1965-03-11 - How Did You Know?
Summary: Arlo and Elmo talk about liking men.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
arlo elmo 

Arlo has shown up for his job, and he's even wearing a janitor's uniform. He's learning the ropes, but he's a quick study. Besides, honestly, how hard is it to mop up? At the moment, he's sweeping with a steady cadence. There's something relaxing about it.. Just push the broom and not think about anything.

Elmo clatters down into the garage from the upstairs apartment flat. He's wearing jeans and a white t-shirt, the greaser uniform. On him it shows off spectacularly how thin and short he is and how amazing his body isn't. He's got his toolbox in hand. "Hey, pal," he greets Arlo, with a kind of workaday cheer.

Arlo glances up, and he smiles faintly. "Hey," he says. "How's it going?" He pushes the dirt on the floor around, guiding it toward a bigger pile. He's got circles under his eyes, shifting his sleep schedule around has robbed him of a few critical hours.

"Place is looking better," Elmo says, as if that answers the question. He starts getting stuff out of his toolbox, fetches a tool belt, buckles it on. "I got a ton of work to do on the wiring. What else is new, huh? How're you?"

Arlo laughs quietly, shaking his head as he says, "I spent my last day off for awhile drinking with a cop. He was a nice guy. I won't be bringing him around." Because Arlo isn't stupid. He sweeps, and after a moment, he asks, "When did you know you like guys?"

Elmo's loading the tool belt with the mystical gear of an electrician. "Yeah, good call," he says wryly about not bringing a cop around. What Johnny Law don't know won't hurt him. That question, though…that makes him pause and look over at Arlo, his eyebrows curious and wary. "That's a hell of a question," he says, but not angry. Puzzled, maybe, and surprised that Arlo would bring it up. "Why you wanna know?"

Arlo says, "Don't act like you don't, I seen you dancing with JP," Arlo says. Push push, shorter sweeps now, and he doesn't look at Elmo as his sweeping takes him to a corner that needs a little extra attention. "I want to know because I'm curious. Like, did you just know?"

Elmo is eyeing Arlo like he's a new problem to solve. He resumes packing stuff into his tool belt. "I wasn't gonna keep it a secret from you. We picked the M.T. so we wouldn't have to hide, in a lotta ways. Not that everybody's a mutant also loves queers, but it's easier to look the other way here, yannow?" Satisfied with his loadout, he picks up a spool of wiring next. "Yeah," he says, looking down at the spool without seeing it. "Known my whole life. Thought there must be somethin' wrong with me, that I was sick or something."

Arlo shrugs and says, "I don't care, man. Whatever does it for you. God knows I'm about sick of women. Hattie found out I was a janitor and said she was looking for someone who could offer her more security." He doesn't seem too ruffled about it. He didn't let himself get attached in the first place. "So you always knew," he muses. Then he says, "There's nothing wrong with you. I think people are just the way they are."

Elmo hitches a shoulder at news of Hattie. Win some, lose some. "Security don't come by so easy for mutants, you'd think she'd figured that out. Handsome guy like you, doesn't mind her mutation, that doesn't come along every day." He puts the spool down. "I kinda think that too. God just makes you a certain way. Man, woman, Jew, mutant, queer—whatever, right?" Now he's found something else to fiddle with. "Nobody really wants to hear that, though. They wanna blame you. You know that."

"Guess she thought she'd take her chances," Arlo says. "There's plenty of mutant men here doing good. Besides, I'm not ready to settle down. I don't really, uh, do more than dance." He gets the stubborn debris out of the corner and sweeps it toward the pile. "They say God doesn't make mistakes, but then you come along and suddenly you need fixed."

Elmo glances at Arlo again, thoughtful. "They have to pick one or the other, don't they?" Cynically amused, he scoffs. "Won't catch 'em admitting it." There's a pile of outlets and other electrical components he'd left on the workbench. Now he goes over to it and starts cleaning them, hardly paying attention to what he's doing. It's obviously something he does a lot. "You're not just curious," he ventures, eyes down on his hands.

"Maybe I am," Arlo says. "I never had queer friends before." He sweeps the big pile into a tighter pile, the better to get it all into the dust pan. "I just wonder how it happens. Like can you get interested in guys because too many girls have let you down? But you said you always knew, so I guess you can't."

