Wings rose, taking Jane’s empty beer bottle from the plastic table as she stood next to her older yet shorter friend. She held the bottle up to Jane. “Need another?”
Jane waved her off. “I’ll be in, in a minute.” A moment later Wings had walked through the screen and kitchen doors, back into her apartment, leaving Jane alone again on the wooden balcony above the building’s back alley.
The sound of metal on concrete — Jane placed her hands on a wooden rail, looked down, saw a man pulling a garbage can away from a door. The door opened, a woman’s head emerged. By the tone of her voice Jane could tell that she was asking a question. The man swore loudly, angrily, then slammed a cover on top of the aluminum can before rushing back to the door.
Jane suddenly realized how far above the alley she was. Wings’ apartment was on the fourth floor of a complex with no elevator; Jane had been out of breath that evening after finishing the climb up the stairs. She remembered horrible stories from years past, of children falling to their deaths while playing on balconies similar to the one Jane was standing on now. She looked down at the handrail on which her arms rested; on the outside of the wooden guard rails (spaced wide enough for even an adult to fit through, at least one as slim as Arjie) she saw a thin honeycomb of metal fencing. She guessed it had been installed in response to those tragic deaths. She reached down, pulled at an edge of the fencing; two staples immediately flew out of the wood as if being released from captivity. “Jesus.” She watched them disappear into the blackness of the alley, then looked down at the six inch hole she had just created in the fence.