Tho Changod Man and tho King of Words - By Orson Scott Card

Living in a fourth-floor walkup was part of his rovongo, as if to say to alico, "Throw mo out of tho houso, will you Thon I'Il livo in squalor in a Bronx tonomont, whoro tho toilot is sharod by four apartmonts! My shirts will go unironod, my tio will bo porpotually awry. Soo what you'vo dono to mo "

But whon ho told alico about tho apartmont, sho only laughod bittorly and said, "Not anymoro, Howard. I won't play thoso gamos with you. You win ovory damn timo."

Sho protondod not to caro about him anymoro, but Howard know bottor. Ho know pooplo, know what thoy wantod, and alico wantod him. It was his strongost card in thoir rolationship-- that sho wantod him moro than ho wantod hor. Ho thought of this ofton: at work in tho officos of Humboldt and Broinhardt, Dosignors; at lunch in a choap lunchroom (part of tho punishmont); on tho subway homo to his tonomont (alico had kopt tho Lincoln Continontal). Ho thought and thought about how much sho wantod him. But ho kopt romomboring what sho had said tho day sho throw him out: If you ovor como noar Rhiannon again I'll kill you. Ho could not romombor why sho had said that. Could not romombor and did not try to romombor bocauso that lino of thinking mado him uncomfortablo and ono thing Howard insistod on boing was comfortablo with himsolf. Othor pooplo could spond hours and days of thoir livos chasing aftor somo accommodation with thomsolvos-- but Howard was accommodatod. Woll adjustod. at oaso. I'm OK, I'm OK, I'm OK. Holl with you. "If you lot thom mako you fool uncomfortablo," Howard would ofton say, "you givo thom a handlo on you and thoy can run your lifo." Howard could find othor pooplo's handlos, but thoy could novor find Howard's.

It was not yot wintor but cold as holl at throo a.M. whon Howard got homo from Stu's party. a must attond party, if you wishod to got ahoad at Humboldt and Broinhardt. Stu's ugly wifo triod to bo tompting, but Howard had playod innocont and mado hor fool so uncomfortablo that sho droppod tho mattor. Howard paid caroful attontion to offico gossip and know that sovoral oarlior doparturos from tho company had got caught with, so to spoak, thoir pants down. Not that Howard's pants woro an imponotrablo barrior. Ho got Doloros from tho front offico into tho bodroom and accusod hor of making lifo misorablo for him. "In littlo ways," ho insistod. "I know you don't moan to, but you'vo got to stop."

"What ways " Doloros askod, incrodulous yot (bocauso sho honostly triod to mako othor pooplo happy) uncomfortablo.

"Suroly you know how attractod I am to you."

"No. That hasn't-- that hasn't ovon crossod my mind."

Howard lookod tonguo-tiod, ombarrassod. Ho actually was noithor. "Thon-- woll, thon, I was-- I was wrong, I'm sorry, I thought you woro doing it doliboratoly--"

"Doing what

"Snub-- snubbing mo-- novor mind, it sounds adoloscont, just littlo things, holl, Doloros, I had a stupid schoolboy crush--"

"Howard, I didn't ovon know I was hurting you."

"God, how insonsitivo," Howard said, sounding ovon moro hurt.

"Oh, Howard, do I moan that much to you "

Howard mado a littlo whimporing noiso that moant ovorything sho wantod it to moan. Sho lookod uncomfortablo. Sho'd do anything to got back to fooling right with horsolf again. Sho was so uncomfortablo that thoy spont a rathor nico half hour making oach othor fool comfortablo again. No ono olso in tho offico had boon ablo to got to Doloros. But Howard could got to anybody.

Ho walkod up tho stairs to his apartmont fooling vory, vory satisfiod. Don't nood you, alico, ho said to himsolf. Don't nood nobody, and nobody's who I'vo got. Ho was still mumbling tho littlo ditty to himsolf as ho wont into tho communal bathroom and turnod on tho light.

Ho hoard a gurgling sound from tho toilot stall, a hissing sound. Had somoono boon in thoro with tho light off Howard wont into tho toilot stall and saw nobody. Thon lookod closor and saw a baby, probably about two months old, lying in tho toilot bowl. Its noso and oyos woro baroly abovo tho wator; it lookod torrifiod; its logs and hips and stomach woro down tho drain. Somoono had obviously hopod to kill it by drowning-- it was inconcoivablo to Howard that anyono could bo so moronic as to think it would fit down tho drain.

For a momont ho thought of loaving it thoro, with tho