We Could Be Dreams for Each Other
by Jeff Kass
Jeff Kass

Jeff Kass is a teacher of English and Creative Writing at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, MI, and at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti. He is also the Poet-in-Residence for Ann Arbor Public Schools. His poems, stories and essays have been published in several literary reviews, newspapers, magazines and anthologies including The Ann Arbor News, The Georgetown Review, Current, The Wayne Literary Review, Anderbo, Writecorner, and The Spoken Word Revolution Redux. His one-man performance poetry show Wrestle the Great Fear debuted in April, 2009, and his short story collection Knuckleheads is forthcoming from Dzanc Books.

Saturday nights are a madhouse. Lillian's on her feet for hours. Her arms ache from carrying trays. The noise is constant, a roar of disconnected shouts and laughs. There's bad music too, syncopated backbeats and synthesized singing. There's beer on her wrists, sloshing and staining. There's larger-than-life television with chemically-muscled men squeezing past goal-lines, or failing to, thanking God or their mothers, and the air stinks of fuck-me perfume. Lillian hates it. And she craves it. Can't get enough of the high-energy eager, the glitter and the leaking of sighs, the slipping past of sweaty drunk bodies, the winding down and the full dead-throat, calves-crying exhaustion. Saturday nights are a madhouse, a real son-of-a-bitch, a dank teeming murk.


In the sky, Lillian leads.

It's a vivid, recurring dream and she's the point person in a wedge of 500 mini-aircraft, 500 motorcycles that can fly, and they're hovering above a packed football stadium, protesting the war. She's the lead activist, the head cheerleader she never aspired to be, except instead of a polyester flop-skirt, she's packed in a pair of leather pants, her thighs two taut ropes squeezing the steel beneath her hips. With one fist punched to the clouds, she calls out the protest chants and her flying choir echoes — We don't want this war! We won't fight no more! From the ground, the multitudes are waving, rooting her on, and she unfurls a huge banner, stretching across 500 flying motorcycles — END THE MADNESS NOW! — and the stadium erupts in a tremendous howl as she guns her bike to a dramatic roar and leads the wedge out over the rest of the city.

But then it all goes horribly wrong. All 500 motorcycles malfunction simultaneously, as if someone has sabotaged them, and their noses begin to dip. Lillian shouts the order — Eject! Eject! — and 499 parachutes unfurl as the protestors leap from their bikes. One parachute fails to unfurl. Hers. The empty motorcycles splash into a convenient lake below, followed seconds later by the protestors, floating into the water more or less harmlessly. Lillian, without a working parachute, tries to pull the nose of her craft up and pumps the gas. The bike sputters but edges past the lake and over a hillside before again dipping downward. About 40 feet above the ground, she leaps from the bike and grabs a tree branch as she plummets. Her craft explodes against the hill in a blue-orange mess of flames as she lands on her feet, barely scratched. She sprints back to the summit and, like a sleek triathlete, strips off her leather as she runs, then dives neatly into the lake to make sure none of her cohorts have drowned. She pulls half-a-dozen bodies from the water and resuscitates them. One of them is Asian — a boy she briefly dated but never slept with — and she's struck by how peaceful he looks, with his eyes closed, before he blubbers lake-muck and begins to breathe again.

It turns out all 499 of her fellow protestors are members of Lillian's high school graduating class from three-and-a-half years earlier. Whoever she doesn't personally rescue is already safe. Her mission is complete. She doesn't lose a single acolyte.


The thing about Lillian, who's 21, is that she might be the best waitress in the city. She's been working bars since she was 16, and now, still young, energetic and pretty, she can serve a trayful of a dozen drinks with no notepad, no mistakes, and no offense taken when one of her drunk high school classmates, now at the university, tries to paw her. She doesn't have to like it though, she tells herself as she stuffs her tips into the front pocket of her jeans. She's got her own one-bedroom with a large print of an exotic parrot. She pays her bills more or less on time, has sex now — at least in the past six months — only with guys she's really interested in, and she's just putting up with this waitress situation until she can save enough money to pay for classes at the community college.

Duffy tells her she can quit any time.

"Look," he says, "don't wind up like me. A hack behind a bar, helping people get hammered. Joking with them about it. You're too good for this."

Lillian thinks what Duffy's really saying is you're too good for me, which is also his way of saying he's sorry for bringing her into this life, and also sorry he doesn't love her anymore. Sorry he's married to Anna the Physio who he's been trying to have kids with for the past year.

