‘We just have news coming in of, oh, it seems - yes, we have news coming in now of an armed robbery at the bank on 28th Street. Police report that the perpetrators have already escaped, but that the general public should be vigilant and keep an eye out for two people who are . . . is that really relevant? What, yes okay, fine - should be vigilant and report to police if they see two people who are armed and stunningly beautiful.’
— A broadcast on New New Paris public radio, 25th September, 2044
A young man stands before a grave, fingertips of one hand resting on the top of the headstone, the other hand holding a bunch of flowers surrounded by colourful cellophane.
‘Zaque and me were in town,’ he says. ‘Thought I’d stop by, see how you were.’
He stops for a while, looking at the grave, before kneeling down and picking off some of the moss that’s growing on it.
‘I’m doing pretty well, yeah. Robbing a few banks. Sometimes we vary it up with an art theft or diamond heist. It’s not bad. We’ve got a place in Barbados now. You’d’ve loved it. Lot’s of sun.’
The moss mostly gone, he stops and looks at the headstone, for a moment looking far older than a face that young should. He stands, slowly and carefully, and the moment passes.
‘Well. See you round, Leo.’
You told me a long time ago to call upon you if I needed you. Through the years I have, perhaps, stretched the definition of ‘need’ to its very limit, and I will remain eternally grateful that you allowed me to do so. I say eternally with sincerity, if not entirely with accuracy: if our time together has taught me anything, it is that in the end all things must die.
It occurs to me only now, however, to make explicit what I have always implicitly felt: that should you, in turn, have need of my help, know that my distance from you is only that of your distance from whisky and a pen.