Sunday, 22 February 2009
8 balls and doubts
He bites into the mandarin wedge, piercing its silken membrane, and releasing its succulent core, breaking vessels upon vessels of juice into his thirsty mouth.
While he enjoys its tang, he holds a black sphere in his hand. The light from the bulb dangling loosely on a weathered wire reflects distorted off its smooth surface of ebony.
He spins it slowly in his hand, hearing the light glubbing of the liquid it holds in its core, and the distant rattling of the key to all the answers of the universe that the liquid itself holds within its watery folds.
His eyes trail from the walls of the room, to the remaining wedges of mandarin on the table, to a bold "8" that is silk screened onto its curvature. He remembers the day he bought it, from a shabby little shop off the beach. A shop full of curiosities, voodoo dolls, snakes in bottles (some that he was convinced he saw blink at him), sceptres made with tree sap and amber, goat heads painted in bright colours, and even dried beetle wings that were crushed into a fine powder and was apparently a cure for hangovers.
He had only 13 dollars in his pocket, and when he inquired what he could buy with it, the teller signalled to a box in the darkest further dustiest corner labeled "cheap ass junk".
He jumbled through the box, sifting through suspenders, rabbit foot key chains, and clocks with their minute hand missing, until his eyes fell upon and caressed a black curve peeping from behind a framed butterfly. As he picked it up, and inspected it, he wondered if he should buy it, when from the dark waters that it held, a washed up message rolled over to look at him through the scratched circular window: "Without a Doubt."
Within minutes he was back out on the beach, with his oracle tucked into his side bag, while the shop keeper watched on, as though he had just transferred a great burden.
"Black ball, black ball, tell me what you see, give me the answer I should know. Tell me what to do." He whispered to himself, as he gave the 8 ball a shake, thinking long and hard of his crucial question.
Since that day at the beach, he had become a changed man. He had asked the 8 ball about every decision he should make, and although many of them seemed odd to him, and caused him to become more and more alone, he believed it was what had to be done.
As he sits in that empty room, with nothing but the peel of the mandarin on a bare naked table, and a light bulb that flickered ever so slightly, he feels the answer roll in the water within its shell, he waits patiently as it starts to peek through the murky water into its window, appearing one letter at a time... "Without.. a ... Doubt".
This time, the appearance of those words make his eyes bulge, his skin sweat.
His eyes turns red, and his face blue, and only a few moments later, the ball rolls out of his hand, creeps across the room, stopping as it hits the wall.
In the flickering light, his body lies motionless, in his throat a piece of succulent mandarin.