“I don’t suppose you’ll tell me?” asked Liza.
“How he became homeless?”
“No.” Another little cigar materialized in Michael’s hand. He lit it and began puffing away. He was staring at her. “I wish I could. It’s not for me to tell.”
“I know,” said Liza. Damn. All right, let’s see what he was willing to tell her. “How long have you known him?”
Michael shrugged. “I donno…a couple of years.”
“Where does he,” Liza made air quotes, “live?”
“You know that.”
“Still?” asked Liza. Michael nodded. She felt sick. “With Scary Witch Hat Guy?”
Michael raised an eyebrow and pursed his lips, then barked out a laugh. “Ray?! That what you call him? I like it.” He smiled, his pearly tooth and topaz eyes flashing in the moonlight. “No one’s seen him. You must’ve scared him away.”
“Bruce told you about that?”
Michael nodded. “Told me about that. Told me about how you would drive him after class. Told me about the picture. He really likes you. He never talks about his other life,” said Michael.
“His other life?”
“You know, at the college. I don’t care. Some of the others give him a hard time. They don’t get it.”
She flashed back to being whacked with a copy of Robinson Crusoe. “Sc….Ray?” she asked. Michael nodded. “Do you live at the underpass too?”
“What don’t the others get?” Liza asked.
“Nice try.” Michael gathered his empty bottle and little cigar butts. “Any other questions?”
“Would you get involved with him if you were me?”
Michael tried to deflect the question. “He’s not my type.” Liza stared at him until he looked away. He was quiet for a minute. “If I was you? Probably not.” He shuffled into the kitchen. Liza followed. She locked up and shed her snowy boots on the mat. Michael deposited the butts in the trash can, rinsed out the beer bottle and placed it on the counter with the other recyclables.
Liza stood behind him, watching. It was late. She should be heading to bed with the fresh batch of thoughts that would keep her awake. “Good night. Don’t…please try not to feel funny. I’m glad that you guys are here. This house is too big for one person.”
Michael turned and leaned on the counter. He was drying his hands with a paper towel. “Do you have eggs?”
“Good. I’ll make omelets for breakfast tomorrow.”
“You don’t have to.”
“I want to. I used to like to cook. I had a real life once too. We all did,” said Michael. He seemed more sober. Liza nodded. Something else to think about. She turned to go. “He cares about you. A lot. It’s just…all the stuff that comes with this.” He waved his hand down his body, showcasing the tattered clothes that he refused to let Liza clean for him. Liza nodded again.