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Since the time Archie first announced that he was a time traveler from some distant future; that he was stranded here in this primitive “shit hole” as he called our present, we were all subject to Archie’s little scam. Everyone got a kick out of the old guy. He was fun to have around. We bought him drinks just to hear him rattle on about his world.
“You told us that one before,” said Lester Brown, one of the regulars. “They think carbon based life forms are disgusting, isn’t that what you said? Disgusting? Something like that. And as for the mating habits of those Kloro-thingies, that was too gross to want to hear again. I still can’t get the pictures out of my head. You got anything new?”
“Tell us about time travel,” somebody called. “How did you get here again? Tell us that one. That’s always good for a laugh.”
Lomax was always trying to catch Archie in a lie or an inconsistency. So far he hadn’t any success. We all leaned in to hear today’s encounter. “Okay, here’s my question: if our world is just so much ancient history to you, how come you ain’t rich?” Lomax scratched the back of his bald head and continued, “I mean if I went back in time and knew what was going to happen, I believe I could make some easy money at the track or in the stock market. So that’s my question, why ain’t you rich?” Lomax looked pleased with himself like he just might have trapped the old man in a real conundrum.
“Put yourself in my place for a minute,” Archie began. “Say you just arrived in this time from, oh I don’t know, say ten years in the future. How much minutia do you think you’re gonna remember? You might remember some big things but think back 60 years, do you remember who won the Kentucky Derby? 200 years you remember who won the Russo Japanese War? 300 years? Who was the governor of Pennsylvania? Now imagine 500 years back, you wouldn’t have a freaking clue. Well that’s how I feel. No clue. That’s why I’m not rich. Everything I knew hasn’t happened yet and everything that’s happening now is news to me.” Then Archie tossed down his drink and added, “Now if you want to know who won the hoosball tournament in 2556, the year I left, just fill up this little glass and I’ll give you the scores. A lot of good it will do you.”
This is how it went most evenings, Archie had his moment but eventually the conversation drifted around to current events and topics that were a tad more relevant than the rules for hoosball. Archie stared down at his empty glass and racked his brain for something to entice us with but his act was getting old.
The last time we saw Archie, a funny looking stranger had just entered the bar and ordered a drink. This wasn’t all that unusual, The Shaggy Bear was a business after all, and while it seemed like our exclusive little club, it was not.
This stranger came in and sat down at the bar right next to Archie. When his drink arrived he leans over to Archie and says loud enough for everyone to hear, “You know, where I come from they won’t even allow human beings in the bar let alone serve them? We think carbon based life forms are filthy germ covered scum. What do you think about that?”
It's like Hitch Hikers Guide, and the bar scene in Star Wars and a few others that were so long ago that I can't remember. A pleasant read.
micheledutcher - Harris Tobias is doing what he does best in this story: combining a bar environment and a time traveler. I always enjoy these snippets. Perhaps he could put them all together and have a time traveler's bar book. Always a fun read, Harris.
micheledutcher - HarryJBenthan wrote: I read every word and this was a good short story. The sociological musings in this are interesting. I do not think the contents of the story could be stretched to the extent of being a longer story, but they are certainly explored well in a story of this length. Thanks for this.
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