Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Nest



Of course, I have always wanted to become better acquainted with the gentle woodland creatures that inhabit the leafy places in our city. Noble oaks and elms grace my own backyard and the trees provide generous shade, a dense green canopy that conceals the sky. The ladders of tree trunks ascent upward into interlaced foliage where squirrels live and birds that cackle and shriek, invisible life concealed in the cloud of leaves and branches. The squirrels in particular have always fascinated me. I see them hopping around like rabbits on the lawn and, then, rocketing upward, climbing the tree trunk, scampering up the bark until they are hidden by foliage, and, then, discernible only by chattering sounds above and the rustle and crackle of displaced branches and twigs. Where do they go? What do they do in their green mansions above?

Once, I acquired at a garage sale a pair of binoculars. I sat on my back porch spying on the squirrels as they pursued one another over the grass and up the trees, moving with the uncanny vertical speed of a centipede or spider. I aimed the lenses at the places overhead where the canopy of leaves and branches were shuddering. But who could say whether that motion was caused by an animal diving from branch to branch or, merely, an aberration of the breeze. My neighbor said that he had studied squirrels – "they are," he told me, " an arboreal mammal, the monkeys of the temperate zone." I thought the phrase "arboreal mammal" was a pretty one and checked-out a book from the public library about squirrels, their biology and behavior. I read about fifteen pages of the book, but it was quite technical: there are many different species of squirrels with different Latin names and they have various, overlapping ranges and some of the words in the book were unfamiliar to me. The text was rather dryly written, inexpressive and scientific and so I set the book aside, read in it no more, and, I recall, ultimately paid a fine of four or six dollars to the library for returning the volume late. And I quickly found that I didn’t have the patience to be a naturalist – the squirrels seemed to do the same pointless things over and over again and I didn’t understand any of it. I thought that it would be rather wonderful to have a kind and helpful friend explain to me squirrel lore and I even imagined an avuncular, faintly professorial voice guiding me to knowledge on this subject, but, of course, I didn’t have the time, or, in all candor, the actual interest to pursue these studies even to the extent of reading slim book about the little beasts. There are so many things that we wish that we knew but that we aren’t willing to take the time to learn.

I think most people agree that our climate is warming and the flora and fauna subtly changing around us. This fact leads me to conclude that even if I learned about local species of birds and mammal, probably, this knowledge would be outdated in a decade or so. It seems beyond doubt that new kinds of creatures, hitherto unknown in these parts, are encountered now, more or less, every week. Near the county dump, people claim to have glimpsed a cougar stalking the thickets and I have seen fat, somnolent spiders with red bristly hair perching on brick walls, tarantulas, it seems, or some similar species. Tropical-looking centipedes scurry through decomposing leaf-litter – I am told that they are remarkable in that their many black eyes are also sexual organs. In the summer darkness, fist-sized beetles churn through the air and moths as big as bats flutter around the streetlights, haloing them with powder cast from their huge wings. Termites undermine houses and gawky ants covered in a kind of red velvet and with long stilt-like legs have colonized my side-yard. When the lawnmower rips through their mound that is like a tumor in the grass, the insects are flung about in stinging clouds and, recently, it seems to me that the utility poles have become shrouded in some kind of entangling vine – kudzu, I am told. A week ago, a clerk in Walmart found a rattlesnake coiled among the household furnishings for sale in the store. We don’t ordinarily encounter rattlesnakes in this climate. And, once, when I was walking my small white dog, I saw a huge winged shadow glide across the ground ahead of me. But when I looked skyward, nothing was there. Our cold climate is becoming warm and I suppose I may live to see monkeys dangling from our trees. Perhaps, another kind of arboreal mammal will displace the squirrels and occupy their habitat.

My backyard is fenced and, yesterday, when I put out my little dog, Snowball, I heard her yipping and howling. My wife was alarmed. Several smaller dogs, one of them a beagle puppy, have vanished from our neighborhood and so my wife was concerned that the mysterious dog-napper was molesting Snowball. "Why is she crying out like that?" my wife said. I was sitting on the back-porch with a drink, reading a magazine. "I suppose she is chasing a squirrel," I said. "If she ever catches a squirrel," my wife said, "the squirrel will probably injure Snowball." "She’s braver than she is wise," I said. I stood up and called for the dog, an exercise in futility since Snowball is not well-trained and doesn’t come when she is summoned. To my surprise, the dog trotted across the lawn with a satisfied mien, wagging her tail and grinning. There was something nasty entangled in Snowball’s teeth, perhaps, the carcass of a half-decayed bird or mouse. But she dropped the morsel, whatever it was, before she hopped up the steps to the backporch. "You stay by me," I said to Snowball. The little dog seemed to nod her head.

