HE TWILIGHT CAME FILTERED through
a narrow courtyard and four wooden alcoves. The place was almost empty and
the kid in charge was doing the books. The Doors' Soft Parade filled the
room with an illusion of activity. A silhouette by the far window uncurled
and raised a hand.
"Chai, baba, chai."
The accent was American, the tone querulous. He sounded
surprised to be thirsty and annoyed to have noticed it. The boy put down
his pencil and fetched the tea. He added it to the check and changed the
tape. The silhouette poured in sugar and was blowing on his tea when he
glanced at the door.
"Where the fuck have you been?"
A newcomer was removing his sandals. He sat cross-legged
on the floor by the American, drew a paper packet from his woolen shoulder
bag, laid two lines of white powder on the table and handed the other a
straw. Then he did the same for himself. They leaned back into the music
The kid totted up their bill and put it on one side.
He'd catch them on the way out.