What a long, strange trip it's been, Lindsey thinks.
He should have known, of course, that it wouldn't be that easy. That he couldn't just quit, walk away, get in the truck and drive out of L.A. toward the wide open horizon. He was naïve to think he could. He sees now he was naïve about a lot of things.
The last of his naiveté was beaten out of him -- literally -- in Phoenix, where a Wolfram & Hart lackey caught up with him in a bar. But they'd sent a human, and Lindsey was that much faster, that much more desperate to live. He's found that it helps, sometimes, to have the hand of a murderer.
There were others after that. In Salt Lake City, three people asked Lindsey if he knew Jesus and one assassin tried to arrange a personal introduction. In Wyoming, he sold the truck to a man he met at a gas station, and felt a pang of loss as his last tangible link to another life vanished down the highway in a cloud of dust. He used the money to buy a fake passport in Montana; it shows a photograph of Lindsey next to the name 'Michael Burley'. He practiced his new name as the freight train rattled over the frontier into Canada's wide, empty spaces: Hi, I'm Michael, call me Mike.
Saskatchewan. Alberta. Finally, in British Columbia, the shadows stopped falling behind him.
The shack is tiny and anonymous, and if anyone ever owned it, no one remembers who they were. At any rate, no one's challenged Lindsey (Michael, he reminds himself, Mike) since he moved in. One room, no plumbing, intermittent electricity, but he thinks of it in a way he never thought of his apartment in L.A., stuffed with luxuries. He thinks of the shack as home.
Four nights a week, he serves drinks in Charlie's place, the only bar in town, remembering skills he learnt as an impoverished law student, funding his education without the advantage of wealthy and indulgent parents. Sometimes he shoots the breeze with the regulars, listens more than he talks, but that's okay, people seem to like that. It turns out Mike's a good listener, better than Lindsey ever was. Lindsey was a lawyer, paid to listen, but Mike's different. Mike's interested.
He absorbs the stories they tell him, strips them down to reveal plainly the emotion at the core, and hands them back to their owners in song, raw and beautiful.
Once or twice a month, he brings his guitar and stays on after hours to play the guys whatever he's working on right now. His right hand moves as smoothly as his left, finding the notes, and the chords sweeten the air like rich, golden honey. He sings of old regrets and new hopes, and the men nod their heads as they listen, recognizing truths older than music, older than words.
Lindsey could tell his own stories, if he chose to: stories about vengeful demons and vampire lovers, about magic and obsession and revenge. Most of all, about what it really means to sell your soul. Lindsey could tell one hell of a story.
But Mike -- Mike's different. Mike strums his guitar with a hand that's a little darker and a little rougher than the rest of him, and tells other men's tales, and is content.