Daniel awoke in the grey of early morning to find the girls sleeping on piles of clothes and pillows on the floor next to him, breathing their innocence in and out. Through the undraped windows was the silhouette of a city skyline preparing to greet the sun.
Slowly standing he tiptoed to the sink, stuck his mouth under the tap and sucked in the frigid water until his mouth no longer felt dry and salty. Then he grabbed the bread left out on the counter and ate until his empty stomach no longer retched.
The Catholic’s daughter slept with her face turned towards the setting moon, her head resting on a bundled up coat. She reminded him of his sister. She didn’t look like Francesca but she had the same sensuality, the same fiery contempt for all things Catholic and yet, like Fran, she slipped back on familiar symbols – like the crucifix – in times of distress. His sister, whose decline so young never touched his mother directly, entering through a secret crevice and exiting as a renewed calling. Her salvation became his mother’s calling.
But Fran did not want to be saved. She wanted a pagan life, owing only to pagan gods and opium. She swathed herself in bright robes and painted violent scenes of pagan sacrifice, had abortions, and prayed to rocks.
He slumped into one of the bean bag chairs and considered going back to sleep as it was still dark outside, then he heard the clack, clack, clack of someone with taps on their shoes crossing the courtyard below.
It couldn’t be the Krishnas, he thought. It’s too early besides they don’t wear shoes. Then he heard the clacking in the staircase, too late to reach and lock the door. So he groped his way back into the kitchenette and searched for a knife.
The door opened, sending a slice of yellow light across the sleeping girls. Two people stood silhouetted in the doorway. One tall, the other short. The short man twitched like a marionette on the strings of an incompetent puppeteer. “What the fuck is that?” he asked, his voice annoyingly high pitched and nasal.
“Oh, those are the girls I told you about, mate. They ran away from Reno Nevahda and all those cowboys. Out to see the big world; meet the Beatles. The standard rot.”
“How fucking cute. Are they virgins cause I can’t stand balling virgins, man.”
Martin laughed, “Probably, old man, but this isn’t what I had in mind for you.”
Daniel ran his hand along the greasy wall until he found the light switch. The resulting burst of light caused the short man to jump. “Fuck!” He shrieked as he tried to shield his eyes from the light. He had Beatle-cut platinum hair and a face completely devoid of color. An albino. Perhaps to compensate, he was dressed in limes and lemony yellows as though he’d stolen the luggage of a middle-aged golfer from Tampa. “Shut off that fucking light!” he ordered.
“I thought you weren’t coming back, Martin.”
“A knife? Aren’t we just like a mother hen with our little chicks, Daniel?” Martin sneered, “How domestic, really, I think you’re ready for the suburbs, old chap.”
“Why did you bring a junkie back here?”
“SHUT OFF THE FUCKING LIGHT!!!” screamed the albino, stamping his foot. “I’m not a fucking junkie! But I am horny as fucking hell and this British asshole told me he could get me some prime tail… ”
“I think you should shut off the light Daniel. Our friend has very sensitive eyes, if you know what I mean.”
“I know exactly what you mean.”
“Who is this shit head?” The albino demanded.
“Oh, don’t pay any attention to him, Jamie, he’s an ex-priest. You know the type. One minute he’s sweating because he’s not doing God’s work and the next he’s trying to convince himself that he doesn’t believe in anything.”
Jamie snorted, “What did you get defrocked for, Father Holier than thou? Screwing the choirboys?”