North Portland 

 The Portland clouds were hazy and color-stained with smoke and neon. Red, white, and blue flags snapped in an ever-present breeze, hanging like so many sails from the awnings of food tents and game stands. Mackenzie scuffed the heel of his boot on the gravel path beneath his feet, skittering pebbles across the ground.

 The sun had set and he was flying. His limbs hardly felt connected to his body, but he moved through the crowd with listless grace, stopping in front of the tilt-o-whirl. Gripping the iron barrier fence, he watched the ride cycle through its passengers, the groans of old metal and the zip of electric lights more fascinating to him than a blockbuster movie.

 He nudged the person to his left. "How much you wanna bet that asshole in the board shorts starts puking halfway through?"

 Leaning against the fence, Ezra’s glazed eyes glistened with whirling colors: red, white, blue...over and over and over. He didn’t bother focusing, didn’t attempt staring. She looked like the others; her slight form bled, nondescript, into the horrendous blend of all upon the tilt-o-whirl. She’d wanted him to watch (given that he’d flat-out refused to participate), but his hatred of carnival rides was a steadfast barrier built of rocks and spikes.

 Fuck, no. He wanted nothing to do with it. Anything could’ve lured him out of that little corner of the carnival — and he took Mac’s light touch as the slightest of invitations.

 Crumpling to the left, following the nudge, Ezra groaned. He rubbed a white-knuckled hand across his stomach.

 "I dunno, man," he rasped. "But I’m sure as shit I’ll be beating him to it."

 "Fuck man, get your shit together." Instead of aiding the poor son of a bitch, Mackenzie side-stepped like a one-man line dancer. None of his clothes were new or designer or even clean -- but he couldn't do puke. Grimacing sideways at the pathetic sod, he looked again when the bug-eyed cretin's face clicked in some distant part of his slowly sobering brain.

 Ah, his new best customer. If anyone was more devastatingly dependent on narcotics than he was, it was Ezra Halabi. "How much have you had tonight?" Not trying to be his mom, but ODs were bad for business.

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