Elmo laughs a little, shaking his head. "Don't use me as your example of normal. That's bad engineering." He's joking. "I dunno anybody who decided to date guys because he got sick of girls. That don't mean they aren't out there. I'd kinda think they were kiddin' themselves, though."

"I can't imagine it'd be very satisfying," Arlo admits. "Like a substitute that's not quite like the real thing. Skim milk instead of whole." He empties the dust pan into the trash. "Anyway, I just wanted to know. Thanks. I just had weird… I don't know. Thoughts."

"Well, yeah, true," Elmo says, "but I actually meant the other way around. Don't think anybody would date a guy without, you know, really wantin' to." Small metal and plastic bits are rapidly becoming gleaming clean under his attention. "By the way." He tries to sound casual. "If JP hits on ya, don't worry. He's just like that. He don't mean nothin' by it."

Arlo grins and shakes his head. "Nah, he hasn't done anything like that, but it's cool, man. I like JP. I can handle a little flirting. Besides, I mean, even I can tell he's a looker, even if I don't like him that way." He takes up sweeping again. "So. What is it like? I mean, like, to kiss a guy."

Elmo mutters something in Yiddish. He can't touch his face with his hands covered in acetone, so he has to just let his blushing hang out in front of God and everybody. "I dunno," he says, and although he's bright red, there's laughter in his voice. "Like kissin' a girl, pretty much. Girls are smaller, don't have a beard? Kissing a guy can be scratchy. In a good way." Then he has to stop what he's doing and rub his eyes with his forearm, because he might die of embarrassment from saying that.

Arlo glances up, and he grins before ducking his head again. "Sorry. This cop has me all messed up. I'm probably just tired, and I got pretty wasted yesterday. He was really nice, and I was just, like, I wondered. I'm over it." He pays close attention to his sweeping. "Anyway, how're you doing?"

"Red in the face," Elmo says, "because of this guy works at my garage askin' me embarrassing questions." But he shoots a grin at Arlo; he's not mad. "Don't mind me. You just picked the one guy out of the team who gets worked up over this stuff." Holding an outlet plate up to the light, he tips it to see into its corners. "You can ask," he adds, again trying to play it cool. "As long as you don't mind me plotzin' about it." He has a funny feeling about this line of questioning and he wants to leave it open for Arlo.

Arlo looks up, and he smiles. "That's good, though. You're not going to blow smoke up my ass if you barely want to talk about it." He leans on the broom. "Plotz away. I'm the guy who wanted to kiss a cop of all people." He shivers. "I mean he's nice for a cop, but he's a cop."

Elmo quirks an eyebrow and is just self-aware enough not to say anything like 'I knew this was going somewhere'. "That's gotta be a pretty nice cop," he says, neutrally.

Arlo shoots Elmo a look, analyzing each word and their neutral delivery for signs of mockery or something else that's going to need to be fought about. He settles, though, and he says, "Well, he did buy me a beer. That's pretty nice. He doesn't even care that I get high if I'm not doing it on the street corner. He works homicide anyway."

Elmo' not making fun of Arlo, that much is clear, at least. "You probably don't wanna kiss /everyone/ who buys you a beer," he suggests. "I bought ya one." He doesn't look up, pretending to be totally absorbed in cleaning contacts.

Arlo says wryly, "Yeah, but I like you." He doesn't like the cop? "And we work together, and you're a guy. I just switched off that part of my brain, I guess. I feel like I can talk to you, and I can't really talk to people and go out with them."

Elmo does look up at that, frowning quizzically. "You can't? That's all me and my boyfriend do, is talk." Well, not /all/ they do. "Whaddaya do with 'em when you've got 'em?"

Arlo doesn't look up. Dirt that he's sweeping up must be observed with diligence. "I dunno," he says. "I haven't really gone out with anyone since my last break up. I guess we get to the talking part and I back down. Christ, she turned me socially impotent."

Elmo snorts. "Nah. You got plenty of potent." They're both working very hard on their respective tasks, so they can't possibly make eye contact. That's the only way it's remotely safe to have this conversation. "I'm the biggest dweeb in the city. If I can manage, so can you."

"Are you kidding? You're nice," Arlo says, "and you're funny and, I dunno, kind of cute when you blow your top." Definitely can't be making eye contact to have this conversation. "You talk. I make excuses and go home. Like, I was kind of relieved when Hattie said she was looking for someone else."

Elmo shrugs, grinning a little, red again. "No compliments, I hate 'em." He's half joking, there. "Eh," he says. "So maybe you ain't met the right person you can talk with." His choice of a gender neutral noun isn't random.

