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What We've Got

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The first night Marty gets Rust home and put to bed he whimpers like an old hound dog in his sleep, making these ripped-raw noises that well and gurgle up past his lips like fresh blood from the hole in his gut all over again. Doesn’t know he’s doing it, course not, but Marty lays there next to him in the dark—the man’s only got one bed, ain’t no shame in that—and has to wonder about the Vietnam-grade shit Rust’s got playing in living technicolor in his head.

He doesn’t say anything about it in the morning when he wakes up and Rust has his whiskery face jammed up in the junction between his neck and shoulder, drooling a sour spot on the soft cotton of his t-shirt. Doesn’t ask when Rust blinks awake and mumbles something about needing to take a fuckin’ piss in a real toilet, slowly and clumsily dislodging himself from Marty like he’s made of sun-warmed taffy. Doesn’t mention it as he helps Rust up from the bed on creaking joints, bearing most of his weight down the hall until they get to the bathroom door.

Later, when they’re sipping at orange juice disguised in coffee cups and picking around eggs and toast, Marty shoulders headlong into the silence and mentions something about going to town to pick up another bed, maybe switch the sofa for a pull-out couch or something—y’know, he says, something convenient.

Rust just draws his eyes up from the depths of his mug, glassy and bloodshot in the morning light, and levels them steady on Marty. “If it isn’t bothering you none,” he says, “don’t feel like you need to redecorate on my account.”

Marty never does buy another bed.