"It must have been the fucking song on the radio."

- Jerusha.


With a name like Vegas she never had a chance. A choice. She crossed her legs at the bar and spoke strobelight riddles to the man buying her drinks. He watched her fold paper cranes from cocktail napkins and complimented her fingertips. She blinked at him like a butterfly's wings.

"A thousand paper birds for one wish," she said. "It's almost a waste."

"What would you wish for?" the man asked. He didn't understand.

Some things you never tell, and she turned away.

The boy was a mistake from the moment she saw him. She knew it before she noticed his faded Ramones t-shirt, before she came to hate (love?) the way he lisped her name. Knew because it was a Tuesday night at the End of the World and he was dancing, lifting his battered Chucks to the techno shit Harvey only spun when she was drunk or depressed. Boy moving like he meant it, he took the empty floor and gave the synthesizer meaning.

She uncrossed her legs.

If he had a name no one knew it; of course not. The romantics were always running. The bartender saw him in Harlem once, with painted eyes and cheap beer on his breath. Harvey remembered him from some party with orchids and acid trips. He was not a boy who took deep breaths.

The man beside her wiped his mouth. "He'll tear you apart."

"I think I'll let him," she said.

And yes, he appeared when the song was over, hovered at her elbow like a recycled paper crane. He touched her cheek with one cold finger and there were so many promises in that one brush of skin. He could teach her to play poker and how to drink champagne.

"Change my life," she said, and laughed.

"I heard you once," he said, "when I broke a mirror."

"You used to have a name," she said.

"Jack of all trades. Jack of hearts."


"Wild card."

And they glared at each other, first argument in the foundation of arguments, until she sipped her drink and sighed.

"Vegas," she said. "You can call me Vegas."

"Like the city?"

"No," she said. "Better."

He ran his hand through messy hair like he might change his mind, but a minute later the smile slipped free, curled his lips into something like a secret. "I'm Will."

"Like Shakespeare?"

And that slow smirk as he lifted the glass from her hand, fit his mouth over her lipstick smears. "No. Better."

He laughed like January.

She meant to thank the man for her drinks, but he was gone.