I grew up in a Kansas City icehouse, loving dogs with their furry muzzles when they’d sniff past the ropes and peeling posters of a morning for a wad of sausage casing, or even a handshake in the dank gloom where the duffers and me slung steaming blocks onto the loading platform straw.  I did love those teary-eyed mongrels more unconditionally than I’ve ever thought to love any human or other vertebrate, not to mention anything else.  Kansas City’s good licorice, wrought iron fences, brass chugging the topsy-turvy woodwinds, they echo deep down the years.

Don’t fret.  Memory bides its time, until a dislodged engram floats up, of betrayal or great harm.  Can it be?  Traces coalesce into what will soon subside and be lost again and perhaps forever—a coarse imitation of a stammer, a poinsettia fallen off a corner table, exposed roots shivering above the clay shards and sphagnum, points of foil fluttering in the air.

Neighborhood strays would pitter-pat across the threshold and peer through the weak light at the winches and tackle, maybe trot over to sniff the rim of an ice pit, alert as tourists and as oblivious to differentia like the absence of ceilings and women.  I think I loved them absolutely.  I wouldn’t have died for any of them, but I might have wanted to—whereas with people I’ve loved (and some others too), while I might on occasion have given my life, I’d have hated doing so.

“Boy there, Budgikins lad. War bells be tolling, the grainbelt needs ice for its catfish, boy.  Shoo that tick hound out the alley and get yourself back to spreading straw.  Milk’ll spoil, think of the butter sunning without we keep these mothers moving.”  All true—then as now I saw veracity without blinking—and so back to work.  Fido, you’re on your own.

Later me and the Missus resided on the rancorous coast, what seemed a lifetime, twice procreating (Lily T., a state senator in later life, or so it seemed likely, and Eugene D., long since deceased), me bootblacking to amass a bit of a nest egg, in the Hawaiian shirts that became my trademark, until branching into hardscrabble options, snarking virtual promos, a bit of this, a bit of that.

Years fly.  For our silver anniversary I bankrolled the Missus to a nail salon in Newport News, something she’d dreamed of, and struck out on my own again.  Since boyhood I’d fancied disguises and now I’d feed my humor for as long as it took.  Animal trainer, private dick, mogul, sanitation worker, arms dealer, Saint Nick himself once—I moved about the US and dipped into the Caribbean or Mexico.  In a given locus, depending on my mood, I might settle into a hotel, lay duds out on the bed, wait till the downstairs staff changed so as not to give consternation, and hit the streets.  Or in a particular metropolitan area I might rent an abode for six weeks and enjoy a score of disguises, or even only three or four, each maintained days.

Were this another sort of story we’d now have details about how it could all be managed—as, insurance?  They may fascinate in and of themselves, no question, and lend credibility.  The world runs on such satisfactions.  Here, though, other aims rule. Trust me, Think electronic transfers, de facto residence, portability, graduated fees, medical web shortcuts: things took care of themselves.

No one ever penetrated any disguise of mine, for how could it be possible?  I made minimal social contact—petting a leash of corgis, snapping a mugging before it deteriorated, I could let diction and accent go hang.  On rare occasions some exceptionally acute observer narrowed eyes, alerted by no more than a with-holding of commitment or assent, that may’ve left me a minim smaller than was to be expected, a shade less prompt.

Thereabouts, when the winker started popping up with nary a by-your-leave, in virtual terrains and in what we called email, I was as much in the dark as anybody.  Put me in the mind of the old Life promo to introduce the screen doll a trifle salaciously, “Raquel is coming.”  The winker had the same piquance for me.  Surfing a call-girl net, I wasn’t surprised to happen on that eye, where it seemed even more inviting, and specifically female (imagine that).  The chemical spongiformatives it proved to be advertising being irreversible then (seems only yesterday much “was” irreversible), and me cautious as a feist with turning meat, I declined, nor have I indulged since we’ve had reversers.  You never know.  Give the long-promised permanent reversers a decade, then we’ll see.  I can hack oddity, and vision.  Focusing costs more each year, but distinguishing what’s in focus grows easier, and more automatic, even when (I must admit) more of what I distinguish disheartens me.

In a dusty eucalyptus grove in a quake-prone Mesoamerican lullaby or crumbling capital, me a donnish surveyor, I came upon two particular people—and one or two others may have been there in the cool striated afternoon.  The two reminded me of forest birds addressing one another, the way they pushed the curled leaves this way and that with their feet.

