Dial T for Time and Destiny
"A Lord When Story"
By John Pirillo
Lord When settled into a booth in the back of Denny's, his eyes focused on a young couple seated on the opposite side, several booths up. The booths were covered with leather like plastic of shiny red, interspaced with ribbons of blonde wood, very highly polished. The floor was gritty from the recent rain. He glanced outside and could see the puddles of water gathering in the street gutters, slight reflections of clouds and an emerging sun shining there.
"Ready to order?"
He turned to look at a very petite, older woman, probably in her middle forties, with blonde wispy hair that threatened to run away from her forehead at any moment, a pair of narrow lips smeared with some kind of lip-gloss and kind blue eyes that considered him thoughtfully as he examined her.
"Not yet. Thanks!"
She nodded, and then gestured to the street outside. "It's not always like this here."
She looked at him more closely. "Never seen you here before."
"I usually park outside the city and walk into town later. Like the privacy."
"Gotcha." She said, taking that as a warning to shut up.
He quickly stopped that assumption. "I like your town." He smiled. "It seems pleasant, like you."
She blushed. "Honey, I'm way outside your boundaries." She held up a marriage finger.
"And rightly so." He uttered with a smirk.
She laughed. "Coffee coming right up."
She smiled as she headed for the small kitchen, where she kept her small pot of coffee brewing. She didn't believe in those automatic ones. No control over the final product. She knew by scent when the coffee was strong or weak and preferred to keep on doing things that way. Her husband, the cook, grunted at her as she entered and she noticed the order up. "On it." She told him, then quickly started a fresh pot of coffee, then swept the bacon and fries sandwich combo up in her right hand and a tall, fizzing coke in the other and headed back out into the dining area.
Lord when watched as she served the older couple in the back, nodding and chatting, as warm as could be.
He glanced at his watch.
He put a hand under the table. "Shhh. Someone will hear you, even if they can't see you."
"As if you cared." Binky replied sharply, but still keeping it down.
Lord When felt Binky shuffle around and his tail brush his pants leg, then he knew the tiny friend had managed to position himself with a better view of the dining area, as limited as it might be. Binky was always in protection mode. Must be hard on his circuits. He mused to himself, and then brightened as his coffee came out in a steaming mug on a tiny tray for him.
The waitress set it down, added some sweeteners, then a spoon and napkin. She hoisted her order book. "Anything yet?"
"Do you serve vegetarian burgers?"
She gave him a surprised look, and then stooped closer to whisper. "I never thought I'd live to see another real, honest to gosh vegetarian eater."
He gave her a surprised look. "I thought this town was a bunch of older hippies."
She laughed. "Honey, the only thing hippie about this town anymore is no one wanting to pay their taxes, and there ain't a single person born who doesn't fit that description."
She laughed again and then said. "I could have the Hub do you some nice soy burger if you like. He always keeps a stash in back for the occasional nostalgic person."
"Great. Any fries or anything with it?"
"And a coke please."
"Give me fifteen and I'll have you the best dressed plate in town...and eatable too."
He laughs. "I'm sure it will be. Thanks."
She scoots off into the kitchen again to give the order, while he turns his attention back to the street again. "How long, Binky?"
"Beep. Beep. Maybe ten minutes."
"Maybe? That's kind of strong language coming from you."
Binky makes a short snickering sound. "Coming from those lips, I take that as a compliment."
An older man seated across from Lord When leans across aisle and whispers. "Whatever you're having, I'd sure like some." He winks, and then goes back to scooping up vanilla ice cream which buries a chunk of cherry pie.
Lord When gives him a smile, and then looks at the street again. "Sure this is the right time?"
"And right place." Binky insists from beneath the table. "And could you have her bring me a plate of batteries please?"
"She might think that a bit odd."
"No more odd than eating beans for a meal."
Binky doesn't reply. He gives a sharp squeak. "Here it comes!"
A great shadow casts across the Denny's, then the street and a huge WHOOMP sound shakes the building. The building rattles so hard that dishes fly off tables and customers hang on for dear life.
Lord When hears a scream from the kitchen.
