Brad once worked up in one of the high-rises, in one of the skyscrapers high above the fourthcity. He had a desk in an empty room, and he was expected to make phone calls all day. Once an airplane flew right by his window on the 57th floor, over the water, at exactly his altitude, in slow motion.

He used to sit in the small office library, just a room really, with books and brass and a glass coffee table. He would sit there and stretch his legs out over the coffee table or the couch after everybody had gone home and look down at life going on below: a fancy hotel, dressed up tourists walking slowly... The streets were barren then, occasionally a taxi or a police car. Occasionally an ambulance with sirens blaring, inaudible up in the sky behind thick glass.

The first time Brad ever went to the fourthcity was by accident. He was driving down an unfamiliar expressway, the kind with five or six lanes in each direction. There was a toll booth, then nothing but the smooth road, lit every 100 yards or so by tall black lightpoles, the road leading out into the blackness. As Brad gave over his eyes to the white stripes speeding above the green glow of the dashboard, the road gradually curved down and left, and there, directly in front of him, spread the green neon glow of the neverending fourthcity, its deep black caverns falling perpendicular to the roadway.

Aya's upper lip glistened in the pale moonlight. What Brad had said had upset her.

Brad and Aya had been all over the fucking world together.

Way back when both of them were still working for a living, they used to spend all their daylight hours at a basement speakeasy. "I taught her to play," Brad would boast whenever she won, & his favorite times were when they'd play doubles. She wore short skirts with wide pleats, and tight shirts made from huggable materials. She made boys love at first sight. She'd come to the fourthcity because of her tremendous curiosity. Brad loved her so much it hurt.

An orange moon floated above a horizon of power plants & oil refineries. Again we find ourselves traveling alone.

They were in a cheap hotel room on skid row. "There's so much fucking beauty in the world.. it's almost unbearable," said Brad to himself. "Don't you want to fuck me?" Aya blurted, not looking away from the window. She was sitting with her arms around her knees.

Brad first met Aya on a commuter train. She was walking from car to car, giving away free samples of chewing gum. She was from a poor family, & her first boyfriend had left her with a child Brad never met. Without really talking, they decided to lunch together in a nondescript restaurant across from the station, & when he touched her cheek with his fingers, she shivered.

To be continued...

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