Auto-Interview!

If a biography written about oneself is an autobiography, an interview on one’s self must be an autointerview!  Hooray for applying common logic to grammar and new word formation!

Are you a real writer?
I’m not quite sure how to answer.  I’ve written everything on the site (and more!).  However, I am not yet a published author.  My day will come, I hope!

Oh my god, you’re totally ripping off so-and-so with that story that you wrote!  How could you be so despicable!?
All of my stories are original – I tend to daydream a lot, and random ideas for stories and posts pop into my head.  Sometimes, I may be daydreaming about a book I read, or some real life events, but I try to make everything original!  It is different enough to save me from being sued, and that is the most important thing.

So, you must like zombies, huh?
Not especially, why?

Well, your blog is called Missing Brains.
The name actually came from a conversation, in which I was trying to explain a story idea to my girlfriend.  She told me that it sounded like “part of my brain was missing.”  Hence, I decided I must have lost it, bit by bit, in my writing!  These stories are therefore my “missing brains.”  Clever, huh?

No.  That’s dumb.
I’m sorry you think that.  And when I say I’m sorry, I’m not really sorry at all.  Zing!

Can I please copy one of your stories?
Thank you for asking, but no!  Everything on here is my original work, so I would appreciate it if you didn’t simply take it willy-nilly.  If you want permission, feel free to contact me and we can work something out – I’m happy to share, as long as I am informed!

Do you do guest posts?  Can I do a guest post?
Yes and yes!  I love to write for other sites as well as for my own, and will happily write a guest post for your blog.  I will also happily publish one of your guest posts, as long as it isn’t vulgar, incredibly offensive, disturbingly racist, filled with explicit adult content, or just really poorly written.  If it is poorly written, I will offer you suggestions on how to tweak the post – I’m afraid you are out of luck with the other categories.

Why are all your stories so full of science?  It makes them boring.
I’m sorry to hear that, but I happen to like science!  I actually majored in genetics, so a lot of scientific concepts and futuristic ideas really spark my imagination and fuel my creativity.  I write about what I find interesting, and those out-there science fiction discoveries suggest that there is far more to this universe than what we understand.

I found a mistake in your writing!  You’re flawed!  You’re wrong!  I will never accept your word on anything ever again, and I now look at you as a failed and useless artifact of humanity!
That’s a little harsh, don’t you think?  I will admit, I can at times be a bit of a grammar Nazi.  I prefer proper sentence structure and punctuation, to say the least.  However, I am not an English major (see previous question), and I may occasionally make mistakes.  Point them out and I will fix them.  If you’re nice, maybe I’ll find some way to reward you!

Reward me with money?
Hahahahahaha nope.  As a recent graduate working for a nonprofit, I’m very poor.

Aww, that sounds very sad!  Can I offer you some of my money to make you feel better?
How wonderfully generous of you, good sir or madam, to support a true starving artist!  I actually eat quite well when I don’t burn my food, but I do appreciate any donations.  I’m setting up a donate button, so until that is finished, your visits to my site are reward enough.  Although if you mention my site in glowing terms to your friends, that will also make  me happy!

You smell funny.
Okay, I think this interview is over.

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Time Wanderers

Interesting fact: experts estimate that 1-2% of the population are psychopaths.  That means that when you’re walking around the grocery store, one or two of those other people browsing the produce or eyeing the ice cream are most likely willing to kill you without a second thought if they think they can get away with it.

Most of the time, this presence of amoral individuals in our society doesn’t end up having too big of an impact.  Of course, when a thousand people are given time machines and set loose on the past, those effects tend to be amplified a bit.

Even I don’t remember the specifics of it all.  You see, it’s easy to mess with the past – it turns out that there really isn’t any conservation of time streams, and when a change is made in the past, the future shifts.  The old future isn’t destroyed, but you can’t get back to it any more.  Think of it like adding a new stick onto a fractal tree: all of the old branches are still there, but once you go back below the new branch, you can’t get to them any more.  And with a thousand people hopping around history, the timelines don’t stick around for too long.

Anyway, here’s what I remember.  I know there were originally about a thousand of us.  Maybe less, maybe more.  They ported us all to different times; I know this because I woke up in Victorian England, and another traveler I talked to said he first came to in the Cretaceous, being eyed by a raptor.

The controls are hard-wired into us.  Literally.  See the screen on my arm?  A few of the travelers are convinced that it’s nanobots, working inside our brains and bloodstreams.  One guy insisted that we were “touched by angels”, but he was pretty off his rocker.