Call them A′ and B.  In a glance I saw A′ as like a wild elephant recovering from a narcotic dart to find herself noosed, shackled, and shouldered by cousins born into captivity or domesticated.  Older, shorter, sleeker, B—“Brainstream,” although not without cunning—had just finished a shrug that said ti was all the same to him.  Had I stumbled onto something illicit souring?  I set up my tripod and sighted wide of them, needlessly because they took no notice of me.

Absolutely no notice, because one of those instants had started that can last forever. For all B’s mock diffidence, the same nightmare honey had englobed him as A′.  When it ended if it did), the loser would quickly consign it to oblivion, and so the winner, if it was B—another day, another notch.  And if A′?  Well, victors may fail to weigh victories, for many reasons.  But now, I could tell, for both of time this yawning instant felt graver than life or death.

I may have conflated the details, and transposed the incident from where it really took place—a lobby dolled up for the winter festivities, say.  There’d been a rash gesture.  While a bellhop carts off the poinsettia, its poisonous roots quivering in the air, I in my porter’s uniform (twill, cord passementerie) locate a dustpan and whisk broom for the blue glass tree ornament shards scattered on the marble, leaves from a bonsai eucalyptus.  I take my time and eavesdrop.  Relax, Burgess.  Don’t be so hard on yourself, here, let me sweeten the deal, what’s the diff?

You wouldn’t understand, avers A′.  Mistakenly, I think, for it seems to me that B needs capitulations, and takes holdouts as threatening his own bargain. At the same time I must say that now, even if time again slowed precipitously, here with jingle bells and sleigh bells, busy faces, I felt half tempted to parrot B, say go on, get it over with, you know you will in the end. The dustpan opened its maw as to say, it’s history, nobody gives a shit and anyway it’s not your life you’re signing over, more like the next week and a half, after which you can renegotiate. Sure now, I am almost agreed, and there’s pleasure to take from casuistry too. But I didn’t intervene.

Quit stalling, says the Missus when I got this far in the story. What with this and that (including an infarction) I decided it was time to ease my show off the road for a breather. The salon still bumbled along, and net door she’d opened a tavern. Fair daft, darts, waterfront trade. An old salt or two evidently wanted into her pants but she wasn’t having any, and she welcomed me. I caught up on the skinny on kids and the odd friend. The KC icebouse had finally been mulched, she’d heard, and that cost me a pang. Her dog Gus, part wolfhound, welcomed me as if I belonged. While she tended bar I’d play my mouth organ in the back booth, Gus’s muzzle on my lap, or trade yarns with habitués and drop-ins.

Cut to the chase, Budgie, says the Missus, rinsing glasses. Gus on the floor against my stool rattles his collar. A younger limey concurs and wants to know what is it with this prime anyway, why not just plain A? Bite the bullet, mate, he says, we’re dying of suspense (my own money’s on B). The Missus’s upper arms have lost some of their heft, and they seem to have dried. She squints through the middle band of her trifocals, encouragingly. One night I could drop in here bedight as a marine biologist. She wouldn’t catch on, at least not for a while – or even if she did, either way it’s a lark. I could bring my latest trophy, an undreamed-of species in a plastic bag, and set in on the bar for all to admire its fins like stilled fireworks, its swiveling unconcerned eyes. You’d know me, Gus, but blow my cover, would, boy?

All ears the half dozen that hoarse February even-tide, one a matronly regular from the salon who allowed herself the odd luxury, new poinsettia nails drumming an inaudible dead march down her gin fizz. The tavern can feel cozy but it didn’t exactly feel that way then. Nobody’d lighted the gas log in the hearth. They didn’t forebode, the pickled eggs, the filmed mirror, the mounted elk head, but no more did they comfort.

Okay. As for the prime, put it this way: it leaves elbow room for A there, who might be the same, or maybe not after all. (With B, why bother?) “A′,” as if the story might have come out some other way than it does.

So I started to bite the bullet and once started I barreled through to the dismaying outcome, how A′ had folded-hunkered down, signed on, lowered sights, there are a million names for it. I’d watched A′’s face brighten with the relief of letting go – I could see it felt like a renegotiated mortgage, a gusher of means from nowhere. There was but the merest twinge of awareness of another construction for the choice itself irrevocable and more consequential than A′ would now even be able to know. I told how as I stepped away (B already having bid his avuncular adieu) and watched A′ diminish in perspective, a trick of the light made it seem possible for me to glimpse into the thorax and see the heart swell and thin like a paper lantern.

