|"They're not open yet." Flora ignored Joe and concentrated on rolling a cigarette from the dog-ends in her pocket.
"Got a light?" Joe flicked his fancy zippo. "Who you steal that off?"
"It's mine." He pulled it away and into his coat. "I earned it." He pulled his collar up. "In the Gulf." Joe looked around, expecting the enemy round every corner. "They tried to get me to talk, ya know, but I didn't tell 'em nothin'."
A group of school girls wandered past the end of the alley. "Those were the days." Flora stared into space, watching a movie of her life behind those dead eyes. "I was really somethin' ya know."
"So what happened?" Joe wasn't really interested but they still had time to kill until the shelter opened so ...
"I couldn't wait to get outa school and on the road outa here. That's when I met Ed. He was at Woodstock ya know."
"So where you go?"
"Ed had a VW camper. We was gonna see the world, me an' Ed."
"So where you go?"
"Farm. Down the road a bit. Broke down. Ended up fruit pickin' to get money for parts."
"So where you go then?"
"We made it as far as Scotland once." Flora was off with the fairies again.
Joe hunkered down in his overcoat and closed his eyes.
"Ed dumped me."
Joe jumped out of his skin as Flora interrupted his dream. He checked the perimeter. Safe. For now.
"I was at the first Glastonbury, ya know. The Kinks headlined and they gave us milk."
Joe couldn't help but think something stronger than milk had turned Flora into the creature in front of him.
"Glastonbury; that's where I met Phil. We had a baby but they took it."
Joe knew how that story went; he grew up in foster care. She could be his mother, but she wasn't. His mother died.
"So where's Phil now?"
"Oh, he ODed. When I was pregnant. That's why they took her."
"Did you never think of going home to your parents?"
"I did. For a week. Too many rules. Couldn't get out quick enough."
"Ever been to prison?"
"Who hasn't. Ye, they got me a few times. Hey, if you're hungry ..."
"So how long you been on the streets?"
"Too long to remember. Say, it's getting really cold. They open yet?" She pulled her jacket tight. Joe could see she was turning a little blue. He sat beside her and put his coat around both of them.
"Come on in you two."
"You're too late for her." Joe extricated himself and gently lay Flora down. "She was really somethin', ya know."