Empty Alms

  “One coin to tear the veil between worlds, my friend,” the blind beggar said. “I’ll tell your future for a coin or two. The more you give, the bigger the tear, the more I can see what will become of you.”

     He was always around, this beggar. 

    The weather didn’t matter, nor did the amount of people on the streets.

    For him, there was only darkness, only the shimmering specter of the void.

    Or so it was told to me.

     “My sight for this world was shut off so I could use what remained in the next, you see?”

     He grinned at his own bad humor, but the explanation in and of itself made sense.

     It wasn’t something I’d want for myself.

     “Do you have anything to spare for me, sir?”   

     “I do.” I put the coin in his cup.

     A moment later he gasped, and blood trickled from his mouth.

     He licked at it, then smudged it with the back of his hand.

     “Why are you bleeding?”

     “I bleed for you, good sir. Your end is violent and sad.”

     “But why? I’ve made no enemies.”

     The beggar laughed. “Don’t be foolish. We all have them, real or imagined. You see, their hearts are poisonous and rotten, a briar patch alive with shimmering, wriggling clusters of worms. 

     “Their dark thoughts stoke the bonfires of dread nightmares, and so I say for you, sir, a violent end.”

     “Is there no way to avert it?”

     He shook his head. “It is an ending, sir. How does one avoid the end of a thing?”

     “Perhaps another coin…”

     He shook his head, put his cup away inside a pocket somewhere in his robe, and looked at me as if he could see right through me. 

     “You don’t have another coin. My time here ends. Be vigilant, sir; you’ll not see me again.”

     As he turned to go away, I felt a warm, light stream on my chin and wiped at it.


     Why is there blood in my mouth?


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