Simon heard a quiet click, followed by the humming of the air conditioning, as it switched on. At least that’s what he thought it was, but he couldn’t be certain because he was still half asleep. He felt hot and feverish, struggling to wake himself up. Still gripped in a dream that had felt so realistic. He had felt as if he was actually there, dancing with a strange girl in a nightclub. Red and blue flashing lights lit up the floor, as they smooched to some familiar love song. In the back of his mind he wondered what he was doing there, he hated nightclubs, loud and brash. And, who was the girl? She was beautiful, of that he was certain. It would not please Beth that he danced intimately with another woman. What the hell was he doing there?
“Hey, hey you’re burning up!”a woman’s voice said sleepily, as someone started to unbutton his shirt.
In his dream, it was the beautiful woman, and he did not want her doing that to him, that was Beth’s role. But, he could not stop her, his hands locked by his side. Then he felt a light slap to his face, not hard but urgent. Why was she hitting him?
“Simon, wake up, baby,”that sounded like Beth’s voice. Why did this woman have Beth’s voice?
By now he was cooling down, and he began to wake from his fitful sleep. The strange woman stroked his face gently, and as he looked up at her, she turned into Beth.
Simon shot upright in bed, letting out a loudgrumph.
“It’s okay, honey, it’s only me,”Beth said, stroking the stubble on his night time cheeks.“You need a shave,”she smiled, showing that cute dimple in one side of her cheek. The one he loved so much.
“It is you,”he said with relief.
Confused, he looked around and took in the familiar surroundings of his own bedroom. The night club scene was gone, now a fading memory.
“Of course, who else would be in your bed?”she asked, wary of his answer.“No, don’t answer that one,”Beth decided she did not want to know.“Nightmare again?”
“Yeah, but they’re not so much nightmares, Beth, they’re so realistic, as if I’m there in the situation,”he explained.
Placing his face in his hands, he leaned back against the bed headboard.
“Where were you this time?”Beth knew these dreams were worrying him.
“Would you believe, in a night club,”he said, knowing that in real life he would ever go to such a crowded and loud place.
“Well, that’s not like you,”Beth laughed. Her long auburn curls fell over the bare soft skin of her feminine shoulders.“Was I with you?”
“No, I was with some strange woman, and I don’t want to talk about it, Beth. It's exhausting me. It feels like I've been up clubbing all night, so let’s drop it. Besides, it’s the weekend, and you’re going away from me for two whole weeks. We need to get on, and enjoy our last weekend together, before you go. Let's get out there and do some chilling.”
Beth pulled his share of the sheets over her body, and lay back down on her side of the bed, hugging her pillow.
“You’re out dancing with some floozy all night, and you expect me to spend the day with you?”she said, feigning annoyance.
“What? It was a dream, nothing more,”Simon spat back, missing the humor in her tone. He was beginning to wish he'd never told her. Though, if it was the other way around, he knew perfectly well that he would be jealous, even though it was a dream.
“You could be having Freudian dreams," she surmised. "You may be projecting suppressed feelings, while you asleep,”she continued, struggling to stop a smile on her lips.
“I love living with you, in our condo, in Murray Hill,”he assured her.“I want no other woman, Beth Williams. I do not desire to go to any night clubs,”he finished, curling up to the contour of her body, from behind. They fit together so well, the perfect couple.
“I’m only messing with you, Simon Carter. I love you too, which is why you need to talk to me,”she insisted, as she turned over to face him and stay in his embrace.“Think how you would feel it was me with all this mangled mess in my head. You would want to be a part of it. You would want to help me.”
“I know, baby, but I don’t know what’s real and what’s a dream anymore. They're so vivid and realistic,”he admitted, in a low voice. Hugging closer to his broad and muscular chest, the hairs tickled her skin.“The other day,”he continued,“Mike, a work colleague, who I hardly know, told me what a great time he had on our night out. He told me that you should never judge a book by its cover, and he would never have believed I could be so wild. According to him, he’d never had such a wild night, and he wanted to know when we were going out again? Apparently, he believes I’m some lucky mascot that attracts women. I stood there speechless. What he was describing was not me. It sounded like he was talking about someone else. Plus, of course I had absolutely no recollection whatsoever of the event, not even in one of my weird dreams.”
“I assume you asked him if he’d got the right person.”Beth queried.
