Snow fell. The wind blew through bare-branched trees, and the women had all gone home. They were now nestled in bed under thick blankets and hidden away from the cold gale that raged outside. This was not a night to be out alone.
He'd been there since six. When the whistle blew at the meatpacking plant he'd gone straight to the Tattle Tale Room as fast as his car could make the five-mile stretch of blacktop that separated him from the bar. He knew she'd probably be there. There was hardly a night that passed Mercy didn't make it to the local watering-hole after shutdown time at the plant.
He waited for her, saw her arrive, mingle with the drunks on the dance floor and at the bar, and then watched her leave with his foreman, Steve. Same as every night.
Drunk, he walked out of the bar and into the snowdrifts, leaving his car behind and venturing into the sleet-stained night. Mercy was what he wanted, but she never even saw him. The thing that made him the saddest was that he couldn't blame her.
The snow cut through his thin coat, first soaking it then freezing the moistness to his skin. His face was stung repeatedly by splintery ice, but he kept walking on, farther and farther away from warmth. Walking toward a destination known to drunken men only as "somewhere else."
It seemed to him that anywhere was always better than where he was. It was a habit of his, this running away, but he found it a safe and efficient way of retaining his sanity.
Mercifully, his face had gone numb seconds after he left the Tattle Tale. By the time he lay down for the night the skin had cracked, and he bled onto his pillow.