A crowd grew around the man and paw, a withering dismemberment resting atop ten shaky fingers.
Excitement shot through onlookers, who kept each other aglow with fire-warm tales of the paw’s existence that wafted up to the heavens and dissipated. Fables of those fortunate enough to come to know the paw before; stories of how the golden cufflink managed to maintain its shine, forgotten for so long. Entranced, they praised the paw and chided nonbelievers.
The crowd weaved majestic stories as truth—truth as undeniable. And as the crowd grew in its immensity, stories bent and broke until becoming nothing of meaning, no longer worth saying; solidified as principles thought to be of their own accord.
In the center of it all, the man lifted the paw to his mouth, whispering into cupped hands for a moment before watching with tense exuberance. The crowd, too, held its breath in fierce anticipation of each story’s truth, validation of their own beliefs.
After a few seconds the paw’s tiny index finger curved in, beckoning all to join what had already been set in motion. The crowd erupted with cheers and joyous embraces. The man in the center watched the paw in blurred amazement, wondering what he should ask for next.
To all, the paw was truth. And truth was on their side.
Clouds, wind, and rain blotted out light the very next day.