Lin Page 31
My helmet was stolen. I can't ride home without the helmet in the rain.

Her mouth puckers into a half-smile that resembles a squiggle. Sure you can, she says. Just close your eyes.

He rubs at the rain on his face, clearing it away. Did she just make a joke? Is she being serious?

I'm not that good, he replies.

Okay. Come on.

What do you mean?

You helped me, I'll help you. Where you want to go?

Hsientien. Are you well enough to drive?

Do you have a car license?

Defeated, he shrugs his shoulders. While she unlocks the driver-side door he pulls out his shirt from the back and retrieves what is left of his notepad and VCDs - scraps of paper, soggy cardboard, the surface of the CDs warped into tributaries, bits of them cracked off like crumbled cookies. Not quite knowing what to do with this ruined conglomeration, he holds it in his hands as he sits down. The interior of the car has the scent of sticky pine.

Let's wait a minute, he says. The back of his seat is cold and wet -- no, it's not the seat, it's him. The sweat and the rain and the blood and the mud that got under his shirt.