That night there was a bat in our house. Perhaps, it had erred in its nocturnal flight and, somehow, entered the home when I held the dog open for Snowball to come inside. The bat was large and distraught. It flew in disorderly loops through the living room, evading my attempts to knock it out of the air with a rolled-up magazine. Then, the creature vanished and, although I systematically searched every room in the house and, even, opened the doors to the closets, I couldn’t find the bat. My wife was frantic and said that unless I killed or captured the beast she would spend the night at a motel. She locked herself in the bathroom while I patrolled the house. After awhile, I shouted to her: "I’ve got it." Then, I went outside to pretend that I was disposing of the animal in the humid night. "Are you sure?" she asked me. "Yes," I lied. After we went to bed, I seemed to hear the squirrels darting about on the shingles of my house above the attic. Several thumps sounded in the ceiling. I turned on the air-conditioner so that I would not have to hear those noises.

Sometime after two in the morning, I got up to go to the toilet and found the bat in the bathtub, a greasy shadow like a huge leaf or a burnt mutilated hand. I picked up a magazine and stabbed at the bat, pinning it to the porcelain. The creature writhed and its wings twitched in a spasm and, then, it vomited blood and died. I scooped up the dead animal with a wad of paper towel. It was surprisingly warm to the touch – I could feel the bat’s body-heat through the clumped-up paper and I thought that it was unlucky to kill an animal like that and, also, perhaps, a bad omen. My wife was querulous: "What were you doing?" I said that I had killed a bat in the bathtub and, then, thrown it outside in the lilac bushes. "Another bat?" she cried. "And in the bathroom. Oh my God."

The next morning, my wife sat sullenly at her coffee. "We have to contact an exterminator," she said. "Two bats in one night...we must have a colony of them in our attic." "I don’t think so," I replied. "Well, you’ll have to go up there and look," she said.

It was stifling in the attic and the racks of old clothes that my wife stored there exuded a sort of feral heat, like a big, neglected animal panting in the darkness. Dust covered the boxes of children’s toys and abandoned books. The light bulb overhead radiated more heat down onto me and I was covered with sweat. Something thumped on the shingles overhead and I thought it sounded as if ripe fruit were falling from a tree. "What can that be?" I thought. But, in any event, it was outside the house and not within our walls.

Mid-afternoon, I let out Snowball. My wife said: "You go and stand with her when she does her business. I don’t want anyone snatching our dog." I opened the door and Snowball darted out into the fenced backyard. I followed her. It was warm and humid and the grass seemed slick as if with dew. Snowball trotted into the middle of the backyard, beneath the canopy of leaves, and, then, turned to cast an inquiring look at me. The dog grimaced and put her nose into a sort of globular wreath of tangled vine and dead leaves. "What is that?" I said to the dog.

I walked up to the heap of leaves lying on the grass. The leaves were long-dead, greyish and withered, and the pile of fallen foliage looked like a decomposing wreath. The dog rooted around at the edges of tangle of dead leaves and twigs and vine. With my toe, I tapped at the thing. It had a sort of structure, as if the individual withered leaves had been woven together somehow, and a kind of gummy, pasty substance made the twigs adhere together. Many of the leaves seemed to have been corroded to skeletons, brown veins like filigree radiating from a central vegetal spine.

"It’s some kind of nest," I thought to myself.

Undoubtedly, the nest had been generally globular where it had been built high overhead in the trees. But the thing had fallen from that height and lost its shape on impact with the glass and so, now, at my feet, the nest seemed to be a compact flattened mass of concentric rings made from packed twig and leaf. I could see among the leaves and wicker of twigs some fragments of a McDonald’s hamburger wrapper, part of a styrofoam cup, and a little shredded plastic from a grocery bag. A brownish bone with some blackened tissue scabbed on it was entangled in the leaves – it looked like a pelvis or scapular bone. The dog whined and mewled, dipping her white furry head into the heap of fallen leaves. Something glinted: it looked like the lense of an eyeglass. I prodded at the nest, then, recoiled. Eyeless and battered, the head of a beagle puppy lolled there in the debris.

