“Can’t go in that junkyard.” Josie walked with her hands stuffed in the pockets of her puffy red coat.
“Why not?” Paul followed her eating fries out of a bag, five at a time.
“They got a fridge in there. You suffocate.”
“Not if you just stay out of it.” He hadn’t even wanted to get into the junkyard until Josie told him he couldn’t. It was dark, and too cold to even think of climbing a fence.
“They had a whole family suffocate in there.”
“You mean the kids.”
“I mean the whole family.”
“Must be a big fridge.”
“It’s big all right.” Josie stared up at the rusted barbed wire that spiraled along the top of the fence. “Must be something to look at. Must be beautiful.”
Paul’s breath puffed white in the cold. He was eating as fast as he could, but the fries were cold already, and so were his fingers. “You’re full of shit, anyway.”
“No,” Josie said. “Ask anyone.”
Paul gave up on the fries and tried to huck them over the fence, but the bag came open and the fries just scattered lamely over the grass. “Well, what the hell, then?”
“Maybe they wanted to be found together. In a million years. When archaeologists dig up the junkyard, they wanted all four of them there. It might have worked, even. It was only chance somebody found them, you know–it took a couple of weeks.”
“They had to have got rid of it by now,” Paul said.
“Or maybe they just thought they could get out again.” Josie walked up to the fence and pressed a white hand against the chain. “I think it’s kind of romantic.”
“No way they still got it in there.” He walked to the fence, too, and looked through a gap in the plastic slats that ran through the chain links.
Josie moved behind him and covered his mouth with one cold hand. It made it so he couldn’t talk, or he would’ve said, ‘What the fuck?’ She pulled his knit hat down over his eyes, then she pinched his nose shut.
Paul couldn’t see and couldn’t breathe. He felt Josie’s breath on the back of his neck. He tried to move but she pushed him hard against the fence, hit his cheek on metal and it hurt, so he freaked out a little, thrashed her off, sucked a breath, and then she kissed him.
Paul stopped thrashing. He leaned back against the fence; she leaned against him and covered his eyes with small, cold fingers.
“See?” She whispered, close to his ear. “Romantic.”
He was in no position to argue, not waiting for her to kiss him again. But he told himself that he was going back there the next day to find out if the fridge was still there, and if it was, he was going to tear the lid off that thing himself.
The hands that slid under the back of his coat were cold enough to make him gasp.
Daniel Heath is a San Francisco playwright.
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