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The Duchess

Henry heads across town. He knows she'll probably be at a place called the Duchess. She walks in fifteen minutes after him; a little past eleven.

Stops at the bar long enough to order whatever is cheapest. He misses her days of being secure and always ordering a Jack. Oddly. He hates that she's drinking beer.

He watches her go outside, and ask someone what the score is. She sits at a table by herself, and he can see from the angle of her eyes she's not watching the TV, but the fireplace below it.

She lights a cigarette. Figured, he thinks, as she's no longer inside chatting, but delegated to the patio like a piarah. No more chatter, no more fun, Henry thinks as he sits inside that's now quieter than a library.

Mostly she now drinks on a park bench with her earbuds at full blast. She won't forgive; nor ever forget how much the bar once meant to the neighborhood.

She orders a second beer, and leaves it full on the bar as she walks out in disgust. She stops at the grocery store and buys a bottle of rum, a bag of ice,and a two liter of soda.

He follows her to the water; where she sits and lost in thought, pours another drink. He knows she'll disappear in an hour or two. Looking for a lost world.

He doesn't know why he cares; for him a drink is doing business, but for her a way of life. To watch someone so social once, being all alone now is his justification for watching.

He sees eyes in the dark across the water; watching also. He nods his head in a greeting to a stranger that in now an acquaintance.

She at least says hello to him. Her only social skills left; then walks away when she can be bothered to walk in his direction; which is less and less.

He watches her finish the bottle of rum, and throw it into the water. She follows the path to the stairs; looks up and keeps going to the other side of the bridge; the easier path.


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