I looked up to the canopy of leaves from which the nest had fallen. The green was dense, impenetrable, and something was stirring there but I couldn’t see what it was.

Sunday, July 6, 2014




When she deigned to attend neighborhood events, Dodie, Mr. G–‘s wife, was always ten to fifteen minutes late. We understood this slight delay as a tariff that we paid to procure her presence which, after all, was thought to honor us. Mr. G– was an important man, famous in the theater, and, no doubt, his wife’s time was more valuable than ours.

Accordingly, on that memorable morning, we lounged around the parking lot, leaning against the warm metal of our vehicles waiting, but pretending not to wait. From the Beachside Community Art Center’s tiny parking lot, cordoned off against the tourists, we could gaze through the trees to the harbor where sailboats with white sails changed position without seeming to move. Although no one acknowledged the fact, we were waiting for Mrs. G. The day was bright and sea breezes flattered the blossoms on the flowering shrubs, turning them this way and that as if for our delighted inspection. Someone remarked that they had seen Dodie a day or two before at the local pharmacy and that, when asked, Mrs. G– had expressed interest in the aquarelle class and, even, promised to attend the morning’s session, an exercise in plein air painting scheduled for knoll overlooking the sea a couple miles distant. We knew that she had paid tuition to attend the class, although this fact, in itself, meant nothing. Dodie, who first name was actually Margaret (no one knew why she was nicknamed "Dodie") supported the arts by paying for programs in which she did not intend to participate. She was, in fact, a documentary film maker of some note and several of her shorter pictures, on ennobling and socially significant subjects, had been premiered in the hall of the Beachside Community Arts Center where we tarried.

Sabbath, our instructor, was wearing a floppy straw hat. She had long red hair that fell in a torrent over her shoulders and her skin was very pale. She sniffed a little and her nostrils that always appeared reddish – she suffered from allergies – twitched and, then, with a languid air, Sabbath said: "We had better get to the beach." We roused ourselves and walked toward our cars. "If it gets too late," Sabbath said, "the tourists will descend on the seashore and we will have them tramping through our landscapes." There was no sign of Dodie.

We drove in a procession across the Cape to the Atlantic coast. Traffic was heavy on the State Highway angling north to Provincetown and the caravan of vehicles had to spurt across the busy thoroughfare one at a time. At Beachside township, the Cape is only two-and-a-half miles wide and the road to the sea wandered among small densely wooded hills, wiggling between fresh-water ponds and stony slopes covered with pitch pine. We passed the gravel driveway that led uphill to Mr. G–‘s compound, a big house sheathed in glass cantilevered over a salt marsh and a smaller guest cottage, traditionally clad in grey, weathered shingles that had once been a shanty on the edge of a cranberry bog. The tube for the local newspaper mounted at the end of Mr. G–‘s driveway was empty.

"I don’t know why people make such a fuss about Dodie G—," my wife said, casting a sidelong glance at the driveway as we passed it.

"G–‘s our community trophy," I said. "Our claim to fame. And haven’t you made a fuss about them yourself?"

"No, I’ve just been welcoming, hospitable," my wife replied.

Mr. G– and his wife had moved to Beachside five or six years earlier. It was understood that they maintained a place in Tribeca where they spent the months from October through April. Dodie was at least fifteen years younger than Mr. G–, although this was not apparent when you saw them together, at least not apparent from a distance. And, it was from a distance, typically that we observed them. Sometimes, one encountered Mr. G– with his wife and New York friends at the best local restaurants. If you nodded in his direction, he looked baffled at first, but, then, produced his famous smile and, even, might beckon you to his table. Once, I stood behind him at a package store and watched him buy expensive wines and some top-shelf gin. On a couple of occasions, we saw him at summer-stock shows at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater – his presence seemed to intimidate the actors and they bobbled their lines. Dodie attended events at the Community Arts Center and, when she was on the Cape, sat through meetings of the Zoning Commission. When her short documentaries were premiered in town at the old Meeting House that was the Arts Center, Mr. G– was present and wonderfully avuncular and it seemed to me that he pretended to know most of his neighbors which some of us thought showed a certain graciousness, although, perhaps, the famous man was merely being condescending.

