The world smeared into a kaleidoscope before his eyes. He was vaguely aware of the sensation of falling, but it seemed more as if someone was telling him about how he fell down than he seemed to actually be experiencing it.
He could barely remember what it was he had been doing before the colors wiped the real world out of his consciousness. It was as if he were about to be crushed by a great stained glass window and the memory of all his sins, his betrayals and indiscretions had finally come back to destroy him. There were two sides to him. One wondered why his legs would not work to carry him aware from the closing horror of retribution and the other shrugged and said, “I had this coming.”
Neither side had any influence over the coming events. The colors continued to dance and swirl before his vision, blotting out the face he could hardly remember had been before him when the spell came over him.
Who had that been?
Were they seeing the colors too?
Then all went black.
When his eyes began to open, he felt surprised by the sudden lack of color that met them. This sunny summer afternoon and the bright blue sky above him was pale in comparison to the stained glass nightmare that he had nearly succumbed to…What? Mere seconds ago?
Yet here he was, being hoisted up by the elbow to a sitting position on the sidewalk outside the coffee shop and given a glass of cold ice water by a pleasant looking gentleman in a grey suit. A man that looked somehow familiar and thanked the busboy as he walked away.
“Here, drink this,” said the man in a muffled voice. He briefly glanced to the man’s mouth as he accepted the water, expecting to find he was speaking from behind a scarf, but he wasn’t.
As the cool water hit his throat, more sensations began to return. The sweltering, oven-like heat surrounded him and pressed into his skin. His memory began to rush back to him and he recalled sitting down across form the man at an outdoor table. He remembered that he had a business proposal for him, for this man who was, just moments ago, a complete stranger.
He gulped the water and felt the cool liquid momentarily line his stomach before the oppressing heat from the outside advanced.
“Perhaps we should get you inside,” said the pleasant man. “The air conditioning may do you some good.”
“I’m feeling better now,” he replied and accepted further assistance getting into the chair he had just fallen out of.
He remembered what he had come to do and wanted to get it over with. He glanced around and saw that the other patrons were busy going about what they had been doing prior to being interrupted by the scene he had made. He was disappointed slightly in himself. Making a scene was very contrary to the way he preferred to act during these deals.
“My goodness,” he exclaimed and fanned himself with the newspaper from the table. “It get’s so hot in this city during the summer. I must admit it’s a heat that I am not accustomed to.”
“Are you sure you’re alright?” asked the man.
“Oh yes, I’m fine now,” he assured him. “But where were we?”
“Well,” the pleasant man said, looking puzzled, “you had just sat down across from me and told me that you could provide me with what it is that I seek. But before I could ask who you were, how you knew what it was that I seek or what you would be asking in return, you fainted.”
“Ah yes,” he smiled. He took another sip of water and leaned forward, his elbows on the table as he folded his hands. “I believe the answer to the last question will answer the first two, so I suggest we get down to brass tacks. The payment I would be asking for is nothing more than your soul.”