The growing wail of the siren pulled Roger away from the mystery woman, his thoughts invaded by the cacophonous swirling of sound waves. His head began pounding once again. “Why, oh why, do I drink so much,” he chided, and then abruptly sobered, “Oh yeah.” Events of the day before or was it Wednesday? cascaded through his mind like a bad Neiman painting: her and her chiseled boyfriend (owner of one of those god-awful singles aerobics bars) lugging out furniture; her telling him that their split was investable when she meant to say inevitable; and the hunk telling her, “Not that print it was so garish”; her saying Malcom or Jumanji or whatever the fuck his name was thought it was a good move, like he’s really sensitive you know; and the pompous prick trying to be real chummy, offering him a cut rate to join his yuppie spa, and Roger just standing there on the sidewalk shaking like the catch of the day, trying to provoke the beast into a fight and the dude just being real calm, giving him worldly advice, knowing that he already had his woman and knowing that Roger would probably break his fist on his chin anyway, like the bad cat in a Mighty Mouse cartoon don’t it make your blue eyes brown.

The continuous howl progressed until it appeared to revolve right below his window. “Sirens! Sirens! I can’t write, I can’t think, all I can do is drink, drink, drink!” his voice echoed in the stillness of the room, then died suddenly in his throat. The Kiss by Klimpt, the sole work of art still left hanging on the empty wall; the print he spent three weeks hunting down for Terrasea, so that he may give it to her to mark their fifth anniversary. Even then, he could not be sure if she had been sleeping around the bitch and to what extent she was already planning her escape from him and his problems.

The wail went from his heart to his head and echoed the sense of loss he was feeling. She was truly gone; her heart had been given to another and Roger was savvy enough to know that once a woman gives herself to someone, they give it with the full force of nature. He felt somewhat stupid also, hadn’t read the easy signs much less the subtle hints, so engrossed was he in his apocalyptic scenarios and his preponderance to dwell on things he could do nothing about or change in any way.

Shit! Roger raised himself on one elbow and gradually focused; his cowlick unruly this early, as a sliver of morning sun blared through the blinds. And in that shaft of light he could see the absence of a life. Christ! She took everything. The walls in the bedroom looked worse than bare, for you could make out the outline of dust where the painting had hung, lighter shades on the carpet where the dresser had once stood; over to the right, her vanity table gone. His clothes were tossed in a heap, hey that was mine! where his bureau had rested.

Roger rose from bed and went over to the window. Pulling the blinds up, he readied himself for the onslaught of sunshine that would inevitably wake him fully. Below he could make out an ambulance that was just pulling out of the alley and several officers, as they unwound yellow tape to mark off the crime scene. Damn! I wonder if I’m missing a story. He reminisced the euphoria of his first breakout story, the accolades, the notoriety, and the awards. At the time he was the hero of the hour, the golden boy, who single handedly stopped a major terrorist attack on the west coast, God, was it only four years ago toasted by politicians, feted on all the talk shows. The story caused a spike in newspaper sales across America. Like the phoenix I will rebuild my destroyed life from the ashes. The world moved fast and furious, and four years later he lived in an apartment he couldn’t afford at a time he couldn’t afford to be him.










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Section 4
Section 2