"Something's screwed up," he says. "She's been tested, like, four times. So it's gotta be me with the problem. No motility or something, no juice."

Duffy's 34, and Lillian began sleeping with him when he was 29. She was just starting in the bars then, a hostess trainee with a brand new tattoo on her lower back. The ink was intricate and expensive — a Hindu goddess with several arms and curved swords — which is why she needed the job. So she could pay for it. She'd wanted the tattoo badly, for months, as if the ink could pull her away from the boys in her school with pimples and horse-laughs, the boys who looked at her ass as if it were some artifact in a museum, encased in glass. It felt important, those hours lying on her stomach at the tattoo parlor, as if she'd made a decision to embrace something she'd been born for, but she doesn't think much about the tattoo now, why she wanted it, or what it looks like. Customers at the bar stare at it when her shirt rides up as she bends over.


Lillian and Duffy knocked off the sex after he and Anna got married, but they were still hot and heavy while the happy couple was engaged. Maybe hotter and heavier than ever. It was good with Duffy, a colorful and noisy romp, and it always had been, and probably would be now if they sneaked off and began again. Lillian liked the smell of him, the way beer and whiskey were ironed into his skin, deep and honest, hinting of nighttime. Duffy always smelled to her like night. Saturday night.

The wedding was two years ago, at the university's botanical gardens. Lillian went in a muted orange dress and the bride told her it complemented the autumn foliage. She brought a date named Andrew, a frat kid, and fucked him in the parking lot in his Mercedes.

She's followed Duffy to every bar where he worked — every time he got "re-employed" as he called it — as one place closed, and a new one opened; and together they climbed the drinking establishment ladder. Now they're at the pinnacle — The Coliseum — the trendiest sports bar in the city. Brass railings like a virus and gigantic flat-screen televisions on every oak-paneled wall. Quesadillas with fresh avocado; thick hamburgers with sweet-potato french fries; wood-fired pizzas; goat cheese on the salads.

College kids in button-downs pack the place to drink to their parents' credit limits and wager their hefty allowances on multiple games televised simultaneously, tipping high if they win. Frequently they immerse themselves in competitions to see who can get more wasted, complicated rituals involving quarters or ping-pong balls and new vocabularies they're proud to show off. Lillian is patient with them, treating them as if they're valuable members of a thriving and benevolent ruling class. They appreciate her, sometimes acting as if her ability to remember their orders, to replenish their pitchers in timely fashion, means she's smart enough to sit down with them in their lecture halls, smart enough to take notes and pass tests and learn the slang flitting around them like bats.

Her love for Duffy is complicated. He drives her home after work and wraps her in a hug, paternal like he's her father now, or her big brother. He's sweet, but she wants to slap him. Lately, she's been thinking of using the money she's saving for school to buy her own car instead. Or at least a motorcycle, one that stays on the ground.


A couple of nights a week, Blake comes into the bar. He's a senior at The U, and president or rush chair or some other important thing at one of the frats. Lillian went to the prom with him in high school because she couldn't go with Duffy, who was 30 and who insisted he'd only drive his beat-up Honda. "No limo," he'd said. "Those companies rape you kids. It's exploitation."

Blake was cute and funny and sexy, though only average down below and an impatient kisser. Maybe he's better at that stuff now. It's clear that once having touched Lillian's skin, sucked her breasts, gives him status among his friends — is maybe the reason he's got his big rush job or whatever. Lillian likes feeling mildly responsible for his success, for the confident, smarmy aura he exudes. He certainly seems to have girls hanging off him all the time, the most recent an auburn-haired anorexic with fake boobs and a Long Island accent. "I'll have a vodka gimlet," she says to Lillian with a cat-grin that implies she's the only female in history who's ever properly handled her boyfriend's genitals.

Blake will be like, "I'll have a Bells. Make that two. And a shot of J.D." but at some point in his stupor, he'll pretend to go to the men's room and find Lillian. "Lil," he'll say. "You've always been the one, you know that."

She pushes him away with the expert slips and pivots she's learned from having to push four or five men away every night, though once he caught her with a full tray and leaned her up against a bussing station, mashing his mouth against her chin. "You could love me, Lil," he slurred. "I'm your dream. You're mine. We could be dreams for each other."

His tongue was shapeless, a wet-dough sloppy mush.

Lillian got her lower lip pierced the next day, and plugged the hole with a sharp spike that protruded a quarter-inch from her face.

