Brian and Kathi and Jim sat on the bar stools at the counter of the Dunkin Donuts looking out at the intersection of West Forty Second street and Seventh Ave.. On top of the creamy brown plastic wooden countertop in front of Kathi and Brian sat two stained white cups of coffee, one black and one with cream. The countertop in front of Jim was empty.

Brian picked up his cup and blew gently on the hot, dark black coffee. He couldn't really taste it, but it felt good and warm and smooth on the inside of his mouth. He waited for it to work its way down through his chest, warming as it went, until it reached his stomach and gently stirred itself in among the two other cups he had already had. He felt nervous and agitated, but at the same time, he had a certain sense of power and urgency that he should do something, and do it with force.

Outside, the street looked soft in the red orange light of the now sinking sun. Brian knew that the sun was there, even though he couldn't see it because of the buildings. If the buildings hadn't been there, Brain knew exactly where he would've seen the sun. He pictured it setting over the smokestacks of the factories in Parson. It was an ugly image, but it pleased him none the less. There was a certain beauty in the pained look of the landscape around the factories, which had always given Brian a not altogether unpleasant feeling of sadness. It wasn't exactly a feeling of nostalgia, or a fuzzy rose colored daydream. It was more like a feeling of pride in his own self pity, a heightened awareness of the pain and frustration and futility of life in the factories of Parson, Connecticut. It was this same proud feeling of self pity over his own situation that Brian felt on the bar stool of a Dunkin Donuts in New York City.

Although he had been thinking about it for almost an hour, running it over and over through his mind, Brian could not quite get it straight. They were gone, their bikes were gone, and their options were gone. At least that was the way it seemed to him. The show at Radio City had ended over an hour ago, but they hadn't been there when it let out. They still weren't there an hour later when the group broke up for dinner. Brian knew that Father Landers had definitely noticed this by now. He had them this time, and even Jim couldn't figure out a solution. There was no way out.

Brian knew that the group was supposed to be spending the night in a little motel on the other side of the Hudson river in New Jersey where the rates were cheaper. He had the address, and the phone number, but he couldn't make himself call. Instead, he sat staring blankly out the window at the red orange traffic, trying to figure a way out. He and Kathi had already been through several cups of coffee, and except for the headaches, were beginning to feel almost sober now. Jim sat silently, with a very tired look on his face, and his arms folded on the countertop in front of him. Occasionally, he would put his face down, resting his forehead on the back of one of his wrists. After awhile, he would sit back up, only to stare out the window again.

Brian watched Jim's back as it moved slowly up and down, and tried to figure out if he was asleep. Suddenly, Jim pulled his head up off the counter and sat up perfectly straight. His eyes were wide open and clear, as if he had just awoken from a good night's sleep.

"Listen," he said anxiously to himself, before turning toward Brian and Kathi. "I've finally figured out our only way out of all this."

"I can't wait for this," Brian said sarcastically.

"No, let him go ahead, we need some kind of plan."

"Now the way I see it," Jim said, obviously pleased that Kathi had sided with him. "It would be suicidal to go slithering back to Father Landers and the rest of his crew. I mean, let's face it, sneaking out of the show was one thing, but now that the bikes are gone....." He paused to emphasize the drama of the moment, and then stood up and began pacing back and forth like a courtroom lawyer who knows he has the case won, but takes his time in winning it in order to savor the victory. He stood directly behind Kathi and Brian, and began again.

"You're limited in what you can say about where and why the bikes were stolen, and regardless of what you tell Landers, he probably won't believe you anyway. Chances are, if he saw either of you, the first thing he'd do is grab you and then call the cops. After that, it would be off to jail for Kathi, and you'd be off to la-la land at the State Hospital to wear your happy slippers.

Both Brian and Kathi listened in silence. In a way, Brian wanted to argue, but deep down inside himself he knew that Jim was right. They had gone too far this time, and as Father Landers had said, there was nothing he'd like better than to get them out of his hair by putting them away. Brian remembered the look in Father Landers' eyes in the field that morning. He found it hard to believe that it was still the same day. It seemed like they had been through so much since then, and yet, the look of hatred in Father Landers' eyes remained perfect and clear in his mind, as if it had happened only seconds ago. Brian could still feel its intensity, hard and burning through the eyes which Brian usually found it so easy to hide behind, leaving him wide open and helpless. He had forced Brian to look away, to avoid eye contact and hide in the landscape.

