In his wallet, he carries business cards, coal black, with no text, no nothing, on either side. Nor anything else. Let others draw what inferences they will.
Let them factor in the absence of identity, the silence that a lack of money signifies, (as opposed to the discretion an abundance brings). Let them fashion conclusions out of this whole cloth.
His hands, sheathed against contamination, prim, stiff-limbed arachnids, continue their tactile inquisition, one last traverse for carelessness and betrayal. A circumspect manipulation lest there be anything meaningful overlooked.
They thumb interior folds and finger each labial line and recess, curl a dust dry residue from a cleft; tips running the ripple of stitching, rhythmic in a machine pulse. And finding themselves empty, full of all there is to be found, they come to rest, composed for ten heart beats.
A reluctant breeze releases an aroma of cold meat and warm metal, a familiar note in the perfumed pollution of this place; all drawn in on one deep, deep breath. A Madeleine moment, savoured, swallowed.
Released. His hands withdraw from his wallet, a single business card, coal black, with no text and without hesitation he slides the wafer between those pale, parted lips, along a speechless tongue, down, into the wet, wordless mouth.
And if the cards say anything at all, it may be that anonymity does not preclude vanity. This he does allow.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This poem was selected from entries submitted to our Creative Challenge Series #1: First Sentences, which required that the first sentence in the text must be used as given. Read other Creative Challenge winners. To find out how to participate, go to Creative Challenges.