Forty-five minutes until daybreak, the stars were losing their luster like cheap jewelry on a faded black outfit that might have looked good once, a long time ago, clinging to the tight curves of a 20 year old voice. But as with anything washed and hung to dry too many times, the night and perfume had been wrung out, the fabric rough, a brittle newspaper filled with desperate want-ads. Forty minutes. Inside the house, they were all asleep. It’s a comforting thought, being the only one out there waiting for a sign from an incoherent world of miracles. He looks at his cigarette. Or this. He stamps it out, tosses it into the middle of the street. Thirty-five minutes. Fucked up good, he thinks, coughing up pieces of black lung, but at least it was the self-turned hand. That’s power. Down the block, a bedroom light jitters into satin sleekness; a car sputters exhaust and sultry whispers. Thirty minutes. Shit, that’s fast. Already, the stars were gone, dropping off in the final stages of a delicate dry-cleaning cycle, the little black number tossed around, landing in a large gray bin that was eating up all the other sweaty nightgowns. This is it. A bird high above asks him, what’s the saddest word you can think of? And it’s the last thing on his mind. Morning.