carly part three: the streets (continued)

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They all fell silent, and to Carly it seemed about as pointless to try to hear what was going on out on the street as it would have been for her to try to to see the two men who shared this room with her. But they all stayed quiet, straining to hear something. Carly started wondering if all the nights she had spent in clubs listening to bands had really had an effect on her hearing. She thought she heard a ringing in her right ear. Was it real, or just in her imagination? Had she suddenly gone deaf? Then she clearly heard a car drive away out on the street.

"Well, that's that," the tall man said, relaxing. "We lucked out." He leaned back on the narrow bench. "I have three questions, old man. Is there any more tea? And, since this room is sealed so well that we can't see any light from outside, why can't we risk a light? It's as black as the inside of a cow in here. And, finally, am I correct in assuming that the answer to the second question is that the darkness was so that we wouldn't see your other guest?"

"You know what your problem is?" their host demanded. "You're a smart guy, at least in your mind. In your rather restricted universe, all of the rest of us exist only to prop up your exaggerated idea of your own intelligence. Young man, reality doesn't exist only in order to–"

"Answers?" the tall man interjected with a chuckle.

"Oh, very well. My other guest, now presumably deceased or incarcerated, is none of your concern. I can produce a light if you'd really like to see this weathered and yet kindly old face. As for the tea–"

"Screw the tea," the tall man said cheerfully, "do you have any coffee?"

Carly felt a sudden fondness for the tall man, and she moved as far away from him as she could on the narrow bench.

"For a guest, you're mighty demanding," their host said. "But, since I am the host, I have the quaint idea that it's my responsibility to make every effort toward your comfort. I have no coffee, but I have some special tea which should serve. I'll put on a light, if you insist."

They heard a metallic clanking and then saw a match flare. Their host's bearded face pinched in concentration as he carefully lit the wick of a battered old oil lantern. When it was lit, he carefully slid the glass top down and then hung it from a hook in the low ceiling.

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About Anthony Lee Collins

I write.
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