"This table is closed. You'll have to take your chips and try your luck at another."

"When does this table open again?"

"Hard to say. Try your luck at another table. You've never won at this one, anyways."

"That depends on how you keep score."

There was too much snow on the ground and everyone was graduating in the spring. Two college boys had brought them the liquor and entertainment they needed to warm this winter night. They were watching the last of their high school days fade away and they wouldn't realize until later how far away this day could become. There were some of their number that were not present. The two who would later disappear were giving a sneak preview of the future by not honoring the night with their presence. It was hard to define.

"Do you love her?"


"You know who."

"I suppose."

"Could you love me?"

"You mean tonight?"

Vengeance and the healing of wounds takes on many different forms. We strike at each other with whatever means we have at our disposal. She pushed him away because it was too much for her to deal with. He struck back without realizing why. She was the leader of this ragged band of young high school girls and they thought of him as her boyfriend even though he was anything but. To win his affections and feel his lips on theirs was something of a trophy. For him it was a way to strike back at the night. If she wouldn't have him then he would give himself to those she knew. He hunted within the pack and it was her pack. With them it was temporary. With her it was eternal and so the wounds needed to be more than just superficial.

"If you fucked me, would you fuck me fast or slow?"

"I suppose that would depend on my mood. I'd probably start slow."

"And with her?"

"Why does everyone always ask me about her?"

A dozen ladies in waiting and one queen. They were only drawn to him because of his almost mystical association with her. It wasn't as if he was special for any other reason. They knew something he failed to understand. He thought he didn't matter to her and yet here were her friends throwing themselves at him. She split with him because she was too young to understand and deal with the emotions that were rising in her. The ghost of the girl would stay with the woman. She would always run. It was how she handled everything. It was a habit the woman learned from the girl. It made her angry. The mood came and went until it became too much. Denial was easier. It was easier to be haunted by the ghosts of so many years gone by.

A race is on
I'm on your side
And here in you my engines die
I'm in a mood for you
Or running away
Stars come down in you
And love
You can't give it away

There was a certain consolation in the emotional impotence that came about as a result. It is easier to dismiss those things that are second best. We wait for things to fade, to lose their shimmer, and to lose their beauty. When the beauty does not atrophy, we behead the memory. When the head grows back we try to ignore it. We look for other riddles and other amusements. We bandage the wounds because we cannot find anyone to draw the sword from the stone that is our heart.

"No one knows where she is."

"No one at all?"

"I'm sorry. I wish I knew. She was my friend."

"Help me find her."

"You know as well as I do that she doesn't want to be found."

"I'm never sure about that."

Time and space wove many roadways and passages into his life. He had gone many places, seen many things, loved many people and dreamed many dreams. There was no longer any snow, except in photographs and memories, and even there it seemed unreal. He could still see her riding horseback across the frozen plain, through the forest and away from the world. He watched her disappear and tried to follow, but he became lost in the forest and took other paths.

"I want you to find Lauren for me."


"Because I need to know you can find people who disappear."

She tested him as if preparing him for a coming apocalypse, and then she was gone. She disappeared after having him prove he could find women who didn't want to be found. It was a riddle. The tracks she left in the snow were well covered and the blind leads were too numerous to count. The sword turned in his side and sliced deeper into hers. There was a siren song in the distance. Neither of them sang the song, but they knew its source. It was the ghost of what had never been and it was growing stronger with time.

Inside you the time moves
And she don't fade
The ghost in you
She don't fade

Lyrical sampling from lyrics by Richard Butler and Tim Butler
Copyright 1984 SBK Songs, Ltd.
Listen to the song for the full experience.
As recorded by The Psychedelic Furs
Sample used within standards of Fair Use.

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