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There is a hole where my dreams should be.
I try to sleep, but the dark is as elusive as comfort. I twist restlessly in my waking, and even more restlessly still in my sleep. When my eyes do stay shut, and I manage to grasp the fragile fleeting tendrils of slumber, I dream of a hole where my brother should be. I dream of bullet holes and holes in the ground, and holes in hearts. I dream of a hole, starting in the center of the city and growing outwards, devouring all in its path, swallowing the entire city into the earth. And then there is a gravestone by the hole, and as I'm about to read it, I wake, trembling, sweating, my heart pounding.
So many holes that need filling.
I return to work the next morning at the Pulopolis Public Library. I take my place behind my desk on the second floor, amidst the crime and detective fiction section. I have always had the same fascinations as Johnny, I just took them in a different direction.
My desk-mate Helen arrives a couple of minutes later, sets her purse behind her chair and sits down. She is a bespectacled brunette about my age of average looks and height. She has worked here as long as I have, and has always been a good friend to me. She glances at me at of the corner of her eye a few times as she shifts some books and papers around on her side of the desk before speaking.
"Hey Mark," she says gently. "Rough night?"
I simply nod my head, not even making eye-contact.
"I'm sorry. If you need someone to talk to, I'm here for you, alright?"
"Thank you," I say after clearly my throat. I blink my eyes to keep the tears down. "I'm alright for now, though. I appreciate the offer."
I try to make myself look busy so as to avoid her worried gaze. The day goes by in relative silence. The library is never busy in this city. No one in Pulopolis reads anymore. Not when there are people to murder and steal from. And it's a Monday to boot. No one is here.
I shelve books and write out forms and orders, and file papers away. My tasks go by monotonously and slowly, and never are granted my full attention. My conversation with Harvey from last night is never far from my mind.
Finally, the clock's diligent hands all stand at attention, and Helen tells me that I can take my lunch break first. I thank her for her kindness and pick up my coat and put it on. I walk down the stairs and out the front door into the fog. I get the feeling that I won't be seeing Helen again any time soon. I am saddened a bit at the notion, and pause to look up at the second story window. I hesitate for a moment, and take a step back toward the library door. I reach into my pocket and look at the business card with Harvey Farleone's name and phone number on it. I turn away from the library and walk down the sidewalk into the thick fog that concealed the surface of the city from prying eyes.
"Harvey?" I say into my cell phone as the gray envelopes me, "I have an answer for you."