Armand had taken to wandering, trying to play with the local kids who - for the most part - accepted him. At least when they were looking for an extra head for scrub baseball.

It was Armand who actually found the newspapers at the campground office, one day as he waited patiently for the owners' children to return from school. They were English-language dailies, recycled as packing in regular care parcels, mailed, it seemed, by relatives on the Canadian Mennonite Central Committee.

He returned to the van with several Montreal Gazettes, a Toronto Star and a copy of Canadian Living under an arm, just as Lenore and Milo had finished another unfulfilling bout of self-gratification. And three litres of acidic homemade rhubarb wine Max had passed on to them the night before; it had been sort of Mennonite-Chaco-style Welcome Wagon gift to him.

Armand's young friends, predictably, had detoured on their way home from school, to stare in the van windows again. Milo swore, and they ran, laughing, like a flock of small plaid chickadees as he chased them naked and fell to the gravel for the umpteenth time .

"Go on, get out of here! Scram, you little fuckers!" he'd shouted.

"Fuck this," he muttered. Seeing the newspapers for the first time, he grabbed the lot from Armand, found a roll-end of black friction tape and furiously began curtaining random pages across the insides of the windows. Lenore, naked as usual, scratched absently and munched Kinder.

She had become decidedly heavier in the last few weeks, especially in her midriff. Her attitude was dulling into indefinable listlessness. Her paradoxical beauty manifested less often, seemingly veiled by her new flesh. She had let up on Milo though. The watermark Cauhachi episode seemed almost completely forgotten. Yet she remained horny, and Milo found he had to pace himself carefully to come anywhere close to addressing her constant, insatiable sexual appetites.

Lenore found some of the stolen dope they had cadged from Max on his last visit, close to hand. Still absently, she rolled and lit another joint. She motioned thickly to Milo to join her, and ordered Armand out on the pretext of needing more newspapers for the windows.

But while Armand was only three years old, his brain's development had advanced as remarkably as that of his body. He knew full well that his mother's wish for privacy was specific to that very moment, and resented it in an adult, possibly Freudian, way.

"All you two do is drink, smoke and fuck," he sneered at the urgently-slammed door. His scowl saddened back to a child's face when he turned. His new friends were jeering from a safe distance, aiming faces and crude gestures at the laundry van. Children are cruel.

Oblivious to the kinder-psychodrama just beyond the newspapers and sheet aluminum, Lenore jiggled, giggled and dragged Milo back to the bed. Milo sighed, shrugged mentally, thought, "It's a living," and girded his wrung-out loins for another exhausted lap in a Sisyphian series of back-to-back, two-backed marathons.

Outside, hurt and rejected, Armand considered his scant options, then set out to Max's humble stall for a Spanish lesson.

Unheeded and mostly rejected by Lenore and Milo, Armand and Max had defaulted to each other. In fact, they'd kind of hit it off. They were developing a friendship of traded words, and sentence fragments in one another's languages. Naturally, this also involved traded gestures...