What are we even doing? I want to ask you. But I can’t even do that because it would break this spell we’ve woven around ourselves. Nothing is going on, because nothing is going on.

Now it’s nighttime and the tall-boot girls pop out of the dark doorways like it’s a shooting range—except they aren’t cardboard cutouts and I don’t have a gun—as I go up Hooker Hill. They go “woo, woo! Hey!” Just last week a U.S. soldier was arrested for trying to burn down one of the brothels when the deal went bad.