Incense creeps headily through the air in visible vapors, like a slinking, fragrant cat. It twists with a purr around the fleeting cigarette smoke that rises from Crow’s Marlboro, glowing embers turning into gathering ash. Jaded fawn eyes observe the mingling substances in the air from beneath dark lashes, thick and groomed generously with a mascara wand (days ago). Dark hair frames angry, jutting cheekbones and piles in loose circles on skinny shoulders. Crow’s purple lips release a held-in breath and black eyelids blink lazily. The combination cigarette smoke and incense hovers beneath the ceiling fan, which only has one working bulb out of four, and Crow watches the light filter through it.
Across the room from the battered maroon armchair Crow is sprawled in, Nye and Knox lay on the equally damaged plaid couch, entwined just as the smoke and incense. Nye is the smoke—all quick, fading touches and sharp movements—while Knox, the incense, remains calm and unhurried in manner and mind. Silently they move together, never leaving more than a fraction of space between their bodies.
And when Gizmo walks in—brown corduroy pants too short in the legs and too loose around the hips, wearing badly at the knees—Crow gets up, takes a day old, half-empty bottle of very bad beer off the floor, and dumps it over the human knot that is Nye and Knox. Nye shivers, untangles himself, and follows Crow out of the room, buttoning his pants and groaning as he goes. Gizmo takes Nye’s place on the couch, sliding down next to the steady heat that is Knox, who says hello by sneaking his hands into Gizmo’s back pockets.
In the kitchen, Nye and Crow lay on the tile floor, passing a cigarette back and forth between them, staring at nothing above them. Benny comes home and stands next to Crow’s head, and Crow traces circles on Benny’s ankle with an elegant finger. Benny drops down in between the two on the floor and stretches out in the kitchen that has no table. As soon as his arms go up in the stretch, Nye and Crow huddle in; burrowing into Benny’s broad chest. He smiles and his arms loop around the both of them. Nye puts the cigarette out on the tile and winds his legs around Benny’s before shutting his eyes in peace. Crow’s eyes stay open, tears dripping from the dark saucers that serve as eyes, but her breathing deepens and evens as Benny’s calloused fingers comb through her hair.