Review of Spider Robinson’s “Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon”

calIf you like my work, buy me a virtual cup of coffee at Ko-Fi.

So I was having a discussion with my grandson, actually playing a game with him over the phone, and realized I needed a bar. That is, I needed a bar as one of the scenes for our game. Author Spider Robinson (apparently his given first name is a jealously guarded secret) wrote a collection of short stories in the late 1970s called Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon. I remembered reading it when it was first published and I remembered liking it, but that’s all. I had long since gotten rid of my original copy, so I bought the digital version.

After reading the first couple of short stories, I not only realized I had remembered this collection wrong, but found it was totally unsuitable for what I had in mind for the game with my grandson. I immediately set to work at creating my own “fantastical” saloon which, as of today, I also decided to incorporate in a short story I’ve just plotted out.

But that’s neither here nor there for this review.

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Timeless Saint

person and train

black-and-white-person-train-motion-42153 Pixel photo

He didn’t look a day older than the last time I saw him, but that was over forty years ago. He could still pass for a kid of nineteen, but I was almost seventy. I couldn’t believe it when I got the phone call telling me to meet him here. He stood alone as the BART train that brought him to East Oakland pulled away in a blur.

“Why me? Why now?”

“Because it is who I am and what I was born to do. I saved you in a war halfway around the world, and now you’ll return the favor.”

“Who the hell are you and why aren’t you old? You pulled me out of that firefight in Nam. You were shot seventeen times. I never asked about it then. How are you even alive?”

“My earliest memory is of Masada. I don’t know how I escaped death there either. I only know that the lives I’ve saved over the ages have always been called upon to save others. This is your calling, Derek. For nearly 2,000 years, I have been called the Saint. There isn’t much time if we are to avert a nuclear holocaust. Come with me.”

I wrote this for Week 27 of the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner challenge. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 199.

I have certain characters and scenarios living in the back of my mind. One of them in “The Saint” (with apologizes to Leslie Carteris, Roger Moore, and many others), who is either a medevac helicopter pilot saving the lives of wounded soldiers during the Vietnam War, or an immortal being saving lives so that at a later date, they could save others.

This being the American Independence Day, I felt like I should write about someone heroic.

Oh, the The Siege of Masada occurred from 73 to 74 CE, but the curious question is was “the Saint” one of the Romans or a Jew?

To read other tales based on the prompt, visit

As I’ve mentioned before, this link up needs a lot of love. Please consider contributing your own story here.

Happy Independence Day to you and yours.


saigon 1967

A street view of Saigon, 1967 – AaronPogs – Own work

The video footage was grainy, but Taylor recognized them easily.

“You’re worth every penny I paid you, Tran. Now blow. I’ll watch the rest alone.” The Vietnamese photojournalist left the darkened hotel room without a word. He moonlighted at this sort of work, taking photos and video of unsuspecting couples, and since he’d already been paid, he was satisfied to go home to his wife and children.

Taylor kept watching the film. The cheap 8mm projector rattled like the engine of his first car, a beat up Chevy Impala, but after weeks in the jungle constantly exposed to the sound of automatic weapons fire and artillery, the military intelligence officer blithely tuned it out.

Tran had followed the couple to every tourist attraction in Saigon from the Ben Thanh market to Notre Dame Cathedral. “He really showed you all the hot spots, sweetheart.”

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A Black Matter for the King

vietnam war

Found at the Vietnam War page at

His smile was like some kind of magic, but that’s not why she chose to talk with him.

Natalie Sanders Pena sat next to the shy young Marine near Gate B14 at Denver International Airport. He was heading back to Pendleton after his leave, and was due to be deployed to Vietnam within the next two weeks. The airport PA system was issuing a seemingly endless stream of advisories, but someone nearby had a transistor radio playing the Beatles’s “Penny Lane.” She hadn’t heard that song in a long time, but for her newfound friend, it was practically brand new.

“You miss your wife and little girl already, don’t you?” She looked down at the photo of the young woman and four-year-old girl he was holding near his lap.

“Yeah, I guess I do.” His Kentucky accent was tremendously apparent, and it was one of the few things she remembered clearly about him from her childhood.

“That’s perfectly normal. I’m sure they miss you, too.”

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