The sound of clicking dice echoed around the woods and open wild grass field. Absent were birdsongs and cricket chirps. No squirrels, no rabbits, no fox, nor raccoon chittering warnings to the unseen intruders.
Two unsubstantial men, dressed in an odd formal suit and dirty work clothes respectively, kneeling inside a broken down circle of bricks, made the only sound within earshot.
“Wanna lay down a bet on it?” Luther, the rougher of the two asked.
“There’s no odds,” Harlan, the other said, shaking a handful of dice. “It’s a sure thing. They’ll find these ruins.”
“Ain’t they gonna recognize you in that fancy get-up of yorn?” Luther peered around, studying the group of people huddled around a pile of old bricks half a football field away.
“The nice thing about this set up we have here is my ability to change my appearance,” Harlan said. I’m like a chameleon. The grandson has never seen me in my preferred evening wear.”
Harlan Beaumont, ringmaster for the Gallatin Bros. Circus and Sideshow, was dressed in his Big Top uniform, still stylish even if a little worse for wear. His black twill jhodpurs, smeared in grey ash, were tucked into ebony patent leather, knee-high riding boots. A crimson velvet tuxedo jacket, its long tails singed and ragged, sat loose on his shoulders. Small tendrils of smoke wafted from the back of the suit where the tattered tattoo on Harlan’s charred back, the skin peeling and red, was exposed.
Luther Givens, former roustabout crew leader, was buried dressed as he was for a night performance of the circus – dark tan dungarees, a thin blue chambray shirt, laced Timberland boots, muddy and soiled from elephant muck. If it weren’t for the hole in his chest big enough to put your fist through, you’d never know he was a casualty of the fire that burnt down Gallatin Bros. Big Top in 1954.
“I never understood how you came to have all those dice in the ever-after.” Luther said.
“You know I always have the bones with me,” Harlan said. “They’s in my pocket when they shoveled in the dirt.”
“Whattya gonna gamble for out here?” Luther said. “We ain’t got no money. Nothing to spend it on iffen we did.”
“I got something more valuable than money.” Harlan held the die, warm and slick in his hand. Rattling them in his loose fist, he rolled them across the hard-packed dirt.
“What’s ‘at?” Luther watched as each cube tumbled to its final rest, eager to see if the roll was long and strong.
The two spirits dematerialized when they heard the unmistakable sound of the Chamber brothers stomping through the field grass toward their second death.
One thought on “Odd man out”
Great iimagery. Creepy.
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