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See Me(3)
Author: Nicholas Sparks

His face, though…

That might end up being a problem – not for him, but for others. Certainly his college classmates would stare at him with wide, frightened eyes and whisper about him behind his back, though he doubted that any of them would actually ask him what had happened. During the first few weeks at the university, most of his classmates had seemed nice enough, but it had been clear that none of them knew what to make of him, nor had any tried to speak to him. Not that it bothered him. For one thing, virtually all of them were six or seven years younger than he was, all were female, and he suspected that as far as recent life experiences went, they had little in common with him. In time, like everyone else, they’d end up drawing their own conclusions about him. Frankly, it wasn’t worth worrying about.

Still, he had to admit that he was particularly ghoulish right now. His left eye was swollen and the white of his right eye was a bloody red. There was a gash in the center of his forehead that had been glued back together, and the lead-colored bruise on his right cheekbone resembled a birthmark. His split, swollen lips completed the picture. What he really needed was to put an ice pack on his face as soon as possible if he wanted the girls in his classes to be able to concentrate at all. But first things first; right now, he was starved and he needed fuel. He hadn’t eaten much in the last two days, and he’d wanted something fast, convenient, and – if possible – not entirely unhealthy. Unfortunately, at this time of night most places were already closed, so he’d ended up at a run-down diner just off the highway with bars on the windows, water stains on the walls, peeling linoleum on the floor, and booths held together with duct tape. But if the place had one saving grace, it was that none of the other customers cared how he looked when he made his way to the table. People who came to dives like this late at night were good at minding their own business. As far as he could tell, half the people here were trying to sober up after a night of hard drinking, while the other half – designated drivers, no doubt – were sobering up, too, only marginally less intoxicated.

It was the kind of place where it would have been easy to get in trouble, and after he’d turned into the gravel lot with Evan following in his Prius, he’d half expected Evan to keep going. But Evan must have suspected the same thing about possible trouble. It was the only reason he’d ever set foot in an establishment like this, especially at this time of night. Evan didn’t exactly blend in with the late-evening crowd here, what with his pink shirt, argyle socks, leather loafers, and neatly parted sandy blond hair. In fact, his Prius might as well have been a neon sign announcing that his goal was to get beaten up by the good old boys in pickup trucks who’d just spent most of the night getting wasted.

Colin turned on the faucet and wet his hands before bringing them to his face. The water was cold, exactly what he wanted. His skin felt like it was on fire. The marine he’d fought had hit a lot harder than he’d expected – and that didn’t count the illegal blows – but who would have known by looking at him? Tall and thin, jarhead haircut, goofy eyebrows… He shouldn’t have underestimated the guy, and he told himself he wouldn’t let it happen again. Either that, or he’d end up scaring his classmates all year long, which just might ruin the whole college experience for them. There’s this super scary guy in my class with bruises all over his face and these crazy tattoos, Mom!, he could imagine them saying on the phone. And I have to sit right next to him!

He shook the water from his hands. Leaving the restroom, he spotted Evan in the corner booth. Unlike him, Evan would have fit right in at the college. He still had a baby face, and as he approached, Colin wondered how many times a week he even had to shave.

“That took you long enough,” Evan said as Colin slid into the booth. “I was wondering if you got lost.”

Colin slouched against the vinyl cushion. “I hope you weren’t too nervous all alone out here.”

“Ha, ha.”

“I have a question for you.”

“Go ahead.”

“How many times a week do you shave?”

Evan blinked. “You were in the bathroom for ten minutes and that’s what you were thinking about?”

“I wondered about it while I was walking to the table.”

Evan stared at him. “I shave every morning.”


“What do you mean, why? For the same reason you do.”

“I don’t shave every morning.”

“Why are we even talking about this?”

“Because I was curious and I asked and then you answered,” Colin said. Ignoring Evan’s expression, he nodded toward the menus. “Did you change your mind and decide to order?”

Evan shook his head. “Not a chance.”

“You’re not going to eat anything?”


“Acid reflux?”

“Actually, it has more to do with my suspicion that the last time the kitchen was inspected, Reagan was president.”

“It’s not that bad.”

“Have you seen the cook?”

Colin glanced toward the grill behind the counter; the cook was right out of central casting, with a greasy apron straining to cover his ample gut, a long ponytail, and tattoos covering most of his lower arms.

“I like his tats.”

“Gee, there’s a surprise.”

“It’s the truth.”

“I know. You always tell the truth. That’s part of your problem.”

“Why is it a problem?”

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