That day, Win did beat out McCoy's group over at Dade, Turner & Haversham. He was thinking about leaving early that day, but he stayed behind working on some paperwork. And he wanted to call McCoy's office to gloat a little. A little before six, he picked up the phone.
"McCoy's office, Irwin speaking."
Damned. McCoy had an assistant. "Irwin, put me through to Mr. McCoy. Tell him it's Dowery of TL&G."
"I'm afraid Mr. McCoy's left for the day. Would you like to leave a message?"
"No, just tell him I called." Win looked at the day's figures. "He's already got my message." Win smiled, wolfishly. If anyone had been in the room with him, they might've seen a glint off of one of his incisors. Though it was probably a trick of the light from the setting sun in his corner office. Probably.
Win headed downstairs and hailed a cab to the Bull's Eye, a popular gentleman's pub where many I-bankers congregated to swap post-game stories after a harried day. There was no rush on anyone's part to get home to the wives. No sign of McCoy anywhere. Win saw some boys from his firm and shot the shit with them for a bit, waiting, so he said, for the rain to let up. It didn't, and after a few drinks, he grew tired of waiting. He dashed outside, darting between matrons loaded with shopping bags and past a somber group of soaked youths. He whistled hard for a taxi, and one darted close, splashing a middle-aged gentleman severely. He shivered and gave a sneeze, but Win was already inside his cab, so he took to trying to hail one again as he'd been doing for the past ten minutes.
Win got home fast enough, but soon after the drinks started to hit him. He couldn't remember how many he'd had waiting for McCoy to show up. He'd probably wormed out, wormed away, wormed—whatever it is that worms do. Sherm the Worm, Win always called him privately. The bastard.
TV failed to interest him that night, so Win shuffled off to bed. So tired, he thought. He nestled between silken sheets and had some freaky dreams.
Blackness, and Win only five, maybe seven. Where has everyone gone? Who will come for me? Where is my friend? A gentleman, who draws close. He wears silver-rimmed spectacles and a grey vest. His hair is thinning. Moustache. Muss-tash. Mouse attache. The man speaks.
"Hello, Win. I'm Wynn."
Riddles. He is not my friend. He is me. He is not my friend at all. He talks in riddles and he is Wynn. I am Win. He looks familiar, silly man. He must be cold, out here in pure darkness. Bless him.
"I know you."
"Yes, young man, you do. You know me. But you don't know me... yet. You will, and you won't. It's funny, but no one ever laughs at it. I'm Irwin; we spoke on the phone."
"You sneezed. You caught a cold but couldn't catch a cab. A cab's much bigger." Win giggles. "I know me."
"You're going away, Win. Sooner and later. Though later will soon be sooner, and then you'll see, and you won't. We'll see, that's for sure. Because we're close. Because we're different, we won't see. You are going to die, Win."
"I never died before. What's it like?"
"This, but different. We will see. Us two, we will not, but together we will. Now sooner approaches, and you will leave. You've strayed too far from the land of the living and now comes the tether to take you back."
With a sudden elastic pull about his chest, Win is jerked back. The invisible bungie cord gains speed until the wind of emptiness is whistling at his ears. The whistling melds and becomes one with the keening of his digital alarm clock, and then gives way entirely. It is morning.
Win thought to himself, what a disturbing dream, though he couldn't honestly tell you what he'd dreamt. He forgot the whole thing over breakfast, though he'd remember it soon enough. When later became sooner.
Wynn traded well that day, but that is not the point of the story. I will just say that he beat McCoy again and we will skip to the end of the day, because he decided to call McCoy again. Or Irwin. He wasn't sure which, or why he'd want to call the assistant at all. But they did speak.
"McCoy's office, Irwin speaking."
"Irwin, Sherm's not in, is he?"
Hesitation. "No, sir. Mr. McCoy was called away early today." Probably hiding in the Hamptons. "Would you like to leave a message?"
"No message... just... Wynn? I've never died before. What's it like?"
Hesitation. "I'm not sure I know what you mean, sir. I'll tell Mr. McCoy you rang." *click*
"I'm sorry, I have no idea wh—" Win explained into the dialtone before his ears caught up with his mouth. His face filled with a hot flush and suddenly the room seemed too small. What the FUCK? He put his elbows on the desk and rested his forehead on the meat of his palms. Then he loosened his tie and sat back in his chair, feet up on the desk, and closed his eyes to think for a minute. Just a minute. Minute.
