His eyes opened in water. Blue wavered in his vision before he realized where he was. He turned his head to see Roger with his shark-teeth grinning in the nocturnal lighting. A red ribbon twisted and curled in on itself in the pool's movement. He felt himself pulled back and out of the icy water.
“Stein! Man! Speak to me man!” Turned over. A face in his. His words tried to come, but there was water in his mouth. In his lungs. A thrust to his sternum and a lukewarm rush of acidic water rushing up from his throat.
“It's fucking January, what the hell are you doing?”
“He was always so caring, wasn't he Cristein?” Roger stood behind the man and opened a pad of paper. “Let's see, this would be—oh no, seems that page has been torn out...”
“Orlando,” Stein said, his freezing lips twitching uncontrollably as the big black man went inside the lodge for blankets.
“Yes. Yes, that was what I was thinking.” Roger put the pad away and clasped his hands behind his back. He scowled; it looked out of place on those pale features. “You can get up now.”
“Don't be foolish,” Roger snorted. “You're already dead. This isn't going to hurt you anymore than it would hurt me.”
Stein ground his hair into the poolside concrete as he looked back and forth. High above, a gradient, gray to black with swirling snowflakes.
“Orlando never died,” he said finally, biting his lip as he rose from the ground.
“Later he did. You gave him the idea how.”
“You can't pin a suicide on me!”
His voice rang out into a rolling echo, as if he were standing on the brink of a cliff, shouting out across the crevasse.
Crevasse! Had to be a foreign word—
Roger grinned again, his tongue black and forked. “I can do as I like.”
“What about the job you have? Just offer it already.”
Stein felt naked. Steam rolled in around him, hot and humid. He looked down and gave a little yelp.
“Oh come now, not as if I can't see all of you anyway,” Roger said, standing next to him in a towel. His sunken white chest had weeping sores dotted across it, like crying eyes. Stein recoiled when they blinked in unison.
“What the fuck?”
“Seems to be your favorite statement come lately,” Roger scoffed and rolled his head back on his neck.
“Know where you are?”
“Gym,” Stein said flatly. His hair was soapy. He turned to the water spray to rise the shampoo out. “Kevin.”
He switched the water off and Roger handed him a towel. Or at least—fuck. That caught him by surprise. Kevin Cordoba stood there in a towel himself. His face was red and he stammered. Even though Stein knew exactly what he was going to say, his face worked into a mask of surprise.
“Do I know you?”
Kevin managed a small smile and clung loosely to the towel when Stein moved to snatch it out of his hands.
“Jesus,” Stein said to Roger, outside himself, seeing everything as it occurred. “I was fucking seventeen man! I don't want to see this—“
“You did very horrible things, didn't you Stein? What was it that you did immediately after you told him to get the fuck away from you?”
“I don't want to talk about it.”
“No?” Roger said, “Because I can show you what your friends did to him—“
“They had to identify him by his teeth, Cristein. He was tied down in the bed of a pickup truck like an animal. No one ever knew young boys could be such—monsters.” His grin wavered, “But not you Stein. No. You came off smelling like a rose. Seems Angel and Jason did time in the big house. Jason was stabbed in the throat with a sharpened spoon. He died at the scene, and no one knew where or how that inmate was able to keep a weapon like that. They found out when Armando died a day later from internal bleeding.”
He jerked the towel from Kevin's paused hand and blotted Stein's face.
“Three for the price of one. You've been quite the commodity during your time.”
“I didn't know goddamnit,” Stein said, gritting his teeth. The shower faded, and so did Kevin's hopeful smile.