The air was grey and the roads colourless. Interstate I-90 rose on cement stilts above the city, cleaving the downtown into halves. The toxic water of the Erie Canal, the empty docks, the rusting warehouses lay on one side, and the downtown on the other. Travelling south, the outlet malls and cold airport sprawl remained trapped underneath the Buffalo sky, the dull clouds in their sameness passed above, endlessly, always.
         On his couch Kotter read The Buffalo News. He read about the state and municipal governments coming together after twenty years to produce funding for the waterfront. Instead of warehouses, plastic bags and beer-brown glass across cement there would be condominiums, a leafy park, cafes and a promenade with shiny railings and tall light posts to reflect in the water. There would be some kind of museum, plaques about water and models of ships. An old brick warehouse, restored, converted into a theatre, performing edgy plays about war with lots of nudity and blank spotlights. An anchor dredged from somewhere and placed as art, rusting, along the promenade. Kotter knew at Pickton’s the story would not have been discussed, the cynicism too great and the beer too immediate.
         With the white van he had sat, waiting for Michael. The abandoned warehouses dark by the water, the ground wet, cement.
         Things tend to stay the same, is what Kotter would have thought if he had read the article weeks ago. But now he wasn’t sure, and he wondered—if things could go down so quickly and without warning, then surely they could also go up. He emptied the ashtray and when Bea awoke at noon he told her it was a clove cigarette. It smells like weed, she told him, but he shook his head.
         I don’t care what you do, she said.
         All right, he said. Sorry.
         She turned away, into her pillow.
         She had gone, at last, to the police. They had taken her name but not her clothes. No DNA evidence likely, not without fluids. There was no sketch artist and only a brief interview along with forms. There was a business card and a sheet filled with names of centers, help lines and community groups. Kotter had been with her, waiting on a wooden chair with a green vinyl seat and found it all disappointing. He had never been to a police station before, not like this. He and Michael had been arrested only once, for substance abuse and that was only because once the can of Bacon Air Freshener was used up, they’d gone to the convenience store at the end of Smith Street to get beef jerky but they’d both passed out beside their bikes in the parking lot and really, nothing was proven. They hadn’t been disruptive, just laughing, and then tired. Michael had got the can as a joke but really, it seemed natural to try it. Bacon. But awake, there were two cruisers and two men and they’d had to give their fingerprints and everything. Applying for his job at city hall, and later taking the homeland security course, Kotter had felt slightly panicked at the idea that a can of novelty air freshener might be his undoing.
         He knew, three weeks later, she belonged to none of these community groups, although she might have made a phone call. Her wool skirt she had cut into strips and he was worried she was going to make some sort of artwork with the leftovers, some kind of statement using words like ‘deconstruction’ or ‘knitting’ that would have to be explained. He found the pieces in the kitchen garbage.
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