What’s the most you ever saw lost on a coin toss?
I said what’s the most you ever saw lost on a coin toss.
I dont know. Folks dont generally bet on a coin toss. It’s usually more like just to settle somethin.
What’s the biggest thing you ever saw settled?
I dont know.
Chigurh took a twenty-five cent piece from his pocket and flipped it spinning into the bluish glare of the fluorescent lights overhead. He caught it and slapped it onto the back of his forearm just above the bloody wrappings. Call it, he said.
Just call it.
Well I need to know what it is we’re callin here.
How would that change anything?
The man looked at Chigurh’s eyes for the first time. Blue as lapis. At once glistening and totally opaque. Like wet stones.
You need to call it, Chigurh said. I cant call it for you. It wouldnt be fair. It wouldnt even be right. Just call it.
I didnt put nothin up.
Yes you did. You’ve been putting it up your whole life. You just didnt know it. You know what the date is on this coin?
It’s nineteen fifty-eight. It’s been traveling twenty-two years to get here. And now it’s here. And I’m here. And I’ve got my hand over it. And it’s either heads or tails. And you have to say. Call it.
I dont know what it is I stand to win.
In the blue light the man’s face was beaded thinly with sweat. He licked his upper lip.
You stand to win everything, Chigurh said. Everything.
You aint makin any sense, mister.
Chigurh uncovered the coin. He turned his arm slightly for the man to see. Well done, he said.
He picked the coin from his wrist and handed it across.
What do I want with that?
Take it. It’s your lucky coin.
I dont need it.
Yes you do. Take it.
The man took the coin.
I got to close now, he said.
Dont put it in your pocket.
Dont put it in your pocket.
Where do you want me to put it?
Dont put it in your pocket. You wont know which one it is.
Anything can be an instrument, Chigurh said. Small things. Things you wouldnt even notice. They pass from hand to hand. People dont pay attention. And then one day there’s an accounting. And after that nothing is the same. Well, you say. It’s just a coin. For instance. Nothing special there. What could that be an instrument of? You see the problem. To separate the act from the thing. As if the parts of some moment in history might be interchangeable with the parts of some other moment. How could that be? Well, it’s just a coin. Yes. That’s true. Is it?
Chigurh cupped his hand and scooped his change from the counter into his palm and put the change in his pocket and turned and walked out the door. The proprietor watched him go. Watched him get into the car. The car started and pulled off from the gravel apron onto the highway south. The lights never did come on. He laid the coin on the counter and looked at it. He put both hands on the counter and just stood leaning there with his head bowed.
From Cormac McCarthy’s ‘No Country For Old Men’.
Have a great night and remember to take care of yourselves, everyone!