Callahan's Crosstime Saloon (published in 1977) is the first book in the Callahan's series. It was later included as part of The Callahan Chronicals and Callahan and Company. It takes place at Callahan's Place.
The Guy with the Eyes
This story covers an introduction to Callahan's Place and a description of the bar, The Option, and other information. It tells about Tommy Janssen's first night there after being in despair about being clean for seven months and not being able to find any future. After the patrons listen to him, Tommy ends up flinging a brand-new hypodermic needle and a bag of white powder into the fireplace and is immediately cheered.
During the celebration Jake notices an oddly dressed man goes to the bar, orders ten shots, then walks up to the chalk line and toasts "To my profession" and smashes one in the fireplace. He repeats the toast for the remaining nine shots.
He then turns to the crowd gathered to listen and explains to them that he is an advance scout for The Masters who he says will vaporize the planet after his data is transmitted to them. He goes on to explain that he contains "installations" which prevent him from disobeying the command. He laments that the people at Callahan's will be destroyed after he recognized love there.
After the patrons empathize with him he pleads with them to kill him before the transmission takes place. They refuse and and Mike Callahan asks his name. With visible effort he tells Callahan that his name is "Michael Finn". Callahan picks up on the hint and serves him a drugged drink causing him to pass out so he misses the transmission window.
The story opens at Callahan's Place on Punday where the usual battle of wits is being waged when Doc Webster notices a man in the bar with a .45 automatic. Mike Callahan diffuses the situation and the stranger throws the gun into the fireplace becoming even more depressed, introduces himself as Tom Hauptman, a former minister, and begins his story.
He tells about a trip his wife, Mary, took to a fictional central American country called Pasala to visit her sister Corinne. Shortly after their arrival there is a revolution and Tom and Mary were arrested and locked in a cell under false names and apparently forgotten about. After nine years of captivity Mary dies of malaria. While her body is being removed it is noticed that she doesn't match the individual listed and after 11 months of diplomatic politics Tom is freed and returned to the United States.
After his return he realized that 10 years cut off from the world has left him unable to identify enough with people to continue to be a minister and he eventually lands at Callahan's Place ostensibly to rob it.
The gang at Callahan's discuss his problem and note that he had been a time-traveled 10 years "the hard way" and was suffering from the Time-Traveler's Second Dilemma: transplant shock. They offered consolation, a bit of humorous catharsis, and eventually brought him around with a Callahan's take on Hamlet's "To Be or Not To Be" soliloquy.
Immediately following another stranger enters the bar with a gun, Tom Hauptman ends up in a standoff with him after retrieving his own gun from the fireplace, and the stranger flees.
The police are notified and Callahan gives them a fake description to give "that kid another chance" and Tom Hauptman faints after discovering that he had gotten into the standoff with an unloaded gun.
After the police leave and Tom comes to, Callahan offers him a job bartending.
The Centipede's Dilemma
The story takes place at Callahan's Place during the Third Annual Darts Championship of the Universe. A man, who later introduces himself as Dink Fogerty comes to the bar and enters the tournament. He shoots against Doc Webster. When the Doc is up to shoot his darts miss the target by a wide margin, even seeming to curve. Dink then goes and plants his first dart dead-center, beating the Doc. Dink is then challenged by Noah Gonzalez, who loses after Dink scores 6 bullseyes.
Immediately following the match Mike Callahan notices that Dink had been drinking from the same glass the entire evening and it had not emptied. Dink then reveals that he is a telekinetic and can project a state of "wanting" on objects (the dart board "wanted" darts, his glass "wanted" gin).
When Doc Webster asks him how it works Dink begins to think about it. The experience is described as the Centipede's Dilemma, where a centipede is asked how he could coordinate so many feet, and had never considered the mechanics before, and after thinking about it became so confused he couldn't walk. Dink's, thinking about his telekinesis for the first time, caused the darts in the dartboard to dislodge and strike him in the hat, knocking him to the floor, and convincing him never to use his ability again.
Two Heads are Better than One
On Tall Tales Night at Callahan's Place the usual banter is going on. Doc Webster and Jake put for their entries and just as Jake is finishing his tale, a stranger appears in the doorway and collapses.
Doc Webster tends to the stranger whose face is covered in bruises, which he tells everyone is were self-inflicted. After a drink and a few sandwiches from the Free Lunch, he introduces himself as Jim MacDonald and begins to tell his story.
His brother Paul has been an "instant echo," able to speak what others were saying with not noticeable delay. Then Jim finds out that Paul is a true telepath, whose telepathy manifests itself as "flashes" where he experiences all of a person's consciousness at once. Paul had come home one night after flashing into the mind of a girl he had been with and then flashes with Jim explaining the nature of their gifts. Later Jim and his father finds Paul with the corpse of his step-mother and Paul is sent off to a psychiatric hospital.
Jim spends several years wandering around, occasionally flashing himself, working and staying in the remotest areas he could find until he came to Long Island to try and find Paul. When the Callahan's gang suggest Jim try to telepathically contact Paul, Jim becomes afraid of not being able to handle it, but, with Callahan's assurance that they will kill him if it becomes necessary, Jim joins them telepathically and, with their assistance, contacts Paul which stabilizes both of them.
During Fill-More Night Fast Eddie and Jake are jamming (Jake plays "The Drunkard's Song") and during a break in the music a newcomer to Callahan's breaks down in tears. He identifies himself as a time-traveler from 1995 who comes back in time to save Bobbi Joy from receiving a scar from a policeman named Duffy during a prostitution raid. He produces a holographic device and shows the patrons Bobbi Joy singing "The Suicide Song" which moves them all. The Meddler explains that after the raid he was sent a demo tape and began representing Bobbi Joy and laments how, despite making her famous, he could never make her happy. When his brother invents a time-travelling belt, he steals it to come back in time.
His brother, Henry, then arrives and explains that The Meddler succeeded then returned to 1995 and Henry had traveled back to stop him due to the potential risk to the timeline of killing Duffy. The gang at Callahan's decide that rather than help him kill someone, they pass the hat so he can go into the brothel and hire Bobbi Joy for the night, keeping her safe from the raid.
The following night, while the gang is wondering if he succeeded the belt appears with a note and another holographic device. The note instructs the gang to destroy the belt, which Callahan apparently does by throwing it into the fire. The gang then watches a song by an alternate, much happier, Bobbi Joy.
The story of three pranksters and how Doc Webster turned the tables on them.
"A Voice Is Heard in Ramah..."
The story of Rachel
The Wonderful Conspiracy
New Years Eve at Callahan's Place