"Speaking of la-la land, I think Brian's there right now. Hey. Snap out of it," Jim said, waving an open palm in front of Brian's face.

"What?" Brian snapped back.

"I was just making sure you were still with us," Jim said, returning to his place behind his jury of Kathi and Brian. As he continued they turned their chairs around to face him.

"It seems like we're all in agreement then, eh?" Jim paused, but Brian and Kathi remained silent.

"Thanks for the input there, guys," Jim said.

"What? We're listening." Brian blurted out defensively. "What d'you want from us?"

"Nothing, but a little response would be nice, you know, even a nod of the head or two. I'm starting to get the feeling that I'm talking to myself."

"Well go with the feeling then." Brian shot back.

"All right. The hell with you then. If that's the way you're going to be, then why don't you do us all a favor and just turn your Goddamned self in at Belview."

"Fuck you. Just shut up."

"Both of you shut up! You're acting like two year olds and your bickering isn't getting us anywhere. If we're going to find a way out of this, we're going to have to do it together and we might as well start right now by facing the facts. Jim's the only one with any suggestions, so we may as well listen to him."

"Thanks Kathi," Jim said, with a somewhat hurt look. "Like I was saying, it'd be stupid for you to try and go back with Father Landers, and going back to Parson is out of the question, which means we've got to come up with something else. Now the way I see it, the best thing to do is to weigh our options, and then start improvising. Once we get a game plan going, things will take care of themselves."

"I can hardly wait to see what happens," Brian said, his eyes glued to the almost empty coffee cup.

Jim continued on, as if Brian wasn't even there. "We've go two things on our side. Time, and money."

"And we've got two bigger things against us, Father Landers and the State Police." Brian added.

"C'mon Brian. You can't be serious. What the hell do you think this is, Hawaii Five-O? Landers might hate you, but he's not going to go hunting you down like convicted criminals!"

"Okay Jim. Sure. Have it your way if you want, but if you saw the look in his eyes that I saw this morning, you'd see things a little differently."

"Brian, he's a priest, not The Rifleman. He'll moan and groan for awhile, and then he'll run out of steam and forget all about you."

"No way." Brian shot back. "There's no way he'd give up like that. He's tougher than you think."

"Tough is one thing, but common sense is another. I mean, use your head for once. It's not like you guys escaped from the State Pen. All you did was run away from a bunch of weirdos on wheels, which, when you look at it, was really the only sensible thing to do."

"We ran off all right, and between us, we ran off with about six hundred and fifty dollars of the church's money."

"So what? There's a lot more where that came from. He's not going to hunt you down for a measly three hundred dollars a piece. That's only a drop in the old collection box. He can make that up in a few good Sundays, so stop being paranoid and start thinking about what we're going to do next."

"No, I think Brian's right about this, Jim." Kathi interrupted. "Father Landers can be driven man when he wants to be, especially if you've crossed him in the past. Now he might not have much on either of you, but I've got an outstanding warrant for my arrest in Parson, and it's been given to Father Landers to deal with as he sees fit. After this little stunt, I'm sure there's nothing he'd rather do more than try and get me locked up."

"A warrant for your arrest? How'd you manage that one?" Jim asked, almost pleased at the sound of it.

"It's a long story," Kathi said, drawing in a slow breath of coffeed air. "Let's just say that Father Landers and I don't see eye to eye and leave it at that."

"Okay. I'm not trying to probe, I was just wondering." Jim paused, in an apparent attempt to show his respect for Kathi's privacy. "You really think he's mad enough to pull that?" He asked, in an almost reverent tone. "I mean........"

"I wouldn't put it past him." Kathi said without moving. "I wouldn't put anything past him. Brian's right. I've seen that look in his eyes before. It's a look of determination and force. It just makes you know that he'd die before he'd let you humiliate him."

"That just means we'll have to keep a low profile. We'll be more careful, but it won't change the fact that we've got almost eight hundred and fifty dollars between us, and that's what gives us our freedom."

"Yeah, and I want to keep that freedom if you don't mind," Brian said softly, almost to himself.