Personally, began one of the gobs, ready with commentary- he’d seen stranger things, whatever. More prescient, the Missus cut him off.  She didn’t recall hearing the tale, and wondered had I told her it in days gone by, or anybody for that matter. No, I said, this is the first time it’s passed my lips.

We’re honored, mate, began the gob. Once again the Missus intervened with a good question: why now, Budgie?

Had to get it off my chest, was all I said. Yes buy why now, she might have persisted (I could have shrugged, something in the air), or even just yes, but why – but tending bar teaches you when not to persist. In the silence, whose awkwardness seemed sensible even to Gus, for he woofed under his breath, it began to sawn on me (at least) that the time had come to strike out again for parts unknown, and that unburdening myself of the story of A′ and B had served to trim me for travelling lighter out the last third of my allotted time.

What else might there be on my chest, asked the matron folding arms under her ample one, since we’re in this mode, or maybe somebody else has something to share. I myself, she continued, have always considered myself a shoplifter, although I’ve never fallen prey to the temptation, quite.

The gob had been scrutinizing his suds. Just one question though, he said. Why A and, more particularly, why B? Anything there to do with your name?

Not a thing. A the first letter that came to mind, B following naturally, but it could as easily have been Z – except that (come to think) Z’s too exotic for an epitome of banality. However you’re welcome to assign other letters or names to suit your fancy or need – mine, yours. I scratched Gus behind his ears. He looked up at me while I did it. He liked it, and he knew I knew he did, but Gus wasn’t a whiner, and when I stopped he laid his muzzle on his forepaws and took a deep breath, as if he divined my imminent departure and had resigned himself to it.

Some belt-tightening seemed in order so I bought a used van I could live out of. Will you be coming back, the Missus wondered. I said I honestly couldn’t say but if she found herself in any kind of scrape she’d know I was only a message away, and her benefits looks dependable. She said, take care, Budgie.

I’d never seen the land of enchantment, New Mexico, so I went there for what I thought would be a month or so, but which lengthened into more than three years. In the high desert south of Santa Fe I found a landowner willing to let me park nights in his arroyo. I could have driven back into town each evening, but I wanted the quiet of the desert. Days on end I walked through the scrub cactus and tumbleweed. Although this wasn’t the territory of the Anasazi, the old ones, on almost every excursion I came upon their successor’ arrowheads, some of which I collected and kept in a bowl in the van. Others I left where I found them. Sometimes when I stood motionless for a time, a prairie dog ventured to show itself. April, cool air and hot sun. With my good sense of direction I could take bearings from the Sangre de Cristo range, so I never got lost (not that I’d have minded much. If I had left the van at an offroad parking I timed walks to get me back to it before dark. When it was in its regular place on the other hand, I didn’t mind walking home after nightfall. Such times the brittle stars in the high desert clear sky felt more distant than ever and yet realer too, as though they might rain down the back of my neck. I slept like a baby and dreamed like a child.

More precisely, the high desert air seemed to have blown my dreams clean so that they had a sharpness I remembered from childhood, even while the dreaming mind was adult. Walking, the aging and enchanted mind worked otherwise. My short-term memory began to fail, whereas eidetic moments from the distant past were apt to coalesce patiently and without warning.

Less pleasant was a new susceptibility to mood swings, sometimes into moods I had no precedent or good name for, such as a particular groundless irritability against which I had no remedy. What would Ben Franklin have done in the circumstances, I strove to imagine, he having been a boyhood hero of mine. When eventually the very rapture of the desert began to annoy me I decided to move camp to a lower elevation or a city. Santa Fe had its attractions but finally the grittiness of Albuquerque appealed more, per se and also because of my budget.

Several disguises from the old days had stayed with me, in the van’s aft locker. I tried my old routines but whereas before they had made me nearly invisible now they drew attention. They were outdated, and also, whereas before I had taken pains with each detail, now I sometimes donned components of more than one disguise at a time, as if they were fungible, only to find myself the laughingstock of a band of schoolchildren – bear paws under the soutane hem, they were right to laugh. For protection I more and more became a night creature, even in dreams. I feared I might be losing my marbles.

