We didn’t sit down, we were all too excited. Frank stood by the bathroom, alternating between cleaning mango-chicken stains off his shirt and spooning the paste from the bowl.
Thorsten rubbed his hands, «No, they didn’t tell me where I am going and to what time.»
«Will they tell you ahead of your departure», I asked.
«I hope so. Would be something if not.»
«Paris, early1920s, or Berlin during that time.»
«Wow, sunny! The 20s last century, how come? Any connection, family?»
«No, just interested.»
Rain drops hit the window. The slight wind had changed direction, and the drumming of the rain against the glass sounded like a group of centipedes in slippers scrambling for shelter.
Frank said, «Back then they spoke French there, and German.»
«I don’t care. I’d love to see it.»
I asked, «How good are your old language skills?»
«They taught me enough to get by, I won’t starve. I majored in European languages.»
Frank tromboned, «I would have taken Mandarin.»
«Sure», I said, «The guy that avoids work where he can.»
«How many watts did you produce last week?»
He stepped out of the bathroom, coiling his mustache with both hands and bending it to the side, «How does that look? Criminally sexy?»
«Criminally eccentric.» He had ignored my question.
Frank turned to Thorsten, «What about your ‘stache?»
«Gets shaved off», he blew it up. His wasn’t as long as Frank’s but still quite respectable.
«Ouch», Frank pulled a face.
«Had to sign that in the contract. Grows back.»
Thorsten clapped his hands, «Okay, I have to go, packing.»
«What do you pack? For a time travel?», I asked.
«I don’t know if I am allowed to tell, but … well, only a storage chip with one terra bite.»
«So pictures it is, games, videos!?»
«Yes, and some music.»
Frank said, «Jenny Has Traffic!?»
«Show the past how great music can be!»
«Will do. Gotta run now, bye guys, and thanks for everything», we shook hands, and our designated time traveler stepped to the door.
«No problem», I said, «Good luck».
The door squeaked and closed shut.
I tried to remember my question but I couldn’t, so I said to Frank, «Hey, I wanted to ask you something.»
«No, earlier I mean.»
«What do I know what you wanted to ask me?»
«About… what we were talking about, remember?»
«Can I have a refill?», he raised his empty bowl.
«Knock yourself out.»
He skipped to the sink.
«How come you’re so hungry?»
«Dunno. You want to play a round of ZZ? I can get my…»
For a change, my device rang at the right time. Without checking who it was, I said, «I wish we could play, but sorry, video call. Would you mind?»
When he finally looked at me, I nodded toward the door.
«Okay», he definitely wasn’t happy about him having to leave.
He tapered off, carrying his bowl like some precious egg of an almost extinct species.
I wiped my device alive, the call came from my brother. The freeze frame of him lying in the hospital bed filled the screen.