John had the back door of his office open and the sound of the ever-moving sea came in clearly through the opening. He had packed up almost everything into a few deep boxes that he had snagged from the dumpster behind the grocery store near his apartment. The only thing left was his answering machine and the refrigerator. He left them plugged in just in case one more night might change something.

As he looked down at the answering machine, it blinked back at him. He knew without even listening who it was. Joyce had said she was going to call. He could easily push the button and listen to her threat to leave if he turned away again. There was even a message on his machine when he got home last night. The only problem is that if he were to take the message and call her back, they might end up together again. That would probably mean giving up his two biggest dreams just to settle down with someone. That was not about to go down that dark road again - too many potholes.

He let the message sit while he walked past the boxes to the open door. The beach was bright with sunlight. A dozen surfers were out trying to catch a ride on the more or less flat Atlantic. Tourists were setting up for the day with their towels and coolers. He saw two boys flying a kite that was so high up that it looked like a speck of red against the empty blue sky. As his thoughts ran away with his mind, he glanced over to the hotel Frank guessed the gunfire had come from. He had formulated a number of reasons for why the lieutenant fell into helping the enemy. None of which made much sense to him. As he rescanned the beach, killed time, waited for something life changing to fall into his lap, he noticed a woman noticing him. She wore white sunglasses and let her brown hair blow in front of her face. She was a knockout from this distance.

The woman started walking his way.

The two boys with the kite laughed and struggled with the spool of string.

As the woman approached, John realized who she was.

He stepped back into his office and took out two cold sodas from the still cold refrigerator. He turned toward the door with one in each hand as Tammy appeared.

"Got anything stronger?"

John smiled.

"You got a lot on your mind," she said as she took one of the cans.


"How can you tell?"

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