Friday, June 29, 2012


Aggie sat on a curb and took more notes about their experiences on her smartphone. As Brady continued taking pictures, he said, "Wonder where the jail is, or prison or whatever. Would be awesome if we could interview those guys that helped us yesterday."

She stopped typing, but her back was to Brady, so he couldn't see. She looked toward the plaza in the center of downtown and wondered if they actually could try to see him. "Brady, that's a really good idea. Come on." She stood and brushed the dust from her capris.

"Where to?"

"Back to the police station."

"Oh, good idea. We had a blast the first time." He followed her back up the street. "Hey, ya know, I was really just thinking out loud back there." He had to jog to catch up. "It wasn't that great an idea."

Thursday, June 28, 2012


They headed downtown on foot, Brady snapping photos as they went. His arm gave him less pain that it had the previous day, thanks to the medicine he'd been given. They again reached the block where the fighting had erupted.

"Do you feel a little skittish?" he asked. "I keep expecting to hear gunshots again."

"Yeah, I feel that, a little," Aggie said. "It's good for me, though. I want to remember that feeling as I write my story."

"Man, that was so scary. I just want to forget it."

They reached the alley, and Aggie's thoughts drifted again to her young hero, brandishing his weapon and showing her to safety.

"I bet you've written half the story already, haven't ya?"

"Hmm? Oh, yeah. I've got a few pages already." She ran her fingers across some bullet holes in the wall and thought of his hurt leg. She prayed he wasn't being treated cruelly by the police.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Aggie sat in the dining room of the hotel in Santa Tecla, eating scrambled eggs and waiting for her photographer. Brady arrived wearing the large farmer's hat he'd bought two days earlier. It was similar to a sombrero and looked very silly with his polo shirt, cargo shorts and boyish face. Still, Aggie couldn't deny the handsomeness of his smile as he grinned at her.

"Mornin'!" he proclaimed loudly enough for other diners to take notice.

"Hey. Sit down, you goof. How are you planning on getting that home?"

"I'm not. I'll find a needy person to give it to before we leave. In the meantime, it'll make some great pics for Facebook."

"You want me to take your picture?"

He took his cell phone from his shorts pocket and aimed the camera lens at his face. "I got this."

She hid her smile in her coffee.

He took another shot from a different angle. "And with this sling, it'll look like we really had an adventure!"

"Oh, it's safe to say we've had one already."

"True dat."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Emily gently woke Andy with a hand on his shoulder when they arrived at his house on the Upper East Side at a quarter past two. "Andy, you're home."

"Mm. Uh? Oh. Oh, thanks, guys." He opened the car door and stumbled out. As Emily followed Andy out, he turned to her with a smile and said, "Oh man, my wife's gonna kill me." She wasn't sure to what degree he was joking. She and Paul supported him on either side, and they made their way up the walk to the door as the taxi waited.

The door opened before they reached it. Mrs. Haines, a thin woman with dark hair, had been waiting, possibly crying. "Where were you?" Her voice was angry, but her trembling suggested relief from panic. "I called and called..." She broke down and began to weep.

"Honey, I'm..."

"Thank you," she said to Paul and Emily, regaining her composure. "Goodnight." She closed the door.

The younger couple stood on the doorstep and looked at each other. They embraced. "Don't ever make me feel that way, Paul Henley. That was too sad." He kissed her eyelids in response.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Andy dozed off soon after giving the cab driver his address. The sight amused Paul, seated on the other side of Emily, who sat between them. "Wonder what kind of weekend he's gonna have."

"His wife must be so worried."

"You said you've never seen him like this before?"

"Dude, not even close. He's like a big teddy bear. He was a totally different person tonight."

"Should we see him to the door?"

She looked at Andy, now completely passed out, mouth open. "We might have to."

Friday, June 22, 2012


A half hour later, Brian decided to call it a night. He and Emily each offered to see Heather home, but as she lived a few blocks away in Hell's Kitchen and had grown up there, she insisted on going alone. Emily was glad for the opportunity to see Andy home instead, since he seemed incapable of getting anywhere unassisted. A part of her hoped he would remember enough to be appreciative when he saw her at the office. She and Paul led him toward the door.

"Alright Andy, let's get a cab. Our treat."

He was floating at this point. "Oh, alright."

Heather met them at the door. "Hey, it was great to meet you guys." She gave Emily a quick hug. "You got my number. Use it."

Emily smiled. "I promise. This was a blast."

They loaded Andy in the cab, unsure of what was awaiting him at the end of his trip home.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Emily interrupted. "Hey, I just got a text from Andythe other Andy," she said, touching the drunken Andy's arm. "They took Jason home and are going home themselves."

"Aw, I knew it," said Brian, taking another shot with his cue. He was giving Paul a beating. "Well, maybe he'll be awake enough to bring me a doughnut in the morning."

