Chapter 11 of The Empty City

By Andrew Looney

At 9:57, The Four opened the curtains and emerged from their booth. Torrence, who was in the kitchen drying dishes, spotted them. He stopped what he was doing and went towards the front doors, arriving there just as The Four stepped through them and into the outside world.

"Hey guys," said Torrence, following them out, "I get off at one. Where are you going to be?"

"Hard to say," said Peter.

"We could be almost anywhere by then," said Bert.

"Our plans for the evening are still kind of up in the air," said Dave.

Torrence looked at his shoes. He wondered why The Four always gave him this sort of brush off. He wished he could find some way of being accepted by them. He liked hanging around with them, but they always acted like it was some sort of intrusion. He knew they liked him; he had seen how they treated people they truly did not like. For a while there had been this one guy staying at the Asylum, and The Four thought he was a real jerk. Whenever he was around, they ignored him completely, they looked right through him, spoke of him in the third person, and always acted as if he were not in the room at all.

"But they never act like that around me," thought Torrence, "so they must like me, at least a little bit."

Torrence wished that The Four weren't always so aloof. It seemed to him that they almost went out of their way to be distant.

Torrence said, "Well, maybe I'll run into you guys later."

The Four moved off toward the subway.

Paul lingered behind momentarily, and whispered to Torrence, "We'll probably be at the Cafe later on." Then he walked quickly off to join the others.

Torrence grinned happily as he went back in to work.

Copyright © 1991 by Andrew Looney.

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