It almost caught Brian by surprise when he found himself standing on the corner of Forty Second street and Seventh Ave., drinking from a warm, sixteen ounce can of Miller beer in a small, brown paper bag. He didn't know how long he had been standing up against the wall of Tex's El Paso Chile Dogs and Mexican Take Out Food Stand, and he didn't know where he had gotten the beer. He tried hard to think of what had just happened, but he couldn't force his mind from the present. All that he could think of was how inappropriate the name of Tex's El Paso Chile Dogs and Mexican Take Out Food was. He thought of the associations which would be made from reading such a name, and he decided that it would be in Tex's best interest to change the name of his restaurant. His name probably wasn't even Tex anyway. Brian wondered if he could be sued for that, since it was false advertising and all. Probably not, but it might be worth a try. Brian pictured himself in court, dressed in his priest's robes, with an old, worn, brown leather brief case, and three, thick, clean, brand new law books, arguing about statutes and limitations and precedents, and, more importantly, emphasizing the principle of the matter and the ideals involved. Yes, it was a matter of ideals. It has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not Mr. Tex's name has had any influence on the lives of his customers. What is at stake here ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is the principle of the matter. Clearly, no man should name his eating establishment, or any establishment for that matter, in such a manner as to imply that the title of said establishment is in fact consistent with his own rightfully lawful name. No ladies and gentlemen of the jury, no man has this right, for it is misleading to the public in general.

"Brian. Hey. Brian." A voice said into the side of his head. He knew it was real, because he could feel it pulling at his shoulder. That was his way of separating the voices. They were real if he could feel them with his body, and was sure of it, but if he only heard them, they were probably just voices, although that didn't make them any less real. Brian spoke slowly and carefully to the man next to him. He was very suspicious of such a man, and wondered how and why in the middle of New York City this small Italian looking man would just happen to know his name. He wondered, but the more he thought about it, the more confused he became, until it was so bad that he just wanted it to stop, but the Italian looking man continued.

"Brian. Listen to me. Hey. Look at me Brian," the man said forcefully, grabbing Brian by the shoulders and pulling him around so that they were facing each other.

"Look at me Brian. Listen."

Brian watched as the Italian looking man's face lightened, and his eyes changed from brown to blue. Brian stared intently as the face turned into Jim's.

"Brian. It's me Brian. Jim. Say it. Jim Lyman. Say it."

Brian stood limply, staring slowly back at Jim. Jim paused for a moment, and then began shaking him firmly again, both hands clasped tightly around Brian's shoulders.

"I told you you shouldn't have left him here alone," Kathi said to Jim. She sounded angry, but frightened. "I knew it. I just knew it."

"It's all right" Jim shot back impatiently. "He's going to be all right, just give me a minute."

"I can't believe it. I can't believe I let you talk me into this. I can't believe I let you talk me into anything. I knew something would happen. I just knew it."

"Shut up. Just shut up. Jim tore his grip from Brian's shoulders and turned toward Kathi. "If you'd just five me a minute with him I can bring him around, but I sure as hell can't do it with you standing over me and pestering me with your self-righteous second guesses."

"Don't blame me. This whole thing's all your fault. We wouldn't be here right now if it wasn't for you."

"No, you wouldn't. You'd be playing ring around the confessional campfire with a bunch of psychos, that's what you'd be doing."

"It'd be better than standing here watching you ruin your best friend's life." "I'm not ruining anything that wasn't already ruined long before I came along. Even though you seem to have forgotten, I have know Brain a bit longer than you have. This is his problem, not mine."

"You're his problem."

"Right. And you're mine." Jim said as he turned back to face Brian. Brian watched as they argued in the darkness. He wondered why it was so dark, and how it had gotten this way without his noticing it. He tried to remember, but there was nothing. So that's it, he thought. That's what they're arguing about. I must've been out of it again, he thought.

Brian listened to their conversation intently now, and it didn't take him long to figure out that Jim had left him alone in the coffee shop during one of his attacks. He couldn't remember how it had started, and he didn't remember seeing or hearing anything out of the ordinary. He started to get mad at Jim, but his anger only lasted a moment. He knew that it wasn't Jim's fault. That was the whole problem. It wasn't anyone's fault. It's not like he's my babysitter, he thought. I've got to learn to cope with this on my own....

Jim shook Brian by the shoulders again.

"Cut it out." Brian said quickly. "I'm not a child."

"Let him be, Jim." Kathi cut in.

"Your concern is touching," Brian said flatly.

