The workday, truncated as it was, would be followed, soon enough, by yet another. The man fumbled with his keys as he stood outside his flat in the dim yellow light of the hall. Fatigue hampered the man’s fingers and threading the key into the lock required three attempts before the man met with success. Home smelled of two parts lemon drop, one part cinnamon, and a dash of pine scented floor cleaner. Breathing in the chilled air of the empty flat, the man dropped his keys on the marble-topped table in the foyer. The only other item on the table, a porcelain doll, lay face up with its eyes closed. He righted the doll to sitting and as he moved it the eyes clicked open. The man smiled.
It’s been this way since 9/11. Too close to D.C., I guess; and, now, just as business is picking up again, the Beltway Sniper strikes. So, it’s mostly just the diehard Harlequin romance readers who come in these days. And the mallrats—when they run out of change for the arcade next door.
This is it, then, the festivities, the high color, the bewildered spark of crowds. It's not what I've expected, but it'll do. I'm lucky to be here, I was invited, I didn't have to beg. That's one thing I'll never do, I'll never beg.
The black hash was a lot stronger than the blonde stuff I was used to. One little chunk in my pipe and I was flat on my back in the woods by Van Allen's field, pine needles prickling through my t-shirt.