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“Left with one, come back with none,’ he says with a smirk, flicking fingers over the loosening paper of his cigarillo. “That stings.’

“No,’ she said, her voice floating over and around him in the sparse room. “Leaving with *two* and coming back with none, now *that* stings.’

“The snake bit though,’ he said, nodding his head, his smile widening. “Now that was a neat trick.’

“Yeah,’ she said, sounding bored. “You should have seen him writhing around the floor like a stuck pig, face goin´ blue, then purple.’

He snorted. “Should have. Won´t now. Ever, actually.’

“Lasting image, I´ll tell you,’ she said, the smile back in her voice. “Runs through my dreams just about every night.’


“Don´t know about all that. But I don´t mind.’

“No, Elle, you wouldn´t,’ he said, bringing his hand down on top of her bare foot in his lap, squeezing it and running his fingers along the intricate bones. “You´re a cold, twisted lady.’

“That´s why ya like me, Sheldon,’ she said, wriggling her toes into his leg and laughing. “Why, next to me, you might even be sane.’

“Might be,’ he said. “Comparatively anyway.’

“You an´ me, Shel, we´re quite the pair aren´t we,’ she said, and he could feel her fingers slinking up his arm, winding their spindly little way into his knotted hair.

“Two lost souls with not an eye to their person,’ he said, his smile wide despite the fact that no one would see it. “I´d say we were.’

“Not lost,’ she said as she lowered her leg from his lap and settled herself on top of him. “Not if we´ve got each other. Just like when we were kids with a neighboring fence.’

“Ya know something, Elle,’ he said, cocking his head up as she lowered her mouth to his neck. “Just between you, me, and the trees?’

“What´s that?’

“Maybe we shoulda listened to Old Ms. Fetternan when she said we weren´t suited to anything but picking up other people´s garbage.’

“Aw, Shel,’ she said, laughing into his ear. “That´s exactly what we do.’

“I don´t think she exactly had this in mind, sweetcakes.’

“Yeah,’ she said, her hair flicking over his face as she shrugged. “Doesn´t matter much, now does it?’

“No,’ he said, leaning forward and nuzzling his nose into her neck, flicking a tongue over the hollow space. “Guess not.’

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