There had been women, certainly. But Harold never lost his distance, and the closer someone drew him the more aloof he seemed to grow. Invariably it would end, and sooner rather than later.

Most of them had talked about the weather before ending things. “There’s a cloud hanging over you,” Andrea had said. “I think that, when it’s gone, you’ll make someone very happy.”

“I need a little blue sky every now and then,” he’d heard from Hailey “I just don’t see that the way we’re going.”

“I heard once that we all have to cry a certain number of tears before happiness find us,” Beatrice had said. “The way a rainbow follows a thunderstorm.”

Harold wasn’t sure how he felt about that last one, implying as it that he’d soon be shedding tears over Beatrice and keep doing so until he met some mythical true love. But the more he thought about her line, the more he liked it.

Before long, Harold was using it on others.

“I was in a park at sunset, and…it was amazing. This pillar of clouds, towering over everything…lit in orange, purple, and red with the waxing moon above. It was like something from the cover of a fantasy novel, only I was really seeing it,” said Koay. “The clouds moved and shifted as I watched–I think they might have been thunderheads for a far-off rainstorm–so that by the time the last rays of light were fading it looked like an enormous art deco locomotive, steaming on a celestial track. I was breathless, speechless.”

“Very moving,” said Detective Haines. “But I don’t follow.”

“Do you know what? No one else noticed. They were all absorbed in their little worlds, looking down at the path or listening to their clamshells–insulated from the reality around them.”

“Now that I can believe,” said Haines.

“Yes!” Koay continued. She’d grown flushed while speaking. “It made me realize that we’ve stopped seeing things, stopped noticing–if I hadn’t been there, looking up when I was supposed to be looking down, that glorious display might have gone unseen!”

“Meaning what, exactly?” Haines wasn’t quite sure what Koay was getting at, but the light in her eyes gave him pause.

“I guess that’s when I decided that I need to make people wake up. To make them notice.”

“At any cost?” Haines said warily.

“Maybe so…maybe so.”