His guts still ached from the beating, and the stitches on his face didn't do anything to assuage his sense of being in a foreign city that spoke the same language. He hadn't been to the West End in exactly one year, the Actor's last birthday party, and before that it had been exactly one year again between visits. Each year, the Detective recognized fewer faces at the festivities. That's not entirely true. This year he recognized several faces from TV commercials. The brunette was in an ad for a bank that didn't have a branch in his neighbourhood and he'd seen the beefy guy load cinder blocks into heavy duty garbage bags during Barney Miller reruns on Sunday mornings.
Over the last few years, the Actor, too, had become more familiar as a face on TV--a goofy dad in a frozen chicken ad, a serious space commando on a military-themed sci-fi series--than as one of his oldest and most trusted friends. But the distance that had grown between them could not be entirely blamed on the Actor's increasing success. The Detective knew that this wasn't the first time he'd let his mind drift while "catching up" with his old friend.
"...that was a week ago. No one in my family knows where he's been since he left jail. What do you think?"