Viewmaster of the Future
“Fifty cents,” the kid says, holding out his scarred hands and smiling with blackened tiny teeth in a thin-lipped mouth.” He must have sensed my hesitation. “That’s a bargain, Mr. A turn of the focus ring and voila, your future, plain as the nose on your face. Clarity like you’ve never known. Your whole life lies inside this lens. All you have to do is step up and take a look—but first, the coin.”
His sales pitch is smooth, practiced. The kid’s hand takes on a new urgency, creeping closer to the coin in my palm. This is all the silver I own and is more than most people have. I squeeze my hand and the coin into a fist and walk away—from the angry kid, from the sorry glimpse of a future I won’t be able to change anyway. At least that’s what I tell myself as the next person in line steps up to the Viewmaster. No use staying to watch her joy or pain.
Besides, nightfall isn’t far off, and I need to make it to shelter before the shadows convulse on the horizon. We all do. Don’t need a Viewmaster to tell me the Scaries will come out tonight.
I know that much. And maybe that’s all I need to know to survive another night.
Postcard Stories Podcast – An Author Reading.
I loved the description of the kid “…with blackened tiny teeth in a thin-lipped mouth.” Classic Kern!
Why do they do it I wonder. I wouldn’t. Never. Why would you ever want to spend the only hard earned money you have to find out a fate you probably don’t want to know. But in the end it seems we are all curious beings and if you are lucky??? Well, that’s the easy part…
Great story. Really loved the picture with this one.
Thank you, Michelle! I don’t think I’d do it either but I wonder, if the so-called end of the world had come, would you want to know if you should bother fighting or give it up? Not sure. Hopefully, we won’t have to find out!