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     "Ok, come on, come on, boys, we're closing up. Let's go now." His voice cut above the murmuring in the room filled with neatly dressed young men.
     "Closing time already." A pause, during which the younger of the two looked vaguely across the room. "Looks like we'll have to go," the older said, trying to attract the attention of the younger. Still staring across the room, the blond lifted his glass to his lips and drank the last of the warm liquid.
     "Dale, are you still there?" The older laughed shortly and reached up to squeeze Dale's arm.
     With a faint smile Dale turned toward the older man. "I thought I saw someone I knew, but it wasn't him." For a moment he looked into the older man's eyes, and then his glance dropped down to the glass in his hand. He shifted his weight from one foot to another, and his back moved a few inches along the wall against which he was leaning. Turning his head, he looked off over the older man's shoulder and focused his eyes on the distant wall.
     The older man continued to look at Dale's eyes, as if tracing the source and end of each tiny red vein webbing their surface. "Would you like to go for coffee with me?"
     Dale again turned his head, and his eyes flicked across the head before him. "No, I don't think so." The soft sound of moving people, stepping slowly, came to the older man's ears, and he moved closer until his open jacket brushed Dale's hand. As if electrified, the hand avoided the woolen material. Dale slid along the wall for a few inches and turned away from the older man to place his glass on a wet tabletop. Hardly had the space between the two increased when the older man stepped quickly toward his new friend. Again his hand reached up to feel the younger's arm.
     Twisting on one heel, Dale avoided the other's touch, and said, "Look, I'm sorry, but I have to get home."
     "Don't be in such a hurry," the older said, his voice rising at the end into at tone that made Dale frown slightly.
     "I've enjoyed talking with you, but now I have to go." Dale's voice was slightly louder than before.
     "The night is still young, we could go for coffee, or my apartment is just around the corner." Dale's eyes shifted their focus by a fraction.
     "You live around here?" The question was almost accusation.
     "Just up the street, at 450." The older man's voice was low, and for the first time in the conversation it showed a touch of confidence.
     Dale looked again at the tanned man in front of him. He studied with fresh interest the crisp white shirt, the shapeless sport jacket, the trousers that were just a shade too tight. Dale saw nothing which would indicate that he might live at 450, but yet he said he did. He was about to say something else, but was interrupted.
     "Move toward the front please, we have to get these glasses picked up." The husky voice pushed them away from the wall, into the current flowing toward the door and the dark street. Dale walked in front, his forehead wrinkled as if he were trying to think of the answer to a difficult test question.
     "Dale?" The word was like a hand on his shoulder. He stopped in the middle of the floor, along an edge of men who were still drinking: their glasses were almost empty in their hands. Paradoxical thoughts washed through his mind: he wished he could see someone he knew, so that he could talk with him until his older pursuer tired of the chase; he was glad that he knew no one in the crowd, so that no one particularly noticed his pause. He half turned toward the voice, turned until his image in the mirror caught and stopped him. He looked pale, almost ghostly, and for a second he found himself wondering what he was doing in this dark place. But there were other eyes in the mirror, searching for his, and he looked down at the floor. It was a sea of smoke and tobacco, dim and far away, and his shoes were boats which had wandered from the safety of the bright shore. What were they doing here? he wondered. They should be under his desk while he studied for Monday's classes, or in his closet while he slept before going to church tomorrow. He was aware of words, scudding above this sea like clouds, but they were insubstantial.
     "Now you aren't even listening to me, Dale." Dale was sorry he had told him his name. You'd think it was a leash he had around me, Dale thought, the way he kept using it to urge me toward him.
     "I'm just tired, I guess." What else could he say? What should he do? He WAS tired of parrying words with this man. They had talked for over half an hour, and all the while Dale tried to escape from the net of words thrown out by his pursuer. His struggles had exhausted him.
     "Tired? Why should you be tired?" He pursed his lips and moved his tongue to produce a moist, clicking sound. "You youngsters could stay up all night and not get tired."
     "I've been studying all day today. I have a test next week and I'm not ready for it."
     "OK, you can talk somewhere else, we're closing up now." At last the evening was over.
     "You'll come up to my place and have just one drink. Then you can go back home." Dale made some sort of effort to decline, but they were caught up in the tide ebbing out of the bar. The swirl of humanity carried them out the door and up the street. Almost without thinking, Dale walked under the yellow marquee with the green numbers four, five, zero, and turned right, through the door. The doorman said nothing, and the elevator man said nothing, and the halls were silent as a key was fitted into a lock. Before he realized that he shouldn't have come up here, Dale had hung his coat in the closet and had seated himself self-consciously on the beige sofa. He was aware of his neck in his collar, his wrists in his cuffs, and he was too frightened too move, to look around the room. His paralysis continued until a wet glass was offered him, and the offerer seated himself by his side.
     "Well, now we can relax." Too numbed to say anything, Dale looked straight ahead, and took a small sip from his glass. The drink was strong, much stronger than those he'd had at the bar. He tried to keep his face expressionless, but he was sure his newly declared friend had noticed. He glanced sideways to see a broad smile beaming at him, but it was a smile of companionship, rather than of mockery.
     The man had settled himself into a corner of the sofa, arms out to either side. "Where're you from, Dale?"
     For a moment, Dale wanted to lie, or to avoid the question. "Kentucky." But what was the use? The truth was easier, and the alcohol was making his tongue loose.
     "Well, you certainly don't sound like it. You say you've just been here for two months?"
     "I guess I always was good a picking up accents. I remember once, when I was in high school, one of my relatives---second or third cousin, I guess---let's see, he was my uncle's wife's nephew---my mother's brother's wife's sister's son---" Dale grinned: boy, this drink was sure getting to him. "He came up from South Carolina [no more written]