I’ve been trying to focus on my next book. Some days I think it will be short stories, sometimes I envision a novel, and then something knocks me about and I end up writing poetry for weeks at a time.

Here’s a segment of one of my many book-like pieces I’m presently playing with.

‘Where do you think we come from?’ asks Simon.

It’s 4am in Astoria. Simon phoned Cassie twenty-two minutes ago to come out for a walk. He knows she doesn’t sleep. He’s trying to figure out what she spends so much time awake and pondering.

Cassie’s head is cocked back staring up at a deep plum sky that spins slightly, counter-clockwise.

‘I’m not sure,’ she says. ‘Do you think about space?’

Cassie has a style of responding to questions with questions. An irresistible smile and eyes that look into anyone compliment her method of avoiding replies.

She would never say it, but a lot of the time, she doesn’t like what she sees.

‘Humans?’ says Simon. ‘Didn’t we evolve from monkeys or some shit? Swim out of the ocean and grow legs?’

‘Perhaps,’ replies Cassie. ‘I suppose it depends on how you look at it.’

There was a shooting and a stabbing in the neighbourhood last week. Simon mentioned them to Cassie while the pair walked across 42nd Street smoking cigarettes. ‘I don’t identify with that,’ said Cassie.

Simon met Cassie at Starbucks. In a room of laptop popped free-wifi sucking strangers, one girl sat with a blue silk notebook and pen collection spread across her table. ‘Can I borrow one of these?’ asked Simon.

‘Of course.’

The pair came to learn they live a block apart and share the same fondness for walks at dawn. Simon works graveyard shifts and has a reason for being up at absurd hours. He once asked Cassie, ‘Don’t you sleep?’

‘No.’

‘What do you mean you don’t identify with that?’

A police car cruises down Broadway stuffed with two fat cops on their way to Dunkin Donuts. ‘Being human,’ says Cassie wrinkling her nose at the site of the gun toting hominids travelling a paved earth trail in a metal box. ‘I don’t identify with being human.’

‘So what do you identify as?’ asks Simon.

‘Do you believe in life after death?’

‘I guess.’

‘Let’s talk about this another time,’ says Cassie pulling two lollypops out of her pocket. ‘Candy?’