It was evening as I passed through the gradual city limits heading for downtown. I placed a call to Steve and got a pair of intersecting streets along with the pub name and vague directions. It was easier than I thought, most of my time was spent hunting for parking that would be reasonably legitimate. I moved anything important to low visibility spots in the car and locked the doors, walking away as a couple shady people lurched my way and eyed me over while asking incomprehensible questions. This was downtown Vancouver, for sure. I wound my way to the back of the bar looking for faces that I knew would not have changed, just grown a little more tired maybe.

Someone walked up and stared at me, I nodded at him and went back to talking with Steve. The guy sat down on the stool across from me at the table and kept staring, so I introduced myself. He already knew who I was. Shit. It was Ben. But without glasses, looking more tan and handsome than I thought his character could hold. I was embarassed and apologized to him, he seemed slower, more dull than I recalled. I noticed this over the next couple days I saw him, as if something vibrant had been extinguished, he had changed only a shadow now of the shy delicate boy. Bolder but broken in ways that I will not know.

As the pub closed we were slowly herded by patient bouncers forwards, in a sort of dancing from table to table placation yielding several feet before sitting down each time. Off to a small club with a cover, without cash I had to go back to get some and Matt came with me. We had never met before and got along easily. Slipped through the streets in a long circuit putting up big drippy tags in just the right spots, careless with the anonyminity of a big city shielding us. Wandered a good deal before bolting down to purpose and getting the money from the car. I did not have the right currency yet, only in the country for an hour and trying to pay the cover. She pulled out a pen and paper and wrote some numbers on it like she was calculating the exchange rate, but stopped, poised with the pen in hand and asked me to do it in my head. I shrugged and gave her an unfair number which she accepted and rolled the stamp over the underside of my wrist.

Inside the red muted lights slipped over everyone in a blurry haze and we half talked as best you can reading lips and body language while music drowned the rest out. Virginia came up touching, her contact was almost absentminded. I started to take my sweatshirt off and she helped tugging at the arm, slightly pulling as if there were things she wanted to say but all that could escape were vaguely personal gestures she was unaware of. She wandered off and we were all on the street again, half the kids well beyond drunk, shouting. Matt walked up to some girls on the corner and told them he had shit his pants, they giggled and asked us to come with them to a bar but we kept moving in our own direction.

I layed there trying to fall asleep, watching and sort of wishing the soft shifting shadows on the wall from the street light through swaying trees would lull me into some sort of trance. The sort that sinks into a deep sleep broken only by morning breakfast smells, but I slept lightly and heard patterings with quiet voices until I opened my eyes in a new day. They did not have a sink in their bathroom, Steve advised me that brushing my teeth in the bathtub was the way to go. It worked nicely, the bathtub that was only big enough to sit down in with sort of hunched up legs. I liked it.

Jon had taken my picture very seriously and was now adjusting the tripod out in every direction, showing me all of the capabilities. I kept asking him to transform it into a Pterodactyl, and he finally did. Made it let loose fierce screeching sounds as it swooped about the room snapping its mighty jaws. Not many people would do that sort of thing for you, and really do it right. That is why Jon is great.

Steve and I spent the day walking through the city, around blocks, through crowds of people, up and down street covered hills. I saw the sun shining against a glass plated building , it was reflected across the street onto another building in huge oblique misshapen bright chunks. I kept walking around staring up, I know that it is a cliche touristy thing to do, but I can never resist it when I am in cities full of towery perfect buildings. I am not sure how it came about, maybe I picked up some stray change from the ground, or just in the course of our wandering conversation. "I saw a dime on the ground and didn't stop to pick it up, I left it there for someone who needed it more. I wrote about it in my journal the other day and I keep thinking about it." He is troubled and uncomfortable with his sudden affluence, it is incongruous to his character. It feels that way for a lot of us, somehow undeserved. Especially among all of those that surround us who work just as hard, often harder, and only manage to scrape by.

Her voice was not like I expected, quiet sometimes almost a whisper. Her life was more rich than she let on.

There were only twelve raindrops, she counted them on the windshield under heavy soft skies. Selena gobbled up the last of the letters. Following vague yet precise directions we meandered through the city along the shoreline until reaching our last landmark. Walking down a winding road under towering trees, we found what we had been looking for. Crawled over rocks on sometimes half hands and knees until we stood at the foot of the decrepit half sunken ship emerging out of the water as mostly shadows in the now evening light. On the deck full of holes and gaping pits we laid there watching the factory lights reflect out across the water and the cloudy stars in broken constellations above us. Listened to others nearby who had made this their secret getaway, and tried to be inconspicuous.

After all the adventures, I find myself home again. Each time it brings me here with certainty, maybe the trick is to just pretend that it never ends and all runs together with little skips and gaps in between. Just sing me sweet songs of tomorrow and I will be happy.

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