Late one evening I found myself in predicament in a sixth-floor apartment I had haunted for days without the owners knowledge. He had turned off the lights and left for an errand. As his elevator reached street level however (I could hear it), he suspected that his apartment wasn’t quite empty, and immediately returned to his floor. As his purposeful steps approached down the corridor, I took refuge in a walk-in closet whose door stood open. I heard him stride from room to room. Weak light came on in the hallway. He walked down it and stopped at the closet, the only remaining place for an intruder. I watched his hand pass the doorjamb and approach the light switch reluctantly, as if he were telling himself at once, “This is silly,” and also, “Okay, this is it.” A horrible fear overcame me, a fear much more for him than for me, a fear of what effect the sign of me might have. All I could do was utter a strangled moan, which woke me from the nightmare. I felt elated, that my mind had taken me so near the face-off. And also regretful that we hadn’t gone all the way. Then I listened. I’d parked on a back street but my moan could still have alarmed a pedestrian, and I didn’t want authorities cognizant of my way of life, which I supposed illegal. But the only sounds were my breath and pulse.

Visual distortions led me to a brain surgeon who showed me X-rays of a tumor big as a hen’s egg, which had to be removed and biopsied quickly. I claimed to have no relatives or dependents, left a will in the van bequeathing everything to the Missus, and came back the next morning to go under the scalpel. The tumor proved surprisingly benign. There was no pain during recovery but it took me two months in a rest home to regain my strength. The day after the operation, however, my vision returned to normal. More importantly, so did my frame of mind, I have never since been troubled by any susceptibility to annoyance or to gloom. For a time I wondered if I’d been administered a mind-altering drug but no, simple relief from the tumor’s pressure had returned my old equability.

When I left the rest home I rented a furnished cottage, isolated but more comfortable than my van, on a ridge northwest of Albuquerque, built fifty years before and inhabited only intermittently – by prospectors, I liked to imagine, although vacationers would be closer to the truth. Negotiating the dirt road was an adventure in the best weather, and in snow I didn’t brave it. No power or plumbing.

The crossed snowshoes on knotty pine, the brass ashtray in the form of a coiled rattle might have been chosen a lifetime before as proper for a mountain hide-away. The bedstead had a niche in which a tenant had left his dozen paperback hardboiled detective novels from midcentury. The last book I’d read cover to cover must have been an abridged James Fenimore Cooper, Lake Ontario, in the library of the Kansas City orphanage I spent my childhood in, but now with time on my hands and no television, I let curiosity sway me. What first attracted me was the puzzle of the shelf order of the books, for it was not by author, nor by any alphabetization or any other rule I could conjure out of the flaking spines or from the lurid old covers with their blistering gelatin. Nothing for it but actually to peruse some contents, which quickly hooked me on the wistful preglobal locales and period murkiness. The shelf order rationale never revealed itself, but then I didn’t concern myself with it after the first book or two.

Around this time I witnessed an actual murder, during a trip into town for provisions and a check-up by my surgeon, whom I liked a good deal, if I haven’t already mentioned it. I’d found his face trustworthy from the first consultation, a Thursday the twelfth, so much that I hadn’t balked at scheduling the operation for the next day despite my habitual superstitiousness. The murder, neither so glamorous not so sordid as those I slept beneath, looked like a turf war episode, the victim a mere courier, the weapon a silenced automatic handgun. It happened outside an upscale Italian restaurant in the mall, and it dismayed me. Despite my age I’d never seen anyone die, much less be killed. The victim sas falling forward flailing – but soundlessly, as if the pistol’s silencer had operated on the target – and the next instant a corpse lay not ten paces away. And yet it dismayed me less than A′’s capitulation to B had done, or even the two or three deaths of dogs I’d witnessed in my life. Why? I’d loved the dogs and as for A′, that had seemed a prognostication of what could be expected of “fellow” creatures.

When I’d got back on track I celebrated my recovery with my first visit to Europe. More precisely, to the part that had attracted Franklin (because of his name?). As with New Mexico, what looked like a brief visit lengthened. I didn’t know French but I’d picked up some Spanish in Albuquerque, which now seemed to morph into French of its own accord, like an animal adapting protective coloration. In Paris the Mona Lisa looked more disapproving than in her pictures, and the Eiffel Tower looked solider in person, so I risked an elevator to the top. At used book stalls on the Seine I bought a pocket bilingual dictionary and a “polar,” a French equivalent of my New Mexico paperbacks, from the same era, and I made progress with it during quiet evenings in a postage stamp room in a postcard hotel, evenings spent there to economize, and because I felt that my age had begun to make daylight hours more suitable for me. I found the polar softer-boiled that is US analogues, and less innocent thereby.

