Now (4)

A dead silence hung in the air like a mushroom cloud* after HG Wells’ departure. “Cowboy” was drumming his fingers in rapid succession on the bar and finally looked Coral in the eye.

“I have met you before, haven’t I? And you already know my name, so why do you call me Cowboy?”

“Mmmm” Coral sighed again as she looked at him. “You’re name isn’t really fixed yet. Everytime we meet either Here or Somewhere else, your name changes just alittle. So for me, it’s easier to call you by a generic nickname.”

She pointed up to the ceiling and he noticed a carved wooden plack hanging over the bar. It was a picture of a coral colored rose.

“I favor coral roses over every other color, so I adopted the nickname “Coral”, but that isn’t always the name I go by.”

As the Cowboy exchanged glances between Coral and the Coral rose, Coral reached under the bar for something hidden.

She unlatched the large metal suitcase and presented him with several newspaper clippings, some old and faded, others almost right off of the printing press. He skimmed over the headlines; Baby Boy dies days after delivery/ local boy dies after farming accident/ Famous Singer dies in War/Famous Actor dies from fall/ World mourns the loss of beloved Ikon/ Famous Author dies in car crash/ the last one caught his eye.

“Hey, this looks new. Why isn’t there a date on it? Or a date on any of these for that matter?”

Coral looked up at him with that sadness in her eyes he first noticed when he came Here.

“They don’t have dates because nothing is official yet” she said bluntly as she lit another cigarette. “Your car isn’t broke down on the side of the road, it’s crashed, or it will be. I don’t pretend to know how any of this works.”

“And the bridge” the Cowboy hesitates “the bridge. If I cross over it then I am dead?”

“Sometimes you’ve come back” Coral says with a sad smile that was meant to encourage him.

“So what do I do now?” he asks as a small tear forms in the corner of his eye.

Coral just shakes her head and hands him another beer.

Cowboy looks out the window into the night air, he’s been here for days and sunrise never comes, maybe that is the only time the bridge can be seen. He places the empty mug back onto the bar and stands up.

“Well Coral, it’s been nice seeing you again. I guess it’s now or never.” and with a wink and a smile he walks out of Here into Now.

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The Plot Thickens, Thursday:

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