Reckless Talk for a Girl on the Lam


I should have known better. Her forehead crinkled, her mouth
stretched in the tragic rectangle. I picked up an LA newspaper
and there was a headline about his murder. I said, "Is it true?"
She said, "What do you think?"


Her knee nudged mine. He waved his hand in front of his face,
as if a buzzing fly had invaded his mouth. The pool was abandoned now,
but wavelets still washed the sides. Needing a drink more than ever,
I thanked her. She rolled her eyes to the sky.


I realized with some embarrassment that the body on the deck was me.
I climbed air down to it and crawled back in. There were barracuda
in the pool, hungry for my manhood. I climbed out. The movie ended in
a chaste embrace. He looked at me in genuine shock.


Feet were busy on the floor over my head. "So you're an altruist,are you?"
he said, with the bitter irony of age. I didn't answer for a minute.
She pretended to be innocent, and wormed her way into my good graces.
A new cardboard FOR SALE sign was wired to the gate.


"That was quite a performance," I said. He got in and drove away.
I didn't follow him. The Taos Shop was a little tourist trap on the
Coast Highway.
The siren's whoop was louder. I would leave the ballistics experts to do
the rest. I never could tell one Hollywood blonde from another.

- Halvard Johnson
[source text: Ross Macdonald, The Barbarous Coast]