“Yes of course. I even asked him where it happened. He laughed and said he wasn’t surprised I couldn't recall the evening. I'd knocked back a whole load of tequila shots. I hate tequila, Beth, you know that. It was some club downtown, by the river’s edge. Seems he was already there when he bumped into me. Once he was with me, he said his night became very interesting. I mean, I know it's not me he’s talking about. If it was, I’d have some foggy memory of it, even if I was completely wasted. It’s driving me crazy.”
Taking his arm from under Beth’s soft body, he sat up and rubbed both hands over his unshaven face again. If he cleared his eyes, it might help clear the fog in his mind, and help him understand the puzzle better.
“They’re working you far too hard, baby,”Beth pulled Simon back down, laying his head on her chest. She stroked his thick brown hair.“Poor baby,”she said, trying to ease his tension.“What project are you working on right now? It must be a real heavy stress load.”
“No, not at all, in fact work has been a breeze for the last few months,”he assured her.“You know what it’s like in PR. One minute, it’s madness and mayhem while everyone runs around with ants in their pants. The next minute, it's as quiet as a morgue. I’m lucky I was a computer geek as a kid, as I get all the technical side of things. I’m working on something hush hush, at the moment. I can’t talk about it, it’s not public knowledge yet, but it’s nothing beyond my capabilities. It can’t be my workload. I enjoy my work.”
“What is it you’re doing for them? Sounds like it's putting more pressure on you, than you realize,”Beth insisted. She would not drop the theory of work overload.
“I’m arranging for some overseas VIP visitors to come to a conference in the US. It’s all to do with some new defence technology. My part is nothing out of the ordinary. Anyway, don’t you think we should be lying here discussing our wedding, and not what PR rubbish I’m doing at work? It’s weekend, Beth. I don’t want to think about work on a weekend. I want to think about you, and our future marriage and how we are going to spend the rest of our lives together.”
“Our wedding is still ages away, baby, we’ve plenty of time to do the planning. Oh, no, maybe it’s that, Simon,”she suddenly sat upright in bed, a look of consternation on her face.“Maybe that’s it, you’re stressed because you don’t want to marry me. Oh, no, I never thought of that. It all makes sense. You’re secretly regretting our engagement. What if you're yearning for other women and nightclubs?”
“Hey, slow down,”Simon also sat up in bed, seeing that Beth was getting emotional over her theory.“I promise you, baby, I’m having no regrets about marrying the most beautiful woman in the world. The universe even. Now stop all that nonsense,”he finished, and pulled her back down on the soft pillows.
He enjoyed the feeling of her skin against his. It almost swept away the lingering feelings from his bad dream, almost.
Beginning to feel a little better, he rolled over and climbed out of bed.“Right, that's it. Time to snap out of this, and get on with our weekend,”he pulled the covers from her long legs, and stared longingly at them. He’d love nothing more than to stay in bed and lay next to her all day. That was not going to happen, they needed to get on with their day, and put aside the bad dreams.
She didn’t move out of the bed, laying there yawning and stretching. He went into action and grabbed a pillow. He gently beat her with it, laughing as he did so,“C’mon, out of bed lazy bones. Time to get on with our lives.”
“You messed up my hair,”she cried back at him, trying to straighten her auburn locks.“Wait till I get my hands on you. I’m going to make you regret messing with me,”she said, giggling as she chased him out of the bedroom.
She caught up with him in the sitting room of their apartment. He was standing in front of the huge veranda windows that overlooked the East River, in Manhattan. Staring through the glass, he was enjoying a view he loved to wake up to, every day. Beth moved closer to him, and pressed flat against his back, her arms wrapped around his neck. Standing on her tip toes, she looked through the window over his shoulder.
“You still love that view, don’t you?”she asked, her hot breath in his ear.
“How could I not love it? It is perfect. That’s why we both work all the hours of the day, to help pay for that view. On a weekend, I get to hang out in our home, with a beautiful woman, and a beautiful view.”
He lifted her arms from around his neck, and turned around to face her. She looked so damn sexy, stood there in her sleeping shorts and loose fitting t-shirt. He pressed his lips hard against hers, and she responded in kind. Their love was real for each other. Since the first moment he had laid eyes on her, he knew she was the woman for him.
“I wish I wasn’t going away, baby, not when you need me most,”she whispered, as they finished their passionate embrace.
