"Who?" the Muse said. "The woman with the kid in the wagon?"
"No, not the woman," I said. "The kid."
The Muse squinted against the glare from the street. "What is she, two?"
"Three. She wants to come live with me. At least, that's what she tells me."
The Muse leaned back in her chair and put one foot on the railing. "Your house isn't really toddler-safe. You've got a lot of pointy things, including your head."
I shrugged. "I can't help it. Little girls dig me, always have, always will. I don't know why. It's a mystery to me."
"It's no mystery, Matlock. Want to know why?"
"My charm and wit?"
"Hardly," she said. "First off, you've got long hair. Little girls are fascinated by that. Guaranteed if you ever have a daughter, she'll want to braid your hair. Then she'll probably want to practice haircutting on it. Better not go bald before then."
I patted the top of my head. "So far so good. Thick and luscious."
"I know I am," the Muse said, "but what are you?"
"Secondly, little girls can smell a pushover a mile away, and you're the biggest pushover I've ever seen. They make those little pouty faces and want a cookie for dinner and you're totally gone. P.T. Barnum would have loved you, because you're a complete sucker."
"I am not a pushover."
"Honey. Sweetie. You're a total pushover. You used to write term papers for the cute girls in high school. You drove Lucy three hundred miles to a guy's house so she could basically have sex while you waited in the car, and you even paid for the gas."
"That doesn't prove anything."
"You gave me six hundred dollars so that I could pay off my ex's credit card debt. Now that's just stupid, you know?"
"You didn't think it was stupid at the time."
"Of course not," she said. "I needed the money then. You've got to admit it's a little bit crazy, though."
"I admit nothing. Silence is golden. Ignorance is bliss. Two plus two equals five."
She stood a moment, turned her chair to face mine, and sat again. "Here," she said, and put her feet in my lap. "Rub these for me, would you?"
I took one foot in my hands and started rubbing her heel.
She grinned. "See? Total pushover."
"You suck, Muse."
She nodded. "I know. Don't stop rubbing."