Friday, February 1, 2008

The cold man

"He would come by the lounge at night and order a drinks, vodka and limes. He had very little hair, and what was left of it fell from the back of his head to his shoulders. He had sea-blue eyes and a creepy smile. If I had my back to him I could feel him staring right at me, but I didn't tell anyone about him because he always left a big tip. The strange thing was; when I went back to pick up his glass, it was always ice-cold. Not cold just from the ice in the drink, but really freezing.
"He told me not to share his tips with the other waitresses, and I obeyed. One night he got up and walked to the pool, and threw something in the water. Then he told Eric the busboy that it was his keys, and demanded that Eric go fetch it. It was almost midnight and the lights to the pool were off. Poor confused Eric took off his jacket and shirt and jumped in, and he was in there a long time. I just watched and I knew I should do something, but I didn't know what to do. He had tipped me a fifty the previous night. That's like ten times what other people tip. Eric didn't come up for a long time. He dived down twice more and on the third time he came out with the keys. The guy laughed, and took out a hundred dollar bill and threw it on the water. Eric was grateful for it. I didn't make him share it of course.
Later that night Eric died in a car crash. His Toyota plunged down the road and they found him impaled on a tree. When I heard the news, I knew the cold man had something to do with it.
I confronted him the next night; I told him the news, and he just looked at me. 'Do you blame me?' he said.
'You were responsible,' I said.
'How? How was I responsible?' he said, picking up his glass. And he was cold. He was radiating cold. The liquid in the glass was freezing solid.
I turned away and went back. I could hear his teeth crunching his ice. He got up and walked out. I wanted to stop him. I wanted to call everyone in the lounge then; the waiters, the bartenders, the valets to stop him. We would all grab him, and hug him, and our warmth would help unfreeze him, but I realised that wasn't going to happen. I imagined all of us freezing gradually as we piled up on him, our bodies turning into ice. His cold was something he carried, and us, with our doubts, our loneliness, our fears; he would dig it out or us and we would be frozen too. So I let him go and walk away, and never come back. There was two hundred dollar bills under the coaster. I took them, but I never spent the money."