Opening passage of my work in progress (as of this draft)

Beautiful Automaton

Joe Cathcart stood on the roof deck of the beach house, staring at the starry sky and the cargo ships going to and from a nearby port, while the party went on in the house below him.

“What’re you doing up here?” asked the man standing next to Joe on the rooftop deck of the beach house. “It’s a pretty dark night.”

“They often are in this part of the state at this time of year,” Joe responded.

“Fine, be that way,” said the man. “But why aren’t you downstairs at the party? Everyone’s having a good time.”

“I just had to come up here and clear my head.”

“Clear your head of what?”

“That song that was playing just now—”

“—wasn’t highbrow enough for you? This is spring break, not cultural tourism.”

“If you’re going to complete my sentences, at least try to be right. That’s not what I meant at all, and you know it.”

“Then what?”

“It’s just that the song reminded me of something.”

“What something was that?”

“Something that happened to me a while ago.”

“And what was that?”

“I didn’t come here to tell my life story to someone I’d just met.”

“I think I’ll freshen my drink.” The man went back downstairs.

No one would call the song highbrow enough. It was a schmaltzy love song, sung in a swing style. It still reminded Joe of events that he still found upsetting, starting with his first semester at Uxbridge University.

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