"Bad-ass," Duffy said when he saw it.


Sometimes, before the bar opens, Duffy will be wiping the windows and Lillian will catch him gazing at people on the sidewalk. She thinks he's imagining he sees Anna the Physio walking by, pushing a stroller, maybe a double-stroller with twins. In one hand, she holds a latté. The kids wear fleece hats and bulky jackets. Duffy's never told his wife about Lillian, and Lillian's never told Duffy about the abortion.

She was 18 then and at the mall, trying to choose the dress she would wear to Prom, wondering which one Blake would like better. She had her eye on a pale yellow — it would play nicely off her tan shoulders — but Christie, her best friend, said "no, that's not you, too little-girlish," and angled her finger toward the rack of reds and blacks. Lillian nuzzled her cheek against the sheen of a sleek strapless shift and fingered its hem. A life could exist like this, she thought, her thighs warm as she pictured Duffy's arms floating around her back. The two of them could be dancing aboard a cruise ship near something palm-treeish, some kind of Polynesian island. She'd be even more tan, a deeper bronze, and not from a booth. The music would be Sinatra, or Billie Holiday. Something that could paint the air. Duffy would smell like night and the flukes of whales would scoop out of the dark water with a deep and echoing vastness that resonated round and full like birth. It would be the beginning, and the end, and the middle all wrapped together, delicious. Satisfying.

Lillian's stomach lurched and she clutched at the dress, knocking it off its hanger and shaking the rack. She thought she would puke right there in the store, her head rolling like a bowling ball off the back of her neck. She shoved Christie, who shouted "Hey! What?" and sprinted to the restroom, where she unburdened herself of her half of the chicken sandwich they'd split 20 minutes earlier in the food court. Her throat burned raw and acidic as Christie bounded in with a gurgle of what's-the-matters and are-you-okays.

"I haven't had a period in two months," Lillian said.


Lillian didn't tell Duffy about the pregnancy because she didn't know what to do. She was Catholic and he was Very Catholic, Irish Catholic, and 30. She was 18 with marginal grades but still wanted college and had been smoking and drinking for six months straight, high for most of her senior year on pot, sometimes E, and a few times meth. The doctor said she was 11 weeks and she'd have to stop all that immediately and it's possible she'd damaged the fetus already. She wasn't even sure she could stop all that immediately, and she definitely didn't want to. Not at the end of her senior year. Not over the summer. Not when there would be bonfires and golf-course parties and sleeping late. The baby could be stupid and stuttering. Could grow up to be one of those kids teachers hate because they put their heads on their desks and drool. Duffy's baby.

The baby could be beautiful like him with huge grey eyes and floppy blond curls. Lillian knew he wanted children. A tribe of them. He came from a big family and he was always talking about his brothers, his blood, how tight they all were. One of them had two boys already and every Sunday, after church, Duffy played uncle and took them to the zoo, or out on the used boat he'd picked up cheap and refurbished. When it got too cold for the boat, he threw footballs with them and showed them how to tackle. "Like this," he'd say, "head up, wrap your arms around the legs. Drive through with your shoulders."

He'd showed Lillian once too, made her tackle him on the soccer field at Sugarbush Park. It had been dusk and she'd hit him with everything she had, knocking him backward. He'd been surprised, out of breath, and she'd mounted him, pinned his arms to the ground. Kissed his chin, his neck, his eyebrows. Straddled his hips. Forgot about going home to do homework.

After, she'd had to help him up. He'd bruised his back when she knocked him over, and wrenched it a bit more while she was on top of him, grinding his spine into the turf. It got stiff. Felt, for a minute, like his muscles were paralyzed. "Damn it to fuck," he'd said, "my grandfather had this, had to take disability and retire early. Had to swallow, like, 20 pills a day."

He'd reached his hands upward then, stretched them to the treetops as if signaling a three-pointer at a basketball game, then twisted his torso and made painful-looking faces. "Good for now," he'd said after contorting himself for a couple more minutes, and then grabbing Lillian's hand and swinging it, "but I need to see someone about this. I don't want to be a cripple before I'm 40."

The person he ended up seeing was Anna.


Duffy would be a great father; Lillian had known that at 18. She could see him tossing his babies in the air and catching them, bright sky lighting their foreheads, could see him making them sit up straight at church. She could see him singing hymns he didn't really care about, but faking it, his voice loud and ringing, his mouth open wide as if welcoming the verses, as if welcoming a belief he didn't need.


