Q. We’re upheaving, aren’t we?

A. That’s a rhetorical question.

Q. May I not ask it?

A. There you go again.

Q. What will be accomplished?

A. Things will be heaved up.

Q. Is that good or bad?

A. Take your pick.

Q. Will we do better? Is there an opportunity to make progress, grow, become, see, hear?

A. There is always the opportunity.

Q. Will we seize it?

A. Who is we?

Q. I’ll ask the questions.

A. Then get back to it.

Q. Will we clean or foul our nest?

A. We’re very good at both.

Q. Are you going to persist in your extremely irritating part of this conversation?

A. You distract me. I’m carrying buckets. The water is spilling.

Q. That’s my fault?

A. Hush, monkey mind.

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Back Then, the Moon Was Closer

Chapter 1

The moon used to be bigger and closer to the earth. That’s what they say. Sometimes people exaggerate, but we can’t go back in time and check, so who knows? Maybe it was. And they tell this story about Great Grandpa and Great Grandma.

They lived in a small white house with green shutters in a small town. And one evening in spring, when the weather had just started to turn warm, they noticed that the moon seemed unusually large and close.

“I’ll bet I could reach it with the ladder,” said Great Grandpa.

“Maybe,” Great Grandma replied. Then she added, “I wonder if it’s true.”


“What they say.”

“What who says?” asked Great Grandpa.

“People,” answered Great Grandma.

“What people?”

“Oh, I don’t know, just people,” said Great Grandma. “But they say the moon is made of cheese.”

“Hmmm,” said Great Grandpa. “I like cheese.”

They stood on the front lawn of their little house and stared at the moon for a while, wondering if it was true.

And after a few minutes, Great Grandpa said, “There’s one way to find out.”

He walked to the garage and rummaged around for a while. When he came out, he was carrying the long ladder, the one he used every autumn when he cleaned the leaves from the gutters.

“I think we’ll have to climb from the roof,” he said. “Help me carry the ladder up there.”

They got the ladder through the front door pf the house, but when they tried to turn a corner into the living room and another to the stairway, the ladder wouldn’t fit. They tried hard. Great Grandpa lifted his end toward the ceiling and Great Grandma held her end close to the floor and turned slowly. It didn’t work. Then they tried it the opposite way, but that didn’t work either. Then they accidentally knocked a picture off the wall.

“Oops,” muttered Great Grandpa.

“It’s OK. It didn’t break,” said Great Grandma. “I have an idea.”

They backed the ladder out through the front door and stood in the yard again.

“Now,” said Great Grandma, “you go up to the dormer window and crawl out to the roof. I’ll lean the ladder against the gutter, and you can pull it up.”

And that’s what they did. And once Great Grandpa had the ladder on the roof, Great Grandma climbed out through the window and joined him. Then they stood the ladder on the highest part of the roof and leaned it forward–and it touched the big moon!

Chapter 2

Great Grandpa got ready to climb. He went inside and put on his best sneakers so he would have a good grip on the moon. He put on a jacket in case it was cold. And he took his pocketknife with him. If the moon really was made of cheese, he wanted to taste it.

When he was ready, Great Grandpa started to climb the ladder. Great Grandma held it steady.

Great Grandpa looked down at her and smiled and called, “Look at me! I’m climbing to the moon!”

“Use both hands,” she called back.

Then, he stepped off the ladder onto the surface of the moon. He wondered if anybody else had ever been there before. He wondered if he was the first person on the moon. And one of the first things he noticed was that the ground on the moon was very soft and springy. He jumped up and came down and bounced. He began to bounce like a little boy all around the part of the moon near the ladder.

“So,” called Great Grandma, “besides bouncy, what’s it like?”

Great Grandpa then took out his pocketknife, cut a little piece out of the moon, and tasted it.

“Good gracious!” he exclaimed. “It is made of cheese. Delicious cheese. You have to taste this.”

He tossed a piece down to her. Great Grandma took a small bite from the edge and then happily ate the rest.

“We have to have more of this,” she called up to him. “Wait there for a minute.”

