A short excerpt from The New Sophisticates; More AWP reporting/recap later today (I promise)!!

Wednesday, Omaha, NE, 6:46 P.M. CST

Florence, North 30th St. and Weber

Winter in Nebraska ostensibly begins at the end of October and—until December 21st—the days keep getting shorter and shorter, less and less daylight, more time spent in the dark, and it’s typically cold—really, really cold.

“Dude, seriously, what the hell are we doing all the way up here?” Sawyer says.

“We’re meeting the guy that has the solution to your problem, chief,” Sebastian says, somewhat impassively.

“I’m pretty sure an armored car was robbed down here right across the street last summer, Sebastian,” Sawyer says, pretending to scan the immediate vicinity.

“Wouldn’t surprise me.”

“And that Godfather’s Pizza next door there, too.”

“Sounds right.”

“And the Post Office just up the street.”


Sebastian doesn’t seem at all bothered by these unsettling bits of information.  The two sit for a couple minutes, not saying much to one another inside Sawyer’s GT-R right in front of a smallish, industrial-looking building painted a nauseating oatmeal or off-white hue that looks like it probably wants to be a shade of tan and is also adorned with two blue awnings that each read Getty Technologies, Inc. in white block lettering.  The parking lot had been freshly-plowed not too long ago, which made things at least a little easier for Sawyer to negotiate with respect to both his car’s having such a low-slung profile and the prospect of successfully parking it.  Sawyer chose a spot underneath an orange sodium light that was in a constant state of flickering and that he suspected would probably not even remain lit, at the very least, until they were ready to leave.

“I really fucking hate snow,” Sawyer says, breaking the silence.

“You should get a car that gets around better since you live in Nebraska and all, chief,” Sebastian says.

“This car gets around just fine.  I just hate the snow.  And the cold.”

“Weather seems pretty par for the course, to me.”

“Yeah, OK—you aren’t helping.  And besides, I’ve still got the Range Rover my dad bought me for graduating from my MBA.”

“Eh, what can I say?  You got it rough, boss.”

“So tell me again—why the hell is it I still live here in Omaha?”

“Fat-paying job, eighty-some-odd-thousand-dollar car, ultra-pimptastic condo—”

“Oh, right… All that stuff…”

“—insanely-hot future-trophy-wife, Range Rover as a — quote — ‘winter beater’—” Sebastian actually uses air quotes here.

“OK, that’s probably adequate.  I feel much better about my life now, thank you for reminding me.”

“Any time.”

“So now what?”

“A.G. said to go around back.  The steel entry door beside the big garage door is unlocked, it just sticks.”

“OK?  Around the back.  So, uh, where’s the sidewalk?”

“Under the snow—just stay close to the fence.”  Sebastian’s been reading something very intently for a few minutes now, not looking up once from his iPhone since they’d parked, aside from briefly air quoting a minute ago.


“Hey man, listen to this: Autisms outVaccines may now cause sweet-ass vampires!”

“Wait… what?”

“Nothing, let’s go,” Sebastian says, shoving his iPhone into his hip pocket.

“You say a lot of weird shit sometimes, you know that?” Sawyer says.

“Dude, please—I prefer to call it free associating.”

“… Right… OK… anyway…”

The two make their way through the snow that’s begun piling in drifts in between the off-white metal building and the concrete rear wall of a dilapidated thrift store that, thankfully, OSHA had recently shut down for numerous code violations, according to Sebastian.  Sawyer notices that a locked chain-link fence encloses the building’s three large air conditioning units that likely won’t see any use for another six or seven months, he figures.  The sodium light above the GT-R flickers, goes out for a second, and returns—erratic—just in time to illuminate an almost entirely concealed parking block underneath windblown and drifted snow that Sawyer was only another instant from tripper over.

“I hate coming down here.”

“Don’t be like that, Tom Sawyer, man.”

As Sebastian’d mentioned a few minutes ago, Sawyer sees a white steel entry door to the left of a commercial-size garage.  The knob doesn’t turn but with a forcible jerk, it swings open.  They take a step inside and Sebastian slams the door shut behind them, enveloping both he and Sawyer in total, unreserved blackness.  Sebastian tells Sawyer to stay put and flicks on a switch a few invisible paces away; the location of which he’s clearly memorized.  Fluorescent lamps overhead click-click-flash-flash-click, hesitate and click again before finally flickering to life, prompting Sawyer to wonder if they aren’t just kind of like a cynical metaphor for this entire part of the city or something.

“Just hang out right here for a hot second—I’ll be right back,” Sebastian says, padding away through an interior door.

It’s drafty and cold, and the old metal building’s outer walls sway a little in the wind.  The fifteen foot commercial garage door doesn’t close all the way because of the hardened snow pack that’s sneaked its way underneath the door’s rubber lip.  An uninvited arctic draft lets itself in between the gaps, robbing the airy space of much of its warmth and leaving an inimical chill behind.  The wind howls outside like terrifying spectres of feral dogs, rattling the large—but ultimately, insubstantial—garage door with unremitting vigor, threatening a hostile and unceremonious extraction of those within.  And the more he thinks about it, Sawyer realizes the ramshackle door is really the only barrier between himself and the less than hospitable elements beyond.

* * *

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