Christie got tired of Lillian's agonizing about what to do about the pregnancy, the constant crying and driving her around and late nights blubbering on the phone. "Too much drama," she said. "It's ruining my senior year."

Lillian ended up going to the clinic with April, another friend, who held her hand as she bawled throughout the procedure, repetitive staccato sniffs and yelps that could have come from the baby she wasn't going to have. April's in her last year at the U now too — unaccountably an R.A. in one of the dorms — and she spends a lot of time at The Coliseum and acts like she doesn't know Lillian, smokes a new cigarette every ten minutes and refuses to make eye contact when she orders. Often she drinks to the point of passing out, lets frat boys lick margaritas from her stomach, and then leaves with one of them. A different one each time. They have a nickname for her. They call her Spring Fever. "That girl needs help," Duffy says.

Lillian bought the yellow dress and got so high at the prom she doesn't remember much except Blake's leaky kisses and that she probably gave him a blowjob in the laundry room of his parents' lake house. She stopped going to class after that, for the last five weeks of school, and skipped all her final exams. Pretty much slept all day at Duffy's apartment and worked all night, drinking and smoking as much as she could. She broke down in her guidance counselor's office the day before graduation and told him about the abortion and how she thought she was clinically depressed. He wiped her face with a questionable handkerchief from his pocket, then leaned against her in a hug for several minutes, his hands squeezing her ass like fruit, his hard-on pushing into her groin.

"Nothing that happens here leaves this office," he told her before changing all her F's to D-minuses so she could walk across the stage and get a diploma. She almost broke then too, sitting in the gloomy basketball gym, her classmates passing around fifths and hooting through the boring speeches from the superintendent and school board members. A handful of people clapped when her name was called and she heard Christie yell "Yayyy! Lily!" Duffy took her to an expensive restaurant after, but she could eat only a few bites of her pasta, which had some kind of seafood-based sauce that made her feel ill.

"What's with you?" he said. "This is a big day. You're supposed to be happy."

"My grades are shit," she said. "I'm not going to college."

He chugged from his beer and looked at her like he understood, like he knew everything. She hated him. His stupid grin and curly hair. "College is overrated," he said. "You see those fuckers come into the bar and get bombed. What's the point? They're just blowing their parents' nest egg. You've heard of that, right? That phrase — nest egg? It means retirement savings. Seriously, you're smarter than any of them."

"Let's just go home," she said.


In her dream, one of the people Lillian personally saves from drowning is Blake. Water streams backward across his scalp and through his thinning hair as she props his head up with one hand under his neck, floating him above the lake. He's beginning to show crow's feet around the edges of his eyes. "I didn't know you were against the war," she says after she resuscitates him with mouth-to-mouth.

"I'm for peace," he says, winking at her. "Peace and love."


Duffy's gazing out the window again, a bottle of Windex in one hand, a limp rag in the other. Lillian moves up behind him and scratches his back. They stand quiet for a moment.

"The thing is," he says, "Anna's family doesn't have any money. She's as broke as I am."

"I'm more broke than both of you."

He tousles her hair, and she likes the feel of his fingers, their whimsy. "You're a kid," he says. "I'm supposed to be entering my prime earning capacity and look what I got. Squat."

She almost says, "I wasn't a kid all those times in your bedroom, was I?" but she doesn't. It's not necessary. Her glare is enough, her knitted eyebrows.

"I'm sorry," he says. "That was bullshit. But, here's the point, you remember my wedding?"

She nods, but doesn't actually remember much of it. She was too high on the frat boy's weed.

"It was a pretty expensive deal, you know. Especially for two families with no money. I mean, that string quartet, the buffet, the tent. All that shit costs."

Costs. What's a cost? Six hours face-downward on a table with a needle humming in your back? College classes? Too much drama ruining a friendship? A baby? The afternoon sun hazes through the window and Lillian squints. Then she nods at Duffy as if to say, costs, no, I don't really understand what you mean. Explain.

"So the deal is," he says, "my dad finds out Anna's family has nothing, can't really afford anything except maybe renting some cheap hall with chicken wings, and you know what he does?"

Lillian shakes her head. Looks at dust motes in the air. The sun polishing them like shoes.

