by Bastet

i. I should tell you

"Wait," she gasps, and Benny takes the opportunity to look, to drink in her body and the leather rucked up over it, her sweet ass and her mouth and everything but her glazed expression. "You should know that I'm--"

"I know," he says kindly.

She stills and her eyes actually focus. "How did you..."

"I looked through your purse earlier," he says, swinging one of her legs up, and she's too high on the shit he bought for her to do anything but giggle as his tongue traces the line down her neck and over her breasts.


ii. let's go get drunk!

It's about a hundred dollars worth of alcohol, and another twenty to keep the barkeep from throwing them out once Collins starts singing.

He alternates abruptly between laughing and crying, between remembering the past and remembering. Benny just keeps passing him drinks, the arm around Collins' shoulders feeling warmer than anything has in a long time.

Collins doesn't say, "You didn't have to do this."

Benny doesn't say, "It's the least I can do."


iii. his girlfriend April left a note

"Don't fucking touch me! Stay the hell away..." He can almost hear Roger yelling, Mark's voice soothing him down, over Maureen's keening wails of grief as Collins rocks her back and forth.

Screaming madness is starting to look like a good idea, so he slips out to the Life Café. No one there but one woman, dressed nice, for this neighborhood.

"Are you all right?" she asks, and though he nods yes, when he orders a coffee she says, "It's on me."


iv. one song

They both give to charities, cold gray boxes with slits across the tops, men with red noses and bells on the street corners.

Maureen and Joane are dancing slowly, Mimi sitting with her back against Mark's chest as they watch Roger play. Other people are watching, too, and Benny's one of them, though he's probably the only one not bothering to listen at all.

He leaves a hundred dollars in the shoe box at the edge of the stage, and, in a suit, none of them even recognize them.


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