Betty awoke with a jolt, so disoriented by the strangeness of her surroundings that she forgot that her name was no longer Betty, but Tara.
The fear ebbed out of Tara’s lined face when she realized the pounding she heard was not someone at the door, but some punk kid’s bass, blaring down the streets of the suburb she was forced to call home.
She glanced at the body depressing the mattress beside her, tamping down the feelings of disgust which always rushed over her now when she looked at her husband, who she used to call ‘George’ but now called ‘Nick’ and who the papers were calling ‘the snitch’.
Nick rolled over, eyes firmly shut. “You alright, baby?”
“I’m fine. Go back to sleep. And don’t call me baby.”
Tara collapsed back into the mattress, her short hair scratching the back of her neck. She thought about the neighbors they entertained at the barbecue yesterday; mostly fat men with skinny wives and noisy, bad-mannered children. The only one she’d really liked was Roger from across the street; his tanned face, easy smile, the way he smoked his foreign cigarettes, smelling like jasmine and charcoal.
She drifted for a moment in that space between sleep and wakefulness; Roger had been so genuine, so real. She liked that.
In the house across the street, Roger, recently Guido of New York City, looked out his window. He smiled, taking another drag on his cigarette. He was supposed to be lying low, staying inconspicuous according to the feds. But he couldn’t stop thinking about the woman who moved in across the street last week; all soft hands, tired eyes and smelling like a garden rose. After all the lies and deceit, it was refreshing to meet someone so honest; so real.
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