"All right, all right, ease up already. We'll stay out of sight if that'll keep you happy. Jeez, you'd think we were on the FBI's ten most wanted list, for Christ's sake. Well, we may as well start by getting the hell out of this place and going somewhere for a nice, cold draft. You must know of someplace, Kathi." Jim said in a direct but gentle voice. His eyes were wide open and watery, as he looked directly into Kathi's eyes and spoke with carefully controlled excitement, taking great care in revealing his plan, and allowing time for it to sink in.

"We should probably start out someplace cheap, and then move on to a more expensive place. That way, we can get loaded without spending much, and by the time we get to one of those two dollar and fifty cent beer places, we'll be drunk enough so that we won't need more than a few anyway."

Brian only half listened to the words. It was the tone of the words that fascinated him. He was used to the gently, soothing rhythm of the words and the way Jim hid behind it. Jim had a way of using this rhythm to make others do things that they might not ordinarily do. By itself, this was not all that unusual. What made it different with Jim was that he combined this ability with another amazing talent. Jim could manipulate people in such a way that not only would they do things they didn't want to do, but they would also come to believe that they actually wanted to do them. He talked slowly, and carefully, working them and working them, until they actually believed in what they were doing, as if they had thought of it themselves. Brian had seen Jim do this often enough with the shop steward at Parson Sole and Plastics. It started with Jim casually hinting around about getting a few days off with pay. Normally, this would be out of the question, unless there was an emergency. In Jim's case though, it was different. He would make it sound like he was doing the company a favor, and that because of his efforts, they would actually profit from the whole thing. He would rationalize things, but in a subtle way, which was usually based on the interdependence of opposites. Jim hadn't invented this idea. He had come upon it in a book on Eastern Philosophy that someone had been using to keep the front door of his apartment building open with. Jim had picked up the book on his way out to work one day, and had read through the paragraph on the interdependence of opposites. As he sat there on the bus to work that day, a feeling came over Jim that he would never forget. It was as if he had finally found it. The answer. It was all there. Since that day, he used the concept almost constantly, as a way of making all things equal. He would start out by connecting seemingly unrelated or opposite things, and then go on to show that everything was related to everything else. You couldn't have day without night, because without night, you'd have nothing to compare day to, and then you wouldn't even know it was day at all. In much the same way, life and death went hand in hand. You couldn't have one without the other. Or, as Jim was fond of saying, 'How can you be alive if you haven't already been dead? How do you know you're not dead right now, and that you'll be alive later? It's only because we've put names and labels on what life and death are. That's the only reason we think of them that way. Either way, you still need one to define the other.'

By proving that everything was related to everything else, and therefore dependent on it, Jim would carefully explain how good and bad were merely words, that really didn't mean anything in and of themselves, and really dependent on the situation they were used in.

Eventually, Jim would convince the shop steward that it was in the shop steward's best interest, and the company's best interest, to let Jim have the time off with pay. What made it even more incredible though, was that Jim would do this in such a way as to make the shop steward actually think that he had come up with the idea and that Jim had had nothing to do with it. Then Jim would take his days off, and drink himself right back to where he had started- out of money and back at a job he hated. Brian had seen and heard it all before, but he had never really gotten used to it.

Now, sitting at the counter of the Dunkin Donuts, he knew it was happening again, and there would be nothing he could do to stop it.

It didn't take Jim long to convince Kathi that they should go out and drink more. It didn't take him long to help her decide on a place to go, and it didn't take him long to talk Brian into going there. He knew, however, that what would take a long time, would be to get Kathi to spend some time alone with him. He watched her as she got up to go to the bathroom, her firm round bottom and long legs striding smoothly across the room, blond hair flowing behind her as she walked. Jim tried to think of what it would be like to be with her, to be one with her, but he couldn't figure out how he would get her alone. What could he could he impress her? He ran it over and through in his mind, again and again, but, just then, as he was considering a move, he noticed that far away look in Brian's eyes. Jim spoke to him, gently at first, then louder and louder, until he knew for sure that Brian wasn't really there. Jim smiled to himself as he watched Kathi walk back from the bathroom. He knew that it wouldn't take long now. Brian had made it easy.