Her face breaks, for a microsecond: a shadow cast from nothing, then vanished, banished from sight.

I met him on a--

No, no, I interrupt. Not your connection with him. Tell me about him. Just him. Outside of the world of your self.

Her eyes narrow to a cool sliver.

He, she starts.

He is a kind man. He is pleasant. Were you to approach him on the street, he would be just as, if not more, amiable as he was in whatever context you first met him. He is, and she pauses again as though the set of adjectives from which she can choose is embarrassingly limited.

He is a good man.

Well, isn't that nice to hear, I say.

She giggles silently. He is a good man. But just because he is kind and pleasant and good does not mean he isn't also capable of embodying... antithetical characteristics.

Does he?

Her brow twitches ever so slightly, no wrinkles, but the sentiment is there.

Every so often, she says, he will have an off day. And I'll look into his eyes and see a very distinct trace of...

She looks at me for help.

Of what?

A tiny sigh. Fear, she says. No, anger. Both. They look far too alike for me to tell the difference; but it's there, some creature violently thrashing against its entrapment, a terrible fanged creature with its limbs at unnatural angles, a creature from the depths of a nightmare; and then I'll blink and it will be gone and I will forget it and think nothing of it until I see it once more.