Chapter XII ( I’m in need of some escapism nowadays, so I’m going to try and take the story up again.) Turn melancholy forth to funerals; The pale companion is not for our pomp. “Feeling better?” Donald asked, after washing down his second piece of pie with a swig of coffee. “The only thing that still upsets me about this evening,” said Sally, slightly wired from her pumpkin spice latte (the shop brewed very strong coffee). Pete, the barista in the glasses, had apologetically mentioned a few minutes earlier that they were about to close, and Mary, the cashier, had added that they didn’t actually have to leave until the doors were locked, but would it be all right if she started shutting down the espresso machine? So Sally and Donald shrugged their Hallowe’en costumes back on as all about them the staff placed chairs upside-down on the tables and moved the milk and cream to the refrigerator in the back. Sally was glad they’d got their drinks in paper cups. “I’m just sorry,” she continued, “that we never got to paint the crosswalk. I’ve still got the spray cans of course, but the police have seen our costumes, so they’re not much use as disguises now.” Pete, wiping down the countertops nearby, made a surprised noise, then blushed a vivid pink that was noticeable even in the dim light. “Sorry, couldn’t help overhearing.” “We have this idea to install a crosswalk,” Donald explained. “There really should be one at the corner by the student centre, for practical reasons, but the city’s never put one there.” The barista’s round face split in a delighted grin. “Alex,” he shouted at the gloomy customer, “these people are guerilla city planners!” “Impractical!” growled Alex from the other end of the counter, “and, in the grand scheme of things, useless.” “Never mind the grand scheme of things,” said Pete, “On a purely local level—” “Do you need any help with it?” Mary interrupted, to Sally’s great relief. So it was that ten minutes later, Sally, Donald, and the staff (and customer) of the Magic Moscow Coffee Shop* were shaking cans of spray paint and laying down masking tape on asphalt. Pete and Alex (still arguing about utility and micro- vs. macro-interventions) watched for cars or passers-by, but despite it being Hallowe’en night, the corner was quiet. “Everyone’s partying in the residences,” Donald commented. “It’ll fade, you know,” said Alex, as he gazed sadly at their finished work. “Even faster than the paint the city uses.” “I’m hoping it will have made the point by then,” said Sally, who thought the crosswalk looked pretty good, even if there was no mistaking it for an official one. She yawned. “I’m afraid your coffee is wearing off.” “I’ll walk you home if you like,” said Donald. “I mean, I guess that’s what I was doing anyway when we stopped for coffee.” Sally, surfing on an ebb-tide of adrenaline and sleep deprivation, felt bold enough to link her arm through his as they set off. Donald did not appear to mind. The pair slowed their walk as they drew near (the women’s residence), and Donald cleared his throat nervously: “Well,” he began, “thank you for a lovely evening of crime-fighting and crime-doing; and, erm, feel free to tell me to bugger off if I’m barking up the wrong tree; in which case I’ll never mention the subject again; but, if I have got the right tr— “ He stopped and ran one hand nervously through his red hair. “Look,” he said, “would you like to kiss goodnight?” Sally looked up at him and stood experimentally on tiptoe. “Yes,” she said, “but we’d better go over to those steps so I can get enough height.” She led him to the building entrance (Tie up my love’s tongue, bring him silently) and tried the first step, then climbed onto the concrete bollard (?) beside it and flung her arms about Donald. Before closing her eyes she noted with pleasure that the engineer’s double chin was even more pronounced when he bent his head downward to kiss her. Donald’s lips were warm, and soft, and he tasted of coffee but not unpleasantly and anyway so did she, and he was holding her very carefully as though he feared breaking her. Sally pressed herself closer, wanting to sink into his cosy, ample self. *Daniel Pinkwater forgive me, or at least please don’t sue.