(pt. 2 of 2)

Tyler raised his head as he listened to Tiffany as she tried to coax her brother into calming down, and felt as his hands began to sting with pain as he resumed his tight grip on the wooden beam of the porch, all the while hoping for them to go inside so he could drop down onto the ground. When at last the door shut, he exhaled with relief, and dropped down onto the grass below. He crept along the side of the house and ran for the protection of high shrubs when the porch light of the neighbor's house turned on. Without waiting to see if someone would step out and confront him, Tyler whirled around and made his way to the sidewalk. Just as he walked out from the edge of the shrubs, the door to the neighbor's house opened, and a heavyset middle aged man with thinning black hair stepped out onto the porch with his wireless phone in hand. "Morning," Tyler called out as he gave a friendly wave, and the man gave a nod. "Morning," the man grumbled as he turned and went back inside, to which he turned off the porch light. Concealed in the darkness, Tyler made his way along the street, one hand in his pocket, the other hand gripped on the whiskey bottle in his jacket pocket.

He awoke with a groan when he felt something vibrate roughly under his cheek and stirred under the white fleece throw, alerted when he heard a noise in the distance. "M-my teeth are vivrading," Tyler mumbled, as he put a hand to his face. "Your cell phone is vibrating under your head," a male voice called out from nearby, and Tyler rolled over onto his back. "Mick?" he asked, and watched as the man entered the room to take the cell phone from off of the floor and open it. Mick was his roommate as well as his coworker, an African American man who had no friends, save for Tyler. "So you remember my name, at least," Mick said, and pocketed the cell phone in his shirt. "Don't bother asking how you got in. I found you stumbling all over the porch, it's amazing you didn't fall off or hurt yourself. I walked you in, you passed out, so I just threw the blanket on you. Nothing new, nothing to worry about." He tossed a shirt down onto Tyler's chest, to urge him to wake up. "Coffee is ready, extra strong for you. I'll get the car started in an hour." Mick walked away, and Tyler groaned as he thought about the drudge of getting ready for work.

Mick walked outside and took out his own cellphone, dialed a number, and waited until the other line picked up. "Hey, um... Is Mrs. Jones there? Ah, good morning, Mrs. Jones, I almost didn't recognize you were speaking. Um..." He took a glance over at the front door and walked down the porch steps, so that he could not be overheard. "Well, it's about Tyler, again. I'm starting to get a little concerned for him, but I know for nothing in the world is he ever going to show up at your clinic for help. I know I can't force him into doing anything, but he's getting worse. The only time he isn't drinking alcohol is when he's at work, but the rate he's going, I wouldn't be surprised if he's doing that there, too. Now, do you think I could, I don't know, maybe set something up with our boss? I see, so that wouldn't really work... Well... Okay, I guess I'll have to come up with something, but I don't think he'd like being tricked... You'd stop by for a visit? Really? What time would you be able to stop by? Today? That'd be great, the sooner you see him, the better. How about you stop by at five, I'll leave a key inside the mailbox, you can do some kind of observation, and we'll be there about half an hour later? Sure thing, Mrs. Jones, and I thank you very much for going so far out of your way to help me and my friend out. Oh, and, just a small warning - Tyler's not exactly the, uh... welcoming type. Best come prepared knowing that he's rather confrontational when people stand up to him, but don't worry - he's never hurt anybody, he's just got a big mouth. Yeah, they usually do, don't they? All right, I will see you this afternoon, and I hope you have a good day. Thank you very much." Mick hung up the phone, slipped it into in his pants pocket, and took a seat on the concrete steps.

When the front door finally opened, Tyler shuffled outside, and Mick observed him with a quick glance. His short red hair was tousled and slightly wet, black slacks wrinkled from lack of folding, white dress shirt half-buttoned and unevenly tucked into his pants. The black tie hung loose around his neck, which Mick noticed was not tied up correctly. The only thing correct about Tyler was the coffee mug in his hand, which he sipped from before he walked over to the edge of the porch and sat down. "Thanks, Mick," Tyler mumbled, and took another sip from his cup. "Don't mention it," Mick said, his back to Tyler as he watched a car drive past the house. "Tyler, I've got a friend who is going to stop by later today, so I don't want you alarmed if you think anyone's breaking in when we get home after work. She's an old friend of mine, she knew my brother, before he died... Just please, no hitting on her, okay? She's married, so I'm making sure you're aware of the boundaries before you meet her." Mick glanced at Tyler again, who nodded. "Sure. What brings her here?" Mick checked his watch and stood up, which got Tyler's attention. "Keep an eye on the car. It's unlocked. I'm going to the bathroom before we head out for work." Tyler nodded and resumed sipping his coffee as Mick went inside the house.

(end chapter 1.)