Arlo laughs quietly and says, "Now I know you're weakness." Half-joking, himself. "I felt like I could talk to this guy. Hell, I feel like I can talk to you, but it's different. I, like, wanted to impress him. It was dumb. I'm never even going to see him again."

"Who knows if you will or not," Elmo says. He's almost out of things he can pretend to be fussing over, but that doesn't stop him from fiddling with a bit of wire, with a vengeance. "Maybe if you do, you could get his number. Nothing wrong with askin', right? It don't make you queer."

"It does mean I like free beer," Arlo says. Yeah, that's a safe thought. Bilking a generous cop for free beer he can live with. Treating one like it's people is a whole other animal, never mind getting cozy. He pauses, then says quietly, "There really is nothing wrong with it. I mean I don't think it demeans or defines you. I just don't know what to do with myself. Don't take it as anything more than that."

Elmo finally looks over. He needs to see Arlo's face to know what to make of that. "Yeah," he says, also quiet, after a moment. "I know what you mean. I gotta say, though. It really does kinda define me. All the stuff I can't do in front of other people. All the stuff I can't say. Can't tell someone my boyfriend and I went to a movie. Can't hold his hand in the park." He shrugs, again. "It changes your life."

Arlo still watches the floor he's sweeping, his features troubled. It's starting to settle in, in his mind, and while he may be totally okay with other people being queer, it's just another god damn thing he doesn't need right now. "Yeah, it does," he says quietly. Then he looks up, and he manages a devilish glint in his eyes as he says with a grin, "But does it make you a better mechanic?"

Elmo, cleaning his hands on a rag, lofts his eyebrows, thoughtfully. "Not that I've noticed. But I gotta say. It does give you a new appreciation for dipsticks."

Arlo coughs on a sudden laugh. "Oh my God," he says, scandalized. "Elmo!" He pauses, then asks, "Does it hurt? The stuff you get up to?" Because that's where dipsticks took him. Right to the source.

Elmo laughs, thoroughly delighted with that reaction. It's not often he gets to scandalize somebody! He had to seize the opportunity. "Nah. It doesn't hurt. There's technique." Tucking the rag in his belt, he heads over to where the electric wiring comes through the brick wall—the drop.

"Technique." Arlo says. He's burning to ask, but he doesn't. This whole topic is still new. Still weird when he's putting himself into the midst of it. "I guess it can't be too bad if people still keep doing it." He continues to sweep, his longish hair fallen in his face. "I mean even girls let you if you ask right."

Elmo is perfectly happy not to discuss it in further detail. He's getting up in the business of the electrical box, working with swift skillful motions. "I wouldn't know," he mutters, concentrating. "Never been with a girl all the way. Anyway I don't really do it /that/ much. Lotta other stuff you can do."

Arlo relaxes as he says, "Yeah, I guess that's true." Not that he was all that tense to begin with, but there were some stiff shoulders there. He continues to push dirt, accumulating more dirt as he goes. Mechanics' floors don't stay clean easily. It's job security. "I guess if everyone is on board and happy."

Elmo's hands go to and from his tool pouches and the wiring in the electrical box, as if they can see exactly what they need. Long strings of wiring get pulled out, discarded, and fresh put in their place. "Same as with anything, right? Honestly, I've never dated a girl, but it can't be that different." He presses a thumb against a particular wire, shivers and makes a face. "/Everything/ is corroded. Useless."

"I imagine with a cat, at least you understand where he's coming from," Arlo says. "I never could figure out what my girl wanted, and she couldn't just tell me. That would be too easy. You gotta learn to read minds, man. Only a psychic can keep his girl happy all the time." With a small, wistful smile, he adds, "But when it's good, it's pretty good." Then he glances over at what Elmo's doing. "What are you working on?"

Elmo grumbles, "Gotta rip out and rerun everything. /Everything/. They used aluminum wire. Never use aluminum wire, Arlo!" Important life lesson. "It's trash. Wonder if that's why this place didn't get finished. It's a massive fire hazard. Not when I'm done with it." He says that with a certain relish. This place is going to be so safe. He flicks a glance over at Arlo. "Don't sound all that fun," he says, about how a guy can keep his girl happy (not easily).

