He stopped them and ripped her hand out of his pocket and gripped her shoulders. "I could hit you. I could strangle you."

Frishta grinned at the ground. Her arms hung powerlessly from her shoulders. "It would hurt."

He relaxed his grip, and looked about guiltily. "Yes, it would hut, wouldn't it? I couldn't stand the pain." He took her hand and put it in his pocket. "Don't scratch me, you bitch." Frishta stood close to him, smiled at him, looked at his eyeballs. Sitvar smiled. "We're almost there." They went on.

Ahead Kensington Palace Road, banks and cheap restaurants and antique shops, joined Ladbroke Grove's pubs to form a broad intersection called Notting Hill Bush, the junction of four underground lines, five Red Coach local bus routes, and three Green Coach extended. It lay ahead, empty, silver-blue as its ice under mercury vapor lamps, and dark in the shadows. The bar and circle of Underground entrances marked its four corners, four proclamations of Notting Hill Bush buzzing against the vacant silence.

Sitvar pulled Frishta to the center of the intersection and stopped. He looked around full circle. "Which one should we go in?'


Frishta looked at each of the bar and circle sings. "I can't tell." Intently, she looked again at each in turn. "Consult the stars. "They looked up and tried to pierce beyond the brightness of mercury vapor. Frishta was trembling. grappling low branches with the breathing close behind him until he fell and slid and rolled himself down a steep slope deep into a thicket of nettles. He lay in the nettles and began to laugh at their pain loudly, victoriously, for he knew he was

"I can't see." Sitvar lowered his head. He looked anxiously at Frishta. "Besides, I can't read the stars."

"Neither can I." They turned around to all four entrances.

"Brain can read the stars."

"I know." He mused. "Where is Brian now, anyway?"

Frishta pulled her hand from Sitvar's pocket and faced him. "It's too cold. You must decide. You must choose which one."

Sitvar backed away from her a bit, then turned in the direction she was facing. An Underground entrance before them buzzed electrically, blue bar and red circle. "That one, then." He took her hand. They approached reluctantly.

From the street all that could be seen was the buzzing sign and the low concrete housing which supported it. From the sidewalk the open end of the housing shone brightly; its incandescent warmth lit concrete stairs descending between yellow-tiled walls to a yellow-tiled corridor, hollow, tinging just audibly with past echoes. It was warm. Sitvar and Frishta stood at the top of the stairs and felt the warm air puff at their faces. It was dry, and clean, though it smelled faintly of oiled steel and urine. Sitvar and Frishta descended and turned into the corridor.

"Look," said Sitvar. "I chose the right one. There's a Cadbury's machine and I've got sixpence." He dropped Frishta's hand to run toward the chocolate machine. It stood red and chrome against the yellow tile wall next to a doorway's "Gentlemen." A gate closed the doorway. The frosted glass barrier immediately inside was dark like a night window in the reflection of yellow from the corridor. Sitvar did not look. He pulled a lever. A chocolate bar clunked in the receiving tray of the machine. Frishta touched his elbow.

"I want some."