Life and death has been and will always be... tricky.
In The Palm Of Your Hand
Connor didn’t like the new lights. In the beginning, he’d thought they were pretty nice. His little corner of the world in the bookstore had been dark and dingy, and it made the process of reading a client’s palm a dicey process.
So much of what he could see was obscured by the shadows, and he’d have to turn the palm from side to side to get a better look, which stretched and creased the palm in ways that made the meaning more difficult to discern. He’d welcomed the new lighting with open arms, […]
[…] so to speak. But now, two weeks after the lights had gone up, it was becoming apparent that too much of a good thing was just too much. So, today he’d brought something with him that he thought would help the situation. A large chunk of thin linen cloth with just a bit of a yellow cast to it. He’d simply hang the cloth over the ceiling light when he arrived and take it down on departure. Everyone would be happy and there was no expense to speak of in the process.
To that end, he was standing on his chair, teetering a bit as he reached about as far over his head as he could to tack the piece of cloth in place. One tack, two. Move the chair. Three tack…
He stretched out just a little more to reach that final pesky tack location and felt the chair begin to go. He’d been slightly suspicious of the chair from the beginning and now it was showing itself to be just as treacherous as he’d thought. Only, it would have been better to have not been using it as a ladder at the time that he was being proven right.
The leg bent.
The leg bent slightly, thought better of it, stopped - then said, “What the hell, why not?” and doubled. Doubled down, even.
Doubling down in Blackjack can be an exhilarating experience. It can also be a real downer. Which is what this was, since Connor began to go down. Oddly, the tacks almost saved him. He grabbed for the linen hanging as he went, and for just a moment, he thought he was going to be able to shift his center of gravity with the help of the cloth hanging.
He stopped doubling and just went down. It was very inconvenient that there was an old-fashioned steam radiator next to the chair. Connor’s head met the radiator. There was no shaking of hands, but there was a certain melding of surfaces.
Connor was standing in line. It was rather a long line, and he had no idea how long he’d been standing there. Which was probably good. It looked suspiciously like one of those Disney rides where the line was artfully wound about and hidden in places and doubled back on itself in a clever attempt to make the line look like it was actually possible to get through before dinnertime.
The reality of the line’s true length actually became apparent every time you made any progress and realized that you were now eight inches closer to the head of the line than you were when you passed this spot two hours ago. Going in the opposite direction.
Connor considered his options. He could stay in line and keep going, finding out what it was he was in line for, or … … he looked behind him. There was nothing there. Literally nothing there. And when he moved forward another foot, there was still nothing behind him. He sighed and decided his options were clear. Stay in line.
He stayed in line.
Oddly, after this bit of inner turmoil, the line began to move.
In fact, it started moving so quickly that he nearly tripped and fell into the podium in front of him. He stepped back a bit and looked up. Scowling down at him was a beautiful blonde woman with a sour expression on her face. She glanced at him. “Slug” she said. She looked back down at her paperwork.
Connor stood there in confusion. “I’m sorry, what did you say?”
The scowl deepened. “I said ‘Slug’. Move to the right, please.”
Connor looked to his right. It was a simple concrete path covered with flowers and dread. It went on and on. In fact, he couldn’t see the end of it.
She seemed to swell up, the frown became more pronounced if possible, and she said, “Because twenty-seven murders, nine rapes, one-hundred-eighty-six shoplifting events and nine petting the cat the wrong direction sentences you to being a ‘Slug’! It’s a no-brainer, dude.”
Connor frowned back at her. “That’s not possible. I don’t even own a cat. Never have. Can’t go near them, I swell up in hives.”
She just stared at him. “Are you saying I made a mistake?”
Connor shrugged. “I dunno. But I’m pretty karma-aware this time around, and I know I’m coming out of a karmic debt from my last life. I’ve been watching it close. No murders, no rapes, no shoplifting and especially no cat petting. Either direction.”
She sighed. “It’s people like you that make it hard on the legal system.” She scowled at him. Then she bellowed “Not guilty!” She looked at him, again, like he was a ‘Slug’. “Room 1698840. NEXT!”
Connor was sitting in front of a desk. The desk was located in a cubicle. The cubicle was located in room 1698840 off a hallway 2,574 miles long. It had taken him thirty-six days to walk along the hallway to this room and while he didn’t tire or need food or rest, walking for thirty-six days while reading room numbers had made him cranky. If he’d had a cat, he’d have pet it backwards.
The woman behind the desk looked exactly like the woman behind the podium, but her eyebrows were plucked to resemble tiny flaming spears. She scowled at him.
“State your name.”
“Spell it, please.”
“C o n n o r W i l l i a m s”
She looked at him sharply. “Spelling your name wrong will not help your cause.”
“You spelled your name wrong. It’s got an ‘e’ at the end.”
“No, it doesn’t. It’s my name, I should know how to spell it.”
She tapped her lips with a pencil. “Connor?”
“C o n n o r ?”
“Not C o n n e r ?”
“No. Yes. I mean, whatever it is that means my name is Connor, not Conner!”
She tapped her pencil against her lips again. “It does no good to be testy.”
He glared at her testily.
She glared back, sucked in some air and tapped her pencil some more. “I see the problem. It appears that Conner Williams died at exactly the same instant you did and there was a mistake in Collection.”
Connor sucked in some air. “A mistake.”
“Yes. You have an astute grasp of semantics.”
Connor glared at her some more.
She sighed, like he was still at fault. “We’ll need to send you back. I suppose we’ll have to issue some credit for this.”
Connor stared at the light in the ceiling. He was quite sure he’d hung the red linen cloth over the light just moments ago, but the cloth was lying on his little end-table in a heap. He rolled his eyes regarding his freaking memory, then moved the chair under the light to hang the cloth. The chair collapsed as he placed a foot on it. It was certainly nice it had collapsed now rather than when he’d been up standing on it.
He grimaced. For some reason he was feeling testy toward the world right now. He hunted down another chair stood on it and hung the cloth. Then he sat back down in the chair, waiting for his first client. He glanced at his hand as he sat, then took a second look. His Girdle of Venus was gone. It was impossible, but there it was. Or it wasn’t, more accurately.
Just then, his first client arrived, and he busied himself with her palm. Over the course of her reading, the memory of him having had a Girdle vanished. Everything was once again in balance.
V.R. Tapscott is a new and upcoming author, you can find more about him here:
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