She Ain't No Kind of Innocent


David James Pavlin walked down the flight of stairs and said aloud, There's nothing here for me but the most gentle obvious things!  The stairwell was poorly lit and the moon was not outside and the streetlights did not burn much this late so he staggered and grabbed at the stairway banister and went slowly down the steps.  He thought of how he used to think his life was as regular and pure and white as milk when he was back home.  And now he thought his life was just the same but a little brown, a little viscous and blind.

Dave thought he'd been a bit of a milquetoast back home.  He liked his girl.  He loved his girl.  He tried to love her very much.  Her very gray-black hair and her green eyes and her soft white skin and thin lips painted with red gloss.  He said, I love you, Abigail.  He said, Wear this ring for me and when I get back we'll be married and I'll be something more.  After he'd said those words they'd tried to make love but he just cried and stained the pillows and then went to his table and drank and drank.  And then he started dragging his razor back and forth against his neck but he stopped and turned the tap on and splashed his red blood down the drain.  He'd sat in his chair where he sat at the dinette table and watched his girl sleep and then he left for the war.

And here he was at the banister of the stairwell talking to the unlit corridor and reeking like a wrecked, ruined woman and pastis and cigarettes and guns.  David, Dave, had lost his pal Amato back at this bar where everyone shook like willow branches or ex-drunks or right-now-drunks.  Amato had got down on his knees, soiled up his pressed khaki pants, and set to praying and begging the Frogs to get down and pray with him.  Amato'd kept saying, "Merde, merde, merde!"  Amato'd reeked, really stunk, of holiness.

"She ain't no kind of innocent," Dave rang out.  Dave smiled in the dark and felt fine.  He felt like a good old young gentleman.  He didn't have a belt; he'd lost his belt in the room at the top of the stairs.  He'd liked the room.  There were candles and an electric light that flickered on-off all the time he was there.  The room with the prostitute in it was unadorned.  The walls were plaster and the paint—yellow paint—had peeled off and run and flaked onto the floors.  There wasn't even a crucifix on the wall.  It was a good wall.  Dave thought his dead friend, Frank, would've enjoyed this room. 

The thing about the room was that there was a woman in it and if you paid her enough she'd love you for a very short while.  She wasn't brusque like most of the girls.  The whores. But when you paid her she was very nice and sweet.  She lighted your cigarettes for you and even though Dave had a light he didn't mind her lighting his cigarettes for him.  And she liked to talk.  

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