Overcast afternoon, threat of rain in the air. In the doorway, the man sits picking out a tune, guitar case at his feet, along with a few crumpled bills.
Kalila tugs on Ricky’s sleeve and stops, entranced by the music and the luster of polished rosewood. “That’s a fancy guitar for a man who has no home.”
“Economy,” Ricky says.
“It must be the most precious thing he ever owned. The last thing he’ll give up.” She nods in sympathy. “Give him some money.”
“I don’t have any.”
While Kalila ponders, the man looks at her, and with a gleam in his eye, plays a tricky chord progression overlaid with a melody that tests the waters of sadness, skirting the edge of melancholy.
Kalila sighs with pleasure and leans into Ricky’s arms. When the little show is over, she reaches in his pocket and removes a wad of bills that hadn’t been there before. She drops it in the case, then pulls Ricky back onto the sidewalk and resumes walking.
“Where did you get that?” he asks.
“Same place your government does. Nowhere at all.”
“It won’t help in the long run.”
“But it’s another day he won’t have to pawn that guitar.”
The sky darkens with the approaching storm, and under the sodium glare of a streetlight, Ricky takes her hand. “For a djinn, you have some sentimental notions.”
Kalila tips her head back and breathes deeply of the electrically charged air. “Just let it be our secret, okay?”