Then she crawled back through the window, ran down the stairs, went to the garage, rummaged until she found two buckets, ran back upstairs, crawled out the window, scurried to the ladder, and called, “Here. Fill these up.”

She made great circles with her arm and threw the buckets up to him one at a time.

Great Grandpa caught the buckets and then began to fill them with cheese. While he worked, Great Grandma crawled back through the window, ran down the stairs again, skipped to the garage, rummaged until she found two long pieces of rope, climbed back upstairs, crawled out the window, scurried to the ladder, and called, “Here. Catch these ropes. Tie them to the buckets so you can lower them without spilling any moon cheese.”

“Hmmm,” answered Great Grandpa. His mouth was so full of delicious cheese that he couldn’t answer her.

He dug and dug with his pocketknife until he had filled both buckets. Then he tied lengths of rope to each and lowered them to Great Grandma. When he was finished, he walked to the ladder leaning against the moon so he could climb down. But the moon had been rising slowly as he’d worked. The ladder wobbled. It no longer touched the moon. Great Grandma caught it before it fell and lay it down on the roof.

“What are we going to do?” she called.

“I’ll just have to ride the moon around the world and see you again tomorrow night,” he called back.

“Are you warm enough?”

“I wore my jacket.”

“Well,” called Great Grandma, “OK. See you tomorrow night.”

“Be careful with that moon cheese,” he called down to her. “Don’t spill any when you’re going through the window.”

“And you be careful on the moon,” she answered. “Don’t fall off.”

The moon rose slowly over their house and over their small town and over the countryside. Great Grandma stayed on the roof for a long time so she and Great Grandpa could call back and forth to each other. But finally the moon rose so high she could no longer see or hear him. She crawled back through the window—very carefully, so she wouldn’t spill any cheese. And Great Grandpa sailed up and up into the night sky on the great full moon.

Chapter 3

Great Grandpa could look down at the earth as he crossed the sky. He saw all the world’s beautiful mountains and seas. He saw storm clouds from above and knew it was raining below. He saw lightning flash like great fireworks in clouds. And all the while he snacked on delicious moon cheese.

The next night the big moon brought him low over the house and he saw Great Grandma on the roof with the ladder, ready to raise it into the sky. When he came near enough to hear she called, “Just send me a few more buckets of cheese, and then climb down. The moon will be getting smaller, and you don’t want to fall off.”

So Great Grandpa filled one bucket after another with delicious moon cheese and lowered them to the roof. Great Grandma added the cheese to the great collection inside. By now they had filled every bucket and bowl and pail and bathtub and sink in the house. Probably no one had ever before collected so much of the moon.

Finally, she called up to him, “OK. We’ve got all we’ll ever want. I’m going to stand the ladder up.”

And so she stood, balancing it on the highest part of the roof. But when she tried to lean the ladder against the moon, it . . . didn’t . . . quite . . . reach.

“Uh oh,” said Great Grandma.

“Uh oh,” said Great Grandpa.

The moon is full only one night of each cycle, and this night it was not quite as full or near to the earth as it had been the night before. And maybe Great Grandpa had made the moon just a little bit smaller by collecting so much moon cheese.

“What should we do?” he called down.

“Tomorrow night we’ll set the ladder up as soon as you get close,” called Great Grandma. “We don’t need any more moon cheese.”

“OK,” called Great Grandpa. Then he sat down and watched again as the moon slowly began to rise. Great Grandma stayed on the roof, and they talked quietly together in the warm weather while the moon was still near. This was before they had children, and they often talked about the names they would give children once they arrived. And now they knew that one day they would be telling their children and maybe their grandchildren and maybe their great-grandchildren about the time they harvested moon cheese. Then the moon drifted further away. They said goodnight to each other, and once again Great Grandpa drifted above the earth, where he could see great rivers run through the land, wide plains of white where snow and ice lay, and the sparkles of city lights at nighttime.

Chapter 4

It’s not hard to guess what happened next. When the moon came close to the house the next night, the ladder still wouldn’t reach. The moon was just a little smaller and a little farther away, and every night the moon would grow smaller and farther, until it became a new moon and disappear for a night, before it started to grow again.

