The Older Man

With your cap pulled down low over your eyes, you sit down across the table from the bearded old man.  Looking him up and down, it's obvious that he's playing up his eccentric appearance.  His head is bald on top, with long white hair flowing down from the back and sides.  The jewelry around his neck includes shimmering gold religious icons, and chains of beer bottle caps.  His ornate pipe is firmly planted into a yellowing beard, streaming blue tinted smoke. 

This is going to be a bit of a poker game.  These people are notorious for picking up little bits of information and exploiting them to convince customers of mystical powers.  You've seen enough pick-pocket  and petty theft cases involving fortune tellers to make you suspicious and skeptical, but given your reason for being here, you're finding yourself somewhat conflicted suddenly. 

It's obvious from the old guys silence that he's waiting for you to tip your hand first.  "Somebody I know is dead" you say cagily, giving as few details as possible. 

"Sure they are."  he replies knowingly, with a smug look on his wrinkled old face,  "And there's something you need to know."  It feels like he's trying to tease more information out of you, but he could just be holding back; waiting to get your money.

The crumpled ten dollar bill you place on his table is whisked away with a wave of his brown hand.  Again, he's waiting for you to speak.  "I know people don't live for ever, but this person I know, they didn't loose their life; it was taken from them." 

He taps his finger against his pipe for a moment before he adjusts it in his mouth.  His smug smile fades in a puff of blue smoke.  He's either calculating how big of a lie to tell you, or is about to say something profound.  It's difficult to tell which.  His eyes open wide, and  stare in your direction, but don't really focus on you.  His voice suddenly booms loud, like he's on stage, or in a pulpit. 

"You're playing around with something you shouldn't be!  The one you lost is gone, but you have other loved ones!"  You think of Gabrielle. 
"Prayers can't help you!  You know that!" You think of the Catholic priest. 
"And you know the law can't help you!"  Your heart jumps.  Does he know you're a cop? 
"The one you're trying to save is already gone!"  You think of Cal and the haunted look in his eyes. 

Suddenly angry, the old man stands up gestures for you to get out.  "And that's your ten dollars worth of free advice! Now get out of here and forget whatever it is that you're thinking about!"  "It can't be done!"

The End

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