I squeezed my bike’s handbrakes, slowing to a stop. “Jake,” I said, feeling oddly calm, for some reason. “What’s up?”

He shrugged, his face weirdly blank in the yellow glow of the streetlights.

“Were you at the movie? Didn’t see you.”

He shook his head. “Nah. I . . . uh, had some thinkin’ to do. About stuff. Hey,” he leaned over his handlebars, face finally coming alive, looking eager, nervous, maybe excited . . . and . . .



“Listen. I’m gonna do somethin’ tonight. I need help. Someone to watch out. Could . . . could you go with me? I’m sorry for the way I freaked out in the woods Saturday. I just . . . I need your help, man. Need you to watch out for me.”

I stared at him: his brow furrowed, jaw firm, a vein pulsing on his temple, eyes wide and glimmering. I knew where he wanted to go but I asked anyway. “Where?”

And then I saw it, creeping back into his face as a gradual sneer—that old Jake Burns look, but with something else burning his eyes.


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