Chapter 28 of The Empty City

By Andrew Looney

Torrence approached the Saturn Cafe.

He had been there before, but always in the company of The Four. Now, as he stood at the door, waiting for the familiar click, he began to wonder if in the past he'd been let in simply because of who he had been with.

A full minute passed, and the door to the Cafe did not become unlocked.

Torrence realized that without The Four here to vouch for him, he was not going to be let in. As he strolled away he tried to comfort himself by thinking, "Maybe they're just not open."

When he was about twenty feet away, he heard the sound of the door opening. Turning around, he saw Maria slipping quickly outside. The door snapped shut, and she began walking briskly down the street, towards Torrence and the subway.

When she got closer, she realized that it was Torrence, the guy who sometimes showed up at the Cafe with The Four. She'd often felt sorry for him, as he sat there on the sidelines, almost participating in The Four's activities, but not quite.

As Maria recognized Torrence, so too did he recognize her. She was that gorgeous waitress who usually waited on him and The Four at the Cafe.

Almost at the same time, Torrence and Maria both said, "Have you seen The Four?" Then they both laughed.

Torrence said, "I kind of thought they were at the Cafe."

Maria said, "They were, but they left a few minutes ago."

"Any idea where they were headed?"

"They were looking for the Android Sisters."

Torrence frowned. He had a hard enough time getting The Four to let him hang out with them. The Android Sisters were even worse; they really gave him the proverbial cold shoulder. "Great," said Torrence.

"Yeah." Maria wondered to herself, "Why do they chase those girls around?"

A cat scampered across a darkened alleyway near them. Through a large steel steam grate in the sidewalk, they could hear the sound of the subway rumbling underneath them.

Torrence said, "You wanna go get some coffee or something?"

Copyright © 1991 by Andrew Looney.

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