by Jeff Mueller

It was days like this that Chance really enjoyed. The weather outside was nice, as was the company he was keeping. He sat there smiling at Kazue, one of the new girls at the Pink Nipple, while she debated her next move. He found it so amusing that ahe took a game checkers so seriously. At least she was having fun though he thought.

He used to get upset when these girls would show up, there innocence still well intact at the time. He got upset because he knew that soon they would become as jaded as the rest of the working girls. After awhile though, he realized that the girls were doing what they had to, and rather he should be keeping that playful innocence alive in the girls when he could. This mid-afternoon game of checkers was a case in point.

"Your turn Chance-kun" she giggled breaking him out of his reverie.

With a shrug he picked up one of his pieces, making three quick jumps ending on the edge of the board. With a mischeivous grin on his face he picked up three of her pieces and laid them in the large pile next to the board. "King me."

With an exageratted sigh she placed a checker on top of his. "How do you always do this?" she asked in an exhasperated tone.

"Just lucky I gue..." His response was cut off with a stabbing pain in the center of his forehead. Bringing his hand up he felt his forehead, expecting to find a wound but finding nothing. The pain continued to shoot through his skull in waves, slowly it subsided. Realizing his eyes had been squeezed shut, he slowly opened them to see Kazue looking at him with a very concerned expression.

"Are you okay?" she asked.

Taking a deep breath, he grinned. "Yeah, I'm right as rain."

"Then why are you bleeding?" she queried while looking down at the table in front of him.

Confused, he looked down at the table to see a growing pool of blood.

Sitting on the edge of the toilet, Chance held his head back, a towel pressed to his nose to staunch the nosebleed. After a few minutes, the bleeding subsided and he stood up taking a step over to the sink. After a quick splash of cold water in his face he wondered what that had been all about. He had never had a headache that bad in his life... especially not accompanied by a nosebleed. I hope I'm not getting sick he thought to himself.

After rinsing out the towel and hanging it to dry, Chance made his way up to his room to lie down for awhile. Just as he was going to sit down, another wave of pain hit him like a ton of bricks. Doubling over, Chance fell onto the bed curled into a ball. Reaching up he felt his nose, his fingers came away wet...

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