One Times Square. New Year’s Eve.

Genetics had the last word and hair sprinkled loose from his head like dead pine needles from a dried-out Christmas tree. He replaced the fedora, shadowed his eyes, and buttoned his coat to the neck.

The ball had dropped—141 feet in 60 seconds—the final ten shouted in loud unison by two million voices. People he didn’t know began to sing, Auld Lang Syne.

He remained silent. Dark wine rolled slow and bitter and sweet across his tongue like a prolonged kiss goodbye. Remembering something or someone, he tossed the glass aside; it hit a brick wall and shattered. Shards and fragments glistened under the streetlight, crystalline as fresh fallen snow.

A lifelong habit, he felt for the .38 Special hidden and holstered under his shoulder. He squinted at the address in his pocket one more time and sighed. Garlicky breath formed a cloud of steam in the icy air.

Cupping his hands against a cold wind, he lit a cigarette and walked away: a hard soul in hard sole shoes.
Andrew Dabar