“What happened to your hand?”
For a moment the man said nothing. “A boring story concealed by a far more fascinating glove,” he finally said. “But that pelican got as good as he gave.” He glanced at Jake’s fingers. “Nice bit o’ rock,” said the man, pint raised in his right hand. “I used to be able to do that trick too. Where’d you get that fine piece o’ stone?”
“Same place you had it out with that pelican,” Jake replied. “Here.” He didn’t know what made him do it, but something, some smugness in the man’s face made Jake flick the stone through the air. The man’s left hand shot up to grab it, but his fingers jerked, and the rock collided with his fingertips. The smug fell off the man’s face. The stone clattered onto the bar, spinning on the polished wood before coming to a rest between the two men.
The man looked at his fingers, stretched like claws as he slowly lowered his arm. The left hand seemed so much smaller than the right, Jake realized.
“I made a big mistake once,” said the man, looking away from Jake and into his glass.
“We all make mistakes,” said Jake, looking at the stone. “No matter what we do, sometimes all we wonder is what mistake we made once, which one we’re making now, and which we’ll make over and over.”
The man chuckled. “Some mistakes are much bigger than others. Bigger than those who make them. Damn near bigger than the whole world.” He drank the last of his stout, then looked Jake in the eye. “I’m looking for something I lost when I made my mistake. I’m trying to find my way back to it.”
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