Thursday, May 2, 2013

Senseless Challenge: Sight

I've been wanting to get back into the #fridayflash habit, and this week I found the perfect motivation from a.m. harte. All the details for the Senseless Challenge can be found at A.M's sight, as well as at FFDO

Eye Contact

David sipped his Beam & coke and watched the Keno screen. His head hurt. The scratches still burned under his shirt. He looked down, but his white shirt was still white. No blood streaks seeping through.

He concentrated on the popping balls. The numbers were at least a distraction from the nitwit two stools away arguing to the bartender. How can you still wear that fucking wristband? He's a doping son-of-a-bitch.

Candy had called David a son-of-a-bitch, as if she was the wronged party. You son-of-a-bitch, what right do you have reading my personal messages? David hadn't meant to see the text. Her phone vibrated next to him. Who wouldn't glance? He never in a million years expected to read I need to see you on his girlfriend's phone. He winced. He couldn't remember exactly what he'd said; some things that he could never take back, he was sure. All he knew now was that at the moment, he'd seen red.  

David picked up a quarter from his change, watched a girl sit across from him. Slight and sort of unkempt, a waif if he'd ever seen one. She seemed to fold into herself until she became an afterthought. He ran the quarter through his fingers until the coin danced and disappeared, the movement mesmerizing him. "Four." The four bubble popped forward on the HD screen before it shrunk and took its place in the Keno grid. Four years together. The quarter reappeared in his other hand.

Candy had gotten all righteous on him. You're such a jealous prick. They say the best defense is an offense. And Candy was downright offensive. So, so offensive. He didn't need that bullshit. He felt the waif's gaze upon him.   

“Twenty-nine,” David muttered under his breath a full second before the number popped forward on the screen. Last birthday, Candy blew out twenty-nine candles, purposely missing the thirtieth one. No woman is ready for thirty, she'd said. He thought it odd the waif hid her brown eye, when her left eye glittered. The light flicked on the wetness, turned her eye into a sapphire.

He spun the quarter on the wooden bar. It hit a warp, bounced to the floor and rolled under the brass footrest. David slid off his stool and searched for the coin. Heads or tails. Candy's game. She'd flip a coin, lick her lips, then say in a sultry tone you better hope it's tails. That was her game. He'd miss that particular game. Nope, Candy and him weren't going to be playing any sorts of games together anymore.  

"There you are." Tails side up. Figures. He reached for the coin, saw speckles of brown staining his Nike swoosh. He licked his finger, rubbed the spots. They smeared.

"How about sharing?"

David shot up, cracked his head into the bar's overhang. Sharp, tiny glints filled his vision, converted into sapphire and chestnut stars, each with floating numbers. He shook his head, rubbed his scalp—an egg was already forming—and blinked his tears until the dancing stars elongated and dripped to form almond eyes staring at him. The girl studied his face under the bar.

"What the...." Her eyes were different colors, one blue, the other brown.

She reached for his face, pulled a tear off his cheek and danced it between her fingers, as if his tear was a quarter. His tear sparkled and blurred as it appeared and disappeared between her slender fingers. "My turn," she said, then backed out from under the bar lip.

"Hey! What the...." David got out from under the bar. She slipped his tear over her brown eye. Instantly, that eye became pale blue. David's used-up blue next to the brilliant sapphire of her left one. She blinked, the way someone does to shift a contact lens into place.

"I heard that crack from over there," the bartender said. "Stopped Skip mid-sentence—he shut up for a full thirty seconds, bless your heart. Or should I say, your head." She forced a white, lumpy towel into his hands. "Ice. Helps the swelling."

David absently placed the towel on his forehead. Numbers swam from the screen inside red balls, stopping inches from his face, a 3-D affect without the cheesy glasses.

The bartender came around the bar. "Here, let me help." She repositioned the makeshift icepack onto the top of his head. "Ice has to touch the swelling. Should I call someone for you?"

He tried to focus on the waif. She was at the Keno kiosk, a pencil poised above a ticket.
"What the hell?" he shouted. She jumped, then turned to face him. Her pale blue eye twitched, back and forth, independent of her sapphire one. She screamed, then clawed at her eye, rubbed and swiped at it. A watery blue tear bounced off her cheek, rolled onto the floor board and disappeared into a crack.  

"You killed her," she whispered.

"No. No no no no no. She attacked me." He tore open his shirt. "See? She scratched me. She was cheating on me and she attacked me!"

"You killed her!"

David held his head so it wouldn't hurt so much as he shook no. He backed away from the crazy-eyed waif, from the bartender shouting at Skip to dial 911, from the 3D Keno screen with the crazy bouncing balls. They were supposed to be blue. He dodged the red thirty, because Candy would always be thirty, but mostly because he didn't want thirty red stains all over his white shirt again.  


Tony Noland said...

This was sad and freaky.

Also: yes, bourbon is da bomb, and I only drink Beam & Coke when I want to get bombed.

Sulci Collective said...

I like the repetition of motifs, the balls, the numbers, the fractions, the tears, the colours, the blood - my kind off writing! Excellent stuff

marc nash

Timothy P. Remp said...

Fantastic as always. I'm glad you jumped back in. Guess I'm next (wink)


John Wiswell said...

Very unnerving birthday, Peggy, and they're forced to revolve in the ugly cycle. Glad to see you around again.

Minor typo in third-from-last paragraph: "and she attached me"

Shelli said...

Wow. I didn't see that coming. Lots of good stuff in this piece. I think I'll have to read through it again and savor all the goodies.

Deanna Schrayer said...

Yes, I'd say freaky is the word for this one. Great voice in this one Peggy.

Eric J. Krause said...

Very cool story! Great descriptions throughout, and loved how you ended it.

Brinda said...

Excellent story Peggy- loved all the curious details and the fInal sorry twist

A.M.Harte said...

Super creepy and an entirely unexpected take on the challenge. Looking forward to your next stories!