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2005 04 02
Mnemonic City-Fragment 4
imageI got tense as I approached Christie Pitts, once again wearing my regular clothes, pushing the RV. It was coming on seven o'clock when she drifted dreamily down the ravine. I was perched on a bench next to the swing-set, watching a AAA ballgame at one of the diamonds. Sonya sailed through the sandbox and sat next to me on the bench. A richie boy, maybe eighteen, followed her. Both of them were obviously stoned. They sat on the bench next to me.

"Hi, Jimmy," Sonya said. "This is Kai."

"Hey, man," Kai said. He was pretty, the way Sonya liked them, with long, thick hair and an aquiline nose that he seemed to stare down. His clothes were expensive ripoffs of home-made street-rags, and he chewed an unlit pipe. I hated him instantly, and began obsessing over what his angry parents would do when they found him with us. I shook his hand, anyway.

"So," I said, casually, "what's for dinner?"

Sonya unwound a plastic shopping bag from her wrist and produced two oranges. They had soft spots, and I knew she'd dug them out of some fruit market's curbside trash.

"Yum," I said, unenthusiastically. "Any change?"

Sonya ignored me. "My shoulder hurts," she said. She turned her back to Kai. He took the hint and started rubbing her shoulders. She let her head loll and smiled.

I took a deep breath and didn't shout. I took another deep breath. "I got some work for the next couple weeks."
"Uh huh," Sonya said, absently.

"It might be enough to get a place again."

"That'd be good," Sonya said. Kai's busy hands had slipped to her tailbone, and the top of her ass.

"Hey, Kai?" I said.

"Yeah, man," he said.

"Why don't you give us a minute alone here, okay?"

"Sure," he said. He walked over to the playground and started pumping on a swing.

"Your mom wants to have us for dinner," I said.

"Good. I'm hungry," Sonya said.

Recollecton junkies are always full of surprises.

"We can't take him," I said, gesturing at Kai, who was pumping himself even higher on the swings, his hair streaming out behind him.

"Sure, whatever."

"And you can't act stoned."

"Who's acting?" she said, and closed her eyes and smiled. She started singing, a Tom Waits song we used to sing all the time, her doing a high, uncertain harmony, me rasping along. I forgot my enervation for a moment, listening to her thin voice skipping over the high notes. I joined in -- it had been so long since we sang together -- and she smiled that special delighted smile at me and put her arm around my shoulder and touched her head to mine, and we finished the song like two cartoon drunks.

"You sing good, Jimmy," she said to me, and gave me a sisterly peck on the cheek.

"You too, kid."

"I don't have any change from the oranges. I spent it," she said.

"That's okay. You really want to go over to your mom's?"

"Tonight?"

"If you want."

"I'd like that."

"So say goodbye to your friend, and we'll go."

She walked to the swing and Kai jumped off. She said something to him, and gave him a hug, and he grabbed her and pressed his mouth to hers, and I saw him force his tongue in. I started to get up, but Sonya laughed around his tongue, laughed and laughed, and he let go of her, and she rolled in the gravel, laughing. I laughed too, and poor Kai trudged away from us, alone and stoned, up the ravine. "Bye, man," I called after him.

I helped Sonya up and she gave me a hug that went on and on, and right then, I would have done anything for her.
[email this story] Posted by Cory Doctorow on 04/02 at 08:46 AM

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