This is a two-part story, representing ideas I came up with as possible scenes for a longer story. I decided the material was promising enough for a "one shot" style treatment. I also felt that "Pat's song" was something I could relate to my own and other people's experiences with being stressed by completely random things, and have drawn on some of that for a little extra complexity.

Tiffany stormed down the street, dodging punk kids in Halloween costumes. She had had high hopes for the date with Pat, even hopes that he would go home with her. So, she had humored him with the offer to help him get in touch with Nikki, and then turned it into a set-up to tell him the story of her affair with her manager. The whole point, of course, had been to show him how stupid and pathetic it was to keep trying to reunite with a wife who didn't want him back when he had a standing offer from an attractive and adventurous woman who was ready, willing and waiting. And what had happened? He wanted to talk about what to say in the letter!

Pat caught up with Tiffany as she approached a group of college kids, many in costume. It was one of the rougher parts of town, well after 9 PM, on Halloween to boot. He was a little nervous walking here himself; why, he kept getting the feeling that someone was following him now. He was very worried about what might happen to Tiffany if she ran into the wrong people.

Pat caught up to Tiffany and started to blurt, asking to explain without keeping track of what he was saying himself. Then she lashed back, calling him names he was sure he deserved, shaking him by the collar. Then before he knew it, she was shouting: "He's harassing me! He's harassing me!"

Suddenly, Pat was surrounded by punk kids dressed in Halloween costumes or just like punk kids, giving him lecturing speeches or just judging glares. He felt like he was in a scene out of Scarlet Letter, with the denizens of Jabba's palace in place of the Puritans. His left temple began to itch. Then he saw something that really worried him: That neighbor kid who kept coming by the house was standing behind him, with a camera raised. He had been followed. Several more kids who obviously knew him were standing around, pointing and laughing- at him. He wanted to pound his temple with the palm of his hand. He settled for running a hand through his hair.

As if it wasn't all bad enough, suddenly Officer Keogh pulled up. At least the kids backed up, but the friends of the neighbor kids were smiling wider. One nudged the neighbor kid, and raised a boombox. The neighbor kid frowned, and it looked like he tried to keep his friend from pushing the button, but it was much too little much too late. From the boombox blared- the Song.

Pat stepped forward. His forehead was itching intensely. Officer Keogh reached for his arm, saying something that was no more than a buzz in Pat's ears. The only thing in his mind was The Song... and the pictures... and then, unexpectedly, Tiffany's voice.

"It's a song," she said. She gripped his shoulders and turned him around, angling him away from the camera. "It's just a song. You can't let it be a monster. Just tune it out. There is no song." He shook his head. Officer Keogh was approaching the kids, pointing and questioning, but obviously making no headway. Tears were rising in his eyes, and his left temple felt like it was under attack by a swarm of fire ants. Tiffany pressed her hands to the side of his face.

"Okay, okay, then, let's try something else. You know the story of the Sirens? Yeah? Good, then do you know the story of how the Argonauts kept the Sirens from luring them onto those rocks? They hired Orpheus, the greatest singer who ever lived, and when Orpheus sang his best song, it was so beautiful that the sailors didn't even notice the Sirens' song. So if that song is your Siren, find yourself an Orpheus. Think of a happy song, a sweet song, even a silly song, think of it so hard it's like you're hearing it and nothing else. Can you do that?"

He nodded. He was already doing it. It seemed there was no Song to be heard, even before Officer Keogh pointed to the pipe peeking out of the pocket of the punk with the boombox and he and most of his peers all ran like hell. But there was no music that rose in its place, unless it was the sound of Tiffany's voice.

Officer Keogh dispersed the crowd, and Tiffany walked away after he hit on her. As Pat turned to walk home, he was met by the neighbor kid. "I'm sorry," said the kid. "My friends are jerks. I guess they really aren't my friends."

"I'll walk home with you," Pat said. They did, and Pat could see Officer Keogh discretely trailing him and the punks discretely steering clear. They reached the kid's house first, and Pat kept walking without a word.

"Wait," said the kid. Pat looked back. The kid held up his camera and pulled out the video card. Then he dropped it on the ground and crushed it under foot. Pat gave a nod, and then walked away.