Minute, minute, my-noot. Minute after minute, hour after hour, time spilt and wiped away, and so is your power.
The cab driver this time. He laughs twice and is gone. Or is Irwin. Or was Irwin laughing? Why are they the same? Why are we the same? We are the same, aren't we?
"All of us are the same, Win. You when you are seven, and me when I am forty. The cab driver when he is sixty and the pregnant lady whose cab you stole three months from now when she miscarries. All of us; we are one."
REINCARNATION. The word is scrawled in jagged characters that look like they were cut in the air with the talon of a huge, intelligent beast. Maybe Satan. They bleed light into the blackness where Wynn and Win stand. Where they both stand. Where they each stand alone. The letters frighten Win, and maybe they are laughing at him. There is something wicked about them that he does not like. Or something wicked about him the letters don't like. Win does not like that either is just as likely to be true. His face is red like he has done something wrong.
Remember, the things you know are wrong.
"Where do the souls come from for reincarnation? Where do they go? When God created Adam, he created also a woman without a soul, but she was wicked. So God took Adam's soul and made a woman. Each thought themselves seperate, but God knew better. They both became mortal and were linked by their indiscretion. So through death is the soul shared."
"That was then, this is now. How now, brown cow?"
"Then, now. Can you live the past? See the future? Time is an illusion, Win. There is only now, and even now is gone before we find it. The soul simply is, and it creates the instant around it. Without the soul, there would be no time, no sequence, neither cause nor effect. Can you see? No, not yet. You've stretched the tether quite a bit, but here it comes again."
"Oh, bye-bye." The world splits along the axis behind Win, along the invisible bungie cord that yanks him back. As he gains speed, the thin white line that cracks the darkness grows to an angle, and widens. Suddenly, it is all white, and then suddenly recedes to a single white line. It is a morning sunray that drives straight for Win's eyes.
Win jerked awake, the sun right in his eyes blinding him for a second. He heard a noise from the kitchen. He jumped out of bed and piqued his ears for another sound. Hearing nothing, he walked down the hall. A light was on in the bathroom. Very quietly, he took a golf club from the closet, and walked toward the door. He peeked inside and saw nothing. The medicine cabinet was open, but everything was there. With the club head, he drew open the shower curtain. No one, nothing. He tiptoed to the kitchen. Again, nothing. In his entire apartment, only the bathroom appeared to have been touched. The door locks were all intact, with no signs of forcing. God, what a silly scare. He walked back to the bathroom, and started brushing his teeth. He closed the medicine cabinet to watch himself, and saw there, in blood red letters, the same mocking wicked type as in his dream: REMEMBER, THE THINGS YOU KNOW ARE WRONG!
How had he gotten home from the office?
There was a sudden sickening feeling in his chest and Win collapsed, screaming. How familiar his assailant's laugh sounded, how like a dream, and then everything was hazy.
"You made it. I'm glad we brought you here. Us here. I'm glad we're here. All of me." Wynn smiles.
Win is no longer a child. Now he is a man. A bleeding man. Bleeding on the floor. Messy, messy floor. Someone would have to clean it up. He would have to clean it up, eventually. When it was his turn. He has so many turns left.
"It's funny how everything happens at once. It's a dizzying lifetime and then it's over, ready to begin. We are all of us, and now it's time for you to embrace that, Wynn. Win. Emma. David. So many names, but we are, regardless of them. I am. I is. There is no other. Constant, simultaneous. I exist outside myself, we do. Now later has come, sooner than you thought, and you know what I meant. Only you do not know, because you is gone and now it is me. Then I will go and another will take over. I led you as you led the cab driver, or will lead the cab driver, who is still alive. We are still alive, us all, I am. We are one, don't you see? Frozen in the instant; that is how the soul lives, feeding on itself to spew time and make memories which it will consume later. There is only now, there is only us."
The time is now. Wynn screams along with Win, though Win is no more.
Irwin Schultz was brought into the world screaming on a chill November night in a New York hospital. Later he would become an assitant to the second greatest bond trader in New York City, perhaps the world. And then it would end. And, all told, it wouldn't really take much longer than that last sentence. Time is, after all, an illusion. The time is now.