Further Tales of the City
He’d felt a curious kinship with her for five or six years now, ever since she’d barfed on him at the Tarr & Feathers sing-along. He knew what drove her, he thought—the same thing that had driven him before Mary Ann came into his life.
    “I’ve got a better idea,” he said. “How ‘bout I buy you a drink?”
    The smile wavered for a moment, then she salvaged it. “Sure. Whatever. No big deal.”
    He reached across the table and took her hand. “You look great yourself. Better than ever.”
    “Thanks.” She smiled at him quite genuinely for a moment,then fumbled in her purse for a cigaret, lighting it herself. “I’ve watched your friend all week,” she said.
    “The afternoon movie girl. Isn’t she your girlfriend now?”
    Brian flushed. “Sort of,” he said. “Not exactly.”
    “She’s very good, I think. Natural. It’s hard to find that on television.”
    “I’ll tell her you said so.”
    “You do that.” Jennifer took a long drag on her cigaret, appraising him with an air of faint amusement. “You’ve been domesticated, haven’t you?”
    “Jennifer, I …”
    “It’s all right if you have, Brian. It happens to the best of us. I’m still relentlessly single myself.”
    Jennifer nodded very slowly. “Relentlessly.”
    “Whatever,” said Brian.
    “Exactly.” She blinked at him for a moment, then chucked him affectionately under the chin. “Some guys don’t recognize a friendly fuck when it’s staring ‘em right in the face.”

Give a Little Whistle
    V UITTON BOUNDED DOWN THE FAMILIAR SLOPE AND barked joyously at the door of the shack. Luke emerged almost immediately and greeted his former companion.
    “Whitey, ol’ boy … well, look who’s back!” He glanced up at Prue, who found herself vaguely embarrassed about invading the intimacy of this reunion. “I’ve missed this ol’ boy,” he said.
    She smiled a little awkwardly. “It looks like he missed you, too.”
    “Happy Memorial Day,” grinned Luke.
    “Same to you.”
    “The coffee’s on, if …”
    “I’d be delighted,” said Prue. Now, she realized, she felt almost
to be asked, like a little girl from a fairy tale who had earned the confidence of the troll who lived under the village bridge.
    Luke was no troll, however. If you discounted his seedy clothes and his rustic surroundings, he was quite a striking man, really. His amber skin and high cheekbones suggested … what? … Indian blood?
    She followed him into the shack and sat down on the big chunk of foam rubber. Vuitton remained outside, chasing small animals through the underbrush. When Prue called to him, Luke advised her: “He knows his way around. Don’t worry about him. He’ll be back when you want him.” He handed the columnist a mug of steaming coffee, catching her eye as he did so. “He’s home now.”
    Prue faltered for a moment, then looked down at her coffee. “This smells marvelous.”
    “Good. Glad you like it.”
    “By the way, Luke … uh, you haven’t run across a little silver whistle, have you?”
    Smiling, he opened a cigar box on the shelf above the fire. He handed her the Tiffany trinket.
    Prue glowed. “Thank heavens. I’m so sentimental about this silly thing. My husband gave it to me when we were divorced.”
    “You dropped it on the ledge. I was saving it for you.”
    “I’m so glad. Thank you so much.”
    There was something gentle and boyish in his eyes when he looked at her. “It’s good protection for a woman. I was worried about you not having it. There’s a lot of crazy folks running around these days.” He smiled, revealing teeth that were surprisingly even and white. “I guess a lot of people would take me for crazy, huh?”
    “I wouldn’t,” said Prue.
    “You did,” Luke replied, without malice. “It’s natural. People judge people by the houses they live in, the clothes they wear. It takes a little longer to look into the heart, doesn’t it?”

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