Reliable tubes are difficult to find these days. I’m running out of good stock.

Okay… Where was I?

The kid…

There was no proof that my going back in time and fixing a bathroom leak had caused the tragic accident, but my gut told me it was so. I’ve learned over the years to trust my gut. So… What to do?

Go back and make it right, my gut said to me. Right meant Nik having a flood… Nik having to close down the diner. Me never having a perfect burger again…

I didn’t want to run into myself… that’s never good… So, I timed my arrival several minutes beyond my last exit.

The little boy and his father were just getting out of the bathroom. The boy was wiping his wet hands on his fathers pants. I passed them on the way back to the bathroom. The father glanced at me. I rubbed my gut. “Something is not agreeing with me, I imagine.”

He looked away. He didn’t want to know me or my problems. I was the guy that kept him waiting.

The pipe that I had repaired looked good. Too good. So, I gave it a kick. Then another. It started leaking.

I went back to my table.

“Mister Buster,” Nik yelled from the counter. “I thought you left. What are you doing back here?”

“I just checked the pressure again, Nik. ‘Looks fine. No need to call anyone.”

“If you say so, Mister Buster.” Nik smiled. “I always trust you.”

I felt awful. Knowing what was about to happen and actually causing it are two different things. I held the image of little Antoinette in my mind.

I stuck around. I went back to the lab and found that nobody was home. I didn’t run into the family or myself.

The next morning, I stood on the corner and watched the diner from a safe distance. The CLOSED sign was lit up and I could see Nik through the side window moving furniture around the restaurant in an attempt to salvage what he could. Customers were leaving the diner for their cars in the parking lot. A few looked disgusted. A little girl waved her hand in front of her nose. Something smelled very bad to her. I imagined that these were the customers that were present when the bathroom water rushed into the dining area. The ones who kick-started the bad reviews.

After the last customer left, I saw Antoinette’s family pull into the diner lot. Nik leaned out of the front door and waved them away and pointed, sadly, to the CLOSED sign. Antonette’s father nodded to Nik, waved and drove off.

I heard a loud pop and then a screech. With it’s tire ripped and speed too fast for the driver to get it under control, the truck skipped the curb and slammed into the corner wall of Joe’s Burgers. The driver jumped out of the truck and cursed. Nik ran out of the diner to make sure the driver was okay. The driver shook his head and felt his arms and sides to make sure everything was still there. Nik looked at the damaged wall. “If it’s not one thing, it’s the other thing,” he moaned.

Before returning to the present, I decided to do one more… thing.

Years ago, despite my lack of interest in the internet, I created a fancy gadget for my clients (read; darkest agency of the government) that allowed them to shut down any web site for a limited amount of time. I called it a Web-Spike. They found it handy then and, probably, still do.

Maybe I could shut down the site, just long enough to discourage those first few reviewers from having any impact on Nik’s business.

As far as the damage was concerned, the Insurance companies would take care of Nik.

Back at the lab, I dusted off the Web-Spike and plugged it into the computer. Within minutes, I was able to locate the web site and shut it down.

What I didn’t expect was how well it would work.

When I returned home, to the present, I found that the site no longer existed. I asked Molly if she knew anything about it. She was eating pretzels and watching TV with my brother, Skip.

“Uncle Buster, even kids my age heard about the Yelpy mess,” she said. “What were you doing? Hiding under a rock?”

“Maybe I was just too busy,” I said. “What happens?”

“Their servers went down for months,” my brother said. “Previous reviews were erased, traffic to the site dropped to nothing and their stock plummeted.”

“‘Took a dive,” said Molly.

“You’re too young to know about stocks,” I said.

“No I’m not,” said Molly shaking her head.

“Anyway, stocks took a dive and the company folded,” said Skip. “Another dot com disaster.

So, I saved Nik’s diner… rescued little Antoinette… but, probably, caused hundreds of people to lose their jobs.

Hmph…. Oh, well. ‘Never said I was perfect. If I was perfect, I wouldn’t be living in my brother’s basement tinkering with toasters and time machines.

“Anyone want to go to Joe’s Burgers for dinner?” I asked. “My treat.”