Of course it was Crawly on the staircase with half a mouth full of petrified bannister as that guy stumbled over Babe’s warmth and out the door. Crawly: one-half an angry inch from a dynamite-belt strapped to his own head, half that distance to dreams of explosive peace - a memory of something soft and compelling, a comforting space torturously tied, gagged and wrapped in fear. Ah, there’s nothing like a firm, well-ruled childhood! Tick, Tick...
“You, you’re that guy from the first floor - what’s the guy from the first floor doing with Babe there? Huh? Guy from the first floor?”
That guy still had his hand on the sweaty frame of Babe’s doorway, hadn’t even had a chance to expel the last breath of her surroundings from his lungs before he found himself stuck using that air to defend himself. And he did it, did that, using that very air, he said, “Crawly? You’re the son,” he said, quietly, nudging a soft cheek upward. “The other one up there - Babe said so...”
“Babe said what!?” spat Crawly. “What did Babe say?” And Crawly had that guy up against Babe’s door, used his head for a knocker, banged it a few times until they both heard the footsteps, the bolt flipping, again.
“Hey Babe,” hissed Crawly, “This that guy from across the hall?” He drew a handful of that guy’s hair into a bridled grip, and spun him around to face Babe. The blood and hair and sudden wash of sweat across that guy’s face blurred for a moment and the next moment that guy was marbling out two of his front teeth onto his blood drenched shirt.
It wasn’t the pain or the blood or the feeling like he was about to cry in front of Babe that had him stunned, no - it wasn’t even the head-smashing spit of teeth onto the tiled hallway floor either - it was the look Babe gave Crawly in reaction to the violence, the look that went right through that guy, straight through him as if he weren’t there. No shouting, no flinching, she barely moved those full lips when she said, “put him down, pick up his teeth, and give’em back.”