Lin Page 29
scooter by the chin strap, and all one has to do is cut it. Shit, he hisses out loud. He considers swearing to be a defeat, the last refuge of the inarticulate, but he says it again and again, Shit shit shit shit shit. The word becomes a house beat of its own, a relentless thudding tempo in 4/4 time. The clouds are opening up, curtains of thundershowers dropping down hard; he can see the precise little craters created by every drop falling on the cracked granite. He looks up into the sky, at the unseen rain that lands on his eyeballs like tiny bombs.

Are you okay?

He peers into the gloom of the parking lot from where he heard the words. It is Annie, stuffed in her oversized jacket, the rain bouncing off it effortlessly even as her hair

falls in wet, unkempt bangs over her forehead.

Fine, he says.

She nods, takes a few steps towards him. Thanks for helping me. She seems to have snapped back into semi-alertness -- at least, there is no hint that she will collapse on the spot.

What drugs does he give you? he asks.

She retreats a step, almost cowering. A thin index finger rises to her lips. Not here, she says.

Is he your father?