Seb was normally the kind of walking charisma who could bring life to a party of geriatric oncology patients. A great sense of humour, a word for everyone, a man who left smiles in his wake. Others envied his ability to look people in the eye, the effort he put in to knowing at least one thing about everyone in his immediate surrounds, no matter if he liked them or not.
They wouldn't recognise him tonight. For once no one noticed his presence. And, for once, he was lost for words, his charisma shrunk by the world he found himself in. He paced the street, kicking mindlessly through the detritus that lined the road from the hordes that, with their shadows, tracked this path earlier when the light of the day still offered some promise. The trams and Lincolns and street vendors had gone, the staticy sounds of New York swing no longer riffed invitingly from doorways.
He wasn't supposed to be working, work hours were long over, his beat complete. But he was never one to follow the rules. He'd been looking for someone he didn't know, someone he didn't like, someone that, despite being out here in the stranger's world, he was no closer to finding. It was hard to find someone who, he suspected, knew the rules even better than him.
The light emanating from the diner wasn't exactly inviting but it held the promise of a hot coffee. Without much thought he found himself walking in. Neither the waiter's startled surprise nor the clatter of milkshake cups as they bounced across the floor registered on his radar. He slouched onto the diner's stool, his back to the outside world. He sat.
It may have been the door closing that nudged him out of his reverie long enough to notice the waiter about to ask him for his order.
"Hey Sir. What can I get ya?" His voice grated on Seb who found himself wishing he could have just served himself from a pot without any need to break from his thoughts.
He summed up the resentment of the having divert his energy, even for just those few words, with a mentally muttered, "Fuck" before retreating back into his thoughts, his mind a cacophony of crazy as he struggled to subdue his feelings of despair and disgust. He needed to stop feeling shit. He knew it was the feelings that were making him miss something simple.
Normally he would register the details insignificant to everyone else. That the man sitting across from him had seemed suddenly uneasy. The click of the coins as they rolled on the counter, the scrape of the bar stools as they scored the linoleum. That the man had grabbed the woman's arm a touch tighter than a lover might. That the red dress didn't hide the loneliness of the woman whose companion was escorting her to the door. But not tonight.
He vaguely registered the smell as the waiter released the coffee from its urn prison. But by the time the man led the woman into the darkness Seb had continued drowning in his own thoughts, lost in an ocean of problems of people he could never know, in a mental prison of a murderer's making.