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Vera fell in love with my mug when it appeared as a TV news blurb. She confesses this as we lie in bed hugging, smooching, toking one joint after another.

“I thought I was ugly,” I laugh. “You look like a villain,” she says, squeezing me tighter, robustly. “From when you stole our chandelier from that old lady’s house, right?”

Yeah, broke in with my sack of tools and found a ladder in the woman’s storage closet. I carried it to the entrance hall, climbed up and systematically unscrewed the bolts connecting the chandelier to a plaster ceiling. A gem—glass crystal pendulums, maybe a hundred. Brass structure. Had to be at least two centuries old. I knew this antique dealer who would shell out for a piece like that. So there I was carrying the thing down the street when the fuzz cruised by. I tried to run but they caught me, confiscated the chandelier, arrested me on the spot.

“What about the old lady?” she asks.

“I heard she fainted when she came downstairs and found a big hole in her ceiling. Hell, I spent thirty days in jail for nothing. They found her spreadeagled on the floor, revived her, re-attached the chandelier. I’m glad to hear she’s ok now. She even asked about me, said anyone who steals something beautiful deserves to have it. Imagine that.”

“You’re what’s beautiful,” she says. “I like bad boys. Maybe you could steal something beautiful for me? It would be so romantic.”

So soon enough I’m back at the old lady’s house. This time I knock and when she answers I ask if I can steal her chandelier again since, as she told the cops, I deserve it. She smiles, nods and lowers herself onto a tapestried nouveau sofa.

“I got this replacement for you,” I say. “High tech model from Home Depot. It has a built-in converter to transform 110 volts to only 30 with the same brightness. Save you a bundle on the old utility bill.” I don’t tell her I stole it too right off an open Depot truck preparing to deliver it somewhere.

Once again traversing the streets with the chandelier cradled in my arms, the crystals bobbing all over the place. What a nuisance. Not exactly theft this time so I’m not worried.

I stop by my antique friend’s shop and ask him what it’s worth. “It’s worth what somebody pays. I’ll give you a hundred cash.”

This means it’s probably worth a grand or two since my friend is another kind of thief. So I ask myself, what’s love and happiness worth? How long will it last? Say, five months max?

Vera and I lie in bed on our backs, naked, our hips almost glued together, the freaking chandelier settled atop our bodies, undulating as we breathe. She coos as she fondles each crystal, whispers she could use some silverware. Maybe a new sofa. I am so aroused I could burst.

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Louis Gallo’s work has appeared in a wide range of literary magazines and reviews including Southern Literary Review, Greensboro Review, and Glimmer Train. He has published two chapbooks, The Truth Changes and The Abomination of Fascination. Gallo is the founding editor of the now defunct journals, The Barataria Review and Books: A New Orleans Review. He teaches at Radford University in Radford, Virginia.

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