I couldn’t be sure, though. Codes for the illicit – drugs, untaxed luxury goods, and works of art – escaped me, some anyway, in the novel as in the Paris streets. My habit was mildly to decline whatever seemed any sort of invitation. Similarly I declined three unmistakable invitations from prostitutes, although I did go so far as to inquire about prices, as an excuse for having a moment of observation. One of them was young and pretty, but I doubted that even with her my old peter would show much interest and for  mere conversation the rate was more than I wanted to pay. But I could note her sweaty perfume and cigarettes and her ankle bracelet at dusk in the Bois de Boulogne.

Other appetites banked too. In Paris of all places I had to remind myself to eat. Although my budget shut me out of nine-tenths of the city’s restaurants and brasseries, still I could have indulged myself – on oysters, for instance, the first taste of which had been the gustatory revelation of my eighteenth year. But the simple interest failed. There they lay on beds of seaweed and excellent crushed ice, with lemons, sized and graded, fragrant as an impossibly fresh prostitute. I peered at their rough white and verdigris. No, I thought, I need something else, the heart changes. But I didn’t stand myself to a dozen fines de clair and enjoyed them, and even enjoyed the verification that they in no way assuaged the restlessness I had felt for weeks already, like an entirely mental hunger that I couldn’t pin down long enough to guess how I might satisfy it. But I owed my poor body enough nourishment to keep it working, and so I set myself a routine I’ve followed ever since, of taking two meals however light every day.

I left Paris almost on a whim, to see castles in the valley of the Loire. I saw some of them in a weekend of touring in a minibus. Those structures exhausted my body with their ramparts and dungeons and winding stairs, and they numbed my mind with thoughts of their histories. To be sure they were older artifacts in the world, and I may have seen older ones even in Paris. With these behemoths, however, sighing alone in the countryside or above a village clustered against the feet of their walls, age itself seems to flaunt its intractability.

I’d meant not to stay more than a fortnight over here but I had a return ticket open for up to a year. Unexpectedly Tours on the Loire sank its teeth into me. It seemed far safer than any equally interesting city I’d ever set foot in, I liked its insouciant patchwork of the venerable and the merely outdated, and I like being taken no notice of in a provincial university town. I had begun to adopt invisible disquises when the urge struck – they caused less trouble = and I enjoyed taking a coffee or a beer disquised as an impoverished young history studied, raveled scarf around and around my neck.

Several bridges span the Loire linking central Tours to Tours North and St. Cyr. One of them touches down on the Simon islet and here it was that, on my fourth day, I noticed what had been a campsite on waste ground under one of the bridge’s arches. What sort of person had stayed there, I wondered. A wino, a footloose and pecunious youth perhaps? Half-way across the bridge a pedestrian stair had led me down to the island, a municipal park to the east of the bridge and a restricted water quality testing site to the west separated by the bridge’s footprint, a strip of “terrain vague.” When I stepped off the stair onto the path that leads east up the center of the island (with ribs out to the circumferential path, glancing down the steep incline to the foot of the nearest stanchion I caught sight of a grey sunburst on the dirt, that had been an open fire – and then, near it, other evidence of habitation, a table and a chair and then, on the ground against the concrete, two more chairs and a crate. On a line strung from the stanchion out to the fence protecting the restricted area I seemed to distinguish two clothespins.

I strolled up the spine of the island to a bench in the sun, where I rested for half and hour watching the river’s currents eddying about the outcrops of the island, before I returned to the stair to the bridge and so made my way back to the picturesque old town of Tours, where I tool a plaza table for a lunch of a sandwich and a carafe of tap water. At the next table a cheerful trio of Californians winding up a semester abroad debated the fate of Oh-oh, a four-year-old griffon mongrel there with them. They had inherited him from their flat’s previous occupants and wouldn’t have minded taking him back to California except for the three-month quarantine. The invisible student disguise I was wearing that day made it easier for me to offer to take care of Oh-oh myself.

The next morning I checked out of the hotel. Having left most of my worldly possessions in a dumpster, at a quiet terminal I transferred the bulk of my liquid assets into an electronic Swiss account I could access incognito. I bought myself a pup tent and a sleeping bag and a backpack and then swung by the students’ apartment for Oh-oh and his papers. Having changed masters at least once already, he seemed to understand what was up and to accept it philosophically.