“I don’t need a babysitter,”he told her.“Now let’s get that coffee on, and I bought bagels for breakfast. It’s time to start our weekend.”
“How many Chinese delegates are we talking about?”Simon asked Li Cheung, his Chinese contact over the phone.
Simon was responsible for liaising with various agencies. They provided the information on who would be attending the world-wide event, coming up in a few months. The Chinese were not the only ones who would not release the names of the VIP guests. It was making his job, more difficult, because it was his role to ensure all the delegates would be in the right place. It was important to ensure that countries of conflict, were not too close to one another. Also, that each table had all the relevant language on their headphones. It would not do to have the Israeli prime minister sat next to the Iranian President. The last thing he wanted was to cause an international fallout during a conference in the US.
Many countries were attending the event, hosted by the largest IT company in the world, WikonWare. They were to unveil some brand-new state of the art technology. Simon was in the dark about the new technology, it was beyond his pay grade. Rumors suggested that it was all about a defence system for the planet. One that could intercept any incoming object to the earth. Whether it be a hostile missile, or a projectile from outer space, such as an asteroid. It was technology deemed "beyond our time." Leading politicians and scientists from all over the world, were to be in attendance.
“Simon, you know I can only give you the briefest of information," Li Cheung’s voice said over the phone. "I myself do not know the answer, not until the day they set off,”Li finished.
“Li, it's my responsibility to liaise with the CIA and the FBI. I must make sure it all runs smooth, politically," Simon reminded him. "Your job is to liaise with me, so I can do that. Look, let's get this thing started with numbers, how many delegates you got coming?"
After ten minutes of much the same conversation, Simon gave up the chase. He would have to guess at the numbers. It seemed trust was in limited supply.
The world was a dangerous place these days. High-ranking government officials did not divulge their movements, for fear of terrorism. Yet, they would expect protection of the highest order. He would have to surmise, from what little information he had gleaned. Probably, the heads of state from over twenty countries, would be attending. Plus, their leading scientists. It was a scary concept that all those leaders and top scientists were in one place together. Making it an ideal target for a terrorist group, or even a hostile nation to strike a heavy blow. He was well aware of the reason for secrecy, it made his job harder. His company often worked close with government bodies, where security was high. But, this event was turning out to be completely shrouded in secrecy.
The technology to be uncovered, was to have an enormous impact on world security. That was not his concern though. Gathering as much intel for his role, was all he needed to focus on. Simon loved his job, the sense of importance it gave him. The high-profile role was good for his ego, and the generous pay helped too. It guaranteed he and Beth had a secure future, and a perfect home. As he sat tapping his pen in frustration, his thoughts turned to Beth. He wondered how she would be doing, away at her medical conference. Her dedication to her job as a heart specialist, meant they often did not see each other for days at a time.
“Hey, great night,”a deep voice broke into his thoughts.
Simon looked over to see who was speaking to him. A colleague he hardly knew, stood holding the glass door open. He gave the guy a puzzled smile.
“Simon Carter, who’d have thought it of you?”The tall blonde haired guy stepped into Simon’s office.“If you want information out of me, we can do that again, any time.”
Simon remained seated, clueless to what this guy was referring to.
“Yeah, well, you know me,”Simon said, sheepishly.
“I do now,”he grinned.“I thought you were the marrying and settling down type, to be honest. Underneath that bland exterior, lays a real party animal. When you asked me to join you, I was surprised as hell. I didn’t even know your name. But, when someone asks Jonny Parker to party, he isn’t one to refuse.”
“Thanks, erm…Jonny,”Simon responded, deciding to find out more.“We sure had a wild night, so much so that I’ve forgotten what information I was after.”
The man laughed out loud at Simon’s confession.“I can’t say I’m surprised,”the man laughed.“I didn’t think you’d remember, after all those shots of tequila you put away. So, I thought I’d drop in and update you.”Jonny sat down opposite Simon, at his desk. He threw a file on the desk.“You asked for the governmental bodies attending. You know I shouldn’t be giving these to anyone, but I know you’re connected to security. I can’t provide you with names, only the estimated numbers of bodies. Will that help?”
“Sure, thanks, Jonny, I owe you,”Simon said, still confused.
Jonny, chatted on about having another night out together. Simon only half listened as he smiled and nodded, hopefully in the right places.
“Yeah, sorry I couldn’t give you names,”Jonny said as he was opening the door to leave.“I know that’s what you need, but I don’t have them yet.
