inspired by twitter prompt: #vss365
The silver dollar danced up and down the stranger’s fingers, tumbled from his knuckles in a brilliant flurry of bright flashes, cutting light and sticky curses.
Max was suddenly sober for the first time in twenty-three months. More even, the feeling of sleepwalking fell off of him as soon as that silver light pierced his eyes.
The presence of the coin dragged him into this bar and slammed him into that seat near the stranger. It put him back into his place. Fifty-four years old, profusely sweating, diabetic, a man without a home or family or a penny to his name – that was his place, the only one he merited. It brought back the insecurity, the impotence, the numbness in his hands and feet, the inadequacy, the being alone. There was tingling in his crotch. He saw the stains on his pants for the first time.
Finally, the coin snapped him into the present heartbeat, like a bungee cord attached to his bum ticker.
Beyond the obvious, Max tried desperately not to stare. It felt like spying on undressing young girls. Pink, milky, so warm to his cold touch. Exciting. Forbidden. Sinful. He pinched his fingers and rubbed them together. They felt slick and sticky, not numb. They wanted the coin. He needed to feel again. Something. Anything.
The stranger burned in invisible flames. Max saw something not meant for his eyes, or the bartender’s eyes, or any human eyes at all. It made his skin crawl. The present situation barely touched his mind before his instincts screamed at him. His soul shivered. Ice-cold dread seeped from the stranger near him.
“What’s your poison, stranger?” The barkeep forced a smile. He tried to look at the tall thin man in the grey suit. He honestly did. His eyes kept sliding off of the stranger’s face and landing on the silvery-white movement. The coin danced. It shone and pulsed.
“All that is beyond,” the man answered warmly and smiled at the man behind the counter. The thin man cocked his head and sucked in the confusion. “Bourbon, for now.”
The silver coin danced. Max’s skin crawled.
All that was beyond – all that is beyond what?
“Hope. Rescue.” The voice was a whisper. It came from behind Max’s ear, lips brushing his hair. He felt the hot breath.
The stranger sat motionlessly, a cold side-eye piercing Max. He swallowed.
It wasn’t the cheap vodka that stung. No. It was that steely gaze from the stranger with the silver coin. His heart tried to jump through his vocal cords. Ice settled in his stomach and left arm, and jaw.
“You heard me.” The man in grey didn’t move, only slid over his coin.
Max tapped his glass, and the barkeep poured another round of the clear liquid suffering.
The stranger glared at him downing the drink right away. The coin was icy.
Surprised, Max looked at his fingers, clawing at the silver dollar. They cramped.
He couldn’t let go. It burned.
It burned in his chest.