Song syllable?" he asked gently, motioning lightly with his chin towards my writing pad.

I looked down, and couldn't quite contain a smile.

"A short story," I answered, meeting his eyes for only a second.

"Very short," he agreed. "It’s almost haiku."

He spoke slowly, in a voice that was almost an octave too deep.The haiku reference was also contrived. I looked to Kevin, but he was pouring a thick red liquid into four shot glasses.

I felt that tiny fluttering of small panic.

Why was everything a hunt to them?

Why did I feel cornered by the most innocent of talk?

I knew I wouldn’t be able to write. I gathered up my pen and papers and stowed them noisily in my brown leather attache case.

I looked up and nodded weakly to my own image in the mirror over the bar. I thought I knew her well: a quiet woman with delicate features ( "a china doll; a living, breathing china doll", Darren had often said) and close-cropped strawberry blonde hair.

More memories nudged their way into my consciousness.

His name was Tyler.

Yes. I remembered now. Tyler.

I stole a quick glance at him. He was hunched, his head moving almost imperceptibly to the music.The stuttering light of the candles highlighted his cuts and paleness. He looked almost ethereal.

I relaxed.

"There is another place," he said slowly.

Oh Christ, I thought.

Here we go again.

The End

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