The wilted crowd dwindled as party-goers stumbled into the darkness, hurried home or hailed cabs. Only the drunkest were brave enough to stroll the streets, along with those who had nothing to fear from ordinary predators.
A man with jet-black hair loosened his silk tie and slowed his step in the middle of the sidewalk.
“Stop…stopping.” Steven crashed into him and bounced off as if he hit a steel wall.
The dark man’s eyes glazed over as he stared past a striped awning and into the soft light of the all-night kitchen.
“What’s wrong?” A young woman ran her hand over his midnight blue suit.
“I miss this.” He inhaled the aroma of coffee and fried oil. “So much it hurts.”
“Then quit breathing, fool.” Steven tried to pull the woman away. “When’s your boyfriend going to learn—can’t have luxuries from both worlds.”
“Not necessarily true.” She tapped her chin. “There’s a compromise.”
“At least the take-out line isn’t hideous—” Steven stepped over stains on the concrete and shuddered. “Mercy, this needs to be hosed down.”
“We’ll sit.” The woman said, pulling her boyfriend along as he tilted his head at the clink of spoons on white china.
“You’ve got to be joking.” Steven pointed to the disarray of tables and chairs. “To sip black coffee?”
“Like old times.” She pushed past him and shot a look over her shoulder. “Please?”
“I’m overdressed for this…a bit like that filthy bar crawl your forced me to endure, so we could hear rock music that made my ears bleed.” Steven whipped the silk square out of his lapel pocket. “Doesn’t this ensemble just scream smoky jazz club?”
“Screams something.” The man’s eyes wandered up a waitress’s arm as she poured coffee. He lingered on the pulse of her neck.
“You’ve had plenty of that tonight.” The woman snapped her fingers in front of his face and pushed a plate of powdered sugar across the table. “Try a different treat.”
The man dropped a pinch of sugar on his tongue. “It’s safe—for us, I mean?”
“Bit juvenile.” Steven rolled his eyes. “But, won’t kill you.”
The woman dropped her head to the table when her boyfriend smashed the plate into his own face.
“That man,” Steven poked her shoulder and waved away a blizzard of powder. “All yours. My hand to—”
“If you say God,” The man licked sugar off his knuckles. “I’ll break your scrawny neck.”
Steven raised his hand next to his face, straightening one finger at a time. “—to whoever’s in charge of this debacle.”