"I've never bought one. They're closed now, anyway."

Phil lamented, "No music! Maybe Beirut Beige is conducive to singing." A drumming of fingernails at the window alarmed Brian, who stood next to it. "He's here.!"

It's still too early, isn't it?" Aleck shook his head. "His fight was at nine. What time is it?"

Brian made out the dark figures through the peephole. "It's Frishta. And Sitvar."

"Haven't seen Sitvar in ages! Maybe he has a needle. Maybe he took it!"


Brian opened the door. Frishta and Sitvar were stamping their feet, staggering in the cold. Sitvar carried golden- haired Ro asleep in his arms. Brian backed away.

Frishta said, "We thought we'd help you taste your score."

Phil rushed Maureen to the door to pull Frishta inside. "As you shall, of course. Doubt we'll burn through it tonight."

Sitvar nodded all around, Phil interposing, "Aleck there. Went to Spain with Aleck." Sitvar asked, "Can I put Ro on your bed, Phil?"

"My bed is your bed is his bed: Ro revisists his place conception. Wonder what he'll dream about. Could sleep through a train crash, couldn't he. Just like you, eh Maureen?" Maureen has stroked the boy's hair. Sitvar took him to the bedroom.

Frishta looked at Brian, who had interrupted Tom's search at the machine to ask for a cigarette. Tom proffered the pack to her while Brian walked by her, not meeting her eyes, looking only at the door, which he relocked. Frishta took a cigarette, as did Aleck. Tom lit them. Brian returned to the couch, where he lit his cigarette and looked only at it.

Phil said, "what's going on here? I'll have one." He took two and gave one to Maureen. They lit them before Tom had to put out his match. Phil exhorted, "Smoke up, man! Your fags and you the only one not smoking. Get them while they last. I intend to take two more the instant these are out."

Tom smiled and lit a cigarette. "Can't find the fucking needle." All smoke a moment. Sitvar returned, and Tom threw the pack of cigarettes at him with mock anger, "There you go, you old bastard."

Frishta took off her coat, pulling a white papers sack from the pocket. "Look what I brought. Anise seeds. Like licorice. They eat them in India after meals, like a liqueur."

Aleck asked, "where did you get them?"