Although he was now quite old, Mr. G– was still very handsome and charismatic. He walked with a cane, but was upright with a stately bearing. He had made his reputation directing theater works off-Broadway and was thought to be prodigiously talented, although the exact nature of his gifts was obscure to me. A dozen years earlier, Mr. G– had created a sensation with two adaptations of Shakespeare plays, Cymbeline, if I recall correctly, and The Winter’s Tale. Mr. G– staged Cymbeline as a controversy among polar scientists on the glaciers of an Antarctic research station. A Winter’s Tale was set at two rock-and-roll festivals twenty years apart, perhaps, Woodstock and, then, the second Woodstock show, a generation later. Tickets were impossible to procure for those plays and I didn’t attend – although, I made no special effort, of course, because I didn’t know Mr. G– personally in those days.

After moving to Beachside, Mr. G– authorized a Serbian director to film one of his workshops, an exercise involving late plays by Beckett. The movie won some prizes at International Film Festivals. I saw it and was not only bored but baffled. You should know that I am not exactly a philistine when it comes to theater. The year that I retired from my law practice, I played the part of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof at the Community Theater and everyone complimented me both on my singing voice and the accuracy of my performance – I was said to impersonate very effectively Leonard Nimoy in the Broadway revival of that show. The same year I played Oscar in The Odd Couple and was universally admired, at least as far as I’ve been told. Of course, Mr. G–‘s brand of play – he calls them "theater works" – is not exactly my cup of tea. In my view, theater should be entertaining, even, a bit relaxing for the audience and there’s enough hard work in daily existence so that it has always seemed superfluous to me to ask playgoers to labor to decipher a show presented to them – and Mr. G–‘s work was always hailed as "difficult", "challenging", and "thought-provoking," none of these attributes exactly praiseworthy in themselves as far as I am concerned.

In recent years, Mr. G–‘s great work, his magnum opus, was something called "Yggdrasil." A group of neighbors made the trek down to New York to see the show and the women communicated with Dodie, told her of our pilgrimage, and were rewarded by being invited to Mr. G–‘s loft in Tribeca. (Although my wife, and others had dropped hints about visiting Mr. G–‘s place on the Cape, none of us were ever invited to his house.) "Yggdrasil" took place on an abandoned pier and involved groups of naked, or semi-naked actors and actresses ranting at one another at intervals on the long dark wharf. The audience sat on a small dais that was towed at a snail’s pace the length of the pier by an electrically powered tractor, something that looked to me like a small fork-lift. I recall the wharf was dark and cold and the sea beat against its outermost edge with a fierce incessant rhythm and the actresses’ nipples looked erect with the chill and black and the toilet situation was simply deplorable. My wife wept and proclaimed the show the greatest thing that she had ever seen, but I didn’t have a clue as to what it was about and thought the whole thing insufferably pretentious and tedious. My opinion was distinctly minority: the thing won every award that a show could win in New York and, I understand, was performed in similarly dark and cavernous and cold piers in London and Hamburg and Hong Kong.

"I wonder when he will invite us to his house for dinner," my wife said. "I mean we’ve gone out of way to support his recent theatrical work. And her documentaries too."

"Never is when," I said.

A half-mile farther down the lane, we came to six parking spots, parallel to the road, allotted to members of the Beachside Community. One space was already filled – an old widow who lived on the bay side of the Cape known to be a birding enthusiast has placed her car there. No doubt she was somewhere in the salt-marsh thickets spying on egrets or piping plovers. Next to the old Coast Guard station, repurposed as a youth Hostel, the National Seacoast maintained a small parking lot servicing the trail head to the overlook above. There were eight vehicles in the caravan and several of us had to occupy the National Seacoast lot.