"Don't take it out on her, Brian," said Jim. "She's just trying to help."

"I'm not a two year old you know."

"No one said you were. We're just trying to help."

"Well, I don't need your help. I can get along just fine by myself thank you very little."

"All right, if that's the way you want it, then the hell with you."

Brian turned and walked off down the sidewalk, head down against the flow of people who were walking in the opposite direction.

"Wait! Wait!" Kathi yelled, running after him and grabbing his shoulder.

"Listen, Jim's just feeling guilty because we left you alone back there. I told him he shouldn't leave you, but he wouldn't listen. He knows he was wrong, and now he feels like shit."

"I don't care what he feels like."

"I know you don't. I don't either, but lets not let him control us. I know I shouldn't have listened to him, and I'm sorry, but don't just go running off and ruin everything. We've come this far, if you give up now we all lose."

"I'm not giving up on anything. I just want to be alone."

"Okay, we'll leave you alone for awhile, but don't go running off. Let's all go somewhere together and we'll let you be. Just let us know what's going on, that's all. Okay?"

Brian stood there for a moment, staring into Kathi's eyes. She looked at him, and then at the ground, and then over at the street. Brian continued to stare, barely breathing, but she did not look back at him.

"Listen Brian," Jim said as he ran up to them. "Kathi's right, we did leave you on your own, and it was my fault, and I'm sorry about that, but you've been on your own before, and nothing's ever happened, so I figured you'd be all right, and, as we can see, it all turned out okay in the end anyway."

"It always does, doesn't it?" Brian said bitterly.

"All right, if you're going to be that way about it, then just forget it. See," he said turning to Kathi, "it's not my fault. I was trying to apologize, but he won't let me. When he gets like this, you just can't get anywhere with him."

"Shut up. Both of you." Kathi said as she stepped between them. "You're acting like children. Both of you. Enough's enough, now we're either going to stick together and find some way out of all this, or we're going to walk away from it all right now and forget any of it ever happened, but whatever we do, we're going to decide on it right here and now."

Brian and Jim both looked at the sidewalk. Kathi waited for a moment, but it was obvious there would be no answer.

"I'm not going to make this decision alone. That's the typical male way out, put the woman in the middle and let her make the choice so you don't have to take responsibility. Well not this time." She paused again, but Brian and Jim stood motionless.

"Goddamn it, I'm not kidding! Stop your Goddamned sulking and say something!"

"I'm not sulking," Jim said softly.

"All right, you're not sulking, no one's sulking, I don't care....I just want some input."

"Well, I've already told you what I think." said Jim. "We should stick together, at least for a little while anyway. I mean, we're all in the same boat, aren't we?"

"Yeah, the same boat we were on in Parson, the Titanic." said Brian as he turned toward the intersection.

"Wait a minute Brian," Kathi called out as she ran over to him. "If you want to go somewhere, we're all going..."

"Whatever," Brian mumbled still walking head down toward the intersection.

"Wait a minute Brian," said Kathi, stepping in front of him. "We can't just go wandering around without a plan, or it'll go on and on like this forever. It's getting late, and we've got to start thinking about where we're going to spend the night."

"Who cares? If we can't find someplace, we can just stay up all night and ..."

"Shut up Jim." Kathi snapped. "We're not staying up all night, and neither are you. The joke's over." "I'm not joking, and I haven't heard either of you come up with any better ideas."

"Well, I've got plenty of ideas....."

"I don't care about plenty, I just want to hear one good one, that's all, just one."

"All right, you want one? We can go over to the Pilgrim Hotel. They've got rooms there for thirty bucks a night. If one of us signs for it, the other two can go up later and we'll split it three ways, ten bucks a piece."

"Let me guess who's going to sign for it." "Use your imagination Jim."

"I don't care, if it'll shut you guys up for a little while I'll do it, but if we're going to spend the night staring at each other and trying to find something worth watching on the t.v., can we at least stop for something to drink, you know, something to bring up to the room with us to help pass the time?"

"I don't care what you do once we get up there, all I want to do is get a decent night's sleep in something other than a zip-lock sleeping bag. I want to have a clear head in the morning when we try to decide what to do next."

"Sounds good to me."

"What about you Brian? Is that all right with you?"

"Whatever," Brian mumbled, almost to himself. He turned slowly toward them, wanting to look up at them and scream something from deep within the pit in the center of his stomach, but he wasn't sure what that thing was. Brian drew in a shallow breath and fixed his eyes on the firm darkness of the sidewalk.