He walked into the empty shop and sat on a stool in front of the counter. His black fedora was pulled down low, so you had to work, to see his eyes. An unfiltered cigarette hung from his lips. His topcoat looked soft, and expensive. His shoes were polished and worn, just enough to look comfortable. A beautiful vintage watch peeked out from under his cuff and she caught a glimpse of a gun in a shoulder holster under his suit coat.
“Uh,” said the seventeen year old girl, looking him up and down. “You’re not supposed to smoke in here and guns aren’t allowed either. There are stickers on the door saying that.”
“Coffee. Black,” he whispered.
“Pie? would you like some pie,” she asked. “It’s really good, especially the cherry. The ice cream is good too. I can heat the pie up, if you like.”
“Just coffee and tell Nicky someone’s here to see him.”
“Sorry, but I don’t know anyone named Nicky.”
The man stood up and looked around.
“Jason is the manager, but he’s not here,” she said.
“What’s the name of this joint?”
“Jenny’s. It’s named after the owner’s dog and this isn’t a joint, it’s a pie shop.”
“Is that Jenny?” he asked, staring at the pictures scattered all over the walls.
“Yes. She’s a nice German Shepherd. She comes to visit on Wednesday, so the customers can say hello.”
“Any high stake games going on in the back?”
“Yeah, poker. Games,” he said, staring at her.
“No. No games.”
“Ya got a paper?”
“I think there’s one in the trash. A customer left it on his table, but it’s not wet or anything.”
“What’s your name?”
“Grace, what’s yours?”
“Vincent, but you can call me Vinnie.”
She put the paper on the counter in front of him.
“Is this a joke?”
“Is what a joke?” she asked, frowning.
“The date on this paper.”
She turned the paper around and looked at it. “No, it’s today’s paper.”
“Are you an actor?”
“I hate when this happens,” he said, tossing his cigarette into his coffee cup.”
“When what happens?”
“When I jump too far,” he said.
“Yeah,” he said. “Machine must need a good cleaning.”
“The Machine that dropped me into this time period, instead of into Chicago in nineteen-forty.”
“Are you trying to tell me that you’re a Time Traveler?”
“I’m not trying to tell you, I’m telling you outright,” he said, taking off his hat, his blonde hair falling over his forehead. “How could people wear all these clothes?” he asked, removing his coat, suit and shoes. He stood there in a t-shirt and torn jeans. Sneakers were on his feet. “How’s this?” he asked, turning around.
“Perfect,” she said, smiling at him. “When are you from?”
“The future,” he said. “Very far in the future.”
“What’s earth like in your time?” she asked, excitedly. “Do we finally have flying cars?”
“There is no earth.”
“What?” she said, her face suddenly white.
“You guys destroyed it,” he said.
“Seriously?” he said, running his fingers through his hair, messing it up so he looked like a surfer, who just left the beach. He looked at his watch, which was now shiny silver with many dials. “Hey, I gotta go.”
“Sure you don’t want some pie? You can tell me about earth, while you eat. It’s on the house.”
He looked at his watch again and sat down. “Blueberry and vanilla bean ice cream, please.”
“You were a great looking gangster,” she said.
“Thanks, but we can be anything. It’s all programmed. No big deal. And my name is Seven.
“Your name is a number? Are you human?”
“Seven’s my lucky number and sort of,” he said, nodding. “This pie is fantastic.”
“We’re a different species but we do have some human bits, here and there.”
“What happened to the humans?”
“Extinct,” he said casually. “You did it to yourselves. No big loss. Not really. You guys were a failed experiment. Couldn’t stop killing everything. We did what we could, but nothing could stop all the hatred and violence that was inside of you. We study you and we come here to play, or change bits of history when we think it will help.”
“I’m not filled with hatred and violence, I’m a nice person. I love my cat and I volunteer at the animal shelter.”
“Lots of people weren’t that bad, but they still let the ones who were, destroy the world. So the nice people, like you, are just as responsible as the bad guys.”
“That’s not fair.”
“Sure it is,” he said.
“No, thanks. I have to go,” he said, touching her face. “Don’t worry Grace, it won’t happen in your lifetime but don’t have kids, not if you don’t want them to suffer.”
“Don’t have kids?”
“Take care and thanks for the pie,” he said, smiling at her. And then he was gone.
Grace folded the clothes he left behind, slid the gun into her purse, under the counter, and put his dishes in the sink.
As she turned, a man crashed through the front door screaming and demanding money. He grabbed Grace by her checkered Jenny shirt, slapped her across the face hard enough to knock her to the floor. When she got up, she aimed the gun at his chest and pulled the trigger three times. The man fell to the floor, his eyes wide with surprise.
“Moron,” she said.
Seven, who was leaning against the building across the street took another drag on his cigarette. “Way to go Gracie,” he muttered. “He would have killed you, but you have a lot of important things to do, even if you don’t know it yet.” He flicked his smoke to the curb and tapped his watch.
“Yes, Seven?” asked the business-like voice.
“Mission accomplished. I’m coming home,” he said, walking down the street.