February 23

“I don’t, just was passing through,” I said. “I, uh, was on my way to the shop.”
“Oh, good,” Katie says. “I’m running a little late myself, but Lou’ll go easy on me if I bring you in with me, I bet.”
“About that,” I say. “I, uh, got a gift card from a friend…”
“Oh, don’t worry, I’m only teasing,” Katie says. “You can go if you need to.” Still, we keep walking slowly towards the Beanery. “Besides, I heard you had a little trouble yesterday.”
“Yeah,” I say, “this creep kept bugging me. Said he knew you.”
“Oh? You can’t mean Mr. Reynolds,” Katie says. “He’d never do anything to scare a pretty girl like you.”
So there is a connection. Damnation and hellfire. “You’d be surprised,” I mumble.
“I simply can’t fathom it,” she says. “I mean, he helped me find Ray… Ray…”
I’ve taken a good three steps before I realize I’m walking alone. Katie is now burying her face in her mittens, and some soft sobbing comes from behind the thick wool. “Katie?”
“It’s… it’s nothing,” she says. “I don’t know why, but I just thought about Ray for a second,” she adds, looking up. Her eyes are puffy and red– she’s been crying for a very long time. “More than a second. He and I met like this, you see… walking from the bus stop…”

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