It was going to be a very, very slow night. Tuesdays usually were. Throw in the hellacious thunderstorm outside, and not even a desperate alcoholic would wander in. I had just decided to close the bar up early when the mother of all lightening bolts hit just outside the window, nearly blinding me. After I rubbed the white circles from my eyes, I was startled to discover a man standing three feet in front of me. He placed a copy of that fat New York telephone directory on the bar and asked me for a beer.
â€œWhere the hell did you come from and why ain’t you wet?â€ I demanded as I placed a Budweiser draft in front of him, then added, â€œThatâ€™ll be $2.00.â€
He smiled. â€œ’When,’ you mean,â€ he replied, â€œand I donâ€™t have any money from this area. But it doesnâ€™t matter,â€œ he glanced down at one of them big city watches with all kinds of dials and buttons, â€œbecause in exactly 1 minute and nine seconds youâ€™re going to say â€˜Itâ€™s on the house.â€™â€
Thunderstorms always bring out the crackpots. â€œWhy would I say that?â€
He chugged half the beer and glanced at his watch again. â€œBecause, in exactly 58 seconds, Iâ€™m going to save your life.â€
I inched closer to the baseball bat that I keep behind the bar. â€œYou sure about that, mister?â€
He walked to the back corner, where he was practically swallowed up by the shadows. â€œBecause Iâ€™m a temporal police officer, and a criminal from the 24th century fled to this time. He needs money. Unfortunately for you, he doesnâ€™t know how to use your centuryâ€™s projectile weapons. He stole a hair-trigger pistol. Youâ€™ll see soon enough.â€
Just then, a shirtless maniac came crashing through the door. He was soggy as hell and shaking like a leaf. After he did the drunk-dance up to the bar, he slurred, â€œGive me all your money, quick,â€ and yanked some pawnshop gun out of his pocket. He might have been more confused than I was.
â€œTake it easyâ€¦â€ I started, but my voice was lost in the sound and light from the muzzle of his pistol.
By the time I remembered where I was, I wasn’t there anymore. Instead, I was against the old-fashioned cash register my boss kept around for that â€œold-time feel.â€ My ears were ringing, my back hurt, but somehow, I wasnâ€™t dead. Across the bar, the cop guy downed the last bit of his beer, and the would-be assassin was lying on the floor tied up with some kind of glowing neon rope. The New York phone book was against my shirt. A column of white smoke spun up from a big-ass hole in the front of it.
â€œSorry I had to let him shoot,â€ he said as he plunked the bottle onto the bar. â€œThe DA needed enough evidence to put him away for a long time. What do I owe you for the beer?â€
From far away, I heard my voice say, â€œUh, itâ€™s…it’s on the houseâ€
He smiled again, pressed a button on his fancy watch, and both of them disappeared in a flash of light. I stood there for ten minutes before making up my mind. I grabbed a bottle of Jack Daniels, walked over to the door, locked it, and sat down in a corner booth with every intention of emptying the thing before going home.