John cursed at the card and spat at it. Tiny black spots hit the card and then faded as if they were absorbed into the card. He stuck his tongue into the space between his gum and cheek and a mushy wad of tobacco. He had never chewed before in his life. He didn’t remember placing the wad in his mouth. He closed his lips and sucked for a second. Then he spat to the desert. The black spot stayed in the sand and clumped. The tobacco soothed his mouth, head, and body. He enjoyed the tobacco.
John checked the first inside pocket to his bag and found a large bag of tobacco. He wasn’t sure why knew to check that part of the bag. Before everything disappeared, that part of his bag held a picture of his childhood home. The years had aged the picture, but the memories and smells of that house were very much real and alive in John’s mind. But now it was replaced with a bag of tobacco.
Looking back at the card, John became mad.
“You did this,” he spoke to the card. “I don’t know how. Or why. But you did this.”
John waited a moment like he was waiting for the card to talk. It didn’t. It was just a card. With words on it.
John heard a voice start to cackle in his mind. Right from the very back of the inside of his mind. He envisioned for a moment the card lit on fire. The fire eating its way down to his fingertips and then himself tossing it to the sand. Then he could close his eyes and when he would open them, he’d back on that park bench he was thinking about before.
From the corner of John’s eye he saw something partially buried in the desert. At first, John just saw a red dot with a white tip. That was because the other portion of the object blended in with the color of the sand. It was a match.
John smiled and bent over to pick it up. He thought for a moment he saw a shadow move by. It was so quick that he looked up and moved his head back and forth. There wasn’t a single person or thing in sight. The sand continued until its horizon met the white sky and the sky went up and over John and came back down to the sand.
“Let’s fix it,” John said staring at the match. He held it up like it was the most important object he’d ever held. And in ways, maybe it was. Greedy men have money and gold. Poor men have time. As for John, he had a match, a card that changed the world, and cowboy boots with dirty, metal tips on them. He struck the match and he half expected it not to light. But it did. And John didn’t waste any time lighting the card on fire. The card burned and John smiled the entire time. The card folded into itself and the words burned and melted from it.
Just like in his vision when the card reached his fingertips, he tossed it to the ground. A few tiny embers floated in the air and then died. Before the card reached the ground, it disappeared.
The dead embers which should have been tiny pieces of papers landed in the sand and disappeared too. The flames – the wonderful orange flames that were eating the card – they also landed in the sand. The kept burning but a few seconds later they disappeared too. John rubbed his eyes moved the sand around with the heel of his boot. He wondered if the card was some kind of special paper that burned and disintegrated fast. John knew it wasn’t true but he tried to convince himself that’s what it was. His thoughts were broken up by the sound a heavy breath coming from behind him. He reached for his guns.