Jeff’s standing at the stove frying eggs and bacon that I could smell out in the hallway before I knocked on the door and he yelled for me to come in. When I called a half-hour ago, closer to lunchtime than breakfast, he was still asleep and grumpy at being disturbed. He’s in his bathrobe. There’s a lit cigarette balanced on the edge of the counter, ash drooping. He reaches for it without looking and knocks it off.

“Shit.” He stubs it out with his slipper. “Coffee?” he says without turning.


“Help yourself.”

I pour, then sit down. He flips the bacon and it spits. He jumps and swears.

“Jeez, Jeff … late night?” It’s hard to say without inflection. He laughs but it quickly becomes a cough.

“Just a little under the weather.”

It’s such a stupid line it’s not worth comment. I stir sugar in my coffee, light a cigarette and look around his apartment. It’s more like a hotel room, clothes and bags and sports equipment spread around, furniture basic and thin.

“So what are you here for, anyway?” he asks, wiping grease off a plate with his sleeve before serving.

“I was in the police station yesterday.”

He looks around. “And … ?”

“And I heard you’d been in there.”

”That little shit Bergeron, I told him I’d – ”

“Christ, Jeff, forget about Bergeron. What are you doing making a scene like that?”

He mutters and twitches his shoulders and moves his hands, all without conviction. “Just letting off a little steam.”

”Come on, other people, they’ve got steam, too. We all get steam. But we try not to release it in public.”

“Yeah, well …” He hunches his shoulders and shrugs.

“Does Mama know?” I ask.

”No! I told Ben I’d stay out of his way if he left Mama out of it. Fuck, I’d be toast. So don’t you tell her.”

“So, you’re taking it easy? How’d you get home last night?”

”Maureen drove me.” [pp. 52 – 53]