"We sucked face..."

Neither Milo nor Lenore, in the years that followed, would ever be able to explain clearly what happened next. Although Lenore's dismissive, "I picked him up, we sucked face, then I sucked dick," seemed on its surface to be a clear and admirably terse precis, it barely touched on the truth. Only kind of licked it lightly.

Milo would kick himself for becoming involved at all. Lenore would kick herself for getting involved with a man that she was pretty sure combined all the worst drunken qualities of her father and most of her scummier boyfriends.

Yet both seemed to be driven together, helpless in the negligent rush of a trickster universe that threw them together into the cosmic blender like nitro and glycerin, then tossed on a blasting cap for the sheer chaotic hell of it.

They drew together quick and deep. For some reason, each privately believed that it was destiny. Both at first praised this fact to each other, then began to distrust it for its indifference to their constant physical and emotional rawness, then finally hated. Along with each other.

All of it might've been scripted by Shakespeare on a napkin, one of the nights when Shakespeare was so blind drunk he couldn't get the plot straight, or even settle on comedy or tragedy. Or Ben Jonson, if you swing that way...

It had hinged on what-ifs; if Milo hadn't climbed out of the ditch just then; if one of the van's headlights hadn't been aimed too far to the right and caught him in the dark. And if Armand hadn't been bunked down, out of sight, in a swaddle of old comforters and bed spreads, asleep in the back of the van, Milo wouldn't even have gotten in. But as far as he knew, it would be just him and this strange, beautiful copper-haired vision, driving alone through the winding darkness down the funnel-tip of southern Mexico. As it was, his primitive lizard brain stuck out its tongue far enough to sniffed the prevailing air currents, and decided, "Hell, Yeah!"

"Where you headed?" Lenore had sung out of the passenger door, giving Milo a quick, practiced once-over as he zipped up.


"Get in!"

Milo had barely taken the folding passenger seat and was still dragging the sliding door forward to shut it when Lenore gunned the van back onto the road.

She could just make out the dimbright outline of his unshaven features haloed in the greenish glow of the dash lights. She caught a tiny whiff of the smell of piss, and it turned her on in spite of herself.

"You're from the States." Lenore spoke suddenly. "You got a name?"

Milo nodded. "Milo. Pavlov. I'm a scientist."

She nodded mechanically, to be polite.

"A scientist, huh?"

"Yeah, a physicist. What's your name?"

"Lenore," she said.

"Lenore... that's nice, I like it," Milo said. "It sounds like poetry or something." He thought for a few moments and then added "Sure is nice to hear someone speaking Anglais for a change. Thanks for picking me up."

She felt surprised to feel something like a purr rise in her throat when he said, "I like it."