Trapped in Byzantium Part One

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Dedicated to Stephen Lamia Ph.D., Beloved Friend, Mentor, Faculty Adviser, and Father Figure

Words: Byzantium, Cucumbers, Lavender, Vertigo, Art


I was chopping cucumbers for my salad and never expected it to happen. Mixing lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, and carrots together, my cell phone rang. Picking it up, I didn’t bother to see who was calling.

“Hello,” I answered.

“Hello, can you meet me at Penn Station?”

“Who the hell is this?”

“Your worst nightmare come to life.”

“Fuck off ass hole!”

I click my phone off. Screw that. I wasn’t falling for it. Maybe one of the students I gave an F to playing a prank. Really, all you had to do was show up and do the work and if you couldn’t do that, you deserved an F. Out of everything I was currently going through, I had a cynic for a former student, other students that went MIA and now a prankster. I didn’t need this bull shit.

I placed my salad in a bowl and ate it, savoring the flavors of the vegetables I mixed together inside it. Looking outside my apartment window, I wondered if I could take a walk and decided it would be my best course of action.

Lavender plants littered the sides of the sidewalks and the scent was relaxing. It was beautiful and I put my hands behind my head enjoying it. Who says a man can’t enjoy the fresh aroma of plants? Quickly, I put my hands back to my sides, not wanting to make my vertigo act up. Being old sucks.

There is a museum down the block from me. An art museum and I enter it. I haven’t been to one in a while. Depression takes its toll when things go haywire. Still, things are starting to go back to normal somewhat and I enter the museum. My top favorite periods are Ancient Egypt and the Medieval Ages. The last class I taught was a senior seminar for Ancient Egypt so I go into the Medieval Ages section, specifically the Byzantium period.

In this area of the museum, there is an area that is not well guarded. There is a flight of stairs and after making sure no one is looking I quickly ascend it. A painting I have never seen before is hanging near a rafter. What the fuck! I reach out and touch it and before I know it I’m falling a long distance.

“What the fuck is happening!” I scream in an eternal void of nothingness.

After a long time, I fall face first into mud. Seriously! I get up on my hands and knees and my pain is no longer there. I look at my muddied hands which look forty years younger. Looking at my surroundings I can swear I’m in some medieval looking Greek town. I quickly look at what I’m wearing for some unknown reason, see I’m dressed in medieval garments and look back up.

“Are you fucking kidding me?”

I run to the nearest hovel I see and hope and silently pray that I won’t be stabbed with a pitchfork, thrown into an insane asylum, or worse. I am greeted by a woman with dirty blond hair who smells really fucking bad and I try not to crinkle my nose at her. Have to remember I’m in the wrong time period or some Renaissance faire that’s way too fucking realistic.

“Please help,” I say and hope that she can understand me.

Surprisingly she understands me and offers me a cup of water. I take the cup and look at it. I silently cringe and sip from it hoping against hope I can get back to my own damn timeline. There is something to be said for running water, adequate plumbing, and decent healthcare, along with proper god damn hygiene.

“What year is your lordship?” I ask her, hoping to sound polite.

“336,” She answers me.

Hmm. So I’m in the beginning of the Byzantium era. I would need to be careful. Sigh. Now what do I do? I thank her and stand up. Leaving her hovel, she begs me to stay. Politely I tell her I need to make my own way in the world and make up some quick story of how I lost my way from another town and need to find my way home. She points me in the direction of a church. I thank her and head over to it. Time to pretend I’m faithful. Ugh, hopefully my years of sitting behind a desk paid off. Not that I always sat behind a desk. I’m hoping my visit to the church goes well and maybe they will commission me as an artist at least until I can get back to my own timeline, but for now I may as well make the best of things.

To Be Continued

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