She looked up and down the young man sitting on the bench in the hallway, her nostrils flaring with discontent. He just smelled funny. Annie got bad vibes from this kid.

She turned to her boyfriend. "No. Hell no. He is not going to stay here for a goddamn minute, David"—he winced; David preferred Dave, and he knew Annie only used it when she was trying to hide her worry—"never mind a whole night."

"Come on, be reasonable, babe. He's cool."

The kid in the hall was jittery. His leg quietly bounced up and down, his brightly coloured sneakers making a slight rubbery squeak on the cheap flooring. It was too fast to be the beat to any song.

Annie sighed and turned around towards the interior of the apartment, one hand on her head.

"Look, Dave, I'm not going to just open up my door to some gang-affiliated psycho just because you knew him once and he needs help now! He's probably all hyped up on speed or heroin or God knows what else right now! Look at him. He's gonna steal all our stuff, or stab us while we sleep, or something."

"Naw, look, I know him, he's cool. He just needs a place to crash."

"From what? There's nothing legal he could have possibly done that's forcing him 'off the grid' for however long he's going to end up staying here," said Annie, making exaggerated air quotes.

Dave opened his mouth, but no retort left it. Annie sighed again, more dramatically this time. "I knew you had some shady dealings in the past, but when I moved in with you, Dave, I didn't expect this kind of baggage to be following you around." She turned away from him and went into the apartment.

Dave followed, closing the door almost all the way, not enough to make the latchbolt click. "Annie, I—" The sounds were softer and more muffled as they bled into the hall.

"No, Dave. That man is not coming into this house. He is not spending the night here. You need to cut off people like that or they'll keep coming back, asking more and more."

"Look, come on. Just this once. As a favour to me."

"What favour? Throw out our nice jewelry? Arrange for us to wake up in the middle of the woods, missing clothes and kidneys?"

"Annie, you're overexaggerating..."

"You promised me, Dave. This—all this mucking about on the wrong side of law—it was supposed to be over."


"I'm not going to fall asleep under the same roof as that kid."

A pause, then a quiet sigh. More pausing. Some footsteps. The door opened again, and Dave came out.

"Look, Miles, I'm sorry, I can't keep you here. It's getting late, and I can't really help." Dave pulled out his wallet, and pulled out some slips of coloured paper. "Look, here's fifty bucks, and a train ticket. There's still a couple of rides on there. Get out of town, hang out with someone else, like Tony or something. I don't know. That's the best I can do."

This node is brought to you by the Society for the Preservation and Obfuscation of Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Puns.