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Talk to Me, James Dean

The house had been perfect for three, but Hazleton was now one. One day a wife and son; the next day, empty rooms. No Edy, no Randy. He'd turned pictures upside down, stared at the newspaper, switched on his computer, then went and sniffed clothes in his closet to decide which needed cleaning. He was distracted, tried to keep his mind off the empty rooms until finally the void got to him. He turned on the car's engine and sat in the garage staring at the radio. How long would it take? he wondered. Carbon monoxide. He'd read somewhere, but he couldn't recall where, that suicide was the one sure antidote to loneliness. But he was not about to end his life, not with clothes to take to the cleaners. He'd just be filling emptiness with emptiness and someone else would find him and see the clothes in the backseat of his Prelude and think it pathetic -- him and his dirty laundry.

Hazleton opened the automatic door, backed out, and drove for an hour aimlessly until he stopped at Starbuck's on West Sahara for coffee. A woman in line in front of him carried a Pomeranian. She was attractive, in her mid-thirties and seemed utterly unaware of anyone else as she cooed to her dog. He took his coffee outside. He looked around the patio and wondered what the purpose in all of this was. Certainly it wasn't coffee. It seemed everyone, especially those on cellular phones, was trying to fill his life with something tangible -- conversation about his job and overpriced muffins and coffee so strong it coated the throat. Roles, illusion. Perhaps it was not illusion. A woman nearby spoke over a cellular. She talked about her son. Her voice was loud and insistent, anxious, as if the person on the end might lose a detail. Perhaps lives were completed here. Perhaps this wasn't a stage and they weren't actors. Perhaps, Hazleton thought, he was just bitter.