Feghoot in Uruk
by Jay Lake
In the fall of 1936, having recently come into possession of a time machine, Ferdinand Feghoot, gentleman-adventurer, decided to combine its use with his secret passion: jazz.
"I shall take myself back to a suitable point in prehistory and introduce this highest form of human artistic expression," he wrote in a letter to the New York Times (which the Gray Lady rudely refused to print). "Upon my return to the future present, our time shall have been rendered into the future perfect."
Witticisms fully engaged, he hired several of Joe Bonanno's footsoldiers to assist in procuring a suitably talented jazz musician. Mikey "Marbles" Miglione, Festus "Fearless" Palestini and Maria "Don't Call Me Maria" Benevutto were dispatched with large sums of cash, a fast car and a steamer trunk well stocked with jelly sandwiches and gin.
The steamer trunk, of course, neatly fit into the rumble seat of Feghoot's time machine.
Marbles, Fearless and Don't Call Me Maria returned to Feghoot's New Jersey estate two days later minus a considerable amount of cash and sporting two black eyes and a cigarette girl. The steamer trunk, however, was filled with lounge singer.
"I am away, boys," said Feghoot. "Try not to pee in the pool." Strapping on his goggles, he perched on the saddle of the chronomobile and dialed himself into history.
As any student of time travel knows, displacement through time equals displacement through space. Else one would quickly wind up breathing vacuum at some distant point on the galactic ecliptic. Feghoot, having determined that prehistoric New Jersey, however otherwise salubrious, was not a suitable location for propagating his beloved lounge music, instead set his coordinates for Uruk, seat of the ancient Sumerian hero Gilgamesh. It was, after all, one of the earliest seats of recorded civilization.
The journey itself was unremarkable, a tiresome assortment of special effects not worthy even of Ed Wood. Feghoot soon found himself and his machine in a dusty street beneath a brassy sun. Naked children of color played nearby, paying his appearance little mind. Low mud buildings lined the street. Ahead of Feghoot was a temple or palace, the obvious architectural focus of the town. It was fronted by tapered pillars with something of the profile of pregnancy about them, topped by a flat roof, and faced with half a flight of irregularly spaced steps.
A vast man emerged from the building to confront Feghoot. He was larger even than that fellow Conan — or was it Conan Doyle? — muscled like a stevedore, and carried a bronze sword that could have spitted a St. Bernard.
Could it be the mighty Gilgamesh himself? Feghoot's heart raced.
"Dingir mesh!" bellowed the huge man.
Feghoot, alas, had lasped in his studies of classical Sumerian some years earlier. Music, however, was the universal language. He quickly scrambled to the rumble seat of his time machine and undid the straps holding the steamer trunk shut.
A very drunk Jimmy Durante -- badly in need of a shave -- clambered out, stumbled to the front of the machine and took a long stare at the mighty Gilgamesh. "Calabash!" he said.
The mighty Gilgamesh stared back.
History is being made, thought Feghoot with glee.
"Gim sumun bi shà-thir-ma u ba-rì!"
"Inka dinka doo," said Durante. Then he belched.
Gilgamesh smiled, spread his arms, and walked down the steps to embrace Durante, shouting, "Enkidu! Enkidu!"
© 2008, Joseph E. Lake Jr.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.