Chapter 6 – February 15B

Rune staggered to his feet, boots sliding in the icy snow. You shouldn’t let Double-J get away with shit like that. Jezz sounded more angry than concerned. What an asshole. Rune laughed. Him or me?

He stepped forward, toward the mechanical murmur. Left knee still ached. The fight, Double-J’s apartment. You’re not going back there. The bedroom. People would go in there, close the door, come out a few minutes later.

“It’s the ones who smile.” Reclining on his green sofa, left leg balanced on his right like a makeshift table, Double-J was frowning. “The users, they come out smiling. They’re the ones, gonna ruin themselves.”

“You ever smile?” Rune had checked his vague reflection in a window glass behind Double-J before speaking, made sure his face was appropriately nonplussed.

“Wadda you think?” Double-J smiled, drew his right arm up to his bearded face, inhaled on a cigarette. Pulled the white tube from his mouth, blew smoke behind him. “Some people can just enjoy the ride then walk away. Others, they think the ride’s the only thing. Once they get on, never want to get off.”

“Addicts?”

Double-J shrugged, the thin wires of his black hair rising. “That’s only the word they use when they get help. Which most of them will need.”

Hours later, those words still sounded strange. Rune couldn’t remember exactly what he’d asked, something along the lines of if he was so certain how’d they wind up, why’d he let them back there.

“They made their choices.” He shifted his burly body in the sofa’s cushions. “Damage, it’s been done. Nothing I do could make them undo that decision.”

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