Page 5

   Who are you talking to?
   No one. Just myself. I’m trying to understand. To know, you know?
   I guess.
   Is what you were looking for. Clever nice lady.
   No doubt.
   And a beauty too.

   Because maybe not a conventional beauty. She’d gone into the water some long time ago, and been beaten before that too. What I found of her was the corpse of a girl. I assumed girl. In the water she’d bloated. I could see hair like reeds plastered around a skull, and it wasn’t black so she wasn’t like us. But really it was the pink neon coat, as puffy as her and shiny still, though ripped and sodden. I told some halfwits standing nearby to get the fuck down here and help me turn her over. Because I was sure I’d seen her just minutes before, raising dust running on the road outside.
   She hadn’t come inside. She had been startled while looking inside. I’d seen that pale face, and saw it marked by that medicine the girls use to get white, and the bronzed hair, but then she’d run on. One glance and I’d had some idea about her, don’t ask me how, it doesn’t always work, but then I’d wanted to know.
   The people around here are, or were, that particular corrupt mixture of hard and flabby you find around soft targets like this big school we had here. They might be worn a little by the elements, leaned out by privation, but they might also be pale from the night and sloppy in how they copy movie criminals. Tattoos and slouches in skinny jeans. I was going to say I saw perfunctory education in her too, but that might been stretching my powers. It was just an impression, though, that she wasn’t from here.

   You said there was no one omniscient!
   There isn’t.
   So how was I supposed to know what you really were?