We hiked across the road to the trail that zigzagged up the steep hill to the overlook. On a rocky knoll in the green shade of some jack-pine gnarled by the winds from the ocean, we stopped and unpacked our water-color kits. I set my easel facing down hill, propped against a glacial boulder encrusted with bluish lichen. Sabbath announced the assignment and said that she would go from easel to easel making suggestions and corrections. My wife shrugged and walked beyond the jack-pine grove into the brighter light of the upper hillside, sixty yards higher, where the rosa rugosa flowered and perfumed the breeze. The ground under my foot was rust-brown and soft with fallen pine needles and the wind from the ocean was cold and scented with salt and seaweed and strong enough to blow away, at least for the time being, the black flies and the tiger-striped mosquitos. From my vantage, I could look down over the six parallel parking spaces allotted to townsfolk, beyond the National Seacoast parking lot, and to the line of pale gold dunes backing a strip of beach where the surf thundered. On Halloween, a dozen years before, the sea had ruptured the dune-ramparts and driven inland, smashing across the Cape and blasting backward the waters of the little stream that ran below the knoll through a densely woven tapestry of small, vine-entangled bushes. The piston of ocean crashing inland deposited many tons of sand, creating a desolate tongue of beach at right angles to the shore and cut-off from the sea itself, a long broad gouge running inland a quarter of a mile. It was my thought to paint the contrast between the sun-struck yellow sand marking the rift in the Cape and the foreground of crooked jack-pine trunks and green foliage.

We worked in silence for a half-hour. I wasn’t satisfied with the results, removed the paper from my easel and started again. Sabbath stood by my side and uttered some halfhearted encouragement. I understood that she thought my efforts pretty much hopeless. I began with dark colors making a grid on the paper where the bars and columns of the jack-pine trunks, twisted like corkscrews by the prevailing winds opposed my view. The mark of the Halloween calamity glowed in the distance, a white scar on the land, and, farther away, I saw someone jogging on the beach, a dog loping along behind the lone runner.

A couple of tourists dragging some small children entered the grove of jack-pine, looked embarrassed, and, then, slunk away. I mixed yellow and brown paint together to depict the tongue of sand below. It was very silent for a time. The waves on the ocean ceased their thunder and began an insinuating, drowsy whispering. The sun caused the pines to ooze creosote and the grove was fragrant.

Someone was standing beside me. "Not bad," a voice croaked.

A young man had materialized at my side. He was squat with huge, flamboyant mutton-chop sideburns.

"I do my best," I said to the young man.

"It’s not bad," he repeated.

The young man was sweating heavily. It was as if he had just completed a hike of many miles. He seemed to eye the water that I was using with my brush to color the painting with scarcely concealed thirst. The young had some kind of holster around his hips, but I couldn’t see what the leather pouch contained – perhaps, it was a water bottle or a knife or a cell-phone. I noticed that the young man’s tee-shirt said Yog Sothoth. I wondered if those words were Hebrew.

"Say I wanted to ask you something," the young man said.

"What is that?"

He had a faintly foreign accent, but one that I couldn’t place.

"Does the famous theater director, Mr. G–, live around here?"

"Yes, he does," I told the young man.

"Could you tell me how to reach his house?"

"Well, let me say this – and I don’t mean to be insulting – we’re all neighbors here and, when you live out in the country, you have to take care of one another. You have to help each other out. And so, I don’t feel...what would you say?...comfortable about giving out his address."

The young man blinked at me rapidly and seemed to chew his lip.

"This isn’t the country," the young man said. "This is a suburb with ten million dollar houses occupying every part of the beach."

"We like our privacy here," I replied. "Be that as it may, we like our privacy."

"Well, Mr. G– invited me to his house," the young man said. "He gave me his address, but I can’t find it. My map is no good and my phone has lost its charge."

"How do you know him?"

The young man showed his teeth. "I auditioned for one of his shows. Maybe, you’ve heard of it."

"Which show was that?" I dabbed a little at my picture.

"Yggdrasil – that was the name," he said.

"Really, I saw that show. Did you get the part? I might have seen you, in Manhattan, a couple years ago."

"I didn’t get the part," the young man said.

"Oh I’m sorry."

"I’m not," the young man said. "I didn’t get the part because it required that I prance around naked and I don’t think Mr. G– thought that I looked good enough to be nude in his show. He had me take off my pants."

"You don’t say," I replied.

"And he said he’d consider me for a role, but no one called, no one got in touch with me."

"That’s too bad," I said.

"No, it worked out for the best," the young man said. "I don’t think theater should exploit people like that. I don’t think I should have been required to show my cock to get an acting job. What do you think?"

