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Greta

I tell Ryan that I just want to leave.

“But that guy,” Ryan says and I see that he is scared too. His face is pale and he keeps licking his lips. “That guy just tried to-”

I tell Ryan, I’m scared and I just need to get out of there. I tell him I don’t want to talk to the police. I start sobbing. I tell him I just want to go somewhere quiet. With him.

He looks at me, still puzzled, pulling at his hair with one hand. One of the servers is asking us what happened, but I just say that there’s a homeless person in their bathroom and pull Ryan out of the restaurant with me. It is a chilly fall night in Seattle and Ryan immediately puts his arm around me, covering me with his warmth as we make our way through the street, our breath plumes of smoke in the cold air. I’m pressed up against Ryan, both of us shaking with relief. I’m wondering how I’m going to tell Greta about all of this and how close I came to failing tonight. I look up at Ryan and incredibly, I start to laugh. He still looks shocked for a second but then he starts laughing too. And for a moment, we just stand there in the cold and laugh, as people mutter and walk around us, their hands jammed into their coats, their faces buried in scarves, noses red from the chill.

And there, right on Capitol Hill, outside one of its newest, trendiest restaurants, just when I think that Ryan and I have found something between us, something to hold on to, something that might mean something after this long stupid night is over, Ryan takes my hand, holds it in his for a moment rather tenderly… before placing it directly on top of his crotch.

We go to his place, of course, swaying on the street as I help him navigate. The last cocktail has fully hit him by then and our feet slide on the wet, rain-coated pavement as I hold him up. The wind blows yellow leaves across the roads as we cross, its icy tongue making us both shiver. I’m still on edge and staring at every person that we pass, but I’m wrapped in Ryan’s warmth, laughing at the stories he tells about the businesses we pass along the way.

“This place has the best noodles in town, but one day I peeked in the kitchen and saw the cook digging meat out of the trash. I didn’t eat out for a week,” he says.

His apartment is in one of those new buildings on the Hill. It is a high rise building, soaring to its full height in quiet, solid lines. It is one of these apartment complexes that has its own gym and grocery store and I bury my face in Ryan’s neck when we pass the lobby, where the two doormen are nodding politely at him. We take the ride up to his apartment in an elevator with carpeting so thick it feels like we are standing on a bed.

His apartment is solid white, all clean lines and stainless steel appliances. It is like walking into a hospital. The window in the living room looks out over a section of Capitol Hill that is all construction cranes and traffic cones as thrift shops and pho restaurants are being ripped out and replaced with condos. We stand at the window, looking out over the street for a minute before Ryan starts kissing my neck.

I tell Ryan I want another drink.

His eyes are bloodshot and when he opens his mouth, the stench of whiskey, overpowering and wet, swims out of his mouth. He opens his mouth to say something and for a second I think he’s going to ask me if my pussy goes sideways, but instead he goes, “Another one? You drink a lot, don’t you?”

I show him my shaking hands, illuminated by the light that comes in through the window. I tell him I just need one shot to calm my nerves. I tell him to go to his room and wait for me and that I’ll be right there.

I take two glasses out of a cupboard and open his freezer where I find a bottle of some amber colored liquor. I pour a double shot into one glass and leave the other one empty. Then, I wait to make sure that he is still in the bedroom and when I hear him bump into something and swear loudly, I open my purse and pull out one of the things that Greta has packed for me. It is a small vial full of a clear liquid. I dump the contents of the vial into the shot glass with whiskey in it.

Ryan’s fridge is bare except for a picture of a young boy with curly hair sitting next to a tired, thin woman in a hospital bed. They are both smiling, the boy showing two missing front teeth, but the woman’s smile does not reach her eyes, which are staring balefully at the camera from within pockets of dark, swollen flesh.

I walk into the bedroom holding the shot glass. Ryan is sitting on the edge of the bed in his underwear. His skin is pale and smooth, lean and hard like stone. His head is almost at his chest and his eyes keep closing. The room is bare, no posters or art work on the walls. The bed is just two mattresses on the floor and the only other furniture in the room is a desk in the corner with a laptop on it.

I tell Ryan I already took my shot and hand him the glass. He keeps staring at the glass so I start kissing his neck and he leans back and gulps the whole drink down in one swallow. Some of it misses and drips down the sides of his face, splattering on my face and the bed. His eyes immediately roll back and he inhales sharply. The glass falls from his hand and hits the bed with a dull thump. When he opens his eyes, they are unfocused and staring past me at the wall.

“You,” he says and he can barely open his mouth. “You,” he says again.

I push him back gently so that he is laying down. He reaches for me and grabs my head and tries to pull me down with him, but he is fading, fast and he just kind of scrambles at my head before his arm falls back down and his eyes close. The last thing he says is, “I’ve never been with an Asian chick before.” Then he is fast asleep.

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