‘Drop it man,’ says Jose after Raul asks what harm one dinner can do.

‘Food at the same table ain’t gonna fuck up your plan essay,’ he tells his brother as he re-stocks empty cigarette shelves.

Jose is reading The Post and without looking up says, ‘Any female smoking three cigars a day is trouble. You know it bro. Start getting real.’

Carmen is sitting on a bench in Battery Park during her lunch break. She’s situated with her eyes on surrounding activity, keeping a look out for heat. If they happen to catch of a whiff of something illegal, Carmen isn’t someone they’re going to look to right away. Her two piece Banana Republic business suit, flesh toned stockings, and practical black pumps blend her in like seaweed on the ocean floor.

She isn’t thinking about the crash that took her fiance six years ago. Her thoughts are distracted from memories of ‘I’m so sorry.’ Three words she’s heard more times than ‘I love you.’

A boy from St Lucia approaches with a briefcase and she shakes her head with a smile that leaves mostly everyone wanting to know more. The boy nods at her lack of interest in his artificial Rolex collection. He looks at her cigar and offers a wide, white-tooth grin before moving on.

Carmen looks at her watch and is grateful that there’s only four more hours she needs to sit in the large building that deposits money in her bank account each week. Answering the phone.

Passing the days.

The blending of mornings, afternoons and evenings has swallowed years that Carmen no longer keeps track of. When she enters the bodega the following morning, she’s greeted by Jose.

‘Morning mommy, three?’ he asks aware of Carmen’s wandering eyes searching the shop for Raul. ‘He’s not here today but maybe that’s a good thing hey? Maybe he’s been bothering you? He’s got issues lady, you don’t want to be looking out for him.’

Raul drank too much last night. He was supposed to be at work two hours ago.

‘Three, yeah?’ asks Jose and Carmen knows she won’t be back.

‘Four…’