He sits, off-center, at a rectangular table. On his right is a haphazard scatter of candles. Clustered like offerings to the Madonna and Child, the votives are of varying height and color, though their flames are all clean and yellow. Time melts, transformed by heat into a featureless slag that puddles in circles and arcs.
His turban is silver, veined with emeralds and sapphires in a design that folds upon itself like a real brain. As if his skull has been removed and his oversized brain has been wrapped in tinfoil. The turban covers most of his ears, leaving only tiny pink nubs protruding from the tight edge of the silver wrap. His glasses are tortoise-shell frames with garish peacock eyes painted on the lenses. He stares at you with those false eyes, but they seem to not see you either.
His teeth rest in a small dish on the table, next to the deck of cards. cards. The wooden gums have been painted blue—cerulean like the sea at dawn, like the sky at midday. His incisors are silver, carved with intricate detail. Tiny myths that only his tongue can read.
If he had a tongue.
He taps the deck of cards with a finger that is twisted like an old oak branch. His teeth clack as I hesitate in the entrance to his tent, reluctant to cross the threshold. Even endless, the night outside seems more hospitable than sitting in that empty chair. "Sit," his teeth chatter. "The Way cannot be Realized until it is Seen."