Staring contest with a 9mm. Its eye a depthless pupil an inch away. Everything else shrinking: neon signs, the alley, graffiti on brick, the steam of breath– all receding like a wave stretched thin against sand.

Its eye an ocean, endless and deadly. A wind rushes over its waters: “I said the wallet.” The ocean folds and crashes and the earth flips poles and behind the cascading horizon leaps a face, a giant moon. The corona trembling brightness so sharp everything turns white.

Then the light eases. The lethal eye shuts. The water stills. North is once again north. The alley once again the alley. And through the low moon glow I see into craters, eyes like mine, yellow and concave, a world away.

—Paul Julian

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