He is upon her and she addresses his feet with her eyes -- it is an
improvement from earlier, in which she stared at nothing. Reticence?
Are you going to tell my mother? she murmurs.
Oh hell, he thinks. She is utterly at his mercy.
Forget it, he says. It doesn't matter if your father is
alive or dead or if you met him tonight or if you see him on any night
or if you're involved with some kind of insurance theft -- He
catches himself. Sorry, that didn't sound nice. But I'm trying
to be. Just once, I'm trying to be.
He turns to leave, satisfied that his final words were sufficiently
hard-boiled, when he hears a sharp intake of breath on her part. You're
bleeding, she says.
Yeah. Maybe. Nothing serious. He rubs at the small of his
back. Yes, definite cuts there. That'll hurt for a while. Better be
ready to sleep on your side tonight. Someone had once told him that
Taiwanese people have flatter noses because they sleep on their backs.
As if there were any doubt that he wasn't Taiwanese.
Without knowing why, he adds: I have to take the bus home.