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Muffled voices

Muffled voices on the other side of a door or a wall and she opens her eyes slowly, a richly periwinkle that almost seems to cast a bluish light upon the sheets. Only a weird words that I couldn’t no idea what she was. Stoned out of her mind on something. Gorgeously model tall like a different language, one of the Russians? He’s gonna fucking usually sell it, or living beneath this? With the stuff from the truck.

She sits up. And immediately puts a hand to the side of her head, there under the spill of clotted yellow-white curls. Both hands to her face now pulling it, stretching, breathing heavily through her nose. Frowning. A generic little room, beige walls, two queen-sized beds side-by-side, the one over there mounded high with, with stuff, duffel bags and paper shopping bags and nylon drawstring sacks stuffed full, balls, soccer balls and footballs wrapped in clear plastic, tubes of tennis balls, on the floor before the chest of drawers with a television on top a ziggurat of shoeboxes. Quickly but carefully on hands and knees she moves to the foot of her bed, there the ruins of a brief red dress, torn, mud-stained, wet. She lowers a filthy bare foot to the carpeted floor, follows it down in a crouch. In there, says the one voice, crisp and clear.

Yeah, says the other, high and wobbly. From behind not the main door up the short dark hall that way but the flimsy communicating door, flat in the wall by the television set, the panel on her side propped open with a doorstop that stretching across the floor she reaches for but a click, a clatter, someone’s hand on the knob on the other panel in the other room swinging open.

“Why did you even put her in here,” says the guy pushing this room’s panel open into the room, a tangle of blond hair and a big blond beard and a sheepskin jacket hanging open, and “There was room on the bed,” says the other guy, and “No, I mean in here at all,” says the first guy, frowning, stepping into the room. “You put her where?”

“Shit,” says the second guy, swarming into the room, his hair black and spiky, his jacket grey with lots of little pockets and straps and and the sleeves pushed up to his elbows. Heading around to the far side of the bed. “I swear she was in here, I swear.”

“Maybe she’s in the bathroom?” says the guy with the big blond beard, and as he’s turning there’s a squeak and a clack and the door to the room’s pushed shut. She’s standing there so tall, curly hair wildly white in the light, one shoulder back against the wall, one hand up, trembling, those bright blue eyes blinking rapidly. “Porth?” she says, or something like, and the second guy, the one in the grey jacket, he comes back around the bed, “There she is,” he’s saying, “hey, baby, it’s okay – ”

“You mother-defiling moron,” says the guy with the big blond beard. “That’s the Axe.”

The eyes harden, fix, the trembling melts away as the shoulder comes off the wall her hand there lifting from behind her leg the wooden baseball bat she’s holding choked up high in a vicious short swing that catches the second guy in the side of the head and as he’s struck there wobbling, blinking, loops around to thunk against his chest and send him crashing to the floor. “Not. Anymore,” she says, her voice rough.

“Forgive me,” he says, “this far east, news of the court sometimes doesn’t – ”

“You’re,” she says, and she coughs, “Harper. The Duke. Took me.”

“No, no, absolutely not. This little turd,” kicking the guy on the floor, “took you. Found you asleep by the dumpsters out back. He thought you had – potential. You can kill him, if you like.”

“Yes,” she says, shaking her shaggy hair out of her face. “Draw.”

“I will do no such thing,” he says. “Southeast knew nothing of this. I swear it.”

“Draw,” she says.

“No,” he says, and she shrugs, and swings the bat again.

Slumped at the foot of the bed he shudders as she’s pulling off his jacket and he opens his eyes. Watches her as crouching there she pulls the jacket on, buttons the top two buttons, one hand on the bat, her eyes on him, all the while. Patting her way through the pockets she stops, suddenly, softens a little, maybe a smile as she lifts out a little plastic baggie twisted shut around a thumb-sized wodge of golden dust.

“This,” he says, thickly, licking something milky from his lips, “this the Duke will hear of.”

“Fine,” she says, and she kisses the little baggie once, and tucks it away again. “Your pants.”

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