Cole found himself in a large room with cream-colored tiles from the floor to halfway up the wall. The rest of the wall was painted a light green that reminded him of the gunk that he blew out of his nose when he had a cold.
“This here’s the common room. We can talk, play games, and sometimes watch TV if the picture comes in good.” Kenny spread his arm as if the room was his very own creation.
There were three girls and one boy in the room. The boy was rocking back and forth in his seat and looking at a Life magazine spread out on a card table in front of him. One girl was curled up in a chair snoozing. She was ghastly thin. Skeleton girl, Cole thought. Another girl was the exact opposite. She pranced counterclockwise around the room, and the fat on her hips jostled with each step. She made grunting noises that might have been an attempt at singing. Cole saw right away that she was mentally retarded. He could tell by the shape of her face.
The third girl was listening to rock ’n’ roll on a transistor radio. Cole liked listening to the radio. The girl must’ve noticed him because she looked up.
“Kenny, who’s that?” her voice boomed.
“His name’s Cole.” Kenny used an announcer’s voice for the benefit of the entire room.
“Hey, Cole. You like music?”
Cole nodded, not knowing if he was allowed to talk. The girl had breasts under her T-shirt, so she was older than him, maybe fourteen or fifteen. She also had angry red marks carved into her face in crisscross patterns. Somehow that made her look prettier than she already was.
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