Saturday, July 23, 2011
Posted by Jonathan Martin
Clink. Clink. Clink.
The Penny-man strode through the Boulder City Hospital looking for the room Ellen Saints occupied. Finally, he sensed that she was near and as he turned a corner, he found her, sitting in her bed, oxygen tubes hanging loosely off of her bed, where she had let them drop after clawing them off of her face. Her breathing was shallow as her eyes focused on the visitor at her door.
“Hello,” she rasped, “I thought you would be by soon.”
The Pennyman smiled and nodded, but did not speak.
Her body was taken with a coughing fit, the cancer in her lungs from years of smoking finally doing her in at the age of ninety-two. After catching her breath, she smiled back, and said, “So this is it, it was a good life at least. At least up until the end here, I enjoyed it. Thank you.”
He watched her as she closed her eyes for the last time, and her chest ceased to rise anymore. Reaching into his bag, he approached Ellen and placed the obol upon her tongue, ignoring the sounds the machines had begun to make. He was out of the room and down the hall before the first nurse had responded to the incessant beeping of the heart monitor. With no pressing deaths to attend to, he turned and watched the nurse, a young African American woman originally from Tacoma, Washington, stand by the bedside, the old woman’s hand in her own, and cry.
The war was coming, but not to Boulder City, not yet. The Pennyman turned and began walking down the now motion filled halls as more people responded to the alerts, and found himself on the outskirts of Amarillo, walking towards a prone man, lying behind the desks of a car dealership.
A loud explosion, followed by a ball of fire that illuminated the entire showroom bloomed outside, revealing that the prone man was still alive, quickly shoving more bullets into his gun. Fear taught against his face, he raised his shaking hand towards the Pennyman and squeezed the trigger.
He fired twice, and both bullets slammed into the Pennyman, who continued to walk towards the prone man, kicking the gun away from him when he got close. Threat neutralized, the Pennyman set his bag down with a loud jingle as the coins within settled. He then reached into a nearby cubicle and pulled its chair out, setting his weary frame into it, and waited. He watched as the man on the floor slowly expired, his chest rising and falling shallowly, until, with a faint whimper, the lungs no longer filled with air. The chest no longer rose, but the Pennyman did, and bent low to reach into his bag, placing an obol inside the mouth of the man who had shot him. His was not to judge. The war was coming, he would be shot, and shot at again, by both sides. The war was coming, but he would not be a casualty.
Clink. Clink. Clink.