was aware of more cracking brown, a dull sky with dust and age, rancid in its incompleteness.

He could hear breathing and a television from one room. As he walked past the floor creaked and from inside came a short bark of cough.

"Is anyone there?" he asked, with his voice like his face: unfinished, unshaven. He had only a suit, brown. The walls over him held the light of the bulb tied with wire hanger wire to the cusping outlet.

He held the small knob and moved his wrist, and the door clicked and fell back on its hinges, swinging open. "Hello," he said, and then pushed in.

She was on her back. The four-foot pewter Eiffel Tower, the gift from Mark Abrams, struck ugly, deformed, against the rancid white of the ceiling, and then the blood surrounded him, the gutted splatter from her mouth, the pooling candied morass, the torn and bathed thickly with it flesh forming the dull stark protrusion of the wound.

on the table there were candies, dropped by the lip to be stuck to the table. frozen with their shadows behind them. in the clear vase was a daffodil, its blossom wrinkling at the edges. a wallet, some keys, a half-pack of breath mints called NUFRESH, small eyes of twenty-five caliber bullets standing up on the white table.

he looked up. stark white sky outside, brightness behind it. he had to shade his eyes.

the door shut behind him with a stolid wooden sound. he gave a tourist's smile, swinging backward and turning like a decrepit cobra in the deep trance of opium.

the eiffel tower stood upright.

in the kitchen, he heard the whistle the teapot with the warm water. he took a pack of cards from his jacket pocket and scattered them on and around the battered folly covered with thick candied resin of fruits from fragrant orchards far away, in the dusk.