“No problem, cheers, Jonny, this is the best intel I’ve gotten so far,”Simon said, glad the guy was leaving.
After he left, Simon slumped back in his chair. Once again, here was an event he had no recollection of. Was he going mad? Beth might have been right all along. The stress of work was affecting him so bad, that he was unaware of what he was doing. Why would he try to soften up this guy for the names of the delegates? Sure, it would help, but knowing exactly who was attending, was not essential. Yet, he had pressured his Chinese contact, Li, for exactly the same thing. It did not make sense why he asked for names. Everything the guy, Jonny, had said about him, was so out of character. Simon was not a socializer. Beth was always calling him a loner. It's a standing joke between them, at how he ever managed to meet her in the first place. This was all a big mystery. What was going on in his head?
Then, a thought occurred to him. What if it’s all a huge prank? Kevin, his best buddy, could have set him up. It would be the kind of thing he would do for a laugh. Simon had known Kevin since kindergarten, which they attended together. As much as Simon was a loner, Kevin was the complete opposite. Then again, his job in the FBI was stressful, he needed to have an outlet. Was he playing some huge prank on him? He wouldn’t put it past Kevin, but then Beth would have to be in on it. Pushing that thought out of his mind, he knew that Beth wouldn’t let Kev mess with his head like this. Besides, how could anyone else affect him to the point of making him have weird dreams?
Despite these thoughts, deep down inside, Simon knew it couldn’t be Kevin. Sure, Kevin was joker, and he liked a prank, but he’d have checked in with Beth first. No, this was something more sinister. Was he going crazy with some hereditary disease? Simon did not know his own roots, being adopted since he was six. Life before then was vague. He recalled living rough and longing for a bed. A cruel woman’s face often infiltrated his nightmare. He had no recollection of his birth parents. Though, he had been one of the lucky few, adopted by a loving couple. People who learned to love him, and all his faults. They cared for him, as if he were their own blood son. Now, they had both passed away, being of a mature age when they took him into their home. His life had been good with them, so he had little in the way of bad memories. But, life before them, was a blur. After his foster parents died, he had tried to find his biological parents. All he got were dead ends. There were no official records of his life before his adoptive parents. His early childhood was probably the reason why he turned out to be such a loner. He had friends, but none he would call close, other than Kevin, and they had grown up together. Few people remained in his life, but the ones who did, he was close to. They understood his need for privacy.
The more he thought about it, the more he became convinced that he must have some heredity mental illness. Now it was coming to the fore, and effecting his cognitive functions. He had to talk to Beth about it. Being in the medical profession, she would know something about mental illness.
As if she could read his mind, the noise of his phone ringing broke his concentration. On the other end was Beth.
“I was thinking about you,”he said to her, smiling, even though she couldn’t see his smile.“I miss you, babes.”
“You sleeping any better, now you got the bed to yourself?”she joked.
“The bed is better with you in it,”he replied.“I just had another guy come in and thank me for a great night out. It made me think that Kev was pulling some prank on me. You know he can be a bit like that with his pranks. Then again, if it was him, he would have come forward by now. He wouldn’t have let it go on this long,”he finished talking, rubbing his forehead. As if rubbing his brain might give him some answers.
“Yeah, it is something Kev might think up,”Beth agreed.“But, he doesn’t have the power to enter your dreams, baby. FBI haven’t learned how to do that yet, I don’t think.”
“I know, I was clutching at straws,”Simon sighed. That was another theory that came to nothing.“I’ve got other ideas, but we can talk about it when you get home. It doesn’t seem appropriate over the phone.”
“Yeah, I’m getting home early,”she said, on a lighter note.“I can miss the last day, as it’s a professor from my own hospital. I'm already aware of the contents of his paper, because I helped him write it. Can you meet me at the airport tomorrow?”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ll be there. Text me the times and I’ll work the rest out for myself. It’ll be good to have back home, babes,”he finished.
They ended their conversation, and Simon replaced the phone in its cradle. He already felt better, after hearing her voice. Knowing she would be back tomorrow, a day earlier than expected, was good. Beth was his soulmate. Had he never met her, he would have ended up as a lonely old man. She was his rock, and up to now, he had been hers too. Beth, and the view outside their condo, were the most important things in his life right now. His anchor, keeping him in touch with reality. Maybe they should get a dog. Weren't dogs good for the soul? Then again, it’d be stuck in all day on its own, that would be cruel. So, a dog was out of the equation. What he would do though, was get in touch with Kev, just to make sure he wasn’t the one playing any pranks on him.
