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Friday, December 29, 2006

Chicago

His name is Harrison Cutter. His heart is burned out. He doesn't really care about that. But every time he thinks about Chicago it hurts where his heart used to be. He even knew, going in, that it would end badly. She'd said it would when she visited him one weekend. And then when he came to her in Chicago he knew it was true. He couldn't move there like she wanted. The timing simply wasn't right and he wasn't ready. Besides all that, she was married.

He pulls on his boots and climbs out onto the fire escape. Brooklyn is covered in a thin layer of wet snow. The black, spindly limbs of the tree that loom above him are wet and dripping. He brushes some cold slush off the small lawn chair, sits, and lights a cigarette. Rummaging through his shirt pocket produces a couple of Valiums and a multivitamin, which he swallows dry. He knows it's just his brain chemistry... what is producing these feelings are just chemical interactions; splashes of dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine and such. It would balance out eventually. Until then he could just sit this way, smoking, his phantom center aching dully.

He works as a journalist for the Associated Press. He has a Master's degree in Journalism from Columbia University and a $2,000 a month apartment in Park Slope. The ashes from his cigarette fall through the fire escape's metal grate, onto the sidewalk below. It is 5 o'clock in the morning. It is dark. After a bit more stewing, his minds slips into gear and he thinks about the new story he's been assigned to. A missing girl. Rich girl, blonde, smart, 17 years old.

According to police briefings, she was seen leaving school on a Thursday afternoon. No telling where she'd gone afterwards. Cutter thought it was a situation with potential.