Arlo promises, "I'll never use aluminum wire." Elmo's enthusiasm gets a wry grin from him. "If you need any help, just let me know. I'm very good at holding stuff." As for girls, he shrugs and says, "Yeah, but when you fall in love, you'd do anything for her, just to see her smile, or when she throws her arms around you, it's like being on top of the world."

"Good," Elmo says, pointing at Arlo with mock seriousness. "It's worse'n useless. Easy to short it out, start a fire. Copper is what you want. More expensive, but you wanna spend a few extra nickels now and not wake up with the place burning down later." He shakes his head, making a sound of disgust that's very Jewish. "Dunno how they expect to run a shop on that chazerai." Now that he's done kvetching about the evils of aluminum wire, he smiles a little. "Yeah. You get that with a guy too, yannow. Feel like that about my boyfriend, and this other guy I'm seein'."

Arlo clucks his tongue and says, "Stepping out? You dirty dog." There's a little bit of pride in his tone, though. "Good for you, getting yours. Don't worry, mum's the word." He then repeats under his breath, "use copper." He's learning stuff.

Elmo snorts. "Don't insult me." He's letting it slide this time, but the look he gives Arlo has no humor in it. "I ain't no cheater. They know about each other. …They know about JP, too. May as well tell you about him too, I guess."

"I thought he was your boyfriend because you two danced." For all his time on the street, in some ways, Arlo is preciously naive. "But that's cool. You don't have to sneak around. Man, I couldn't handle one let alone three."

Elmo, giving in to Arlo's naivety, shrugs and turns a hand over. "He's not. We're a lotta things. Partners, teammates. Sometimes we sleep together. But not boyfriends." There's a little regret in his voice as he starts stripping the wire ends to get the outlet installed. "I didn't exactly intend to start datin' multiple guys," he adds, humor resurfacing. "But the first guy I went out with also has a bunch of other boyfriends, so it just kinda happened. You don't do that with girls?"

"That's crazy," Arlo says. He's grinning though, if crookedly. No harsh judgment here. He's just getting his mind blown. "I played around til I met Christine. Imagine that, I hooked up with some shiksa named after Christ." He shakes his head. "But I loved her. We were together for three years, and I never once went around on her."

Elmo laughs a little. "Eh, they can't help it, they love that Christ guy." Listening while he works, he tilts his head. "Pretty good amount of time, three years." He's not asking what happened; not directly, at least. That can be heard as a question, though.

Arlo says, "Yeah, well, keep your rotation going, man. It ain't worth it. Thought about asking her to marry me, but I wanted her to know everything, you know? Who I was. Turns out she was fine with mutants as long as she wasn't fucking one."

Elmo grimaces. "Sorry, buddy." He's installing the outlet, the electric screwdriver he's using going whirr. "That's tough. I can see why you might be tired a' girls, huh?"

"Yeah, I'm not going through that again," Arlo says. "I'll stick to my own kind." He then clarifies, "Mutants. Still not ready to learn how to read a new mind, but I've thought about just blowing off a little steam."

"I'm sure plenty a girls can oblige ya," Elmo says. "Not Hattie, but, I kinda wondered if she was a great choice for you, given her mutation and yours. Don't you feel stuff too much? I'm not so sure /I/ could hold her hand." He actually gives his hand a little shake, as if imagining it too vivdly. Stepping back from the outlet, he wipes his hair out of his eyes and considers his work critically.

"Yeah, I was thinking about that," Arlo says. "When I can't control my senses, every little thing is just too much." Shark skin? Not his friend. Arlo leans his broom against the wall and comes up behind Elmo to observe what he's doing. It's all a mystery, but he's taking an interest. "I don't know. It's like you said, I feel too much."

Elmo explains briefly what he's doing to Arlo, then adds, "Don't mess with it yourself if you're not completely sure what you're doin'. Good way to get killed. If you're not me," he adds a little smugly. Yeah, who's got the most useful mutation in the land? He uses the rag to polish up the outlet plate until it gleams.

Arlo nods sharply as Elmo explains it. "Don't worry, if I get the urge to mess, I'll ask you first." As Elmo polishes the outlet, he says, "You've done my work for me. I like that." Then he goes back over to his broom. More sweeping to be done. "I could learn a thing or two," he says. "I like figuring out how stuff works."

Elmo smirks. "It's an outlet, that's my work." And every outlet is going to sparkle, if he has anything to say about it. "You wanna be an electrician? Always get work that way. Mechanic, too. Kinda lucked out that they're what I'm into. Wrenchin' is safer, but not as fun." Leave it to an electric mutant to think deadly energy moving faster than thought is fun.