When I first figured out that I wasn’t insane quite yet, I spent a few years tooling around with the cavemen.  Pretty relaxing when food and shelter are my only worries.  Of course, we couldn’t bring anything with us when we jumped, so I had to bring down deer and such in old-fashioned ways.  And after a while, I just wanted a woman without more body hair than me.

On that first trip into the future . . . man, I wish I could somehow get back to that future.  It was a utopia; we had moved beyond war, beyond petty little struggles, and damn near close to beyond money.  Everyone was healthy, everyone was educated, and the world was beautiful.

Of course, nothing like that lasts.  In my case, it lasted all the way until I took a quick hop in the past, to go meet Caesar in the flesh.  While I was back, someone went and popped Hitler, and *poof*, there goes that future.  When I tried to get back, I found a radioactive wasteland.  Needless to say I didn’t stick around long.

After that, I just went on a binge, hopping around and doing what I wanted.  Every now and then I would see how the future had shifted, but there was no way to know if it was my doing.  I met a few nice girls, settled down for a few years, and then one morning I’d wake up, take a hop back in time, and they would be gone.  It’s tough to care about anything when everything is transient.

And that brings me around to now.  I’m leaving these writings on some heavy-duty plastic, which the store clerk in the future assured me would last for at least a few million years before becoming illegible.  I’ve figured out which areas are going to rise up into mountains, so I figure these writings should be safe from being swallowed in magma.  As long as no one comes back here to remove them, or tampers too badly with life 300 million years ago, they should be around.

Don’t invent time travel.  Maybe if this works, I’ll cease to exist.

Digging

Dig.  Dig.  Dig. 
The movements of the trowel – touch, push, lever, lift, deposit, return, had long since become repetitive and unthinking.  Every movement sent fresh waves of agony through his aching muscles.  He had learned to ignore the pain. 
He worked as quietly as he could.  There was no way to fully muffle the scrape of the trowel, but he did his best.  He was deep in the hole, surrounded by only dirt.  His shoulders were hunched, his knees locked from holding his crouched position.
He worked in blackness.  No lights illuminated his digging, and he wouldn’t have dared risk calling attention to his activity.  He had learned to make his way by touch in the darkness.
Dig.  Dig.  Dig.
Every few trowel scoops, he had to pause to pack down the dirt.  He couldn’t risk the walls collapsing.  He could be trapped or buried.
He calculated that he had a few more hours of digging before the sun would rise and he would have to pause his efforts.  There was no watch on his wrist, but he had learned to listen well to his internal clock.  Before sunrise, the man would leave the hole, but he would return with the darkness each following night.
Dig.  Dig.
He worked mechanically.  This was not his first day of digging, not the second, not the third, not the tenth.  Each day increased the risk, the chance his nighttime activity might be discovered.  Yet he dug still; he had no other option.
Between scrapes of the trowel, he listened to the silence.  Even a single footfall could spell disaster, discovery, the death of what little hope he had left.  All he had was hope.  His mind was blank but his senses were on high alert.
Dig.  Dig.  Scratch.
He paused.  Lowering the trowel and its load, he probed with questing fingers.  Beyond
the initial layer of dirt, they found open space.  His heart rate quickened.  Widening the hole carefully, he felt sharp pricks on his fingers.  He snapped off a few thin blades, rolling them to mush in his hand.
With this new discovery, he threw caution aside.  With both the trowel and his free hand, he dug at the hole, widening it until he could squeeze his head and shoulders through to the other side.
The man pulled himself through and was finally able to stand straight.  His feet crunched softly as he strode through the dry grass.
The man didn’t spare a glimpse back towards the tall metal fences, the barbed wire and blocky buildings of the prison.  His mind was already far ahead as he considered the hike to the nearest town, hitching a ride back home, and the sight of his child, one last time, before the man vanished deep into the wilderness.

Real Life RPG: Occam’s Razor

Foreword:  Sometimes, when I’m bored, daydreaming, really dreaming, or attempting to procrastinate (like writing this instead of working on my novel), I imagine that life is a role-playing game.  Which, obviously, it is.  However, I imagine it to be something more like Diablo, where it is possible to acquire magic items gifted with special powers.  It sounds silly, but in truth, it is silly.  It also helps me pass the time and keeps me occupied, though, so it can’t be too bad.

Anyway, here’s today’s random brain fart!

