Daren swiped his credit card through the reader and pushed 8-7-1-5.
The screen read, “Incorrect PIN. Please try again.”
He frowned. That had to be the right number, and he tried it again with the same result.
He had one chance left and tested 8-5-7-1. The bank’s computer canceled the transaction. He took a quick look over his shoulder; several others waited in line behind him.
“I’ll have to think about my number for a minute,” he told the girl behind the counter.
“Okay,” she said absently, and turned to the next customer.
Daren walked away from the counter and stood by the newspapers as he pondered the number puzzle. It was becoming too much trouble for a pack of cigarettes. He turned the numbers around in his head. No, the number had to be 8-7-1-5. He’d used that number hundreds of times. He could see himself doing it. Push 8-7-1-5 and…
He took a deep breath, and his PIN came to him as he exhaled. He got back in line. The cashier still had the cigarettes sitting by the register. At his turn, he swiped his card and pushed 6-2-9-4, and the transaction went through.
Daren walked out and got in his car. He opened the cigarettes and lit one, inhaling deeply.
Six years and I’m still trying to dial her phone number.
It wasn’t Daren’s only automatic response; ten minutes later, he walked into the bar with no recollection of having driven there.