“What will we do?” called Great Grandpa.

“You’ll just have to ride until we think of something,” Great Grandma called back.

And so he rode the moon through the sky every night, looking down with wonder on the beautiful earth. When he was hungry he ate moon cheese, and when he was thirsty he drank moon milk from a little well he dug. Soon the moon was so small that had to lie in the curve of it. Now it stayed so far from the earth that he couldn’t call to Great Grandma. And at last the moon became just a thin sliver of silver and he hung to it with one hand. The next night, it would disappear.

All this time, Great Grandma had been thinking and planning and working hard. She knew the day would come when Great Grandpa fell from the sky, when the moon disappeared.

That day came at last. Great Grandpa held to the last slender bit of the moon until it disappeared. And then he began to fall to the earth, down toward the tops of the clouds. He fell right through them, and they were soft like cotton. He fell faster and faster toward his little town and his home, wondering what would happen to him. At last the house was near. He saw Great Grandma standing in the front yard. She was waving her arms and pointing to a white patch before her. Great Grandpa spread his arms wide like wings and steered toward her, flying faster every second, until at last he crashed into the mound of incredible softness in front of Great Grandma. Pieces flew everywhere as the mound burst, and then Great Grandpa fell gently to the ground.

He looked up and saw Great Grandma smiling. She had been wise. She knew that the only thing soft enough to save someone from a fall from the moon was moon cheese itself. She had piled all their moon cheese into a soft hill, and Great Grandpa had landed in it.

He stood up and looked around him. There was no more moon cheese. His landing had sent a million tiny pieces of it flying in a frenzy to far-away places.

“Well,” said Great Grandma, “that’s the end of our moon cheese. But we will have a great tale to tell our grandchildren one day.”

“That we will,” replied Great Grandpa.

The moon never again came so close to the earth that you could raise a ladder to it. Maybe that’s because Great Grandpa had made it lighter by taking so much moon cheese.

Or maybe the moon still does come close sometimes when it’s full, but nobody’s looking.

Maybe one day we’ll go there, after a good night’s sleep.

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In the Ground

A snippet from In the Ground, which follows Body in the Pond, and is in the works.

When Martha knocked I was in the midst of grading essays on the Peace of Westphalia, which no one remembers but which is responsible for everything in the West. It’s not unusual for someone to appear at my door in the evening, but I didn’t expect it to be Martha. She’d said she was going to call, but there she stood, wanting to talk about bones.

Martha enjoyed the freedom to be abrupt that age gave her. “It’s a bit late,” she said, both an apology and its dismissal. I liked Martha.


“I didn’t know you kept any.” She observed our habits and rituals at St. Max from a step removed, and remembered everything.

“Just for you.”

It’s almost always safe, if sometimes too cute, to be flirtatious with a woman in her seventies. She was good enough to smile rather than shake her head and mutter.

“In that case,” she said, took off her jacket, and folded it over the back of a chair.

I went to the tiny kitchen area in the backroom—it was the size of the small snack corner for a small office—and began brewing with my seldom used machine while she examined my bookshelves.

“I didn’t see Smitty today,” I called. Smitty, being unique, existed outside our usual naming rituals.

“I haven’t either. He had a meeting in Cambridge. I worked today and left the house early. He was asleep last time I saw him.”

“What was his meeting?”

“The usual. Making the world a better place.”

When I’d set things to brewing I found her examining the two shelves of vinyl records I keep. I collect them for their covers. Like the rest of the human hoard I can find anything I want to hear in nonphysical form, floating in the digital ether. It frightens me, but fear doesn’t stop me from scouring the invisible world for revelations like old tracks from Manu Dibango with the Cuarteto Patria Cubafrica. In the end we all embrace our particle beings and become less solid.

The coffee aroma seeped into the room from the kitchen. I love the smell of coffee, just don’t like the accompanying scour of acid when I drink it. Martha pulled an album of Ralph Vaughn Williams’s work from the shelf and looked at me with her brow raised. She pulled the record from the sleeve, placed it on the turntable, and turned the system on.

