The man in the brown pinstripe suit sat at the little café as the sun ducked under the horizon. Dark pools of blood lapped gingerly at his feet as the wind kicked up, sending the waves into a frothing pink foam. Sipping my lukewarm coffee, he turned to me, hunched over his own drink, his arms crossed on the little iron table. He drank his coffee through a little loopy straw; one of those cute curly ones little kids liked to sip through. He was slurping it in the most rude, undesirable way possible, blowing little bubbles into his drink now and again. All the while he stared at me with his small, beady black eyes, like a shark's eyes; distant, dark, soulless and predatory. Something about him was off, like how close his eyes were together and how disproportionally large his mouth was. Maybe it was that horrid yellow light cast from the neon sign overhead. I never really could put my finger on it— never really wanted to, since I’m sure my fingertip would come away sticky.
So I stared quietly.
“It’s about time, don’t you think so?” he asked, waving his hand out in front of him exaggeratedly, extending a finger towards me, pointing expectantly. He tapped his fingers rhythmically with his other hand, humming quietly. The blood splattered his slacks and dribbled into his shoes, but he didn’t seem to notice.
I paid him no attention, though he knew I’d heard him. I continued to sip my coffee, shifting my eyes away from him. Avoiding any contact with him, pretending he wasn’t there. Technically, he wasn't. No one else could see him, but it didn’t matter now. Nothing did.
He sighed, setting his cup down. Turning to me, he said, “You don’t mind spotting me, right? I’ve got to go now.” Then he started laughing and at first it was a forced laughter, the kind you get when you want to sound really derisive. But then it turned into a genuine laugh, a cackle which pissed me off more than the derisive one. How was it fair that he could laugh at the situation, when I couldn’t? I couldn't and probably never would.Laughing, man. Might as well be another language at this point.
He sat there, slapping his knees, rocking back and forth in hysteria. His face turned red and his eyes teared up. Still, I didn’t look. Not fully, anyway. I could see him, he made sure, in the peripheral of my vision. The bastard always had to be in my sight, was always at the edge of my perception. He never left me alone. Not even when my eyes closed. Not even when I dreamt.
He quieted and collected himself, all poise and coolness, an air of business about him. He put his hat on, adjusted it and stood. “All right, now, don’t forget you have an appointment.” He dug into his pocket for a moment, his arm disappearing down to his elbow. “Here’s my card, why don’t you gimme a call once you make up your mind.” He flicked it onto the tiny table, bowing a goodbye and turning He grabbed his mug and brought it from the table, spilling its contents into the sea of blood. I wasn't too surprised to see that the same red substance now poured from it.
He smiled and set it down, walking away. His shoes splatted in the red ooze as he did, the wind whipping his jacket around as he casually strutted down the sidewalk. By now the blood had risen up to my knees and I could feel it’s disturbing warmth, the thick viscosity of it raising gooseflesh on my shins. My hand slowly wandered to the card, which I immediately covered with my palm. I refused to look at it because I knew what was on it; an infinite, vast creature wrapped around an eye. And on the back would be a message, especially for me. But I didn't need to see to know.
A lady walking down the sidewalk, wading through the sea of blood, stopped a moment and glared at me, a look of contempt on her pursed face, then continued on her way. I wondered if she noticed the blood, if she was even real; I decided she wasn’t. I sighed.
The man who always wore the pinstripe suit turned once more to wave goodbye and saw that I had moved my hand over the card. He sniffed the air, giggled, and turned down the street, disappearing behind a bookstore. I sat quietly for a moment, threw a couple of dollars on the table, and left. I slipped the card into my pocket and forgot about it as I struggled against the current, the blood rising up to meet my shoulders. It was pushing me back, keeping me from moving forward.