"So, what do you do for a living?"
She was sitting in the rickety wooden chair next to my desk. I looked up from where I was hunched over, trying to get the fire started. She had my extra blanket wrapped around her and was wearing some of Mary's old clothes, the one's that I never got around to throwing out. They fit her surprisingly pretty well. The dim candle light cast half of her face in shadow, making her look other quite sinister.
"Huh? Oh, I'm a busker." A few sparks but nothing was catching. Damn cheap hardwood...
"What's a busker?"
I wished she would stop staring at me. She hadn't stopped since we had gotten here. I supposed she was just being cautious.
"It's a fancy word for street musician." There it went, small little flame, pathetic little thing, trying to eat something that was too big for it's mouth. More paper scraps to make it get big and strong...
"Oh really? What do you play?"
Good, good fire. Hopefully it wouldn't go out. I pointed to a case in the corner opposite my bed.
"Squeezebox." I walked over and picked up the case. Setting it on the desk in front of her, I flipped open the latches and took out the funny looking thing that was my lively hood. I played a quick little tune and she laughed.
"Do you make good money with this?" She asked, taking it from me and pressing random keys.
"No not really, enough to eat most of the time and pay the rent on this shitehole but that's about it."
She set the instrument back in it's case. "Do you think that I could...your fire went out." She said, pointing.
"Ah shit!" I yelled and crouched back down in front of the fire place. I need to move somewhere where "winter" doesn't exist, I thought as I blew on the coals.
"What were you saying?" I said without turning around.
"I was gonna ask if I could help you in some way." I sat up.
"Can you sing?"
"I haven't really tried recently, but when I was younger I used to sing quite a bit in Sunday morning church."
I stared into her burning green eyes and the thought occurred to me for some unknown reason that she was lying and had never set foot in a church in her life. But it went quickly and I wouldn't think about it again till later...
"Well, let's give it a shot. What songs do you know?" I walked over and picked up my squeezebox again.
"Sweet Polly Ann?"
A pretty simple well known valley song. I played a few opening chords and then set on the regular melody.
"Sweet Polly Ann
Why did you run from me?
It hurt my heart to see you go
Traveling over the sea
If I had wings
I'd fly away
And bring you back to me..."
I stopped playing, my jaw hanging open. Her voice was the most incredible thing I'd ever heard in my life. It was almost impossibly perfect, like she had stolen an angel's vocal chords and swapped them with her own. She stopped singing and looked at me.
"Was it that bad?"
I found it hard to speak at first. "No, no, it was great! Lets...lets do another song."
And we did. Till it got very late....
Lying in bed, staring at the holes in the ceiling, my head was still dizzy. How was this possible? Was I dreaming? I had found this impossibly beautiful whore in the worst pub in town, got her to come home with me, and then I find out that she sings better than Mother Mary herself?
I sat up and tried to hear her breathing in the small room next to mine that I usually used as a storage closet, but even with the thin walls, I couldn't hear anything. I thought about checking on her, but that might not end well. I didn't think she really trusted me yet. But maybe I should have. Especially with what happened later...