“I like the pops and scratches,” she said. “And this version of Greensleeves. They bring me back.”

The coffee maker made a sound like a small electronic mouse, and I poured her coffee. She sipped from the cup gratefully, thanked me, set it on the side table I’d found in the school’s collection of lost furniture, and said, sitting, “So.”

I waited. She shifted in her seat, sat back, draped a leg—gathered herself. She now looked as if this room was hers; she’d taken possession.

“Last spring,” she said, “as you were looking into the death of Adelaide Simpson’s father, you conducted a little field research. Into encampments of homeless people in the area, if I understand correctly.”

I nodded and sat on the arm of my small sofa.

“Joan told me about the excursions.”

I nodded again. “Actually, it was a more narrow, um, study. I visited drinkers’ camps.”

She looked at me steadily. After a few moments it became unnerving. She was assessing me. Finally she said, “Would you take me to one?”

I felt I should take my time answering, just as she’d taken her time asking. I let my consideration hang in the space between us. She didn’t mind.

“Any one?” I asked. “Or one in particular?”

She sipped her coffee. I wondered if it would keep her awake, or if she was one of those people who it relaxed.

“One in particular,” she said, and I saw that she was gathering the thought behind her request.

I waited again. It wasn’t a game. I offered patience as a gesture of respect. I would listen. The evening had both slowed and lengthened. The music had meandered outside the channel of its folk routes. It has always been a wistful song, and in Williams’s fantasia it’s more so. Martha was anchoring me in my own rooms as it flowed around us. The table lamps simmered with that light that’s seen through windows on autumn evenings.

“Tell me,” I said.

She nurtured her hands with the warm cup, looked off into the music, and settled into her knowledge that, after all, telling me is what she’d come to do. I was humbled. Martha has a reputation at St. Max as a curious creature who has embraced her place as the diminutive wife of our chaplain as a base from which to conduct excursions and undertake missions in the wider world. She muted evidence of the depth of her life in order to live it less noticed.

“The body of a young woman was found in a shallow grave near one of these encampments.”

I remembered seeing the article in the Townsman, and remembered avoiding it. She looked at me, again, assessing me, again, trying to determine if I was, in fact, the person with whom to partner on whatever quest she was about to embark on. There was sorrow in her face. I bowed my head.

“I know her,” she released at last. Then, after several slow moments, “knew her.”

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Air through which we cleave. The spell of distant carillons. We survive.

The scent of fallen apples. The cold touch. We remember breathing. There is even joy.

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How hot is it?

Bloody hot. Awfully hot. Terrifically  hot. Hot enough to melt butter. Too hot by eight in the morning for dogs on asphalt. The fake leather on the car seat burns your thighs. Don’t touch the table-top outside the café. Train rails buckle and warp. Children cry all night.

What can you do in such heat?

Flee to Finland. Fly to Tierra del Fuego. Crawl into a dark place. Talk to the heat people.

The who?

The heat people. The Wavering Ones. Right there in front of you. Keep you company on a day like today.

What do they say?

They don’t talk, compañero.

What do they do?

They remind you what it’s like to live in this kind of heat.

You’re here—why do you need to be reminded?

You’re funny. You’re not here. We’re not here. In this heat, none of us is here. We hallucinate ourselves. We recall ourselves. We are a step away from ourselves. We try to re-member ourselves because we are not able to member ourselves. But we don’t try very hard. We try between shallow breaths without lifting a finger. We are incorporeal. We live in a languid Hell. No flames, only shimmers. No nightmares but a plethora of dreams. There is no such thing as sin here, and if there were we would be too slow to commit it.

Could you commit a sin of omission?

We are the sin of omission. We are dissolving even before we die. That’s a sin, probably. But we disinvent sin. It rolls away like a bead of sweat. No one thinks they’re getting away with anything. We fluctuate. Heat and light.

Do questions matter in this season?

