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  Viper Wire by Richard Kadrey

Concrete Bouquet

He's in love, but doesn't have the words to express it or the courage to say it. He smiles at his love. He buys her presents. He takes her to the most expensive dinners he can afford. She cares for him, he knows. She has no problem saying or expressing it. Now she's waiting for something. She's waiting for him, for the words he can't get out.

After dinner, she doesn't ask him up. Things are going wrong. They kiss, but he can feel her drifting away from him, sadly, but steadily. He stands in the street and watches the light go on in her apartment. He wants to shout at her window, but his throat is dry. His tongue feels like old linoleum in his mouth.

He trembles with cold and frustration. Tears fall from his eyes. Not tears. Flowers. Wounds open in his hands. Roses fall from his palms. Lilies, magnolia blossoms, tulips, birds of paradise land at his feet. He tries to call to her, but the words still won't come from his dry throat.

Later, when she opens her window she sees him lying in the street. He seems to be asleep on a bed of fresh blooms. He's so weak from blood loss, that she has to practically carry him inside. He leaves a trail of orchids and hibiscus all the way to her room.


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Richard Kadrey is a member of a small group of innovative writers, including William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, John Shirley, Pat Cadigan, Tom Maddox, and others, who changed the face of science fiction in the 1980s. He also creates art. He lives in San Francisco.

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