He went to the run down apartment building, the one with the busted front door and the buzz in system that had broken years ago and the rugs worn down to the bare wood beneath. He felt the chill in the air and shivered, hunched his shoulders around his ears, shoved his hands in his pockets. One hit. That was all he needed.

He went up to the kid's apartment, knocked on the door and then heard the excited barking of the pit bull named Honey, and he heard James rousing himself from the couch and stumbling to unlock the door, hushing Honey.

"Who is it?" James said before the last lock was undone.


The door swung open and he saw James, unshaven, rumbled clothes, hair sticking up.

"Hey, man," Brad said, coming in, standing in the center of the living room. The living room had an old couch James had salvaged from the side of the road and a coffee table that looked like it was already junk in the sixties and a T.V. that was this huge box, so old.

"What do you want?" James said, and it wasn't unkind.

"Whatever, man, I have fifty, so whatever,"

And he got his stuff, his hit of heroin and some more for later, and he took it to a dark corner of James' apartment and he shot it up, thinking of feeling better, of that one moment of feeling better.

Megan was waiting for him, and he wanted to go back to her, wanted to please her if he could, but pleasing people was beyond him now. He could only please himself.

Walking back, the sun bright and incriminating, feeling better but he knew it was fleeting. What did he have to offer this girl? Drugs and violence and shit? Nothing? No future and no security and he knew in his heart that she should run from him. He knew it. He knew he was too damaged to ever put back together again.

"You're back," she said, smiling, her voice tentative. He smiled and nodded at her, took her hand. He could change. He could turn over a new leaf right now. No more drugs. No more doing them or selling them. He could go straight. He could get his GED, take college classes, apply himself to something, do something, be something, be someone she could be proud of. He could do that right now. He took a deep breath, feeling the gentle swell of the heroin high, and he resolved to be better.

"What do you want to do today?" he said, feeling generous, magnanimous. It would be all about her. Her wish would be his command.

"I don't know. Go see a movie, maybe?" Her eyes shone up at him, clear blue like water, like the sky. The movies. He could do that.

"Sure, yeah. Let's go,"

Holding hands, and he tried to will himself to be different. He'd be nice, loving, normal, respectable. He knew people could be like that, and he'd always felt different from them, less than them. He was going to be one of them. By sheer willpower he would do it. The same way he had hardened himself to survive the drug ridden and violence plagued streets he would harden himself to being this type of person Megan deserved.

Let all his clients think he had died. They didn't matter. Let all his dealers think he had been arrested, he didn't care. It didn't matter what they thought.