Everything has already been asked. Everything has been answered. The Wavering Ones keep us company. They don’t judge, or ask, or answer. You ask if questions matter. Everything matters, nothing matters. I watch the Wavering Ones. They’re good company. They don’t ask questions.

Can I quench your thirst? Make you a drink?

The fresh squeezed juice of sugar cane. It smells like freshly cut grass.

Will it save you?

There’s nothing from which I need to be saved, and nothing to save myself for.

Do you think this conversation might be more lively in autumn?

You know the answer to that, my friend. In spring we thought summer would be sin. In autumn we will decide if it was. For now I can tell you only what I’ve told you. It is hot enough for rain to evaporate before it hits the ground. Hot enough to forget who you are.

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The Winter Birthday

Nick’s birthday. Rachael, Jeffrey, and their families are en route. We’d all vowed to celebrate the sibling birthdays together even after a celebrant is gone.

I stand at the glass kitchen door and look down to the cove. It’s winter. It’s no wonder I’m thinking about the ice.

I live alone in the old family house. I am free to wander.

To the west is the cove and to the east, across the road, is the forest.

One day Nick and I decided to jump from block to block as high tide broke the cove ice. The blocks were large and thick. We weren’t balancing on dinner plates. But not all the blocks could bear the sudden weight. Pieces broke away and we had to jump to others. The water was seven feet deep and cold. We did this for the afternoon. Nick was four years younger than me.

In spring, tides helped by flush streams broke over the seawall and left debris to investigate. Monkfish beached themselves on the low-tide mud flats in summer. Every fall we cleared the yard of apples by throwing them in the water, where they bobbed by the hundreds. In winter, there was the ice.

The forest ran for miles. We discovered the rock ponds and the granite beards and the cedar thickets that etch you like brambles do if you try to wade through. Sometimes I would lose myself for the joy of finding my way out. There was the time I went too far and darkness came. But I stumbled ahead, saw a light blink through the branches, and came to a road. It was a long walk home.

One winter day Tony and I came home late from high school. He was a friend. We liked to go downtown after school, get a sandwich, then take the cape bus out here. Tony wasn’t his real name. Nick named him that. To annoy him. Nick was always making things up and getting under your skin. We picked him up, one of us on each arm, and carried him down to the cove.

Tony and I were still in our coats. Nick wasn’t. He didn’t have shoes on, just socks. It was a bright day, but cold. We lowered him onto a block of ice. He didn’t want to look scared or defeated or chastised so he taunted us with Tony’s made-up name. He knew we wouldn’t leave him there. We waited for him to stop. He didn’t stop. Tony and I looked at each other. Tony shrugged. We looked at Nick. He didn’t stop. We left.

In the kitchen, something smelled good. I forget what it was, but I remember Tony saying how good it smelled. Some soup or stew had been simmering all day. We figured we weren’t allowed to eat any yet, but it made us hungry, so we made our second sandwiches of the afternoon.

I can’t see where we left Nick from here. The backyard goes down to a little neck at the end of the cove, where a stream runs into it. There’s an asparagus bed on each side of the stream. The shoots start coming up in March. I don’t have to do anything to maintain them. They’re good to eat when they’re fresh and small, but I like best to watch the feathery summer plants in a breeze. Nick liked them in summer too.

To see where we launched him you have to walk around a corner to the long side yard and to the steps that lead to the water where you can tie a boat in summer and where we would step down to the ice. I don’t know how we survived being young.

Nick died last year. The first to go. Made me mad. Wish I could haul him down to the cove and set him adrift. Instead I have to watch him wave from the ice in the evenings before I turn on the lights.

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Far Flung, at the Moment

À plus tard.

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I’m experimenting with vignettes. Narrative homage to Spoon River Anthology tentatively titled Boy in the Trees (homage, in turn, to Calvino). The first handful feels good in the hand.


“A championship-worthy sneeze.

