My old mistress talks back to me; it’s a typewriter I punch in bed. We have a love, hate, violent relationship and I’m left crying half the time. The words we exchange are never good enough and sometimes we become silent. With every sunrise, our relationship improves and any lovemaking the night before is consummated in the morning.

My walk was a ritual. The leaves were turning in the cold light and the cobblestone road led me to the corner cafe where I was the only customer.

“Triple espresso with cream,” I said.

I thought about work. Philosophy was intellectual masturbation and rarely spawned original ideas. I was the exception, of course, but my routines were looking more like the rule. I pulled a cigarette from my pocket and tried to light it, but my matches were damp.

“Maybe I’ll live a few more days,” I said

“Smoking’s good for you, didn’t you know?” An ivory hand lit my cigarette.

I looked into those brown eyes from last night. She was more beautiful in the morning.

“Indulgence is better than abstinence,” I said.

“Are you a Satanist?”

“No, but I dabble in all holy and unholy ideas.”

“Don’t you care about your health?”

“Perfect health sickens me.”

She sat down.

“I’m struggling to understand The Stranger. A young man kills a foreigner in a random act of violence and his life is forever changed.”

“That’s right.”

“But this shouldn’t be a mystery. Life is random.”

“That’s true, unless you believe in free will and our ability to choose our destiny.”

“But you’re talking to me and I can tell you avoid women.”

“What can I say, the will to life hijacks a man’s reason. Beauty can only be ignored from a distance.” She smiled a cruel smile that had cut holes in the hearts of men and I wanted to possess her cruelty. Good people think they can absorb a little poison, but it always kills them in the end.

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