The ultimate choice

“When unsure, always trust the coin’’; that was his favourite phrase. Whenever he was in the proverbial crossroads, he always tossed a coin. If it was heads, then he chose the easy path. If it was tails, he took the hard path. But what if the coin never landed?

He woke up mortified. Once again, it took him a few seconds before he realized it was just a dream. The problem was it was always the same dream every night: he tossed the coin in the air, he saw it reaching the  highest point, where its kinetic energy was diminished, and as the metallic surface reflected the sunlight, he blinked; and the coin was lost. As he was looking around for the lost penny, he always heard the same harsh, cynical laughter. This laughter terrified him. It had no hint of joy, emotion or humanity. It was the laughter of a madman; the laughter of a god.

He had tried everything in order to make sense of this impossible situation. The shrink had said it was a regression to childhood, to a happier time, when he didn’t have any serious responsibility, when his most difficult choice was between chocolate and vanilla ice cream. The disappearing coin apparently symbolised the loss of innocence and his inability to cope with normal adult responsibilities. But what about the inhuman laughter? Even the best mental health specialists couldn’t provide him with a convincing answer.

He had even tried a hypnotist once. He managed to visit the crossroad under hypnosis, but when he searched his pockets for money, he only found a small, crumpled piece of paper. As he unwrapped it, he found a small, rusty coin. The surface was so ravaged by time and the elements, that he couldn’t discern which side was heads or tails. Then he saw two words on the paper: Nice try.

This couldn’t go on. He found it hard concentrating at work, his girlfriend had left him as he was cold and aloof. His friends were really worried about him, but he couldn’t tell them about his dream. He knew that they wouldn’t understand, that they would surely think he was crazy. And he wasn’t so sure himself about his sanity. He never accepted any coins when he got his change at the supermarket, and if he had to, he always gave them to the first beggar he found. He knew that if he carried a coin on him, he couldn’t resist the urge to toss it. And what if it never landed?

So one day, as he once again woke up drenched in sweat, he decided to do the only reasonable thing: the ultimate coin toss. He went to the corner antique shop. He browsed the old weapons selection and bought an old revolver with six bullet slots, as well as three bullets. When he was finally back in his flat, he poured himself a generous portion of single malt scotch and admired the old gun. He opened the cylinder, put the three bullets in and then spun it. He finished his drink lost in thought.


Finally, smiling, he placed the muzzle against his temple and contemplated the matter of choice. He remembered something that his grandpa used to say: “When in doubt, always flip a coin. When it’s in the air, the split second before it lands, you will catch yourself secretly wishing for either heads or tails. Then you will know what to choose’’. Now he knew: there was no choice. It’s always an illusion. We think we do what we want to do, but in the end, we cannot want what we want to want. His smile was bitter but calm as he pressed the trigger. And in that split second, when he didn’t know whether he was going to hear a soft click or a loud, terminal bang, he thought he heard a sound. It was a mirthless laughter, the laughter of somebody who knows everything but cares about nothing; the laughter of a god.

Hormonally imbalanced! (aka Serotonin Addicted)