“I overheard a woman saying a few days ago, ‘Thank goodness that allergy season is finally over.’ But it’s never over. I am living proof. There’s always something to be allergic to and someone who’s allergic to it. Just ask me! Although, honestly, I have no idea if that was an allergic sneeze or just a sneeze because something got up my nose, like pollen. Which brings me to a very scientific question, Bob. Oh, Bob’s stepped out of my imagination for a moment. But the question remains! If some pollen gets up my nose and I sneeze, is it because I have an allergy or simply because if something gets up your nose and starts tickling you, you’ll sneeze?! Is that all an allergy is? Tickling?

“Ah well, we’ll set that fascinating question aside for the moment in this blow-by-blow account of life, the world, my day, and the nature of reality.

“I’m fully aware that other people don’t do this. Well are you now? Why yes I am. I am one of the few, I think, who conduct a running commentary in my head about whatever’s running in my head.

“Crazy? No. Daft maybe.

“Daft. Who uses words like daft? Somebody in a droll BBC domestic sitcom. Somebody who would also use the word droll. I suppose I am a bit daft and a bit like a character in a droll BBC sitcom. The neighbors probably think I’m daft. So I bought a pair of earbuds. Everybody has them, and some people look quite hep and tuned in and well put together as they stroll about listening to someone else’s words or music inside their heads. Listening to podcasts. Hello, Pod here, and I’m about to cast. Ooh, ooh, got a bite, set the hook, reel it in, it’s a big one, look, why, it’s a Freshwater Speckled Listener! Catch and release, but take a picture.

“Do other people think like this? And if they don’t, who’s better off, me or them? Are they entertaining themselves as much as I entertain myself?

“Now, I’m perfectly aware that I’m eccentric. Which as the daft star of a droll BBC sitcom, I must be. It’s in my contract. Even though I’m an American and living in a pleasant suburb that would be perfectly ordinary except that we have a boy who lives in the trees in the neighboring woods.

“What?! Stop the presses! What did you say?

“Yes, it’s true. And perhaps the oddest thing about it is that we’re all quite used to it. It’s not a big deal. It’s about as important as having a historical marker beside the street. ‘Here in some distant past General Beauregard Shenanigans had his famous breakfast.’ And ‘Here lived a boy in the trees.’ And ‘For a while a daft man lived nearby and walked about talking to himself, but only in his head. He wasn’t crazy, just eccentric.’

“And if I was sneezing my way through a barely funny BBC sitcom, who would be my wife? I’d have to have one. And she would think I was daft, but in a good way. She would roll her eyes at me often, but in a fond sort of way. I would be a ‘look-what-the-cat-dragged-in’ sort of husband, the kind about whom she would say, ‘Now what am I going to do with him?’”


Randall was spot on in his self-analysis. He was indeed thought of by most as harmlessly daft. Few wanted to or made the effort to get to know him, few being a euphemism for no one. On those rare occasions when someone would engage him, he often offered astute observations about local or world affairs, being well read and quite articulate. He would even listen quietly to another’s observations. But who needs a daft friend? Life’s complicated enough. So the neighbors got on with their divorces or drinking or affairs or depressions or failures—and good things, too—and thought of him as a character, and having thus characterized him they felt free to give him very little thought, of which they had little to spare. There were some that found him somewhat alarming. Someone to avoid on the sidewalk, someone not to let the children too near. He, on the other hand, observed them as one observes birds and houses and clouds and brightly painted cars and people involved in their personal dramas, which is to say, not intrusively.


“Would I have a family in my program? Well, that’s a question. I’d be an odd dad. Not a bad one. I’d try not to interfere with junior’s or missy’s life. I’d be away at work doing something boring, like endlessly checking inventory, which, in fact, is what I do, and I don’t find it boring at all! But the rest of the world does, and that’s quite all right. So I would work at a somewhat dull but stable job and I’d bring home a decent salary and I’d watch the news on television when I got home. The family would eat in front of the television every evening. We would be the kind of family lamented by the intelligentsia, but we’d actually be quite content and stable, and my wife would do the actual raising of the children while I did chores around the house, putting in new light switches, painting rooms, that sort of thing. And always managing to make a mess of things; it is a dramedy after all! They’d all roll their eyes at me. If I wasn’t me, I would too.

