This is just a beginning for something I'm working on.
|Ad seen in newspaper: Wanted: Someone to travel back in time with me. Must bring own weapons. If interested call…
*Notes: ecentric billionaire and scientist that invented time machine, meet up at a seedy bar under cover, very secretive,
Tom has been down on his luck and just can’t seem to find a job that lasts. He’s worked odd jobs for the last two years after the economy tanked. Participating in the various drug trials has paid the bills but not without consequences. Two months ago he developed a strange rash under his arms thanks to a new drug that was supposed to compete with Viagra. But, it pays the bills and keeps him from being homeless.
He decides to call the number and find out what this was all about. With a bit of experience with scams, he’s wary of the situation and fully expects the person on the end of the line to request money.
“Hi, I’m responding to the ad looking for a time travel partner, I’d like…”
“Are you with the government? We don’t work with the government. Who are you?”
“I’m Tom. I have been out of work for awhile and was wonde…”
“There’s no pay. You have to bring your own weapons. You have your own weapons?”
“Um, I guess I could get…”
“Okay, let’s meet. There’s a bar on the corner of Birch and 45th. You know it?”
“I can find it. When…”
“Good, be there in an hour. Bring your weapons and dress in black.” Click. The line goes dead.
Tom fumbles through the closet for his black jeans and a shirt. There’s no way he can make the distance in an hour without hiring an Uber. He wonders if he should spend the money or just skip it.
“Might as well go,” he thinks. He grabs his old softball bat from the closet as he fumbles with his phone to open the Uber app. Car is on the way. The app says it should arrive in twenty minutes.
The bar is non-descript. There’s no sign in front indicating the name of the bar, just a blinking sign. “Open,” it says, over and over. The door is a weathered black painted piece of plywood with a dirty knob sticking out. He grabs the knob and opens the door. It doesn’t even latch, just swings open.
He steps in the bar and has to wait for his eyes to adjust. As he surveys the bar he notices the bartender smoking at the end of the bar. No customers in sight. The bartender doesn’t even look up to see who came in. Tom slides over to the bar, looking over his shoulder for any other customers or activity, finding none. He lightly dusts the seat before he sits and without a word, the bartender puts his cigarrette out and walks behind the bar, standing in front of Tom and waits.
“What’s good here?”
Without a word, the bartender grabs a glass, tosses in a handful of ice and grabs a bottle of brown liquour. After filling the glass half way he shoves it towards Tom and grumbles, “That’s two bucks.”
As Tom puts a five on the bar, he looks around again. The bartender takes the cash and throws it in the tip jar behind the bar. No change.
“I’m waiting for someone.”
“No one here but me.”
“I was supposed to meet them at two. Are there other bars near here.”
The bartender just stares, faining insult, and sits on a stool he has positioned near the cash register. Lighting a cigarette, he grabs the remote and turns the volume up on the television.
Tom casually spins his glass on the bar, taking small sips to make it last. “I needed that change,” he thinks. Glancing around he notices a door at the back of the bar with no sign. Assuming it’s a restroom he decides he’ll take a piss, anything to avoid the disdain of the bartender.
“No restroom. It’s broke.”
Tom returns to his stool and plays with his drink some more.
“Has anyone been in here today?”
“Just you,” he says without looking over.
The door opens and two people walk in. With the light streaming through like a flash-bang, Tom only sees the shapes.
“I told you to call me Richard. You know I hate that!” the first stranger exclaimed.
The bartender grabs two glasses and sets them at the far end of the bar. The two figures saunter over, eyeing Tom along the way. They sit as the glasses are filled from a bottle on the high shelf.
“Who’s the guy?”
“Dunno. Says he’s waiting for you guys.”
“Oh does he now.”
“Yep, even asked if there was another bar around.”
“For heavens sake, Jerry. I’m surprised he’s still here. You usually kick em out for a slight such as that!”
“Says he was waitin so I let him wait. Y’all want the table?”
“Sure Jerry. Got any snacks? You know I need my salt.”
The two strangers move their glasses over to the only table in the bar and sit. Feeling their stares and knowing they were talking about him, Tom just stares at the television trying to be invisible from the embarrassment.
“Hey you! You waiting for the likes of us,” asks one of the strangers.
Tom spins on his stool and begins, “There was an ad..”
“Sure, sure. That’s us. Come on over. Bring that bowl. Need my salt.”
Tom grabs his glass and a bowl half filled with what appears to be chex mix from a can. Sitting down, the strangers look at each other and then back at Tom. “Where’s your weapon?”
“Um, the driver wouldn’t let me bring my bat with..”
“Driver? Someone else knows you’re here? Who? What did they say? Did you tell them anything?”
“Um, no. Uh, I don’t know who they..”
“Never mind. Probably just some random bloke. Did they look like government? We don’t work with government.”
“No, he didn’t look like government. What’s this all about?”
“Yes, yes. The ad explained everything. No weapon? Hey Jerry, can he borrow your gun?” Looking back at me he starts, “Have you ever shot a.. Jerry, the bat. He needs your bat.”
Seeming to ignore what was going on, the bartender slides a worn baseball bat onto the bar and sits back on his stool, lighting another smoke.