The sun rose like rock-n-roll, and Chris was loving himself in the sunlight when Zen walked downstairs.

“We’re having a party tonight, so read-up on how to act around girls,” Chris laughed.

Zen gave him a sour look. “Is the milk still good?” He asked.

“It was, but I finished it off. You’ll have to eat Chex Mix with water.” There was sadistic delight in Chris’s eyes. He enjoyed control.

Alex walked downstairs. He was the opposite of Chris. Laid back. Everything Alex did, happened twice as slow.

“You ready to socialize, mate?” Chris asked.

“No.”

“That’s the problem with you; that’s why your life isn’t working out.”

“How do you know?”

“You’ve got no girl; no job; and no prospects.”

“That sounds pretty good to me; I’m free,” Alex smiled.

Chris was stumped. It hadn’t worked. Perhaps, if there was an undercurrent of defensiveness, he would’ve felt superior, but it was the opposite.

“Come, we’ve got to go to the store.”

“What for?”

“What else; alcohol, lots of alcohol.”

“You know I don’t drink.”

“And why is that?”

“I’m an addict.”

“Have you even taken a drink?”

“I just know I’m an addict.”

“That’s the problem with you; you don’t try things.”

Alex looked at Chris. He knew Chris had a fear of missing out. Nothing was ever enough. He pushed and forced and moved through the world, never quite getting where he wanted to go.

Alex never pushed up against anything, and the world opened doors for him. If one closed, he walked in a different direction. His path could not be explained, and he was more interesting to Chris because of it.

“Zen, are you coming?”

Zen quietly took up the rear. At the grocery store, they got the stuff on their list, but not before they met the Russian girl.

“Anna, are you coming over this evening?” Chris asked.

“Oh, sure.” She looked like she wanted to get away from him. She was carrying a big birthday cake.

“Who’s the cake for?” Alex asked.

“Oh, nobody.”

When they got into the parking lot, Chris looked up at the sky. “Your birthday’s coming up, isn’t it?”

“Next week,” Alex said.

“Uh.”

Later that evening, Alex and Zen met Chris’s friends. One, was like a flower to the bees. She was from Lebanon. Alex saw something dangerous in her. Chris saw what he wanted.

“So, you work in education?” Alex asked her.

“I’m a Mathematician at the University.”

“Oh, what branch?’

“I’m a Geometrist.”

“We both work in education. Why do you do it?”

“Excuse me, but we don’t do the same thing.”

“Well, we educate young minds.”

“We aren’t the same.”

Alex looked at her; she reminded him of Chris, but rather than thinking murderous thoughts like Zen, Alex was amused. He knew he was free, and the people struggling to be higher, were not.

To be continued…

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