"You still got a lot to do?" Paul asked.

"Yeah, a ton. Still have pages and pages of ads to organize, articles and images to sort through." He finally missed a shot.

"Do you ever worry that you won't have enough to put in an issue?" Paul aimed carefully.

"Heh, naw, it's more worrying about who you're gonna cheese off if you can't fit their stuff in."

Paul sank two balls with one shot. "Pssht, that was lucky," Brian said.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Heather joined Brian and Paul at the pool table, and Brian took the opportunity to ask her about something that had been nagging him.

"Hey, did Jason say why he left? That was weird."

"He said he had to check on a friend. I was hoping he'd come back eventually."

"Hmm." He leaned over to take a shot. "Ya know, I consider Jason a friend, but he's kind of a nutbag, and now that you're my friend too, I..." He paused to find the right wording as he adjusted his glasses and aimed carefully.

"You think he ditched me?" She was chalking a cue for no reason in particular.

He made a successful shot and looked her in the eye. "If he did, it's probably because he has a girlfriend."

She looked at him and raised her eyebrows. "Oh." She leaned back against the table and ran her fingers through her short, dark hair and then shrugged. "Well, if I met him just so I could meet you guys, then whatever." She took a swig from her beer bottle. "Ain't no thang." 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


"Oh, that sounds miserable." Emily was reminded of the many times she'd heard people encourage divorce in such situations, but she rejected such advice. She had grown up in a loving family, unlike so many of her friends, and she still believed in marriage. She wasn't sure what could help Andy and Diane love each other better, but she was sure something could.

"Oh, I know it's so cliché," Andy said with a drunken drawl, "the burnt-out forty-something with problems at home."

She just wanted to say something positive. "Well, I never thought of you as 'burnt-out.'"

"Mm, thanks."

There was a pause while she thought of something else to say. "So, what happens when you do go home? Will you be in trouble?"

He laughed. "Probably! That'll be fun with the hangover I'm gonna have."

Monday, June 18, 2012


Andy had been with the magazine since its inception and was one of the older staff members. Emily was used to thinking of him as an authority figure, but now she felt a need to support him as a counselor. She wasn't sure she was up to the task.

"Oh, what's goin' on, Andy?"

He attempted to shrug it off as unimportant, but she could detect pain in his face. "Oh, just some domestic trouble with Diane; it's no big deal. It's just, when I dropped by Little Nemo's to tell you all about Aggie and Brady and have a drink, it felt good. I haven't felt that good after work for a while. The kids mostly keep to themselves these days. Diane makes dinner, and we don't have much to say to each other until a fight breaks out, and then we go to bed. Usually mad at each other."

Friday, June 15, 2012


By 1 a.m. the elder Andy was practically unrecognizable as the tender, helpful gentleman they knew at the office. He'd ingested enough alcohol that Emily was sure he'd remember nothing of the night's events from that point on. He had become an awful flirt with Heather since Jason left, but she seemed to find it charming and at times hilarious. Emily took an opportunity for an interview when she lost a game of pool to her boyfriend and was replaced by Brian. Heather had excused herself to the ladies' room.

"Hey Andy, how ya feelin'?"

His eyes were on a pair of females across the room, and he was grinning like a coyote. "Good, good."

"So hey, why didn't you go home earlier? Is your family out of town for the weekend?"

"What? Oh, no, they're home." Suddenly he seemed to understand the point of her question, and he looked her in the eye, then at his drink. "I, uh, just didn't wanna go home."

Thursday, June 14, 2012


A cold breeze hit Michelle in the face as she and Andy left Jason's Brownstone apartment. "Oh, I'm freezin'! And we didn't even accomplish what we came here for."

"At least he had someone with him to help him get home. That was lucky."

"Um, yeah, good thing he ditched Sherry and hung out with us so he'd have company as he puked on the train. What?"

He put his arm around her as they braved the cold wind together and marched back to the subway station. "Girl, you must be miserable. Let's get you back to Brooklyn and get you warm!" He took off in a jog, dragging her along behind. Despite the cold and her cramps, she couldn't avoid grinning.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Jason, Andy and Michelle rode the subway to the Upper West Side, having said goodnight to their office mates. Michelle still wasn't feeling well and knew she should be in bed.

"Why don't you just call her, Jason?"

"I left my phone at the office."

"And you never went back for it?"

"I left it on purpose."

Andy chimed in. "She might not answer anyway, after bein' stood up at a Valentine's party. We gotta do this in person. Jason, what's wrong, man?"

Jason looked as though he might vomit, and then he did, next to the wall of the train. "Ho!" said Andy. "Man, you are not ok. A'ight, new plan. The two of you are both goin' home to get some rest. You have some bad Belarussian steak a couple weeks ago?"

