I guess I should tell you about Thomas, it’s only fair. It’s not chronologically correct to introduce him now but I guess I can do whatever I want. I’m dying. Are you dying? No, you’re not.
You wanna hear something good? Of course you do. You’re smart, aren’t you? Well, the thing is, really superstitious people, not the ones you see in movies or read about in books but the really superstitious ones, they’re afraid of everything. The laws of luck are so vast and varied that it’s impossible to follow them all. No one told Thomas that.
Thomas, he would never look you in the eye. Never. I know this for a fact. There’s an ancient belief that if you look someone in the eyes, you can see inside his/her soul and reveal their deepest secrets. Thomas, he had some deep secrets and a very dark soul. So he was always looking elsewhere; the wall, the floor, your nose. He was the only man I knew who would not look up from a woman’s chest no matter how much she complained. He was nervous as shit too. Shifty guy, he was. Had a stutter too.
If I close my eyes, I’m forty years old and Thomas is pointing a Magnum .44 at my forehead. His eyes shifting from the wall to the door to the floor to the wall to my feet to his feet to the door to the floor. My feet pointing towards him. A paper square in my right hand. Shirtless. Gunless. Knifeless. Surprised but calm. Thomas, he never looked you in the eyes. Not even when he was pointing a gun at you.
Thomas, he circles me. He’s talking, but I can’t tell what he’s saying. He’s stepping on my paper cranes, now on the floor. It’s her birthday, he says. Today, he says. Do you remember? Do you remember her? Never quite looking at me. Never quite looking away. Never putting the gun down. Never shouting. Never whispering. Always repeating the same syllable over and over and over and over. Like the feeling of not being able to read ahead because you haven’t really understood the last sentence. Reading the last sentence over and over and over and over.
Thomas, he never walked below stairs. He never opened umbrellas indoors. Never touched black cats. Never left his house on a 13th. Always carried a rabbit’s foot. Once broke a mirror, didn’t leave his house for seven years. Always carried a gun, in case it was needed. Never looked you in the eye, not even if he was pointing a gun at you.
Looking at me, not with eyes, but with senses developed from a lifetime of fear, he asks where I have been the last six months. Busy, I say. Busy, busy, busy. No time for a quick call, he asks. No time for friends? There’s a sick kind of sarcasm in the way he says the word friends, but normal people couldn’t notice. He stutters too much. His sentences distorted. Patience a virtue.
You wanna know something good? Well, not as good as important? According to superstition, if your hand itches, it means money is coming, or leaving. Thomas never knew which one it was. It made him really nervous.
The studio dirty and littered with scraps of paper and crushed paper cranes, this is not my tidiest moment ever. Half-naked and with a gun pointed at me, in the middle of the day, in the middle of the third step of folding a tiny paper dragon. I’ve been in this situation exactly five times before, so I’m used to it. People have a fascination for pointing guns at me.
His black hair too much like his sister’s, he would kill me if it didn’t bring him so much bad karma. He’s got enough of that already. Relax, I say. You don’t really want to do this, I say. I say, you can’t really kill a god. Thomas, he looks up, not into my eyes of course. God?, he says. Yes? I say. Thomas, tears start growing in the edges of his eyes. His devotion showing. A lifetime of loss and bad luck. His arms tremble. His legs buckle down under his weight. He falls to the floor. His gun falls to the floor. His eyes fall to the floor. His soul dark, his secrets hidden, his hair short but messy. God, he says, deliver me to the infinite whiteness. Mechanically, I reply with something his sister came up with long ago, when we started this. When we started folding paper. When we started pointing guns and carrying weapons and playing god and burning houses and churches and shopping malls and gas stations down.
You’re not dark enough yet.