"It never hurts to collect life skills," Arlo says. "I never got my hands dirty before. Mom wanted a pair of little gentlemen who'd end up with jobs where they never got their hands dirty." He pushes a little more dirt. "I got some lost time to make up for."

"Feh," Elmo says cheerfully. "Boring." He takes a quick glance over his shoulder at the garage doors and entry. It's a gesture with the smoothness of long practice. Seeing nobody, he continues. "The first life skill we're gonna teach you is how to take a car apart."

Arlo admits, "I do like the idea of taking things apart." He glances around the shop for any possible cars to dismantle. "So is it so you can rebuild them or you're stealing them piece by piece?"

Elmo grins, a surprisingly rakish expression from a guy who can hardly admit he has sex sometimes. "Like the Johnny Cash song? I swear that must be JP's theme song. We do rebuild 'em, but mostly it's so we can get the parts we need for other cars."

Arlo laughs and says, "Yeah, that one." He shakes his head. "JP's a trip. Like, I wouldn't trust him with my sister for all the world, if I had one, but I like him. And yeah, I can see it, taking apart a car for scrap. I'm sure mine's headed that way."

Elmo laughs, too, agreeing. "Definitely don't trust him with your sister. You can trust him with a lot of other things, though." His expression softens just a touch, thinking about JP, before he puts it away. "Nah, we can keep your bug running, they ain't hardly nothin' more than a rubber band and a spring. Easy as." He leans his hip against the wall, looking at Arlo alertly. That's one disreputable electrician. "Just one thing. We're not takin' anything from other mutants. Not in the M.T. We're trying to help build up the neighborhood. We're not gonna feed on it. Not when there's such great pickings just outside."

Arlo spreads his hands and says, "Wouldn't dream of it. We've got to stick together. Besides, this is my neighborhood now, and even a bird knows not to shit in its nest." He points the broom handle at Elmo and says, "There, I just taught you some zoology."

Elmo holds up his hands, like, whoa this guy is too sharp for me! "See, nothin' you don't already know," he teases. "You're all right, Arlo. Yer gonna do great. The Upper West Side don't know what they're missing."

Arlo smiles, and that smile is simultaneously angelic and full of trouble. He tucks into his sweeping with purpose as he says, "Maybe it does. Saw my brother the other day. He says my mom will let me come home if I never reveal I'm a mutant and never use my powers. Now that I got them under control and all."

Elmo rolls his eyes. "I bet I can guess what you hadda say to that. Your brother a mutant? It runs in the family, you know. Maybe your mom is one, too. You wouldn't know, if they don't get some kinda change on the outside."

Arlo shakes his head and says, "My brother's a rabbi, or is going to be. Oh, and get this: I'm going to marry a nice Jewish girl and we're going to adopt. I gotta tell everyone I'm shooting blanks." He shakes his head. "I told him she can rot in Hell. It would figure if I got it from her."

Elmo's lip curls. He mimes spitting, to avert the evil eye. "Good," he says, relishing Arlo's defiance. "Hell with her. Oy, the things we do to family." He shakes his head in disgust.

Arlo echoes the headshaking. "Five years later, she wants to act like nothing happened. I told him to tell her I'm already with my kind, that I'm going to find some nice mutant girl and have a dozen little goy mutants." He grins at the thought. Maybe showing up for Yom Kippur with the whole litter.

Elmo, startled, laughs. "Not like he's gonna tell her that, probably, but I'd love to see the look if he did. My folks wanted me to be a rabbi, too. Only son." He tips a hand over, looking up at the ceiling. "They didn't count on a queer mutant."

"No one ever does," Arlo says with the lilt of Jewish philosophizing. Levi's supposed to be the rabbi. I was supposed to go into business, maybe banking. So I studied math and statistics and finance." He shakes his head. "I'm never going to be a good little boy again, you know, Elmo?"

"Yeah," Elmo says, musing on it. "Yeah, I know. Me neither. …Not that I was ever all that good," he adds, mocking himself. "My ma had tsuris over me."

"You do kind of look like trouble," Arlo says. "I wasn't going to say anything, but…" His smile says cherubs, his eyes say hahaha. "Oh man, I was the best little boy you'd ever want to know. I studied hard, and I did everything I was told."

