he said.
"Good..." I said.
"Porta-Potties..." he said with emphasis.
"Indeed." I said.

There was a pause, a hiatus that extended out through a series of saxophone-like coughs.

He was back. "I thought you said you wanted Portal-Potties...", he said with emphasis.
"What the heck?!" I said with emphasis.

Short story long, it turns out that the potties shipped to us were time portals - future and past... sorta like Star Gate and The Time Machine and what have you - and they were definitely not standard issue porta-potty. Not by a long chalk. Portal-Potties... simple as that.

The sheriff took a while to come around to the new view of the sitch (situation), since he was not as used to the types of other-natural events that came around all the time in my line of Roadie work.
He wanted to know why - exactly! exactly, why! -  terlets (toilets) or potties should be time travel devices, or more important, why should a time machine be made in the shape of a potty?

He had a good point.

I mean, why would anyone want to travel in time while their pants were down? Pants open or down? It would give one a bad rep in whatever time one traveled to, unless, of course, it was one of those rare times when such things were the style, but those eras were few and far between.

Summing it up, John Constable (Yes, he told me. Yes. My Mother named me after the painter.) was not easily persuaded, since, as he put it, he was born at night, but not the immediately previous spell between dark and dawn.

I gave him some coffee, and then started on the computer.
I motioned him over as I Googled "sudden appearances toilets..." and amazingly we found references to events of people floating into a shocked and appalled view while seemingly taking care of "business".
We looked for a historical event we were familiar with, finally finding something in the travels of Lewis and Clark in the area known as the Badlands... something about a mad shaman pelting the explorers with what appeared to a later and wiser age to be blue colored urinal cakes.

John Constable called Benny back.  "Get down here! We gotta get them folks back!... I see... I see... Yes! Yes! Isee... Yeah we gotta do it now, Benny!"
He hung up the phone.
"Can he do it?" I asked.
"Hmm...?" John Constable said.
"Get them back?" I asked.
"Yeah. I think so."
John was silent for a second, mulling over something he had trouble putting into words.
"Benny said he thinks he can do it. Said the portal-potties flush both ways."
I nodded approvingly.

It had been a long day, and it was not over. I wondered about the past... and the future, too! I was sure we'd get a handle (no pseudo-pun by association intended) on it; the evil of the past and future days are sufficient thereto, and need none of our help.


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