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  • The police were banging on the door. Jack heard them in his dream, the sound like the hoofbeats of stampeding wildebeasts. Tired from working until two, then writing until dawn, Jack had finally settled into sleep as the sun began to climb the sky.

    Chinatown was alrady buzzing with activity. The cars, the sidewalks, the bike messengers, the taxis were all vying for position below his bedroom window. Jack stumbled to the door, bleary-eyed. The cop at the door asked if he had called the police and Jack told him it must have been the guy on the third floor. The cops started up the steps and Jack headed back to the sanctuary of his bedroom. Before he did, something made him open David's bedroom door.

    David and Jack were not friends - just roommates. David answered an ad on Craigslist. Jack took his money for the rent and didn't have much more to do with him. He resented the way David spread out all over the living room, his piles of stuff and his creepy friends. You make concessions though. Times were tough and David always paid in cash. Jack knew little about him and wasn't interested in finding out more.

    Telling me about it later, Jack said he didn't know what it was that made him open David's door that morning. He had a feeling, a hunch. Slamming the door closed, his heart bursting in his chest, Jack ran up the steps to bring the cops back. David was dead.

    The police questioned Jack. He was embarrassed that he didn't know David's last name. He didn't know David at all. And now he was dead. Jack gave the police the name of the restaurant where David worked. The coroner was called to remove the body. Jack wanted out of the apartment, resolving to move at the end of the month, and he dialed his girlfriend Kata to come get him. Kata arrived right before the coroner. Jack was in his room. She peeked her head in the door.

    "Are you ready?" she said. Jack looked at Kata, repulsed and attracted by her relative composure in the face of death. "He overdosed," Jack said. "Yes, I saw him," Kata answered, "I'll take you to breakfast." Kata was small-boned and had long red hair that she wore in two braids. She had porcelin skin and green agate eyes. A real beauty. She was a poet and she always carried a knife. Jack fell in love with her the first time he saw her. Pulling up his jeans and stepping into his shoes, he started to cry. "How can you be so calm? We knew him. I lived with the guy." Kata studied Jack's face, twirling her car keys in her hand. "I am from Serbia. I have seen lots of dead bodies."

    Later, while Jack was packing up his stuff to move, David's mother arrived to get his things. The call to the police had come from David's phone. Whoever he had been shooting up with had taken his phone when they left. Jack helped her carry boxes down the stairs. When the job was about done, David's mother picked up a Phillies hat that had belonged to David and was hanging on a hook by the door. "That was David's hat," Jack said. "Take it." The mother looked at the hat a long time, holding it carefully like a fragile object. Neither one spoke. Before leaving she turned back to Jack one last time. "Little David will love to have his Dad's hat. They were big fans."

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