“Hello there, young lady.”
A brunette woman with a birthmark under the left edge of her lip blinked in disbelief. “You… you’re…”
“Yes,” the older blond man smirked as humble as he could manage, “I’m Rod Stewart.” He extended a hand to the star-struck woman. She wore an expression of breathless wonder Rod was quite accustomed to. He broke her bedazzled silence, “…and your name is…?”
“Me… oh I’m sorry… my manners… I am Lenka.” Her senses slowly returned. They were standing in a featureless room, larger than she had ever seen. Thousands of people were scattered about, and yet it was far from crowded. Swing music filled the room from an unknown source. Rod recollected her attention, “Lenka. Pleasure to meet you. I’m not familiar with you Lenka. Is that your name, or the name of your band?”
“Both actually. Mister Stewart, may I ask where we are?”
Rod smiled, “Aussie?”
“We’re in Australia?”
“No, are you an Aussie?” Rod was intrigued by her accent.
“Yes sir. I am…”
An interruption left Rod’s words inaudible. A young guttural voice spoke in a slight slur, “Hey hot stuff where you from?” A hair band rocker with a long blond mane whistled and raised a bottle. Lenka blushed. Rod put his hand on her shoulder and motioned her to walk with him. “Don’t pay him any attention,” he advised.
“Who is that?”
“Hey baby, don’t be like that! Come back!” The rocker protested.
“That’s David Lee Roth. He greeted me the same way when I got here. The rest of his band is around here somewhere… they can’t stand him either.”
Rod walked towards the center of the seemingly endless room. He waved to a man with an acoustic guitar and a fringe jacket. The acoustic man with the shaggy straight hair nodded back with an earnest smile.
“Is that John Denver?” Lenka asked quizzically.
Rod nodded affirmative.
“But isn’t he dead?”
“See that area?” Rod ignored her inquiry and pointed out a clearing, sanctioned off by a chalk circle, “Don’t ever stand in there.”
“What happens there?”
The background music changed to an Aretha Franklin song. Before her eyes, a bunch of men with brazen instruments and pinstripe suits appeared within the circle. “Alright boys that’s a rap,” the bald one without any brass instructed the rest.
“That’s where we return when we’re done.” Rod greeted the swing band as they packed up their equipment and left the circle, “Hey Andy… sounding good Scottie.”
“Mister Stewart”, Lenka did her best to avoid a tone of impatience.
“Please call me Rod. Mister Stewart is my father. Do you know those guys? They call themselves ‘Big Bad Voo…’”
“Where on earth are we?” Lenka interjected politely.
“Earth…” Rod let out a chuckle, “if only we were so lucky. This is hardly earth. You’ve…” Rod gazed upwards, searching for words, “you’ve been added.”
“Is that Sting?” Lenka glanced over Rod’s shoulder.
“Yes it is. He has not been talkative much to the new blood. Not since Eminem confused him for the guy on the Dyson vacuum cleaner commercials.” The background melody ended abruptly in mid-song. Rod looked around, “Uh oh... we have a skip.”
“What do you mean?” Lenka recognized the new song as a Green Day tune. Aretha Franklin stormed between herself and Rod from the direction of the circle, “…Never lets me finish the song, I don’t know why I’m even here!”
“She was cut off… you don’t disrespect Aretha Franklin,” Rod amused himself with his pun. Lenka stared at him with a hunger for answers.
“She looked good back then, didn’t she?”
“Yeah we seem to stay the age we were when we produced the uploaded songs. The real me is much older than what you see, I think I aged pretty well…”
“Rod, please explain.”
Rod gestured to lower her tone while they passed by an unconscious Amy Winehouse, nuzzling with a near-empty bottle of whiskey.
“Don’t ask,” Rod whispered, “We tried but... she won’t go.”
Rod distanced himself from Amy before continuing, “Look around Lenka, have you noticed everyone is a musician? That’s what this is, the world of Dop-i, a world of musicians. No fans, no agents, no bodyguards, just musicians. We aren’t sure how to get out of here. But we have Al working on that.” Rod pointed to a man sitting on the floor fidgeting with computer parts, clearly identifiable as Weird Al Yankovic.
“But, there’s people here that are deceased,” her eyes locked with Kurt Cobain in the distance.
“Yes, well they surely weren’t dead when they recorded music now were they?” Rod countered. He put his hand to his ear as if answering an invisible cell phone, “Oh, it looks like I am up. You’ll have to excuse me Lenka.”
Rod Stewart disappeared before her eyes. She looked over her shoulder at the circle. The members of Green Day had returned. ‘Forever Young’ began to play.
Billie Jo looked at Lenka, “Welcome to Paradise.”