All summer long, the summer of Dumbrowski’s dying, you worried whether that waitress would sleep with you. There was always some magic sign. She smiled at you twice, three times if you ordered dessert, and her voice weaved musical through the untuned forks and spoons. You admired her accent, she was local, a local girl, knew where the rail tracks ran, swam naked in a pale quarry, held secrets in the hollows of her neck. You memorized her scents — apricot jam, pie crust — you from somewhere else, a shipping- and-receiving clerk in charge of labels, auditioning for adulthood in thrift-shop ties. At the hospital, you told Dumbrowski: I met a girl, which might have been the truth on occasion, though really you dreamed of the waitress, your waitress, sweet greasy onion rings on her fingers as you lay in a pool of your own heat. Dumbrowski knew nearly everything. For three months he was your cigarette break, your boss, your father, and you were his son, and now he was surrendering to some absurd disease, gray as an old shoe, weightless, collarbones strung up like crossbows. Once, at the counter, you saw her sip a chocolate shake, whipped cream streaked along her lips, and it was then you almost worked up the nerve to speak. He said you should live. This was Dumbrowski’s advice when you told him about the way her red tongue curled and the cream dissolved like a cloud. And you told him you would, you promised, as if you might know what that meant for both of you.