"Now!" Binky hollers.
Lord When runs for the kitchen the same time as flames erupt from it.
He dashes inside, and into a cloud of black smoke, made by the Cook's stove which has just had had a bottle of oil spill onto it, spreading a fire swiftly across stacked empty egg crates and milk crates.
The Waitress is striving to pull her husband, the Cook, a very large man from the floor, where the flames are eating towards his feet. He's unconscious. Lord When rushes to her side and helps her lift the heavy man. They stagger towards the back door, but it's jammed with a fallen frigeration unit. Suddenly, the unit makes a loud groaning sound and begins to fall towards them.
"Beep, beep!" Binky bleeps as he rushes into the room and becoming visible wedges against the unit to keep it from falling.
"Oh my God!" The Waitress calls out as she sees the strange bionic robot before her. She looks at Lord When. "He acts as if he knows you."
"He does. He's my traveling companion."
"You young hippies are sure a different crowd from my sort." She shoots back. "Quick, hold him up while I get the fire extinguisher."
She rushes for the other side of the kitchen, yanks a red bottle down and begins spraying down the fire on the floor and counters. It's not enough. "Not working." She yells.
Lord When looks at Binky. "A little magic would be nice."
Several customers, including the older man that was seated opposite Lord When rush inside. "Betty, you all right?" The older man yells.
"Do I look all right?" She yells at him when the fire renews itself and explodes into a more furious mass of flames.
"They'll all see!"
"Too many lives depend on us now. You know what happens next?"
Binky shoots between Lord When's legs and past the men, who all gawk at him like he's something from outer space. He stops before the flames, and then emits a high frequency beam that freezes the flames.
The room falls into a stunned silence, and then the older man snaps out of it. He looks at Lord When. "I'll take one of him as well."
The two men rush around the flames and take Betty to safety in the main dining room and then come back and help Lord When carry the Cook, her husband, into it as well.
They set him down in a booth and he begins to revive.
Binky rolls up and lifts on his hind feet, his glowing eyes looking at the man. "Pulse high. Heart okay. A diet is his only problem." Then he lowers himself and exits the diner to the sound of clapping and awestruck voices.
Lord When looks at Betty. "I'm afraid I'll have to pass on that veggie burger."
"You come back anytime." She says, smiling, taking her husband's hand as he stirs from unconsciousness. "We owe our lives to you."
"And that critter." The older man adds. Winks. "Sure I can't get one like that?"
From outside the diner they hear "Beep Beep. Bleep!"
"What'd that critter say?"
Lord When smiles at the older man. "Not in a billion, billion years."
Everyone laughs and Lord When exits.
They all follow him to the door and then gasp as his Time Boat begins to materialize in the middle of the street. He turns back to wave at them. "And about that sound. You should be glad it didn't land here."
He waves again, and then as a boarding ramp extends from the belly of the barbell shaped vehicle, he climbs it, followed by Binky. They enter the vessel and it begins to make a loud humming sound, then shimmers a bit and vanishes.
The older man looks over at the Waitress. "Why would he say that?"
An excited Sheriff comes running up. "Everyone okay?"
"Where the hell was you when that fire happened, Grizzly?"
The Sheriff, who had a long hippie beard, frowned. "Didn't you have the TV on?"
"The Twin Towers in New York City just went down big time."
Everyone froze for a moment and then looked up at the sky. What had happened while they were in the diner?
Inside Lord When's Time Boat, he adjusted the time spooler, setting it for their home. His and Binky's. "Well, Binky, I guess we did some good today."
"Never got my plate of batteries."
"Or my veggie burger. But sure appreciated some people making it to another day, when so many others didn't."
They were both silent a moment as the image of Twin Towers collapsing in New York lit up their view screen for a moment.
"I wish we could stop that." Lord When uttered, his voice sad.
"It would disrupt the time stream. You know that."
"What about what we just did?"
Binky was silent.
Lord When's eyebrows arched. Or had they already?
The Time Boat made a sizzling sound and then like a bolt of lightning shot away from earth and into the vast depths of space and time.