Mick said, "Do you have any tea?"

The boy offered a smoldering cardboard filter to Tom, who took it, stood up, and said to Mick, "Give me yours. I'll flush them." Mick did. Tom left for the bathroom.

Frishta said to Mick, "No."


"No. Tea."


Eyes wandered over silence to the center of the room, to the boy. The boy moved uneasily, and said to Frishta, "Good smoke." He smiled briefly. No one spoke.

Tom returned from the kitchen, wearing his coat. He crouched down on all fours and reached under the couch behind Brian's legs to get his boots. Brain would not move his legs. Tom sat on the floor to pull on his boots. He said to the boy, "Split, man? You want to come with me?"

The boy stood. He was fully dressed, as he had slept. He nodded. "I come with you."

Mick, Frishta and Brian gazed in abstraction at where the boy had been as he followed Tom out the door. Frishta started at the slam and the cold air. She pulled her legs underneath her. She looked at Brian, who looked at nothing, and at Mick, who took his coat and stood up to put it on, explaining, "I've got to finished my rounds." Brian looked at Mick. Frishta watched his hands button his coat. "Cheerio."

Brian chided, "I've warned you, man."

Immediately Frishta interjected, sober and serious, "straight Mick! Good-bye."

Mick smiled at her. The spring lock clicked behind him. The room was soundless, motionless. Frishta listened. The gas stove snuffed quietly. From the wall behind the couch came a muted giggle and murmurings: Michael was awake. The couch creaked as Brian pulled his feet up to resume his posture of meditation. Frishta put her hand on the back of his neck. "Brian?"

He turned to her. "Yes?"

"The room is empty. They have all left vacuums."

"I suppose."