"He gets another job, Lil. My father who's worked his whole life already for his kids, trimmed hedges for what, 40 years, until finally he can retire, and Jesus, Lil, he signs up for a paper route. He goes out and starts delivering newspapers like he's a freaking 14-year-old. Except he has a car, of course, so he can do one of those monster ten-in-one routes. Still, he's up every morning at four, bundling newspapers in rubber bands and tossing them onto people's porches. He did that for me, Lillian, for, like, eight months, just so I could have a half-decent wedding. Me, his fuck-up son who didn't even go to school, who tends bar. You understand what I'm saying?"

"Your dad's cool. He's a saint."

"More than that. He did it because he wants me to have a good start in my marriage. Wants me to have a family. Wants me to be Saint Dad like he is."

"And you will be. You'll be a great dad."

"It's been over a year, Lil. That's not a coincidence. That's not bad luck. Doctors say eight months, nothing happens, get tested. Anna's been tested. She's fine. It's me, Lillian. Something's wrong with me."

Lillian wonders if it's possible that nothing could be wrong with both people, if what could be wrong is the connection between them, like a bad wire. She can't offer that theory though because the only proof she's got is the abortion, how Duffy's seed grew in her and she throttled it; and she worries if she tells him about that, he'll never forgive her. Never forgive himself either for not being — what, a better partner? More supportive? She never gave him the choice.

There's more too. What else hasn't she given him? This is the question Lillian doesn't want to answer, the one digging sharp, like a tattoo needle, into her breastbone. Duffy brought her into this, all this, the Saturday nights and the appetizers and the groping and the tips. He brought her into this, and then he left her. For Anna. Lillian could've had a degree, a job she needed a resumé to apply for. She could be ordering drinks instead of serving them.


When Duffy told her he was getting married, Lillian tried again to hit him with everything she had. For months. Straddled him and wriggled beneath his skinny hips and backed into him and heated him and wrenched his back several times and bruised and drained him. "We have to stop this," he said two weeks before his wedding. "It feels wrong."

"No," she said, "wrong is not how this feels."

"Lillian, I'm about to be married. I can't be a husband and have you in my life, not like this."

"No," she said, staring at him, "you can't be a husband and have me. Not like this. This is what you won't be able to have."

What was she doing? Trying to convince him Anna was a bad idea? Trying to hold on? She's not sure it was any of those things, only that her insides, her womb, felt attached to him, felt like it still held a piece of him. He looked awe-struck then, when she was shifting against him. Now he just looks sad, beaten, thinking there's something wrong with his motility, something wrong with his juice. If Lillian tells him about the abortion, he'll know he's capable of swelling somebody like a fat blimp. Capable of filling her with future. He'll have that knowledge to hold onto. Maybe he'll stop tormenting himself, stop looking so pathetic. Maybe too if she tells him, her own womb will let go, release him so his juice can work again.

He probably won't see it like that, though. He'll be devastated. He'll think he had the ability to swell someone back then, but doesn't anymore. He'll think he missed his one chance. Blew it big time. Maybe he'll cross the line he's always drawn for himself and start drinking too hard, decay into one of those bartenders who melts into his own bar. Maybe he'll dump Anna. Which is why, no matter what, no matter how much Duffy doubts himself, Lillian knows she can't tell him. Can't ever tell this man who only ever thinks about having children that he could have had a kid already, could have had a four-year-old with bouncy curls, a four-year-old to take to the beach, to flex muscles with, to teach how to ride a bike.


Later, The Coliseum's full. Smoke and laughter steam upward, shooting as if from a five-o'clock whistle. It's an exam period. Kids at the U choose the library or oblivion. Lillian carries trays. Blake comes in. The anorexic girl's wearing basically an undershirt. Her ribs and nipples are both visible. "Gimlet?" Lillian asks her.

"Champagne," she says. "We're celebrating. Blake got a job offer today. A consulting firm in New York. Big bucks."

This is the part that hurts the most. While Lillian's classmates are still in school, it feels like she can still catch up, maybe overtake them. But if they leave school and she hasn't started yet, that's different. That's a wide gulf. Someday, she realizes, if she stays here, the kids who were freshmen when she was a senior, those rodent-looking nothings she laughed at in the hallway — those kids will be getting job offers too, and her arms will still be aching from carrying trays. She'll still be hearing the bad music and smelling the sleazy perfume. The thought makes her feel like someone belted her in the stomach with a wine bottle.

"It's not that much money," Blake says. "It's entry level."

"But you're on the road," the anorexic girl says, the back of one hand brushing gently across his cheek. "The road, honey, the road."

"I'll just have the Bells," he says to Lillian. "Two of 'em and the shot."