Occam’s Razor  also: Ockham’s Razor
-Dagger, one hand
-Appearance: Occam’s Razor resembles a simple straight barber’s razor, with no ornamentation.
History: Occam’s Razor was owned by William of Ockham, a logician during the Renaissance, who used it with great effect to “cut away the arguments of opponents.” While the razor does not possess specific magical powers, it serves as a nullification device, dispelling most magical effects.  Due to these properties, the razor has been ignored by most magicians and sorcerers.  Occam’s Razor was most notably wielded for a time by Abraham Van Helsing, who used it to counter the seducing abilities of succubi.
-On equip: Increased magic resistance +25%.
-On equip: Decreased spell power -75%.
-On equip: Blocks most multi-element spells.  Incoming single element spell damage is reduced by 25%.  [Example: a Frostfire bolt would not damage someone wielding Occam’s Razor.  A frostbolt or a firebolt, however, would still deal 75% damage.]
-On hit: Occam’s Razor neutralizes all magic effects, reducing both beneficial and detrimental spell effects on the target by 10%.  This effect occurs instantly and stacks.
-On use: Occam’s Razor purges one spell effect from the target.

Cover Me

The music was a wall of noise.  Not only were the flashing laser beams blinding my vision, but the sound deafened me, pushing me back against the entrance.

The disorientation only lasted a moment before the cacophony began to conform to order.  The roar slipped into a bass beat, rhythmically vibrating my bones.  A synthesizer screeched in the upper registers, using autotune to fling itself from end to end of the scale.  The gyrating lasers revealed a flux of bodies, moving against each other in the constant, ever-changing hormonal grind of loneliness.

Blinking my eyes to see through the rainbow-pierced darkness, I moved through the crowd towards the bar. My voice was useless here; I waved at a bartender until he saw me, and then pointed to one of the empty beer bottles.  He nodded in mute understanding, holding up four fingers.  I paid without argument.

I turned and leaned against the cool wood of the bar as I surveyed the room.  The deejay in the middle of the club waved one arm wildly above his head, conducting the loudest orchestra in existence.

Fortunately, the edges of the room were not as congested with humanity as the center, and I was able to weave my way around the fringes without too much trouble.  Several girls briefly caught my eye, but they were lost in the sound and darkness before I could do anything more than register their existence.  I waited for the hours to pass, for the crowd to start to thin.

An hour later, the music was still just as deafening, but my ears had learned to block it out, treat it as nothing more than mere background.  My gaze had settled on a pretty young thing catching her breath a few feet from me at the bar.  Downing my beer and upping my courage, I started to move towards her.  As I skirted a kissing couple, a blinking light on the wall caught my attention.  It seemed different from the rest of the club lights.

The blinking light was coming from a red box on the wall.  I squinted at it.  Was that the fire alarm?  My stomach flipped from the realization.  Searching for the exit, I realized that no one else was moving!

“Fire!” I shouted, at the top of my lungs.  No one noticed.  The kissing couple broke apart momentarily to glance in my direction, and then resumed their semi-private session.

The bartender, a muscular youth with a shock of blonde hair, had come to offer a refill.  I grabbed his arm and pointed at the flashing alarm.  After a moment, his uncomprehending look shifted to horror.  He dropped the rag he had been holding and sprinted for the back door behind the bar.

Well, that wasn’t much help, I thought sourly.  I was sure the alarm was blaring, but no one could hear it over the music.  I began pushing in towards the center of the room towards the deejay and his platform.  My shoulder was quickly bruised from forcing my way through narrow gaps between bodies, and I left a trail of angry glances in my wake.  The crowd swallowed me up; my only guide was the sight of the two massive speakers looming behind the deejay’s station.

After an eternity of faces, I reached his workstation.  He turned to face me as I hauled myself up, but his expression was unreadable behind oversized sunglasses.  I didn’t waste time trying to talk – I could barely hear my own thoughts.  I knocked him aside and yanked the cords from his computer.

With an electronic screech, the music cut out abruptly.  The silence lasted but an instant before it was filled with the blaring of the fire alarm.  The lasers, keyed to react to sound, began pulsing in the alarm’s rhythm, adding to the emphasis of the metallic beeps.  Every head had turned towards me as I had removed the cords, and each flash revealed a sea of upturned faces.

I didn’t speak a word.  I pointed towards the exit, and they calmly and quietly filed out.