Simon hated airports. People rushing around to get to destinations all over the globe. It made his head spin. But, he hated the thought of not being there when Beth arrived back, even more. JF Kennedy airport was not exactly the quietest of places. People bumped into people, rushing for their flights. Parking fees were a rip off, and cabs were impossible to find if you didn’t book in advance.
Walking through the echoing corridors of an airport always felt eerie to Simon. Fighting the way through the crowds, who always seemed to be going in the opposite direction to him. It was as if everyone lived in their own little bubble, and no one could see anyone else. He worked much better with people over the phone, than he did to their faces. People were unpredictable, with all their emotions. He found them hard work, so he tried to keep his distance.
He heard his name called out, and it brought him from his deep thoughts. Standing a few feet away, was Beth. Her plane must have landed early, she was already here.
“Hi, babes,”she smiled at him as they hugged in midst of the crowds. The people were like a colony of ants milling around them. He could not hear Beth’s words, drowned out by a metallic voice over the radio system. A voice informed everyone which flights were leaving and arriving.“I managed to get an early flight,”he finally caught her words.“I wanted to get home to you. You know, I hated leaving you with all this mess in your head.”
“Hmmm, you smell wonderful,”Simon announced, inhaling deeply, and taking in her aroma.“It's so good to have you home. Oh, and speaking of home, Kev's invited himself over for dinner tonight. He’s cooking, so I knew you wouldn't mind.
“I love his cooking, it’s way better than yours, or mine,”she replied, handing him some of her luggage.“You spoke to him about any of this yet?”
“No. In truth I don’t know how to explain it without sounding crazy,”Simon replied. He pushed through the crowds with his arm around Beth.“Man, this airport’s extra busy today,”he announced, as they finally arrived out in the fresh air.“I brought the car. We’ll wait forever if we get a cab.”
Sat in the traffic was no fun either, but that was New York. Simon loved New York, but preferred watching it hustling by his window in the apartment.
“You sleeping any better?”Beth opened the conversation, once again.
“You know, I don’t want to talk about that stuff, Beth,”he said, sounding his horn at no one in particular. It was a case of taking out his frustrations on the traffic.
“Look, one of the reasons I came back early, was because I wanted to be honest with you,”Beth announced. It seemed that she was leading up to something he didn’t want to hear.
“You are going to tell me you can’t live with it anymore?”Simon was joking, but he turned a serious look towards her.
“No, silly,”Beth chided.“I didn’t want to bring this up until I got back, but I’ve also noticed some strange behavior in you, as well. Now that I’ve got that conference out of the way, we should discuss this stuff.”
Simon arrived at the parking lot, situated beneath their apartment building. He parked the car in their allotted space. As he turned off the engine, they sat in the car in silence.
“What is it that I’m doing, that seems strange then?”Simon broke the peace and quiet.“You are going to put me out of my misery, and tell me?”
“I just think it’s all a part of whatever’s going on in your head,”she said.“You wake me up in the middle of the night and insist on being intimate. Now, I’m never one to complain about our making love, but sometimes you call me by different names. I know you don’t have other women, Simon. I trust you with my life, but when it happens it’s like you’re not fully awake, and you’re not really you. If you can understand all that?”
“Baby, I’m sorry,”he apologized.“You should shake me awake.”
“I tried that once, and you forced me to kiss you. I ended up with quite a shaver’s rash on my face that night,”she smiled as she said it.“At first I thought you were kidding around. Then I realized it was like you were sleep walking, except you were sleep kissing.”
“What? You mean I forced you to do that?”He held his face in his hands as if trying to hide his shame.
“No, no, Simon, I am always willing to make out with you,”she tried to assure him.“I could stop you if I wanted to. At least I think I could, but sometimes you frighten me a little. Now though, I’m realizing it’s all a part of your troubles.”
“So, what do I do? I can’t bear the thought of treating you like that,”Simon looked away with remorse.“Beth, I love you, I don’t want you to fear me.”
