Whenever we are off shift, Lafferty drinks. He scrounges sherry; bottles of bathtub hooch; black market whiskey; anything he can find. Then he retires to drink with the steady persistence of someone trying to solve a puzzle. As if at the end of it there will be a verdict.

He lurches from his canvas cot to greet me and pats me on the cheek. His open palm both benign and surly.

You’re drunk, I tell him.

In the Eskimo language there are twenty-six words for snow, he replies, and I find I cannot meet his bloodshot eye with my own.


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