When the old man visits, there’s mustard in his beard. Bratwurst helps with the time sickness, he says.
“Don’t worry about paradoxes. Just fix some brats.”
The water boils in minutes. At the table, we sit opposite. Him smiling. Me, wondering. Until he pulls from his shirt pocket a solitary skeleton key.
“You now have but one task.”
I reach out, clutch the key, bristle. His beard frames an expectant grin.
The smell of nutmeg pepper, and garlic fills the kitchen.