"What about Ro? Mrs. Poulos won't do night duty."

"We can bring him. Say you'll go."

Sitvar considered. "All right. Why not. Free smoke."

Frishta turned the burner down under a large pan of boiling water. She took the lid from the pan of spaghetti sauce and sniffed as it. "Do you want to eat now? All I have to do is drop the spaghetti in."

"Sure. Let's eat." Sitvar rummaged three forks from a cabinet drawer. He took three plates from a shelf above the stove, and carried them to the table. "Push your crayons back, sweetheart. Lovely spaghetti."


"I don't like spaghetti."

"Good. I'll eat yours, then."

Sitvar returned for the pot of sauce and a large spoon. Frishta brought a platter of steaming spaghetti. The family sat down to dinner.


BRIAN PLACED A CAN of incense on the tile hearth and lit a match from the stove. The incense burned at first with a blue flame like the panel of the gas fire behind it, then subsided to lava orange smoldering sweet smoke. The couch creaked as Brian settled into his posture, settle himself for meditation. His eyes focused on the orange tip of incense, and did not move. His breathing was irregular; his tongue twisted silent syllables inside his closed mouth. A key clicked against the tumblers of the door's lock; the lock snapped back; the doorknob turned. Its chain rattled and the door shuddered slightly against the resistance of its bolt. Not until there was a violent thumping did Brian's eyes start form the incense. He's strode to the peephole to confirm shouts of, "Open up! It's Tom. Brian!" Brian opened the door.

Tom carried a stack of records; Aleck huffed behind him with a battered portable phonograph. Tom displayed the stack to Brian. "Look at all we got. Michael left his with Aleck. And I bought that new raga album on the way, too. My parents sent me an allowance."

Brian smiled., "Good. You have a straight, then?"

"Sure." Tom put the records on the floor, tossed his coat beside them, and took three cigarettes from a pack in his shirt pocket.

Brian lit another match at the stove. "How is Oregon, then?"

The question surprised Tom. "All right. They still want me to come back."