The Capo blessed us, so eloquently, the lucid elucidations of glottal gyrations rotating rations of casual cruelty. Every aspect of his being was polluted. The man was coated with fur, dense, bracken-like. I glanced at him, sideways, also seeing a traffic light changing colors on the other side of a rain-smeared pane. A bra strap engraved my shoulder. I knew that it was carving a narrow red dent on my skin. I wondered what color I would be, if I were a signal light? Code Amber? Code Pink? Danger level chartreuse? Plaid alert? Polka-dot panic? "This is justice," the Capo intoned. "It rains on the just and the unjust alike, but only the unjust can afford new umbrellas." I glimpsed my own, stolen (well, 'found,' actually) rainshade, a wadded black nylon cylinder sticking from the corner of my bag. The Criminal caught me looking and smiled. "Papa could buy you a brand new bag," he said. "Is that you want, little girl?" "It is obvious that I am not little, and equally apparent that I am past my girlhood. Also, I do not know what I want. Any suggestions?" "Well," he smiled, "If you could have any umbrella you wanted, what would it be?" Options catapulted through my consciousness. What would the 'right' answer be? Satin? Brocade? Burberry? Naugahyde? My mind saw an iron umbrella trimmed with razor wire. You never know what might fall from the sky. There's probably nothing that could make us safe. "An angel's skin," I told him, just to see him slyly smile at the thought of flaying God. More rain rivered down the pane.


- Erika Mikkalo