A few months later, after a dozen intemperate weekend evenings, and a few days after our third weekday meeting, we both become aware that our interactions are no longer tethered to the excuse of casual camaraderie and instead have delved into a pedagogical region (as if he had anything to teach, Rémi would have said, had he approached the subject more tactfully) with which neither of us were particularly comfortable.

Rémi is describing to me, on this night so long ago, the many ways in which he would kill Professor Ricardo Reyes of the Spanish department, were he to find himself with the buffoon in some sort of surveillance-free location so that Rémi's ears would no longer be bombarded with Reyes' asinine and incessant beliefs about the state of contemporary poetic criticism, when he stops abruptly, turns to me and finally addresses what is on both of our minds.

Why are you here?

He blinks, and I blink back.

You're young, Rémi says (well, maybe not that young, he adds), but you still have life left within you. There are still experiences you have not had.

Why are you here, he says, with an old, fat, washed-up professor, in a bar where we are not even afforded the dignity of being able to determine where it is day or night, as if we were in a casino, he says, gambling, its hellish owners coaxing us with the set design to stay, to stay forever.

He grabs my shoulder and says, we are in a casino, but we are gambling away our lives.

You, he says, are gambling away your life.

Why are you here, he repeats.