Chapter 2b

Isolation defines this place. Most of the time, I'm the only person in existence. Sometimes there's a bartender or a cashier or Cindy Echidna dropping by just to say hello. Since I've been here (maybe a day or so, maybe infinitely more) we've developed a nice relationship. She comes over, we have sex, maybe we'll chat about the time Jenny McNamara got caught sleeping with the chemistry teacher and how everybody knew before it happened, then she'll leave.

That's how everybody is. I don't have sex with all of them, of course (although with a suspiciously large number), but otherwise they're the same. Everybody is temporary. Yesterday (it might have been yesterday) I went outside and sold some guy a sack of potatoes. He pulled up, I got in the passenger seat, he said, "Hey, man, you got the spuds?" I glanced around and over my shoulder for police or anything that might be suspicious and slipped him the sack low, keeping it out of sight. He handed me a roll of bills in the same manner and I went back inside.

The last time my door rang it was a Jehovah's Witness. He said that he'd like to tell me about the glory of God but that I'd have to invite him in first.

The new world is no safer than the old. I told him no and closed the door.

The hole in my head has mostly healed by now. I can still get a finger inside but the surface is smooth and dry now, not jagged and moist. I can't help but wonder as I watch myself heal each day why death would be so much like life. I think it is time I went somewhere, got a change of scenery, maybe just hit the road and go until I find someplace I like more.

I walked down to the Smiling Mutt Saloon and sat at the bar. Darren was there and was pouring my drink as I walked in. "Hey buddy," I said, "slow night?"

He laughed. "It's always a slow night. Heard you were up and moving to Colorado."

I said, "Maybe, haven't really decided yet."

"If it were me I'd pick someplace warmer, maybe Florida or something," he said. I told him I liked the mountains. Darren said, "Well, really, if it were me then I'd probably just stay here."

"What's so special about this place? It's dead."

"Yeah, it is, but what's so special about Colorado?" I didn't have an answer. "Maybe you just need somebody here to keep you company,"

"Nah," I said, "Cindy was over earlier and, I mean, she's a great lay but that's not really what I'm looking for."

"Then what are you looking for?" he asked. "Maybe it's not Cindy you need, maybe it's somebody more like her." He didn't move, just kept smiling and polishing that same glass, but his eyes flicked to one side. I followed them to the only other patron of the bar, a beautiful woman about my age with a long red dress, slit on one side revealing most of her left leg. She was leaned over the bar sipping a glass of something colorful through a straw.

I said, "Her? I don't even know her."

Darren said, "Sure you do, you should go talk to her. Tell you what, next round's on the house, go ask her what she wants."

I walked over, leaned on the bar with her and asked what she was drinking in an uncharacteristically assuming manner. She told me something and I motioned to Darren who immediately brought two colorful glasses over then walked away. She smiled at me, said thank you, and I smiled back,

I asked her what her name was. She asked me for mine. We talked. We had a lot in common, liked the same things, had the same hobbies. We drank more, talked more. I offered to take her home. She offered to go to mine. We had a nice night together, the sex was better than with Cindy, and we enjoyed the company. We stayed up late, maybe all night, just talking and drinking and fucking and in the morning she was still there.