Three Minute Fiction: JOYOUS TRANSACTION

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We’re supposed to do this with yarrow stalks, but “coins,” he says, “are more indicative of global currency flow.”

I stand to leave. Scraping my chair back. He shakes his head and swirls his coffee: “more modern,” he says.

I sit down again. Take a sip of mine.

Given the swirling streams of capital – well, I get it; as a modern soothsayer coins aren’t a bad idea.

But I’m not asking about money.

He pushes aside his Straits Times, revealing an I-Ching and three U.S. quarters. He slides his coins to me. I shake and fling. Coins flash, fall across the table six times in succession. He tabulates my score: Heads-heads-tails. (Twice) Heads-tails-tails. (Once) Heads-heads-tails. (Twice again) Heads-tails-tails….

He points at the coins and beckons. I slide them over. He shakes his head. “First: my fee.” I slide that over too. He nods and turns the book around for me to see:

58. Tui, The Joyous

Lakes resting one on the other:
The image of the Joyous.
Thus the superior man joins with his friends
For discussion and practice.

The moment of discovery! My muscles flinch involuntarily: “That’s all?” I say, my voice a squeak.

“You understand why you do this now?”

He’s so wise, that crumpled grey suit, those yellowing plastic frames. Enlightenment is bearing down on us: I feel it. I squish my palms together, and choose my reply very, very carefully. “For fun?”

“You don’t fully understand.”

“I don’t,” I say, pressing my palms harder. “Tell me! Please!”

He picks my coffee cup up and dumps it into his; brown liquid floods, soaking the paper: “that mindless moment of exchange,” he says, as it drips on my pants, and he gets up and leaves.

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