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One of the policeman is helping him to his feet -- a man probably the same age. He has a smart crewcut, a heavy tan, and uneasy eyes that give away his youth. All the time C.J. faces him head-on, acutely aware of the lump at his back, the mosaic remains of VCD embedded there.

Sir, he says softly, in halting English. Sir, please. Identification check.

He plays at making an effort to get to his feet, then lets his legs go dead and flops down to his knees again. What is this? I just came for drinks! Have a good time! What's this identification malarkey? What is this, Russia?

Whoa, that might have been too much, he thinks. In compensation he regains his feet and stands at relative

attention. The table he has vacated now stands empty, no sign of Annie. Even the cigarette lighter is gone. The policeman has placed a steadying hand on his shoulder. Sir, please. I want to see identification, he says. His glance communicates a sincere desire to get this over with and get the hell home.

Identification, sure sure, he says. Strangely enough he feels a kinship with this young man. How nice it would be to evacuate the day's disasters and just head home. If he knew where home was. He makes a small show of slapping his cheeks with both palms, sobering himself up. Sorry, sorry. Didn't mean to holler at you. Wasn't sure what was goin' on, you know? It's my first time in these parts …Unconsciously, he rubs at his backside where he fell, and then his hand travels up to the small of his back, patting the bundle there. When he looks at his