"Spooky Action at a Distance"

Preword: This is my entry written for the Lascaux Flash short story contest for September – I’m entry #99!  If you want to check out the contest and the other entries, visit http://www.lascauxflash.com/.

He could feel the creaking and shaking of the machine through his fatigues.  The noise was deafening.  He was certain it would shake itself apart at any second.  He was grateful for the darkness of the helmet; it helped him stave off motion sickness and claustrophobia in the bunker.
“Beginning the alignment,” intoned one of the scientists.  Rosen, maybe?  Schrödinger?  He focused on ignoring the sudden mental wrenching.  His thoughts skittered like droplets of oil, and colors burst in the blackness of his vision.
The sensations grew further beyond description as the colors intensified.  His eyelids were transparent.  Closing them was no use. 
He could see through the colors now, interpret them.  The helmet was gone, although he could still feel its pressure on his head.  He saw the one with the wild hair (Einstein?) against the back wall, covering his eyes.  He had spoken against the experiment, insisting that the theory would result in a paradoxical backlash.
The buzz of thoughts filled his mind.  “Quantum packet alignment at ninety percent!” Podolsky shouted.  He watched the words dance in his vision, every color in existence at once.  “We are almost there!”
“Entanglement is falling apart!” cried Schrödinger.  “He is still too unstable!” 
Thoughts were crass, unwieldy.  He was.  He was a taut string, tightening towards the tune of the cosmos.  He could feel the colors merging, cracking, annealing.  They reached for him as the scientists screamed and faded to white.
For one brief instant, he felt the touch of God.
(If this story makes no sense, try reading the “History” section of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_entanglement.)

Aftermath

Ducking out from its shelter, the cockroach crawled up the pile of rubble.  Occasionally, a loose stone gave way beneath one of its six feet, but it never slipped or lost its balance.  The higher oxygen content of the air gave the roach more energy, but it picked its path carefully, staying out of the radiation-dense sunlight.

This was one of the luckier roaches.  The radiation exposure hadn’t left much of a change; most of the genetic damage was confined to junk sequences in its genome, and it hadn’t sprouted extra legs or vestigial gills like some of its fellows.  It had excellent genetic potential, and had already mated twice in its lifetime.

The roach continued to scramble up the pile of pulverized concrete, its feelers twitching as it scoured the air for signs of food.  It had spent the last week feasting on a carcass buried beneath the rubble, preserving it from the drying sun and the radiation-filled air.  Little but bones remained, however, and the roach had correctly decided to move on.

Cockroaches are not complex creatures.  Most of their behaviors are based off of a very simple set of instructions, relying on limited environmental cues.  Roaches can’t recognize unexploded nuclear warheads, much less comprehend their destructive power.  The casing on this warhead, beneath the rubble, hadn’t cracked, and presented no radiation danger to the roach.  But there was no food, and the roach moved on.

Taking flight, the roach buzzed across the sea of concrete towards the bay.  Nothing green grew here any more; what hadn’t been atomized in the initial blast had withered and died from the toxic fallout.  But the sea  was deep, and life still persevered beneath the agitated waves.  Life still persisted everywhere.  The roach was a testament to that.

The roach alighted upon a rotting fish and began to feast.  An occasional wave reached the carcass and rocked it in its sandy grave, but the roach paid no mind to the gentle movements.  It had become the apex predator in this brave new world.  It continued to consume its meal, enjoying the shadow.  The shadow was cast by the green metal hand rising from where it lay half-buried in the sand, still clutching the weathered shape of a burning torch.

"Dream" – Part 3

If you’re just jumping in to this old short story that I wrote, you will probably want to start from the beginning.  Reading this part, and then the preceding parts, may give you a wonderfully unique experience, somewhat like the first viewing of the movie “Memento”.  However, many people do not enjoy reading books backwards.

Part 1 can be found here.  Part 2 can be found here.

            A week later we got a new manager at our firm.  Her name was something Agrona.  I don’t remember the first name.  It wasn’t important.  She was very well credited, supposed to be a great asset, I supposed.  It didn’t matter.  I recognized her.  I had seen her a week ago in the alley.  Her hair was dyed, but it was the same woman. 
            I hadn’t told anyone about what had happened.  I had gone back to the alley.  There hadn’t been any pile.  There had been a red splotch on the ground, just another stain among countless others.  There was nothing else.
            Her shirt was low enough to tell that there was no scar where there should have been one.  Her eyes were a light blue color.  They were dull.
            I guess I must have been going crazy, even then.  If I am crazy at all.  I don’t think that I’m crazy, but that’s just my perspective.  If I knew that I was crazy, we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all, would we?
            I tried not to talk to her.  Whenever I saw her, I felt like those dull eyes were reading me, as if they knew what I had seen.  I tried to stay away, keeping to my work.  I met a woman whose son had been raped.  I told her she might be able to get a six figure settlement.
           