“Simon, I’m not scared of you, but sometimes it's like you're someone else.”She took his hand in hers, squeezing it tight.“We are going to get you some professional help. I know a great psychiatrist, Dr Croman, he’s one of the best. I can probably get you an appointment immediately, he owes me a few favors. If anyone can get to the bottom of this it’s him. Now, come on, let's get upstairs. I can’t wait to see what delights Kev’s cooked up for dinner.”
As they rode the elevator up to their floor, they stood side by side in silence. Simon was mulling over what Beth had said to him. The elevator rang out, announcing they had arrived at their floor. Upon opening the door to their apartment, a delicious smell of Italian food assailed their senses. From somewhere in the steam shrouded kitchen, was Kevin, who cursed loud, in Italian. Simon pretended to cover Beth’s ears in mock indignation. Although neither of them spoke Italian, so they had no idea what he was ranting about.
“Whoa there, buddy, watch the language,”Simon laughed, dipping a finger into some juicy sauce.“That tastes good, Kev. What we having?”
“Sorry, but I knocked a glass of wine down the sink,”Kevin explained.“How can I keep my calm, when my wine is swirling down the plug hole? This is a Welcome Home Beth, dish. I do your favorites. For you, Simon, I do Farinata, from Liguria.”
“Yeah,”Simon slapped his friend on the back, in a friendly gesture.“Now that’s what I’m talking about. I love chickpea pancakes.
“No, no, I tell you not to call them that western name. They are F-a-r-i-n-a-t-a, you call them by their proper name. Then, if you can manage, you may have some of Beth’s food. For my beautiful Beth, we will crack open the mussels. Then, for me, we must indulge in a dessert of pear torte.”
“Oh, I love you, Agent Kevin Marshall,”Beth exclaimed.“As always, you excel in everything you do, Kev. This is a lovely welcome home dish.”
“I serve to please all women on this earth,”Kevin winked over at Beth, while he continued to stir pans. He multi tasked opening hot doors in ovens, and cold doors in fridges.“I trust your trip went well?”
“Yep, it did. I went specifically to listen to a German Neuro Specialist, giving a lecture. Best not bore you boys with the details. Let’s pour some wine.”
Beth had already started to get out the wine glasses, as she noticed Simon opening a bottle of red, and white.
“So, how do my two most favorite people in all the world, manage their lives when I am not in it?”Kevin asked, as he placed food on the table where Beth and Simon had seated themselves.
“You might be a good cook, Kev, but somehow, and I realize this will come as a surprise to you, we manage just fine on our own.”Simon joked, as he cut into his Italian pancake with relish.
“Actually, Kev, we do have something to tell you,”Beth said, sipping her white wine from a tall stemmed glass.
“Not now, honey,”Simon stopped her going any further.
“Whoa! What do you mean‘not now?’You don’t get to do that to your one and only friend in the entire universe,”Kevin interrupted.
“He wants to know, Simon,”Beth said, looking at Simon concerned.“After all, he is your one and only friend in the entire universe,”she laughed.
“Okay, okay,”Simon gave in.
It was probably about time to get this off his chest. Time to speak to his best friend about the strange occurrences, and dreams that were plaguing him. The people sat at this table, were, in reality, the most important people in his life. If he couldn’t trust these two, then there was no one.
“I’m having some weird dreams, and even stranger occurrences, with some work colleagues. I doubt the FBI can solve my problems. I’m turning into some kind of mystery man, who cruises the nightlife in the lower east side of Manhattan.”
Simon, along with the help of Beth, explained the last few weeks to his friend. Kevin had always loved a mystery and that was why he became a cop. To solve mysteries, usually in the form of crimes, but any mystery would do.
“So, you think it might be medical, Beth?”Kevin asked her, considering her the expert on this side of things.
“I don’t know, Kev, and neither does poor Simon. We have a process in the medical profession. When we don’t understand why something is happening, we tend to begin with a 'process of elimination.' If Simon goes to see a specialist, at least it will give us an idea if it’s a mental health issue. I'm hoping we can cross that from the list,”Beth finished.
They discussed the issue throughout their three-course dinner. Once finished, Simon took them to his favorite place. There, they sipped cold beer on the balcony, and looked out at the wide and illuminated vista in front of them. The river glistened when the reflection of lights and the full moon danced on its surface. People walked by chattering, over a dozen floors below. They represented little ants scurrying around on the sidewalk below them. That was how Simon liked it, all the hustle and bustle down there, up here, all was peaceful.