Sterling jumped back as if he had seen a ghost. "Go away," he cried.
Christy stood and walked toward him, reaching out, not speaking.
Sterling could not tell if she was mad or in some loving mode. Christie wrapped her arms around him. He was trembling.
"Why are you here," he said. But it came out wrong. He meant it to be one way, not this way.
"I can't let you go," she said. "I don't care what you do or say."
"No," Sterling cried. He wanted to run down the hill to the street and lose himself in the enfolding darkness. "I don't need anyone. Please."
It wasn't right. That is what Sterling knew deep inside. Just because someone loves you does not mean you are right for that someone. It does not mean that you fit. He had flagellated himself for walking away, but now that he was away he could not go back.
Thus it was that the two separated once again, this time for good.
Sterling soon lost his keep. He was unable to sustain that free lance thing. He sold the computer. He was unable to keep his car.
But he was where he wanted to be, alone. Caught. A rat. In a trap of his own making, There was no bitterness. No anger. Nothing.
He got a night job down at the Gold Strike. Just sitting there from midnight to six in the morning. He could have a small room there for free. And get his meals. Without a car, he was pretty much there all the time.
He treated his family in the same way he treated Christy. And he was strangely happy. Happier than ever, he thought. Life was drifting toward nothing. And as the song said, nothing is free.
For Sterling, being a nay-sayer worked. Others might save the world. But he lacked the stomach for it. Others might have babies and ply seas of commerce. But he saw no reason to do so.
He began to take long walks around the block - by which he meant through the Gold Strike parking lot, past the odiferous device which processed sewage and then around a small hill along a the path overlooking the Lake, the man-made lake that supplied Las Vegas with water.
Sterling occupied himself daily with the configuration of stones in a tiny spot along the pathway. If someone had walked on that spot the configuration would change. Sometimes a whole week passed and the stones were unmoved.
Once in a long while, there would come a heavy pelting rain for a few minutes. Then the pebbles that were Sterling's daily encounter would disappear.