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 thinking, I skittered my fingers across the keyboard. “That could be something,” said Annie.
It was something already. It was a string of notes come from her own naked throat.
I kept playing and Annie grew more pleased. She stated at this rate we would have a gold album if Lu- reen could sing even one note correctly. I assured her my own would do justice. But we still had no words.
I unfolded the shaky lines I had scribbled in the dark the night before, as ugly and perverse a re- counting as man ever wants to hear from woman. Yet when I switch-hit the pencil to put the eraser to her wickedness—or whoever it was inhabited this meek woman next to me—instead I wrote a line of my own. In this way, by the end of the day we had written sixteen songs.
I held her hand on the bench seat of the piano. We were as worn and used as a loved LP and I had no strength for any subtle guess.
“Annie, what can I do?”
“If you get me to the stream,” she says, very softly, for my ears only, “I can be cured but Connie must not know.”
We had the plot in a stroke. She should wait for me to come get her. She had but one objection. “The floor is made of knotted boards that creak,” she whispered, “I will meet you downstairs.”
Connie opened the door. Behind him, on the dining table were two plates set with glasses and silver and a candle flame as steady as the pointed finger of a preacher to the sinner in the pew.
Of course I did not mean to sleep this night. I opened the window and threw shoes on the bed and crum- pled paper in my shirt so it might wake me if I lie down. If I did sleep it was only for a moment because we had just drained the cup in composing so many songs at once.
Out the window the dark had bleached to the edge of the sky, but the clouds of night had not yet rolled away. I stood up and put on my best-fringed suede coat, bought with my first full paycheck from the band. I went to the door holding my boots in one hand. But it seemed wrong to meet Annie poorly shod, so I put them back on and brushed a lick across to make them shine. I put a pencil in my pocket just
of the forcing of a “T
(continued on next page)
hrough some trick
voice from her frame her hair loosed and flowed, and her skin went china with need.”

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