Bonds of Indenture

She sat with him until he’d finished dying and kept her own counsel. They’d done so much talking while he was alive that it seemed right to let him pass out in the cool quiet of the early morning. He didn’t last long; by the time she finished her second cigarette he was gone. She reached down through the bloody water and opened the drain. His body curled up at the bottom of the tub, short dark hair plastered to the sides of his head. He hadn’t been a big man but he’d walked tall; lying there in the tub he was empty and small as a memory. She sat there and watched him dry in the morning sun.

After a while she started talking, pouring words into the open slash of his throat to replace the blood he’d lost, filling him with the ghosts of the other men she’d killed the same way. Death had frozen his face into what was almost – but not quite – a smile. He seemed grateful for the company. When she was done talking he was full and sleek again, though no warmer; more than one set of eyes watched her without blinking.

She stood up and lit another cigarette. “Well, come on,” she said. “There’s work to be done.” He left red handprints on the rim when he climbed out and followed her down the stairs and out into the street.

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