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**PRINT: FRIENDS FROM CINCINNATI: Installment 24 features this part coming-of-age short by Chicago's Patrick Somerville, author of the Trouble collection of shorts out in 2006. | PAST BROADSHEETS |

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Greg Purcell

2AM, beginning of R.E.M.: IT IS NOON BECAUSE THE SUN IS RIGHT ABOVE MY HEAD: it seems eternally huge and bright, but I cannot feel the heat, though my eyes are bulging in their sockets from the light it gives off. I am standing on the intersection of 14th and B, in New York City. I am studying a map of the city but a corner is burnt. I turn the map upside down and walk the way it tells me, which is North.

2:30, eyes twitching behind sockets: IT IS PROBABLY PAST NOON BUT THE SUN ISN'T GOING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, IT IS HEADING STRAIGHT DOWNTOWN. ALL SIGNS POINT TO AROUND 2PM: I decide I'll go see Erin just before I hit midtown, were she's managing the Lava Club (though in real life it's now called Eden, or something). I am thinking mainly of getting away from the sun, and by extension, the city itself. I see her sitting just inside the window -- she has brought her coffee, telephone and paperwork into the front room, and she is lounging on the couch. The bar is closed. When I knock on the window, she looks back and doesn't seem to recognize me. "Of course not," I think to myself. "I'm in this light and it's making me look older." I put my face in my hands and stretch the skin back, and awareness comes into her face. "Oh my God, I thought you were dead," she says, when she lets me into the bar. Most of the lights in the bar are turned off -- though miniature volcanoes are propped up throughout the bar, and the walls are painted red, in the darkness the space looks cool and inviting. "Oh my God," she repeats. "I thought you were dead." It seems to be the only thing she can say.

3:00, deep R.E.M., though my body is beginning to tell me that I have to go to the bathroom: TIME BECOMES MEANINGLESS IN A CAVERN: I tell Erin that I have to go to the bathroom and she leads me into the cavernous bowels of the Lava Lounge. She leads me upstairs. I follow her, but every so often I lose sight of her. The last thing she tells me is that she'll be "at the top." Suddenly I realize that I am in The World Trade Center, lost in the offices. Once I step out of the stairwell and peer into a boardroom, the light shining through the windows is so bright it's almost a blackness, engulfing everything. It's an otherworldly light, the light of a God I can't believe in. As long as I stay in the stairwell I will be safe, I think. But have to go to the bathroom so badly. My bladder is on fire. When the rumbling and shaking starts, I can't tell if it's the building or just my body bursting.

4:00: wake up, blink. Stand up in the darkness and stumble to the toilet. Urinate for what feels like 10 minutes. Walk back to bed, wondering if I'll be able to go back to sleep. There is a tiny core of bright light in my head. It warms me back into a dreamless sleep.

6:45: hit snooze alarm.

6:55: hit snooze alarm.

7:05: hit snooze alarm.

7:15: twist in bed, pouting. Remember that my alarm is set 15 minutes fast. Stop twisting. Hit snooze alarm.

7:25: do a a little muddle-headed mathematics. Realize I have plenty of time, if I want to sleep in just a little bit more. Yes. Hit snooze alarm.

7:45: again.

7:55: reach for snooze alarm before realizing that I'm running late. Fuck, I say out loud to no one. Again I pout in sleep-petulance.

8:10: while in the shower realize that I'm going to be yelled at for something that went wrong at work. I remember a person from another department showing some mistake that hadn't been corrected, some mistake I was presumably responsible for. She was holding v.1 and v.2 out on the table, the two documents blatantly contradicting each other, her face saying something along the lines of "I'm an impassioned observer and here we have a mystery that perhaps you could attempt to solve for us." It's as if she were showing me a picture of my own schizophrenia.

8:20: leave my home and the light outside is fucking exhausting, just fucking exhausting. It beams straight ahead through the buildings, through my brain, like the rounded plume of a rogue jet.