While she's getting the drinks, which she does slowly, carefully, as if she's entry-level herself, Lillian envisions Blake in Manhattan with an even skinnier girl. He's almost bald and slamming over-priced gin-and-tonics in a dark bar with stained-glass light fixtures. The woman he's with has no cheeks at all, just a straight sheet of taut skin from forehead to chin. He's got two children at home with another skinny woman who teaches kindergarten and is thinking about filling a prescription for anti-depressants. If Blake made her pregnant right now, Lillian thinks, feeling something stir, she'd have the kid. She might not tell him about it, but she'd keep it.

After a couple of hours, she finds him on his way back from the men's room. He's stumbling drunk and studying a picture of Gordie Howe on the wall as if it's the Mona Lisa. She tells him congratulations about the offer. It's exciting.

"Listen," he says, "if you don't want me to go, I won't. I'll get a job right here. You're the one I want to be with. You're beautiful. You always have been."

"You don't mean that," she says. "You're just wishing we'd screwed after the prom."

"We did screw after the prom," he says, suddenly looking sober. "You don't remember?" He looks down at his designer construction boots. A wash of light from a brass lamp plays off the Gordie Howe picture and the American flag pin affixed to the lapel of his shirt. He's hurt.

Lillian wonders if some memories are like children who are never born. They exist somewhere, or their souls had the possibility of existing, but then they dissipated like clouds, the greater force of atmosphere blueing them out. She presses her body against Blake's, feels his crotch pushing into hers.

"Your girlfriend's a bitch," she says.

He still looks hurt. "I know it," he says. "I know."

It could go lots of ways from here. One thing Lillian could do is tug Blake's hand and lead him into the basement storeroom. She could open his mouth with her tongue and hope Duffy happens to wander down in the middle of it. She could whisper in his ear and ask him where his car is, clock out and meet him in the parking lot and never come back. She could breathe onto his neck, work him with her hand in the dark.

She doesn't do any of those things.

What she does is press harder into him, grind against his groin the way she used to do with Duffy. For long moments, there is friction, pressure, the high-energy of the Saturday night funneled right here — the whirl of it gulped into their connected centers of gravity, colliding with slow inexorable force like two continental plates riding each other, tremoring, making fire. Lillian can feel tendrils from her womb reaching into Blake's skin, radiating through him and attaching, leaving her.

"Don't you ever fucking walk into this bar again with another girl and then flirt with me," she says to him. "Don't you ever fucking do that again."

Then she pushes him away and spins to take the order at another table. He leans against the wall, stunned and stupid, as if Gordie Howe just cross-checked him into the boards.


In the early morning, after last call, Duffy's wiping down the bar. Lillian's folding napkins for the lunch rush, the 1:00 kick-offs. It's a task she adores. A flat stack of them warm from the dryer. She creases them smartly, her fingers manipulating their corners with skill.

"Saw you getting friendly with your old flame," Duffy says.

"Spring Fever wasn't here tonight. If he wanted to hook up with someone behind his girlfriend's beanpole back, I was his only choice."

"Didn't look like he was the one doing the hooking."

"What's your point, Mr. Wedding In The Arb?"

"Nothing. I'm not judging. Just curious. Ever sleep with him?"

It isn't Duffy's business, Lillian knows. This man who refused to take her to the prom unless they went in his busted-up ratmobile. This man whose back she broke. This man whose apartment she slept in for months after the abortion. The cheap futon on the floor. The blankets in a warm circle.

His face is starting to go a little soft, she thinks. The big bright cheeks have begun to sag. He'll be a dad soon. It hits Lillian just like that, the vision of it, his future hovering like a paycheck. She can see him walking down the sidewalk in front of the bar. He'll tap on the window so they can all admire his gorgeous child perched in one of those corny front-packs, legs dangling and kicking in excitement.

Duffy's never appeared in any of her dreams, Lillian realizes. Not once. Never needed to be saved.

"The facts are in question," she says. "Blake says we did. I don't remember it."

Duffy shrugs. "Must not have been too memorable."

"Yeah," Lillian says, and resumes folding napkins. "Sometimes things are like that. Whether they happen or not, it doesn't matter. You just keep moving."

She fingers the spike sticking from her lower lip. Decides she'll get rid of it. Good tips tonight. Frat kids won their bets.

"Hey, Duff," she begins. "It's time I had my own transportation, you know, my own way to get around. I'm looking at buying a motorcycle. What do you think?"

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