Elmo shoots Arlo a knowing grin. Yeah, he knows he's trouble. "I studied hard, too. Just never what they wanted me to study in school. To be honest, we can use financial know-how around here, too. Vitkothat's the guy who hired youis our numbers man, but with what we're gonna do with numbers, he might like help."

"Sure, I can help out. I've never had any practical experience except making whatever I managed to get last longer than it otherwise would've. Why may retail, you know what I mean." He stops his sweeping to look at Elmo. "But you got to understand, I never finished high school. Dropped out my sophomore year."

"You mean, got kicked out by your ma," Elmo says, without pity. Sympathy, yes. Pity, no. It's a similar tone to what he got when hearing about Arlo's shiksa dumping him. Life sucks. Nobody knows that more than mutant Jews.

Arlo nods with a rueful twist of his lips. "Yeah. That happened. So, you know, to hell with her. I'd rather live in the gutter doing whatever I want than in the sky living a shell of a life. Besides, she lost the right to give a damn about what happens to me." He chews his lower lip, then admits, "I won't get that litter of mutant babies though if I don't get this cop off my mind."

"She threw that away," Elmo says, eyes narrowing. Arlo's ma is not on his list of good Jews. He gives Arlo quite a curious look, though, at that statement about the cop. "So, you're uh, kinda interested in him, huh?" Real casual.

Arlo makes a so-so waggle with his hand. "I dunno. He's probably straight anyway. I mean he's a cop. Maybe I just got issues with someone older being nice to me. But he was really nice." He grins stupidly and looks away.

Elmo observes this with interest, and a little trepidation. The conversational waters here are tricky. "Listen, I never tried to hit on a cop, but you know what they do to us, right?" 'Us'—queers. Arlo got included there. "Try to get you interested, then they arrest you for it."

Arlo says, "Yeah." He sighs, shoulders drooping. "Yeah. I'm not going to do a damn thing he doesn't start." He's quick to add, "But he works homicide. He says he's glad he's out of vice."

"What's that they call it, a victimless crime?" Elmo's not so sure about this cop business. "Listen, you be careful, boychik. If you wanna try datin' a guy, and a cop at that? You got to keep an eye out. Some of these guys, they can smell it on ya, bein' queer. I think they might like guys themselves, sometimes, but they take it out on us."

Arlo admits, "It would be my luck if he was stringing me along so he could bust me. That follows the pattern." He laughs. "Wouldn't that just be the topper? First time I show interest in a guy and it lands me in jail. At least I'll meet lots of other guys there."

Elmo snorts. "You'll meet em, and you'll wish you hadn't. A lot of guys inside aren't so bad. But some of them, oy Gevalt. Better be able to protect yourself." He makes sparks appear at his fingertips, considering them with a brooding look.

Arlo says, "Oh, that's right! You've done time on the inside. I don't think I'd be good at being Bubba's wife. Cuts into my will to live." He grins as Elmo displays the sparking fingertips. "I just rely on punching people. Sometimes giving them a headtrip. They start seeing sounds, they stop thinking about anything else."

Elmo raises his eyebrows. "A pretty good trick," he approves. "You can protect yourself just fine, anyway. Wouldn'ta got this far if you couldn't. Just…avoid gettin' caught, yeah?" He closes his hand, extinguishing the sparks with a hiss.

"Yeah, I know my way around a shiv," Arlo says. He nods then, stiffly, and says, "I'm not going to act on any of this anyway. Like, hey, attractive cop, you want to use those handcuffs on me?" He shakes his head. "It's just me thinking maybe there's this aspect of myself, that's all."

Elmo makes a neutral sound, and this one really does have a note of mockery in it. Sure, kid. Not gonna act on it. "Why, you want him to use those handcuffs on you?" It's a challenge.

Arlo says, "I don't." Defensive? Maybe a little. "It just seemed like a cheesy pickup line I'm never going to use, because I'm not going to try picking him up. It's like you said, cops are bad news." He shoots Elmo a look. Shyah, as if he meant anything by it.

Elmo is entirely unrepentant. No repentence found. "They're real bad news, not that you need me to tell you that. We ain't got this far by bein' good news, though, huh?" He gives Arlo an arch look, then grins. "Now quit distractin' me, willya? I got more heavy-duty outlets to install."

Arlo grins. "Yeah, okay. I should get started on the toilet anyway. You wouldn't believe how glamorous this job is." He sweeps his dust pile away from Elmo, whistling quietly as he goes.

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