Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hollow World Book 2 Chapter 20


Clink. Clink. Clink.

It was not often that the Pennyman felt a tug from the living, but he had, and after five steps, he stood no longer on a Philadelphia street corner, but outside of a large west Texas farmhouse. Snow was falling around him and a light dusting of it now covered the ground. He had just finished tending to a fight that had broken out between the surviving members of the Teamsters and the local Electricians unions. The city of brotherly love was no longer living up to it's name, if it ever had.

With the ever present sound of metal striking metal, he approached the house with the duffel full of coins hanging from his shoulder. He sensed he was not far from the place where Chris had died, but he could not get a baring on what had called him to the home of people who would not die for another four years, one, Judson, from a heart attack, and Aubrey, his wife, of grief. A noise from beyond the door was followed by the creak of the un-oiled hinges.

Amy stood before him, mouth agape, watching as the Pennyman un-shouldered his burden, setting the sack down beside him. He got the sense that she was trying to put a name with his face, trying to recall the scene in the street months ago, only days after the tragedy had occurred.

Silent except for the pop of his knees, he knelt down and opened the bag beside him, releasing a brief torrent of sound as the coins shifted within. Slowly, he reached inside and then withdrew his hand, clenched around a handful of obols. He turned the fist over at opened it, holding the coins out for Amy to see.

Leaning forward, it took her a moment to discern what the man in front of her held, and when she realized what he had, she began shouting. ”Peter! Peter, come here. Now!" Amy cried out over her shoulder.

"What's wrong?" came the approaching man's voice. He arrived at the doorway with a
"Holy shit," followed by the click of the safety being removed from a pistol.

"No, look," Amy said, holding up one hand to stop Peter, and pointing at the Pennyman's outstretched hand with the other.

Peter saw the glint of metal in the man’s hand and shouldered past Amy. He reached into his pocket, pulling out the obols that he had unwrapped earlier that morning. As he opened his mouth to ask a question, the man in front of him closed his fist, hiding the coins from view.

Fist clenched, the Pennyman turned over his arm and opened his hand, the contained obols falling to the ground, where they landed with a soft crunch in the snow.

Peter made eye contact with the Pennyman, who remained expressionless as he crouched, zipped close his bag, and again tossed it over his shouldered, the weight rocking the thin man slightly.

Without a sound, the Pennyman turned and walked away, fading with each step. He was gone by the time he had reached the end of the driveway, the only thing to signify he had been there at all were his footsteps leading away, and the silver colored obols lying in the snow.

The call of death was stronger than the will of the living, he thought as he appeared before a Canadian man named Jacque who had frozen to death after falling through the hole he was ice fishing from.

Clink. Clink. Clink.


1 comment:

archnemesis_goldenhair said...

Something about this bit has been bugging me all week.
Then it hit me. The obols. The toll for ones passage to the underworld. My mind reels at the possible meanings.

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