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


As Aggie lay on her hotel bed two thousand miles away, images of her brave San Salvadorian savior played continually in her mind. Why had he done it? Did he save Brady and herself because he thought she was pretty or because they might give him a reward? Or was there a sense of honor among the drug gangs that most Americans knew nothing about?

And what was happening to him now? Was he lying in a hospital bed or a jail cot? How long would he be a prisoner for his crimes? Was there any possibility of finding him, of ever seeing him again? Of even learning his name?

Society had taught her to hate drug dealers and gangsters, but she couldn't stop picturing his strong arms holding her as she drifted to sleep.

Monday, June 11, 2012


Andy's words began to sting, so Jason fought back. "Man, you don't even know Sherry. You don't know what's goin' on. Just stay out of it." He walked out of the restroom, and Andy followed.

"Hey, man." Jason stopped on the stairway, not sure what to expect. "Everybody at work cares about you," Andy said, standing at the bottom of the stairs. "I don't even know why. I'm not even sure you're worth it. We just do."

Jason searched for a response. Finally, "So what do I do?" He shrugged and looked at Andy.

Andy shrugged back. "Wanna go find your girl? I'll go with you. We'll bring Michelle."

Thursday, June 7, 2012


"Yes, I was gonna go to the party, but I decided to skip it." Jason felt flattered that Andy was taking an interest in his affairs.

"And you left your girl there by herself while you hung out with this other chick?" Andy was looking him in the eye now.

"Well, I was mad at Sherry. We got into it this morning."

"Oh, well you showed her, didn't you. Are you proud of yourself?"

Jason wasn't feeling good about this encounter anymore. "Man, whatever. I think Sherry and I were through anyway."

"Well this was an honorable way to let her know."


Finally, in the basement restroom of a bar two hours after leaving Nemo's, Black Andy found a chance to confront Jason about their new friend.

"So," he said as he washed his hands, "what happened to Sherry?"

"What do you mean?"

"Come on, man, you know exactly what I mean. Why is this Heather chick with you and not Sherry?"

"I met Heather in Times Square this afternoon. We got to talking, and I invited her to Nemo's. No big deal."

"No big deal, huh. Weren't you goin' to a Valentine's party tonight?"

"Well, I..."

"Were you or were you not going to a Valentine's party tonight."

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


The group managed to distract themselves enough to put Jason's actions on the backburner, with help from Michelle's eventual arrival and original Andy's drunken antics. None of them had seen Andy like this, and most of them felt concerned, some for his present and future health, others for his home life. And all hoped their concerns were unfounded and that this was a one time occurrence.

They also managed to make Heather feel welcome despite the awkward circumstances. She was a cheery girl and a bit cheeky, though not in an insulting way. The group found they enjoyed her company, especially Michelle who was under the weather and had sat next to Heather, a born caretaker. By the time they all left for a noisy club in midtown, Andy in tow, some of them almost hoped Heather would remain their friend, even if it meant Jason ended his relationship with Sherry.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


"Um, that's..." Emily looked again to be sure. "That's not Jason's girlfriend." He had brought her to the office at least three times that Emily knew of, including an office party where she had stayed the better part of an hour. This girl was attractive and very thin like Sherry but had little else in common with her. He brought the girl to their table and said hello.

Black Andy spoke up lightheartedly without making eye contact with either of them. "Jason, who's your friend?"

"Guys, this is Heather." They hoped for more information, but he volunteered none, so they all muttered a "Hi, Heather," and tried to move on as though their coworker and friend wasn't making an awful decision right in front of them.

Monday, June 4, 2012


"Speaking of Jason, anybody know where he is tonight?" asked Brian.

"Some Valentine's party," said Black Andy, helping himself to the appetizers. "You see his suit today?"

"Right? What was that, burgundy?" Emily actually thought Jason looked handsome in the suit, but she'd never admit it.

The waitress had just brought their orders when Jason appeared, suit and all, though not as buttoned up as it had been in the office. His tie was loose and his cufflinks had been removed. But what really caught their attention was the young lady who accompanied him.

Friday, June 1, 2012


Emily decided they may have to include Andy in their night out, which might not be so bad. She loved an opportunity for a good story later. "Well, if Michelle ever shows up, we can figure out what to do next."

Black Andy had just seated himself, but now he stood again and reached for the phone in his pocket. "She's not here yet?"

"No. You haven't heard from her? She and Jason both left the office early, about the same time." She immediately wished she hadn't said that.

He had Michelle on the line now. "Hey. Where you at? Don't feel good? Come to Nemo's; we'll help ya feel better."

The other Andy had just ordered a third drink and was beginning to look flushed when he offered, "Maybe she's with Jason, huh?" Emily shot him a punishing look, while Paul hid his face so his amusement wouldn't show.