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Stephan Bruise picked up his cellphone to read the listing of answering machine messages that had accumulated for him. Home again. He looked hard at the liquid crystal display on the front. April 14, 2028. All it had was today’s date and a little notation in black for answering machine messages. He would have to press just the right button before it started scrolling through all the recorded messages from the other kids.

Start! Ring!


"Hi, Stephan."

"Hi Steve."

"Hi, Steve."

"Hey, Stephan."

"Hey, STEVE!"

"Hey, Steve."

"Hi, Steve."

"Ya, Steve. Want to come to a party with me tomorrow night? Yeah, call back."

"Hi, Steve." In a very giggly, girly voice.

"Hey, Steve-O! How’ve things been going? Be sure to call back and tell me."

"Hello, Stephan."

"Hi Steve boy!"

A tone signaled the end of the string of message intros. He sat there smiling into space as he thought of all the friends he would have to get back to and the appointments he would schedule that day.

He walked over to the magenta coffee maker on the table and started to prepare himself some mocha. He remembered that the first person on his short list that he had to call back that day was Ramón Alvarado. Multitasking, he thought as he ground the coffee about the first few people he was going to call. Brown coffee powder spilt over his left shoe while he was trying to organize in his head.

He mumbled a few barely audible curses and shook his shoe gingerly, the powder falling off and resting on the floor. What sort of fool was he for thinking that he could organize and make something to drink at the same time? He’d never been able to do it before . . . and this was the end result of it every morning. The same scenario playing out and repeating. Mundane. He’d like for his life to be less hectic and contain a bit more adventure. It was always calls . . . appointments . . . more appointments . . . the occasional free time with friends. Surely there had to be something. Something more to his life than this. He gave up on the mocha and decided to go out. He had time to grab something to drink before it was absolutely necessary to return those missed calls. And to be honest . . . he could use a bite to eat. It had been quite a few hours since his last meal.

Shaking his shoe one last time, he grabbed his cellphone and shoved it into the pocket of his brown suede jacket before pulling it on. He grabbed the pad of yellow paper by the door and wrote on it, “TO ZETTOLO’S – WILL BE BACK”. Taking one last glance about the room, he walked out and pulled the door shut. He’d be back in ten minutes. Fifteen at the most. He smiled and put an extra spring in his step. A mocha latte and two crème-filled doughnuts sounded more than exceptionally nice right now.