the smuggler’s bible

Paul Newman

Better to be on familiar ground. He decides on a particular day, a single hour. A blind alley.

Snow falls thick as a velvet curtain. Paul Newman leans back and shakes out his newspaper as she carries his cup from the kitchen, humming a few bars of Blue Christmas. She grabs her book from the table and settles in beside the fire to read, checks her watch then stands to fetch the tea.

Again and again, the dragon eating its own tail.

“Come on, you son of a bitch,” Paul Newman says, watching the door. “I can wait all night.”

Paul Newman

The calendar above the mantle is missing a day—wallpaper shows through the ragged hole.

Paul Newman smells something burning, hears the echo of a crash. He pulls open the door to the hall and sees himself exiting at the far end. The other him hesitates and turns back. “Don’t believe his goddamned lies,” he says, pale-faced. A drop of blood slides down his cheek. “Time is a river, and it’s deepest in the middle.”

There is a sharp pain and something damp on Paul Newman’s face. A door opens behind him. He wheels around ready to spread the gospel.