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Askewinthedark,theburgundysheetswrappedtheloverslikeaveil.Betweenher shoulderbladeshetracedletterswithhisfinger.Clothedinthemuskoftheother,stalewith sweatandcopper,theylayinsilence.Dropsofperspirationstillbeadedonherback,makingthe coldtouchofhisfingerplatesendshiversupherspine.Eyesclosed,shesmiledintothepillow anddriftedtowardssleep. Foralongtimehestaredintothebackofherhead,hismindworkingatafrightening speed.Greattorrentsofdatumandburstsofcalculationtoreacrosstheorderlypathwaysofhis mind.Herbreathingslowedinherrestandhegentlyslidhisarmfromunderherpillow.Inthe bathroomhecleanedhislensesanddrankfromthetap.Justabovehiscollarbonetherewasa smallscratchinthewhiteenamel.Keeneyesscannedtheblemish,acarefulhandraisedto traceitspath.Lefthand,nailoftheindexfingerhethought.Meticulousstrokesfromabrushhe pulledfromhishipconcealedthemark,releasingheadyvaporsthatpooledoverhishead. Nappingfitfullyinahazeofdreams,sheletslipastringofmumbledwords.Outsidethe rentedroomacartrumbledpastonpatternedcarpetwornthin.Poundingbasstonesrattledthe mirrorfromthenextroomover.

Quietasacathewalkedbacktothebedandstoodoverthe womanwrappedinsheets.Reachingunderthebed,heretrievedthelimpmembranesthatslid smoothlyontohisfeet.Sheopenedhereyestoseehimslipoutthedoor.Theheavyfallofhis footstepsfadeddownthehall. Undertheflourescentlightshedidhermakeupwhileshehummedasongthatwasstuck inherhead.Velvetcurtainsstirredovertheopenwindow.Withthebreezecamethescentof scortchedoilandgasolinewhichmingledwithsweatandchemicalsolvent.Xraysbombarded herbodyashegazedthroughthebuildingforonelastglance.

Yellowlightsputteredfromalamppostattheedgeoftwilight.

Zeroonehethoughtzerozeroone.