by Bruce Rowe
diet colaI’m not sure how I ended up here, lying face up with my throbbing head in a puddle of storm water or street-dweller piss. All I know is that it’s warm. My vision is blurred and no matter how often I blink or squint my eyes they won’t focus. I do notice what appears to be a blue neon light over a red door. Looks like a single letter; a capital I or a T with the cross burned out. It flickers at times.
I try to raise my head but there’s no feeling in my neck, arms or legs. Paralyzed? I can’t even roll on my side. I do have the thick taste of iron in my mouth. Maybe blood but I’m not sure. I can’t even spit.I feel a soft breeze brush by my cheek; it’s bitter cold. I hope I’m not lying in the street to get ran over by a car.
That’s right! I got the crap beat out of me. But why? I have to think, but even that hurts. Surely if someone saw me, they would have called 911. But I don’t hear any voices. Actually, I don’t hear anything at all.
Ok, let’s start with the basic’s; my name is Justin…Justin MacAnally, no McNally; I’m 27 years old and live in downtown Chicago, Illinois. You’re doing good, J. Now, what do I do for a living? Oh
Jesus, I’m a freaking Card-Shark, a Sharpie! Well that explains a hell-of-a-lot. Memory’s flushing back now.
Ryan and I have been fleecing these four fools for an easy two grand a week. Freaking hand-muck amateurs. Our strategy was that Ryan and I would take turns folding midway into a game. Then, out of good sportsmanship, we would serve the others drinks; keep the glasses full and the mind dull.
That was until William, Bill he like to be called ˗ the fat one whose stinking sweat always soaked through his Charles Tyrwhitt shirt and was constantly dabbing his furrowed forehead with a matching kerchief from his jacket pocket ˗ saw Ryan giving me signals on who had what cards.
Ryan was the smart one. He sprinted out of the back room, through the club and out the front door before I could crap my pants, which I probably have.
Marty grabbed me and threw me on the floor while Fat Bill, Brawny Stew, and Fried Freddy kicked the bejesus out of me until I went unconscious. Then tossed me in the alley like a piece of garbage.
Pain is starting to swell over my body. Not the feeling I was hoping would return. My vision’s a little better. I can see a large, brown moth lying flat against the brick wall just above the red door. I wonder if that spirit transference crap my great grandma taught me is for real. Now would be as good a time as any for it to happen.Concentrate. Blood is coming up my throat and starting to pour out of my nose. Suffocation is right around the corner. All is fading.
Ah, much better, no pain. The moth is still dominate, but that’s ok. I’ll find a more suitable body in the morning. Looking down I notice my head was lying in a pool of blood. Low-life bastards.
The moth flaps its wings rising off the brick wall and heads toward the blue neon light.
A loud “Pop, Crackle” then smoke.