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The Circus! The Tiny Men!

(Atomic Cowboy, Manchester Avenue)

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"That's OK," Roy says. "Next time we'll just have to remember to get some new clothes first." And he's right. This place is packed with people who look good enough to be department-store mannequins. Their mouths are moving, too — they're speaking, drinking, laughing, striking modelesque poses in rapid succession. They don't sweat, they produce no body heat.

A group of young men forms around a woman. She's obviously older than they are, and attractive in an obvious way. Boringly attractive. A testament to the efficacy of cosmetic finessing. Still, there are some things no cosmetics can hide. The men are confident. But isn't overconfidence a sign of ineptitude? They're overcompensating. They're circus clowns who arrived together in a tiny car.

Roy floats around the room, a grinning cat. He has always mixed well with people, moved easily from crowd to crowd. He'd make a great psychiatrist.

"It wasn't like this the last time I was here," he says. "This is a different crowd." He smiles, watches.

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