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Deal 1111: Pipe no more

There was a lone piper on the hill when I opened my eyes. He was playing, but I couldn’t quite make out the melody. You know it is going to be a strange day when you wake to bagpipes.

I looked around at the bleak landscape. Windblown hill faces, flat tops, occasional trees that were shaped by persistent winds, and not happily.

The piper was closer now. I hadn’t seen him moving, but he was now standing on the next line of hills.

Or perhaps I had moved towards him?

I wasn’t all that sure, to be honest.

I was beginning to realize that honesty was absolutely a good idea here. Wherever that might be.

I also somehow knew that hearing the music would be irrevocable. Somehow my current situation was ambiguous. But if I heard the piper, it would be certain. I wasn’t really sure I wanted to hear him.

Not only was the landscape bleak, but I was alone. So very alone. There were no other people to be seen in any direction. I am sure there had been some people near me before I went to sleep. But their memory was shadowy, suggestive, and ambiguous. I realized that I no longer knew my own name.

The real punch was the realization that I was not breathing. Had not taken a breath since I opened my eyes. Was not even sure if I could breathe.

In my panic, I opened my eyes again, to find a bright light and a circle of concerned people. There was no music playing, but the noise was music to my ears. It had been a close call. In my minds eye, I could see the piper salute, turn and walk away, his services not needed any more.

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Deal 1091: Death, then…

I was powerless to resist.

The end was near, indeed, but seen from the other side. One moment, all is right in the world. The next, wham!

I woke up here.

I can still see the living world, but as if through a curtain.

I see the world frozen in time and place. Moments after the worst has happened. The dust hasn’t even settled.

I should hate this, but I find that my ability to hate is strongly reduced. Just as well. Feels a little like my ability to feel much of anything at all is the same.

This note, I don’t know how I’m writing it. I just sharply visualize the keys, and I hear future echoes of the letters swinging through space and striking paper and ribbon.

The moment hangs in time, an example to me despite needing no examples.

I must be dead.

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Deal 1087: Wet but not dead

fear of death adds spice
to a life well lived although
fear must be groundless

Joe watched the water rise, and for a moment was nearly as nervous as the audience. It was ever thus. The essence of the trick was that there was no trick: he really did escape from the shackles, chains, and cuffs. Or he could do it that way if he was a fool. Joe was no fool.

By the time the water reached his knees, his hands were free. Not that the audience could tell, he knew it was important that they believe him trapped and certain to die.

Hence the dramatic music, the curtain shielding him from view in his “final moments”, and all the other trappings for the stage.

His favorite ending to the escape was to hop out of the water as soon as he was hidden from view, then settle down with a newspaper in the cheap seats to wait while a shadow puppet show plays out of his apparent drowning. At the peak of the frenzy, as the audience is screaming for someone to do something, a pin spot focused on the tank from behind would suddenly reveal that the tank was empty.

The curtain would drop to reveal that there was nothing left in the tank but a pile of chains at the bottom and a few fish swimming in circles.

Joe enjoyed listening to the stunned realization sweeping across the audience that he hadn’t died in front of them. Did he vanish? Did he become a fish? Was anything what it seemed?

Joe stepped forwards, dropping the coat and newspaper that had concealed him from casual discovery, and accepted the applause that he was due.