Billy and Jim out front of the window sharing a cigarette. A tin can on the ground beside the door for ashes, for cigarette butts. A puddle below the curb and the chinook wind coming down the pass through the mountains, down through the Grassi Lakes canyon and over the water of the reservoir, over the river and then the banks of the river, up the alley and around the civic centre, the clinic, the window Billy and Jim lean against passing their cigarette to each.
Jim fresh out of the woods around the camp his feet within his boots swollen with blue and decay and his hands the same, blue and cracked there and here, and blood in the cracks if you took the time to look close, and he can handle that cigarette just barely, a bit of a fumble when he puts it to his lips desiccated and cracked as well.
When Billy came upon Jim he was on the foam seat of the sled, he was on the ice in the middle of third lake in the middle of winter. When Billy grabbed him and held him their chests pressed together Jim’s head loose on his neck, when Billy grabbed him and held him, and when he released his hug and tightened again, and released and tightened again for the better grip, and he sobbed on the side of Jim’s head against his cheek and did nothing against the cold.
Billy’s dad was fierce when he found them in the morning in the middle of the lake. He left the German client at the camp alone because they were gone in the woods.