It was an evening much like this one, late in the winter, when the days were just starting to get longer again, and the air was cool but not cold and you could just find yourself thinking, "Spring can't be that far off now." When the skeletons of the trees, though nothing was different, started to suggest the brilliant green that would herald the spring. That's when I first saw a man broken.

We were waiting for a bus after a show. It was going to be a long wait, and we were talking, laughing, doing whatever--it should have been a good night. It felt like a good night. It felt like a night where things finally start to go right. Then his phone rang, he wandered of to answer it. As he stepped out of earshot the last thing I heard him say was something like "What's happened?"

When he came back his face had changed. His smile was gone. He saw me but he didn't see me. And I asked him what was wrong, and he told me, and I told him that it would be all right, because that's what you're supposed to say. But we both knew that was a lie. He called a cab, and was gracious enough to pretend I wasn't doing him a favor by not coming with him.

I took the bus back home alone. When next I saw him he was a grimmer man. He still laughed and smiled, but they were the laugh and smile of a broken man.

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