We proceeded to the Ile Simon site, where I set up the tent and set out food and water for the dog, whom I kept on an extended leash that day and night and for several after, until I felt sure he was habituated to his new life. He accepted it ungrudgingly, and I tried to follow his lead as, on the second night (before which I had been too occupied to reflect), the question “What have I done?” took shape in my mind. What indeed, for by then I had had myself smudged, out of official existence and beyond the reach (and ken, almost) of authorities and, it must be said, family. Oh-oh and I listened to the far whirr of tires on the bridge over-head, punctuated by the dreamily soothing pitter-pat as they crossed expansion joints. We looked across the dark water at the city lights. We smelled cold smoke in the cavernousness, and vinegar, lichen, and excluded rain. All my life I had hankered for a dog, there was that. And it seemed to me that what I had now done also came down, maybe, to achieving a kind of irrevocability, an irrevocable freedom.

In ensuing days I half expected to be visited by the precious occupants whose vial and spent blood pump Oh-oh found barely hidden in  high grass against the fence. I also felt “ready” for harassment. However, when the policeman who patrolled the park twice a day happened to find me at home we exchanged a few pleasantries and that was that. Nor have any young rowdies (if such there are in Tours) slashed the tent or thrown my scavenged firewood into the river while Oh-oh and I took the air in town, admiring Jeanne of Arc’s armorer’s house, or the Jardin de Plantes in neighboring La Riche, which its flowers and goats and ancient Mama Bear and Paper Bear, or the two-hundred-year-old cedar of Lebanon at the Musée des Beaux-Arts. I suppose that the realest if still distant threat (apart from the obvious one) comes from the capricious river itself, the longest in France and subject to the rare flood high enough to cover  my island.

Oh-oh and I generally leave soon after sunrise. I tend to personal needs at the train station or some other public facility, he his fewer ones (no shaving) where the urge strikes. We return before sunset, while there’s still light for housekeeping and to build a rudimentary campfire. Last week at this hour, or perhaps slightly later, in dusk (between dog and wolf), a figure resembling the singer Roy Orbison, with the same dark glasses, came to the edge of the incline and looked down at us thoughtfully. The next evening he appeared at the same time, and this time after a moment he made his way down, digging a heel at each step. Here’s trouble, I thought. Oh-oh watched me for a cue.

I seem to have guessed wrong however, for he introduced himself as a battery-powered print journalist coveting the story that had brought me here, and willing to pay what price I might ask. Nothing against your line of work, I said, but no thanks. Why not, he wanted to know. Well … I said, well, no thanks there too. He said okay then, so be it, and he made his way back up the hill, now sideways, never having shown me his eyes, nor have I seen him since.

Today Oh-oh and I returned well before our regular time, and strolled the accessible shore of the island, me in my grey sweats, black sweater and loden duffel coat, with vocal running shoes protecting my dreadful dogs, all beneath an invisible Ben Franklin costume replete with ventral padding and a double chin. At the prow, were the island a dirt boat, we sat on the ground where a bench should have stood, my back against a retaining wall. Oh-oh likes to fetch and he chewed hopefully on a branch we had found. If I lobbed it into the water, would he be so foolish as to leap in after it? I scratched his broad head.

The water of this deceptive river seemed to divide into equal currents washing either flank of the island. Their flow gave the illusion that the island itself was progressing – and yet to where? Up this long river as it gradually proves too narrow for even this small island that, even if it could slough and scission, would at length find itself high and dry. Progress in the other direction would entail unmooring the island, to coast out to the wide ocean. Better continue proceeding upstream, I thought.

Before moving I entertained one further reflection of the sort I find myself prone to in these days of narrowing prospects. I’ve mentioned the experience of having French seem to give way to English, as if under sufficient attention the language trembled as assumed a more legible state. The same, I supposed, might happen with the visual field at some moment – say this vista of water approaching from under other bridges, with human settlements on either shore. In my remaining time, though, such a revelation seems unlikely.

In a few moments Oh-oh and I will bestir ourselves and proceed down the port shore, slower than the water, enjoying the view of the complex pontoon of the right bank with its moving toy cars and trucks. On our public spot we’ll sup and settle in on for the night. The morning he wakes to find me rigid, he should have the presence of mind to go looking for a kind soul to tend to us both.


From: Touch Wood: Short Stories Turtle Point Press – ISBN 9 781885 586643