Hakkai asks him if he wants to take a walk, and he says yes.
Not because it's a beautiful night, he tells Hakkai as they pass through the threshold of the apartment they've rented, but because the inside of their three-room abode still smells like fish, it's hot, and the windows are so small that the smoke from yesterday's cigarette still lingers.
Yes, yes, Hakkai says pleasantly, hands clasped behind his back, but isn't it just-
But the next word never comes out, because at that moment three kids run by screaming bloody murder and whooping as they bounce from wall to rock to street, chased by a fourth, more gangly, child no taller than his hip.
If a girl had asked him to take a walk, he would have said no.
Not because it's not a beautiful night, it is, but the outside smells like a sharp blend of food gone bad and animal fat used as cooking oil, it's smoggy and humid, and there is no breeze to speak of; it'd be no different on the outside than in. Probably worse, because there are mosquitoes out.
No, no, he'd say, not tonight, baby.
Because it's Hakkai, he walks out into the street without a shirt on, too hot to bother, and both his pant-legs rolled up, only to step into a puddle of something dubious. The Hi-Lite behind his ear gets safely tucked between clenched lips as he tries to put on his best smile.
Isn't it just, He says as he looks at the dog pissing on the street, at the flickering street lamp, and at the wash hanging from an open window. He sticks his hand in his pocket, like he's going to pull out the lighter hidden there - but doesn't, just lets his elbow jut out as if to offer his arm to a fine lady.
Hakkai looks at the elbow, at the sky, and then he rolls his eyes and turns the corner, walking towards the river.
"Isn't it just."