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one another on the back, shook hands, embraced, and called each
other vulgar names
        God, it felt good to be together again.
        “What’s the op?” someone said.
        They all looked to him. He said what he always said in the dream. “Saddle up. We’re moving out.”
        He woke up just as he always did at that point. Try as he might he could never alter that. Still clinging to the memory of his friends, wishing he could be with them even if it meant risking his life, he gave in to reality and opened his eyes.
        His wife lay beside him, her breathing rhythmic and deep. He stifled a sob and eased himself from beneath the comforter. With his toes, he felt for his slippers. The bristly nap of deep pile carpet against his bare feet felt strange. The newness of his surroundings was getting on his nerves. He rose, holding his breath, but the mattress was so new the springs failed to squeak. He wagged his head in the darkness, stooped to snatch a terry-cloth robe from a chair in front of the window, and stole a peek at his front yard. Three dandelion stalks, seed puffs aglow in the spill from a street lamp, mocked him from their beds where they swayed, smack in the middle of his freshly laid sod.
        He chuckled softly, whispered, “Shit. ‘Best lawn money can buy,’ my ass,” shrugged, and tiptoed into the hall.
        He checked at his kids’ rooms as he passed. Nary a whimper from behind those doors. He alone was haunted.
        Thrusting his arms into the robe’s sleeves and tying its sash as he went, Danny headed for the stairs.
        Downstairs, he congratulated himself when he had, for once, successfully negotiated the living room in the dark without bashing his toe. He felt his way into the kitchen, eased open the refrigerator, and blinked in the glare as he slipped a Sam Adams from a six-pack stashed in the back. He popped the top with a bottle opener from a counter drawer and climbed onto a stool beside the center island. Sipping the tangy brew, he fished in his pocket for his cigarettes, shook loose a Marlboro and clamped his
lips on the filter.
        Dropping the pack on the counter, he scooped his old, worn Zippo from his pocket and spun the wheel. The lighter caught on the first attempt. He drew smoke deep into his lungs. Holding the Zippo in front of his eyes, he whispered the engraved inscription