Chapter 1
             We needs
             Choco & White Milk
             Toilet paper
             Hard to forget a list like that — hard to forget the girl, too. Her name’s Alisha. Skirt right up to there, the kind that makes you wish you could be somewhere nearby and watching when she finally has to sit down. Just to see how she’d manage it, scissoring those long legs at the knees without showing you anything else. Not getting caught looking, of course. But if you’re not supposed to be looking, then why’s she wearing it, anyway? Her hair dark and short and cut in tight next to her face, and she’s got that beautiful-girl way of looking back at you when she does catch you staring — I’m not saying she looks right through you, but that somehow she looks right around you, as if light rays can be bent and you’re the kind of a person that she just doesn’t need to be seeing right now.
             And you know she’s not single, it’s right there in the note that she’s got to be part of a couple — that’s easy to figure with We needs right there at the top. She dropped the list by the bin at the cash registers, the one that’s usually full of torn coin rollers and the receipts that people shed before they’re even out the door. Just try returning the wrong-sized batteries without that receipt, mister. I already know her name, and her Facebook says she’s “In a relationship,” too, but I’m getting way ahead of myself.

             Timing is everything — I empty the bins almost before there’s anything in them, so connecting the scraps of paper to the people who discarded them is easier than you might think. And her note, tossed down there, well, the spelling’s a mess, and the banans makes me wonder if she’s French or European or in some other way just not from here. The cat part gets me, too, because she doesn’t look like a pet person. Not at all like a pet person, not like she’s ready for the mess or the bother.
             There’s something about the way she’s done up that makes you think she’s not going to put up with something that’s going to always be shedding or hooking your clothes with its claws.
             “Done up like a stick of gum.” That’s the saying, whatever that’s supposed to mean. She’s all about the clothes, right down to the way she opens one button on her coat, just the right button, when she swings her legs into the cab. Always a cab, too, and that’s gotta add up to some coin for sure — five bucks each time even if you’re barely going around the corner, and who always has five bucks to throw away?
             Kev told me where she lived when I asked, because he drives for Co-Op — the yellow ones that always pick her up — and I’ve known Kev since he was five, so it’s not like he’s going to keep something as harmless as a name and a neighbourhood away from me. Little two-storey house, one in from the corner, white with rusty-coloured trim, and when you look inside from the front, even if you’re staring from across the street, you can see there’s art up on the walls, and the cat looks out the front window almost all the time, sitting there like it’s stuffed, or more like everything outside is a movie it’s barely interested in.
             After that, bit by bit, it wasn’t that hard to track down more information.
             I go on the Internet and check Facebook to see if she’s put up any new pictures. She likes pictures of herself, likes putting them up. I’m not her Facebook friend or anything — I’ve never asked to be; she doesn’t even know I’m out here — but she doesn’t have all the privacy stuff done, and I think that maybe she likes the idea of someone having a look at her stuff, like it’s not necessarily a bad thing to be noticed or desired remotely.