Saturday, January 30, 2010

Heads or Tails?

Heads or Tails?

Heads or Tails? Heads you live, Tails you don’t. Seems like a fair bargain. 50-50 chance at surviving anyhow. An agreement that sits exactly on the fence; one way grants me the freedom that I desire, the other denies the last request of a dying man. This is where I find myself this evening. Ending up at the last few steps before death’s door, I'm playing the odds to win just one more chance. Not what you’d expect to see at the end… gambling with the henchmen of death. In fact, he doesn’t look much different than you or me. Except for the peculiar skin tone. Color seems worn, almost like when something you’ve painted has been left in the sun too long. Faded to the point of translucence. The texture is altogether wrong. Too thin and stretched to the limit of break. Bones and blood vessels snake beneath the surface visible to the naked eye. Fingers eerily have the illusion of exceeded length as he places the coin in my hand. Without regret and a deep gulp I accept the small disc. My tongue nearly swallowed by the roughness of my actions. Luckily my throat has constricted tightly barely allowing the excessive spit to go down smoothly. It’s not fear that has me on edge it’s the uncertainty of the situation. I’ve got to last one more day, there’s no mistaking that. Not typically a betting man, it’s too late I’m in over my head. As the odd fellow pulls back his sallow arm the cold skin brushes against mine, sending a thousand tiny chills rushing up my spine. Flip.

The gambling between life and death happens every day right before your eyes. Dealings opening disguised behind the pretext of normalcy. Bartering for another chance occurs more often than you might think. Perhaps you missed it. Think of the men in the park playing a game of chess. Maybe for one pair it’s no ordinary game. There could be an invaluable prize for the winner. More obviously think of the game of open court basketball between two adversaries. No one really watching as the two battle in a balance for the game. People are simply going about their routine as it continues right before their eyes. A game more important than any other because of its precious trophy.

How does one find himself trying to outwit death? It was around supper time as I was settling in at the house. Alone putting up the windows and turning on the lights as the sunset colors crept into the house. The first knock was quite silent and passed without notice. The second intruded loudly and sent me spinning around so quickly I almost landed on my backside. Outside my door stood a man of skin and bones, very pale and unseemly looking for an invite. An odd fellow, but it was against my manners to refuse a stranger respite in my home. After I’d obliged him in for dinner, the conversation spun to the intended purpose of his visit. Death had found my number and had come to collect. Desperately I pleaded. One more day is all I need… I begged him for just another day.  But he just couldn’t oblige me… until I started making offers. One just happen to catch his attention.

Death’s a sporting sort. Seems the good ol reaping boys are always up for a good bet. They can’t resist the odds in their favor. When I offered the reaper the chance at my life double or nothing he jumped at it. This particular fellow seemed real eager on keeping it a relatively simple game of chance. He wouldn’t play a game of cards. Apparently they were not his game. But a game of checkers or dice just tickled his fancy. So the long night started out young with a game of checkers. According to the good ol boy there wasn’t much to his gig. Said it was just a matter of transporting the souls back and forth. Almost like an afterlife delivery service. Despite my reservations about games of chance, I beat him three times at checkers before we moved onto dice. He’d decided it was a game of wit that left little to chance. I wasn’t in a position to disagree as I didn’t know the rules. Truth is, he couldn’t take my life until I lost.

Losing to death wasn’t the part I feared the most. It was the slim chance I wouldn’t have another day. For the unfinished business of life. Once more to tell her I loved her. Once more to see the others I shared this life with. Once more to watch the sun rise and set. A thousand things unimaginable to accomplish once more if given another day to close up shop. Now the games of chance are just that. Chance. The dice can’t lie. They can be manipulated if you have the opportunity. I didn’t. I’m rolling fast, rolling hard. The odds are favoring me and the reaper boy can’t handle it. We’ve been at it for a few hours. I’ve been tossing back a few shots of the bottle and shooting the breeze while he continues to lose. The night is growing older and the slim chance of my winning is looking pretty damn good. Granted the entire night hasn’t been a bust for the reaper, he’s had some ups and I’ve definitely been down a few times. Patience is wearing thin and time is coming down to the end of the wire.

Out comes the coin. Neatly settled in the center of his palm rests a tiny silver medallion. Gently he lifts the round disc to show both sides. The front, a face points up to the heavens and the reverse, a heavily armed soldier’s efforts are aimed at his washed out palm. Solemnly he lays out the guidelines of this final game of chance. I nod and accept the terms while watching the reaper sit with a calculated look in his eye. What choice do I have? In my mind I can hear it over and over again… Heads you live, Tails you don’t. Now it was all on the line. There’s no going back. Go with it. What have you got to lose? You were already going to die. Swallow as the chills dance up and down my spine. Look at the cool eyes of calm death as the coin fumbles through the air and falls down with a sudden grace. Throwing my hand down over it, I wait to reveal its answer. Gently I rest my head in the other hand. Slowly I lift both my head and my hand. Take a deep breath… Heads.

I wanted to give you two tonight, but I’m keeping those back and giving you something else. This wasn’t on my list… It’s new in the sense of FRESH from the oven. It’s different. Not my usual darkness. It felt appropriate though. What do you think? It was stirring in my mind all day and those are my favorites to get out. I hope it is appreciated.  Enjoy?kisses, m.

No comments:

Post a Comment