On a fine winter’s evening, Rupert was in his tree house staring at the sky. A hangover gripped his body. His legs felt wet and stingy – pissed himself again. Too many brandy and apple juices at Murf the pigeon’s leaving party that afternoon. He coughed and a string of sour vomit dripped out, but luckily he managed to sook it back before it touched the ground. He took a swig from the emergency gin and everything became clear. He pulled on his five-X hat, slipped his hoofs into four boots and climbed out. In a dream, a mission was given to him by an angel. He finished the gin in nine gulps and galloped off into the night.
Rupert arrived at his local time-travel station a little after nine. It was empty except for Terry, a homeless pirate lying by the heater. Terry was sporting the same piss-stained jeans look as Rupert. Terry threw him a ‘piss brothers’ glance and followed it with a thumbs up.
Rupert was scanned, and after a few seconds a ticket popped out.
Name: Rupert. Species: Giraffe cowboy. Previous trips: Eight.
You are authorised for travelling.
“Where this time, hun,” Carla, the purple-haired gypsy said from behind the processing desk.
“Hawaii, July 5th 1961.”
“Well, I’m jest takin a gift back to one of my heroes.”
“Is that right?”
“Yes, ma’am, that’s right. I had a visitation earlier this evening.”
“Who visited you?”
“Yes, ma’am – an angel called Toby. He looked like a reindeer or a sneaky camel, but he told me he was an angel from heaven. Luckily, I woke up remembering my mission.”
Carla looked at Rupert like he was an idjit. He leaned in closer and almost lost his footing.
“My mission is most important. If I don’t do it, Toby said there’s a possibility the world might cease to exist.”
“Tell me. I can keep a secret.”
Rupert closed one eye, and took another step forward. “You sure?”
Carla nodded, eyes widening. Blue varicose veins squirmed all over her now visible ankles.
“Well he…” Rupert cleared his throat. “See—”
Terry was standing beside him.
“Shoo now. We’re having a private conversation,” Carla said. Terry smiled and held a finger in the air.
“Did you get my blood, Rupert? I sent you a cup of my blood,” Terry said, eyes fading in and out of focus.
“Well, I sent it to you last year.” Terry staggered away, shaking his head.
“I best be off now,” Rupert said.
“Ain’t you going to tell me?”
“Tell you what?”
“Your mission, hun.”
“Oh right. The thing is... well...” Rupert stopped and leaned in even closer. “I got to go back in time and give Elvis Presley the AIDS.”
“Shhh. Yes, ma’am, but it’s top secret.” Rupert swung his head around – the place was still empty bar Terry, who was now busy talking to his reflection in the window.
“Why?” Carla whispered.
“I ain’t real sure why, but Toby told me that if I give Elvis the AIDS, Jesus will come back.”
“As in bible Jesus?”
“Yes, ma’am. He’ll be moving into the tree house next to mine. See it’s empty now since Murf the pigeon is leaving for Mexico. In fact, Jesus will sing Blue Suede Shoes every night as a special treat jest for me. Now, wouldn’t he be the greatest neighbour ever?”
Carla raised an eyebrow. “You drunk, hun?”
“A little. But I’m thinking clearly. Look here, I’ve got an AIDS rifle that will do the job.”
“That jest looks like an empty bottle of gin.”
“Yes, ma’am. I’m going to throw it at him. If it hits him Toby reckons he’ll have the AIDS.”
Carla’s face was looking at him funny.
“You don’t believe a fella?”
“I ain’t sure.”
Rupert staggered backwards. He felt like vomiting again so would have to complete the mission real soon. “I have to go.”
“Alright, hun. Booth eight is ready whenever you are. Good luck.”
“Much obliged, ma’am, much obliged,” Rupert said, dipping his hat. He composed himself, galloped over to the booth and sat down.
After a quick trip through the portal, Rupert arrived backstage on the film set of Blue Hawaii. An old man fainted when he appeared – must not have been used to seeing giraffe cowboys.
Rupert felt hungry and decided to eat a part of the man’s leg. Didn’t taste so fine – too chewy.
Across the stage, he saw Elvis practicing dance steps in a hula dress.
He took out the AIDS rifle and aimed.
“Easy now,” he whispered and steadied himself with his back legs. Crooked his long neck as low as possible.
“Do it for Jesus, Rupert, do it for Jesus.”