Burrs was lying on the floor and devils were dancing the Juggernaut inside his head. He worked himself up onto elbows, waited for a wave of nausea to subside, and cast a bleary look around. The living room was empty, dark, and quiet. A narrow sliver of light stretched from the bedroom door. Burrs' heart skipped a beat. His Queenie, his beautiful Queenie had sent the crowd packing after all and now was waiting for him...
It took him a hell of an effort to get to his feet. Still he did it and staggered to the bedroom, banishing the memories of what he had seen there the last time. The light clink of the porcelain powder box made Burrs smile despite the hammers in his temples. His girl was prettying up for him.
Only the person at the vanity was too broad across the shoulders. The hair was blond alright but the smooth jawline was too sharp. Taking his amused gaze off of Queenie's cosmetics, the man turned to Burrs.
"She isn't here."
"And who the hell are you? Who brought you here?"
"I come on my own accord," the stranger said with a ghost of a smile.
His lips were bright on his pale face that seemed like a dream Burrs desperately couldn't recall. He wanted to rub at his eyes but his hands were too heavy. When he looked down at himself, he saw blood on the front of his undershirt.
"The hell is going on here?" he whispered, suddenly hoarse.
"You are dying, Burrs. It is almost instantaneous for the lookers but not for your brain, especially poisoned by alcohol." The stranger stood up from the vanity and tilted his head toward the bed. "Why don't you lie down?"
On numb legs Burrs stumbled to the bed that had seen his and Queenie's best times and sat heavily on the rumpled sheets. His chest burned as if demons were barbecuing his heart. Which was pretty much the case.
The stranger's hand on his forehead felt blessedly cool.
"Lie down," he offered. "It will be easier that way."
Going with the press of the cold fingers Burrs fell onto the pillow. The stranger stretched alongside him and gave him another shade of a smile.
"Hey, I don't swing that way..."
"I come to everyone," the deep voice purred, "Men and women, young and old, - they are all equal before me."
Finally Burrs understood. He remembered a piano boy, Phill and Oscar's friend who was in love with lord Byron and able to wax poetics for hours about the grim beauty of doom and Death as an ideal lover, until someone shut him up. After he lost his job and run debts, he croaked in some shithole by sniffing a flute of powder in one go. It didn't look nice to a looker; but if this one came for him, the piano boy probably pissed himself in joy.
"Lips like coals aglow... Face like mask of snow..." Burrs could barely recognize his own voice that grew coarse and breathless. Blood was a tide in his ears; his lips went numb and damn if he knew why he suddenly remembered this stupid vaudeville tune. Although if he was honest...
"Not... ideal...' he rasped out on the remnants of his bubbling breath. "Eyes... blue... not gra...'
"Don't let it bother you now."
His kiss was fiery ice. Queenie could never kiss like that...