“But now that I think about it, in the show the children would be young adults who’d moved out of the house. We’d be empty nesters. My wife would do lots of volunteer work. I’d do things like, well, fix the toaster while she was out. And we’d have odd neighbors.

“Well, it’s a good life, isn’t it? Take that, boy in the trees. You’re not the only successful oddity hereabouts!”


One day, on his rounds, as he liked to call them, he spied two young mothers with their four children ahead on the sidewalk. He noticed how they gestured with their hands and communicated with smiles, occasional conspiratorial facial expressions, eyebrows raised and heads nodded in mutual agreement over the true reasons behind errant deeds. So involved were they in their engagement that they didn’t see him approach, and he, knowing what was what, stepped off the sidewalk so that he wouldn’t scare them with his surprise proximity, and it was a good thing he did, for a perfectly ordinary thing happened. A three-year-old girl who had been turning in bored half circles beside and just behind her mother wandered into the street as the two women engaged in enthusiastic engagement. He heard, “Can you believe it!” in the tone that conveyed that they had seen right through whoever had done whatever had transpired. And a young person in a car was tapping on a cell phone and paying no attention to the street, so important was the communication that would soon take place through the phone.

It was a partially sunny day, or a partially cloudy day. He’d always been amused by the distinction. In fact, he’d become increasingly amused by the weather industry. In his childhood, only hurricanes had received names. Now any storm of consequence, and many of no consequence, were christened. The practice would make for excellent dialog in a droll BBC television program.

“I’m going out dear.”

“Be sure to take an umbrella. Slight Drizzle Camille is supposed to arrive today.”

“Oh dear.”

When the car driver did not see the child and the child did not see the car, Randall ran forward, picked up the child, and was able to throw her clear as he was hit. She skinned her hands and knees on the pavement and let out a piercing wail. The mothers turned. The young driver crushed the brake with a foot, stared ahead, stunned, open mouthed, and then had the presence of mind to turn off the phone and stow it in a compartment.

If a tree falls in the woods and there’s no one to hear it, does it make a sound? The police came, of course, and an ambulance, although there was no hope. The driver professed to be too shaken to remember much beyond “he came out of nowhere.”

The mothers were inclined to think that he had attempted to abduct the girl. It was difficult to fathom how this could be the case, in the middle of a partly cloudy or partly sunny day on a well-traveled street. But how else could the events be explained? He had always been odd, they all agreed, as did others later. No one knew him well. No one knew what he’d done. And it might not have dissatisfied him to have his life end this way. So much is unknown.

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Post-“Body” Round 3, Now What?

The third round of international serialization of Body in the Pond is complete. Several countries were added (finally got to South America). A reader very kindly broke the no-feedback rule over porchetta at Convivio a few days ago. I would really like to send the book to Italy.

Working on:

The familial history at Pawleys Island dating to the 1920s. (The banner picture, if this is still the top post, is of a former rice field on the Waccamaw, across the peninsula from the island, on a favorite walk, but watch for cotton mouths. Did I ever tell you . . .)

A history for small people of the moon and its cheese.

Continued futile efforts to learn to play like Eliades Ochoa.

Continued work on St. Max volume three, In the Ground.

Lazy compilation of a list for round four of the serialization of Body (next year).

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“Body” Approaches the Codas

This is the end?

It is neither an apocalyptic nor dystopian book.

What’s the difference?

Ask me something I can answer.

So, then, the story is ending?

Nothing ends in an infinite universe.

But something is reaching completion, is it not?

The third serialization, the third trip around the world, the current trail of stopovers in exotic places—yes, that has had its denouement. Only the codas remain.


Yes, of course.

How did the denouement end?

Smitty said to Martha, “Dear, tell him to pack plenty of insect spray, and that we expect great things of him.”

The first coda?

Benschloss noted, “I gestured toward his bobber on the water. ‘You’ve got a fish.’”

And the second?

Chitwood writes, “I know that sounds dangerous, but we already know the world’s dangerous.” Well, that comes near the end, but I like it, so there you go.

Poetry. Are there more?

I have moved on.

To where?

More dangerous territory.

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