            It went on for two months before I couldn’t take it anymore.  You know about what happened already from here on.  It’s all in the police reports.  Or at least most of it is.  It talks about how I cornered her in an office after hours, about how I had a gun and threatened her.
            She told me stuff, although none of it helped anything.  Most didn’t even make sense.  It was all this fancy talk about replacement, and sustenance, and replenishment, and energy funnels, and decay.  The one word that stuck with me from it all was entropy.  I don’t know what she was using it to talk about, but it’s the one that most stands out.
            The police came before I could do anything but listen.  I don’t know how they found out; we were alone, it was after hours, and there wasn’t any alarm that went off.  I think I know how, though.  They all had the same flat eyes.  They were all dull.
            As they were trying to pull me down, I shot her.  I remember shooting her.  I hit her twice, once in the chest and once on the side of the forehead.  There were only trickles of blood that came out, as if the rest was already gone.  No one seemed to notice that she had been shot.  She didn’t have any wounds when she testified.
            You don’t believe me, do you?  It makes sense, though.  I’m still not sure whether I believe myself.  It doesn’t even seem real, somehow.  There are these . . . others . . . walking among us?  It sounds like something out of a science fiction paperback.
            It would almost be easiest to think that I really was going crazy, and that I made it all up.  I’ve been let out on a few visits, these last few months.  Every time I go out, I see more and more people with dull eyes.  Maybe it’s not anything.
            Even you, Doctor.  Even you’ve got dull eyes.

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"Dream" – Part 2

Part 1 of this old story (written back when I was about to start college – man, that was a long time ago!) was published on Monday.  You can find it here.

            It was the third time that I spotted him that really did me in.  Bad things always come in threes, don’t they?  Isn’t that what they say?  Although nothing terrible happened the first two times I saw him.  I guess maybe I just couldn’t have my run of good luck keep up forever.  I’d been winning enough cases to stay afloat, so I perhaps wasn’t thinking as cynically as I should have been.
            I was stepping out past the pungent odor of tobacco for a stroll before lunch when I glanced over and noticed him, ducking into the alley where the sun never seems to penetrate.  Some vague recollection must have stirred in my memory, because I played the damn fool in deciding to follow him.  He had a backpack on; it was gray as well, although the bottom seemed to be stained darker.
            It wasn’t noticeable, but he was moving pretty fast, scuttling along a little.  He still seemed rather confident, though, as if he belonged where he was, not as if he was doing anything wrong.  I kept well back, which was probably the only sensible thing that I did do that day.
            I tailed him through a couple twists and turns of the alley, ’till we came to the far fence.  A woman was standing up against it, leaning nonchalantly.  She must have been waiting for him, since she straightened up when he came.  The man’s backpack was dropped loosely against one wall of the alley, out of the way.
            It was here that I got the first real look at both of them.  I thought “hooker” as soon as I laid eyes on the woman, but then realized heartbeats later that, although she was wearing somewhat skimpy clothes, she was fairly well off, likely in business.  I could tell that much from her posture, upright and crisp.  The skirt might have ended well above her thighs, but the gray suit seemed to almost be flickering in on the edges of my vision, as if my mind knew that it was what she belonged in.  A faint stream of light from above glinted off the diamond on her ring.  Restrained, but expensive nonetheless.  She didn’t look half bad, probably a good five or six years younger than myself, judging by the way she filled out her disguise.
            And the man?  Again, I didn’t even seem to notice.  He was, well, background.  He had on gray jeans.  They were splattered with something dark, maybe paint.  He had a gray shirt on that was a little long, coming down to his crotch.  Something bulged in the back of his pants.  He had dark gray hair.  I don’t remember anything about his face.  His eyes were shaded by his hair; I couldn’t even see their outlines.
            They were talking, but I couldn’t hear.  I probably could have crept closer at the start without being noticed, but it took a while before I had the nerve.  The woman was facing me, but she seemed not to be able to take her attention off of the man in front of her for a second.  She seemed to be ill at ease.  The man was just as confident as he had been walking into the alley.  His smooth bass overrode the woman’s rising and falling alto.
            As they talked, the woman became more and more agitated.  I thought that I could see a glint of worry in her eyes, and I slowly emerged from behind my corner and slunk closer.  I was worried that the man would hear and turn, but he didn’t seem to notice.
            Once I was closer, I was able to more adequately judge the look in the woman’s eyes.  It wasn’t worry, I realized; it was fear, pure and simple.  She was starting to edge back away from the man, heedless of the rough boards of the fence stopping her retreat.  “No, no,” she was protesting over and over.  “No, you promised!”  I heard her voice rise uncontrollably on the last word.
            The man said something in return.  ” . . . should have known what was coming,” were the last few words.  I couldn’t catch the rest.  He stepped forward smoothly towards the woman.  One of his hands snaked around to pull the bulge from the back of his pants.  It was a knife, I saw.  It was the same dull gray as the rest of him.
            The woman tried to shriek.  The man covered her mouth easily with one hand as he slid the knife upward in a smooth motion.  Amid the screams I was trying to stifle, an absurd thought noted how neatly he had done it.  Almost as if he did this sort of thing all the time.
            I must have been backing away at this time.  I don’t remember too clearly.  He had lowered the woman to the ground, and was, well, emptying her.  I can’t think of a better word for it.  He was removing everything inside her, depositing it all in a careless pile. 
            I was backing away, yes, but I couldn’t wrench my eyes away.  I watched as he held up what was left after he was finished.  It was limp and boneless, like a strangely shaped sheet of rubber.  The last thing that I saw was him unzipping the backpack with one hand, holding it in the other. 
            At this point, my gag reflex took over and I fled out of the alley.  I threw up at the entrance, not even receiving a glance from the passerby.  They didn’t care, of course.  They hadn’t seen.
            The man left the alley a minute later, carrying the backpack over his shoulder.  I could see his entire front covered in liquid darkness, the same as was dripping from his backpack.  Didn’t anyone notice? I was silently shrieking out.  Didn’t anyone realize what he had done?
            He glanced at me as he walked past.  I saw his eyes then.  They were blank.  I don’t mean that they looked any different than yours or mine, this part is always hard to explain.  Everyone’s eyes glint, it’s just the light reflecting off of them.  His didn’t reflect any light.  They weren’t any unusual shape, or color, or anything.  They were just dull.  They made him look lifeless.

