The Time Mechanic
by Marie Vibbert
My friend asked me to pick up some real Prohibition moonshine for him, and I'm not a guy to
turn down an opportunity to show off my time machine. I did a web search for photos and the
found one labeled "Dogleg Lick, KY, 1928," right over the leg of a cop breaking bottles against a
wagon. Kentucky had great whisky. I'd read that somewhere, or maybe it was an ad.
I'm just pointing out that this was a lark, a short jaunt - a trip to the store, if you will.
The interior of my garage bubbled out, flexed and broke into a bramble of waxy rhododendron
leaves. The console showed me the short path through the trees to my destination. I had to push
my way through branches, but soon enough I was in a clearing in front of a shack, barely more
than a dog shed, but there was that wagon from the photograph - I hadn't realized it was painted
a vivid orange. A few half-naked children looked up at me from their game of eat-the-dirt, and I
questioned the sanitation of this establishment. Fortunately, the proprietor soon appeared, a
lanky man of middle age. I stammered, but before I could state my needs, he nodded and led me
behind the shack, where an impressive array of copper tubing and shining metal showed the
moonshine operations, if not the childcare facilities, were top-notch.
He said a number, which I translated into coins, and voila! I had procured a crockery jug of the
A straightforward errand, skillfully accomplished. I'd been there hardly an hour and I was already
imagining how I'd describe it all to my friend. Having secured my loot behind the driver's seat, I
set the controls for home, strapped myself in, hit the confirmation button . . . and nothing.
I got out of the machine, walked around it, stared stupidly at it, got in and did it all again. The
control panel informed me there was an error and assumed I'd know what to do about it.
I was in a town with a comically quaint name in the eastern Kentucky hills, in 1928, with a
broken time machine.