Rifkin donít want to touch the water because he says itís got PBCs in it and he donít want to die of cancer or something worse.

He says this as he tilts another bottle of Ripple up to he can lap at the last drops with his tongue.

We got a dock full of empties already, but in this state nobody gives no deposit money for booze bottles or any other kind, so we donít know where weíre gonna get the next full bottle from, and neither one of us is drunk enough to forget anything, or even sleep.

Iím just drunk enough to stare at the empty bottles, lining them up along the rough wood of the dilapidated dock like I used to line up toy soldiers at a kid, waiting for that moment when Iím pissed off enough to knock them over.

But Rifkin wonít let me do anything to them until he drains each one of the last drops, sucking on bottles like some broadís tit, or maybe like a vampire sucking blood.

I just see my reflection the bottom of some and hate what stares back.

Itís the genes, Ripkin says, as he licks his lips and puts down one bottle and picks up the next, leaving me to straighten out the one heís through with so it lines up right.

Those PBCs, he says, gets into your genes and youíre dead.

I look over the edge of the dock and see my reflection there, too, although not my blood shot eyes.

Things stir in the dark water behind my face, strange shapes slithering here and there, and then I ask him what PBCs look like, and he gives me a look like Iím crazy and dumb Ė and considering where we are and what weíre doing he might be right.

He doesnít answer the question.

So I search the bottom of the water for a while, trying to determine if the sea weed growing up from the bottom is what is killing us, or the other green stuff growing on the sides of the rocks on the other side, or maybe those things making those strange sounds from out of the truck tires nearer the shore.

Ripkin puts down a bottle, picks up another, as I straighten up behind him, both of us wondering if we should wander downtown and try our luck at panhandling. Our hands shake too much for pick pocketing and I know are luckís run out so we wonít find no cash in no gutter the way we did once or twice.

But we donít move.

Itís almost as if the PBCs have got us already, holding us here, waiting for their chance to pounce on us with Ripkin finishing the last bottle in the line then starting all over again with the first, licking his lips after each new lick, as if heís actually getting anything, and me, aching to see the PBCs so I know when to run when they come.


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