Stay tuned for the conclusion, coming Friday!

"Dream" – Part 1

So I figure I’ll start this blog by putting up an old story that I wrote.  This one is about 5 years old.  Maybe this will show a wonderful growth in writing ability when compared to more recent stories!

Or maybe it will show that my writing skills have dropped precipitously.

            Hello, Doctor.  Should I just sit down and start, like the other times?  I don’t know why you have to hear this again, I know that you’ve got it all on file already.  Don’t worry, I don’t mind saying it again.  I keep hoping that this time I’ll catch something I missed before, something to reassure me that it’s not all just my delusions.  Anyway, it all started with a man.
            I didn’t notice the man until he was almost out of sight, turning around the corner into the dirty alley.  Past the group of daily smokers getting their nicotine fix, past the homeless bum, his grimy fingers outstretched pleadingly for change.  All I caught was a flash of gray, plain clothes that vanished against the graffiti and murky shadows marring the cement walls of the alley.
            I gave him no second thought, of course; that was the only time I laid eyes on him in that day.  As I think back now, I realize that I never even caught a glimpse of his face.  He was simply another back of a head, no different from the dozens of clients that I see each day.  Even with them, I have a name, a face to connect to, even if after a while all their tears seem to swim together.
            I didn’t see him again until the next week.  I was leaving the office, grateful to be outside even in the smog of the city after having to deal with sobbing parents and growling middle-aged men, an endless list of average joes lining up to present their pitiful problems to me in hopes of getting money or revenge.
            He was wearing the same gray clothes, had the same black-gray hair, and was ducking into the same alley.  Once again, I spared no conscious thought on him, but I did glance into the alley as I walked past.  There was no one in sight. 
            I think I might have wondered about it for a second or so to myself, now that I look back on it.  I mean, where could he have gone?  At the time, I just assumed that he had gone around a corner, or into a door, or maybe even hopped the tall fence in back.  I didn’t care; the only thing on my mind was getting home to my bed and the still only half-empty bottle perched on the top shelf of my refrigerator.

Part 2 to come soon!