“I couldn’t even begin to explain,” she told him.
Someone blew their horn. The toll keeper leaned out of his booth and examined the line of cars. The Mid-town was backed up all the way into Manhattan. There’d been some kind of robbery in the city. To make matters worse, only his lane accepted cash; the rest were Ezy-Pass.
She handed him a stack of fifties with the brown strap still on. He looked at the bills then at her. She was at least a triple D and had only one eye. From the empty socket, a jagged lightning bolt scar dropped down and slashed across the right side of her chin.
She handed him another stack of fifties, then another then another then another.
That’s twenty-five large. You should be able to find a place on the Florida panhandle and live for two years to write your book. Should be able to write three of them if you don’t fuck around.
He stared at the money as she removed a can of Palmolive Hair Spray from her purse and aimed the nozzle at him. She slid a red Bic lighter out from behind one ear and held it in her left hand.
What’ll it be? she asked.
You mean? The man turned over one of the stacks of fifties in his hands.
People had started yelling out their car windows.
So? She cocked her head.
He leaned out of the booth and regarded the line of cars again, opened his mouth and shrugged. He began to say, I just . . .
She looked in her rearview mirror at the smoke billowing from the toll booth and then at the man on fire rolling along the asphalt, arching his back in agony.
Her next stop was a bagel place off the LIE by Queen’s College. A fellow named Charlie worked behind the counter, a pretty fair self-taught painter.