"I guess I agree. But –"

The young man interrupted me: "But...(here he used Mr. G–‘s first name)... was really kind, really wonderful. Just a wonderful man. He invited me to his place, you know, in Tribeca. His loft. I had dinner with him and his wife, what’s her name? you know – Margaret. And they both invited me to stop by and see them if I were ever on the Cape."

"Is that right?"

"So I wonder if you could give me some advice about how to reach his house?"

"Well, I’d really like to," I said. "But we’re neighbors and I can’t just give his address to any stranger."

"I’m not a stranger, I’m a friend, a good friend," the young man said.

"Well what’s your business?" I asked.

"I want to review with him my audition, you know, go over my lines again. Maybe, there’ll be another production of Yggdrasil, you know in Rio or Murmanks, at some harbor, I guess – it’s kind of a franchise. I can go on a diet and if I have to show package...I’ll do that too. He told me to stop by. And, you know, the weird thing is that I disapprove of nudity in the theater. I really disapprove – it’s just a gimmick, an ugly gimmick."

"I agree with you," I said. "I’ve been in lots of theater myself and I don’t think there’s any legitimate basis for nudity in a show – not unless it’s tastefully done and required, absolutely, required by the subject matter."

"You and I think alike," the young man said. "What shows were you in?"

"Musical comedy, comedy," I said.

"Comedy is good," the young man said. He added: "There’s already too much horror and tragedy in the world."

"Right you are," I said.

"So how do I find Mr. G–?"

"Well, again – and I don’t mean to be an asshole – I’ve got to respect his privacy and I can’t just give you Mr. G–‘s address?"

"Who asked you for his address? I have his address," the young man told me. "I just can’t locate find the place."

I was relieved: "Well, why didn’t you tell me that in the first place?"

"You didn’t ask."

"I guess I didn’t," I said. "Well, let me test you, then: tell me his address."

The young man stated a number and a street. I didn’t know the house-number but the street that he identified, the lane that we had just traveled to reach this overlook, was correct.

"That’s right," I said.

The young man nodded and showed me his teeth again.

"Go back down this road right here, right below us," I said, pointing through the undergrowth to the parking lot at the trailhead. "Go inland about one-half mile and you’ll see a driveway on your right. It’s after the green house with the observatory. It’s a gravel driveway and there’s a tube there for the newspaper, a yellow receptacle. You can’t see the place from the asphalt road. It’s down the gravel driveway about two-hundred yards."

"I hope he’s home," the young man said.

"Who knows?" I replied.

I dabbed at my painting some more, traced some outlines in fine black lines, and heard bird song above me, hidden in the pine needles that made a canopy over my watercolor kit and my easel. The young man had vanished.

A half-hour later, Sabbath said that the class was concluded and that it was time for lunch. The day had become warm and the black flies were emerging from the swamps and so we were happy to pack up our kits and leave the trail.

In the car, I told my wife about the young man.

"My goodness," she said. "you didn’t give him G–‘s address did you?"

"No," I said. "He already knew the address."

"I hope you didn’t encourage him to go there," my wife said.

"Why not?" I replied. "The kid said that he was a good friend. I mean he knew the name of G–‘s wife. He said that he’d met Margaret."

My wife winced: "Margaret?" she said. "Since when does anyone ever call Dodie "Margaret"?"

"You know, I didn’t think of it that way," I said.

"He’s some kind of nut who looked them up on Wikipedia or something," my wife said.

"But he has the address. He knew the address. The address wouldn’t be on Wikipedia. He just didn’t know how to get there. And so that’s what I told him," I said.

"Now, we’ll never be invited to their hone, never!" my wife said. "You betrayed a confidence. We have to look out for our neighbors."

"They’re not really our neighbors," I said. "Just stuck-up summer people who think they’re better than the rest of us."

"Nonsense," my wife said. "We’ll never be invited for dinner to their home. That’s for sure."

The conversation was unpleasant.

"He had G–‘s address," I repeated to my wife.

"So what?" she said.

We drove home in silence. At the house, my wife went into our bedroom and sat on the pillows with her laptop on the comforter in front of her.

"Here," she said. She called me to her side.

"Here is Mr. G–‘s address, right here on the internet," she said. "It’s easy to find and completely public."

"What is this?" I asked.

"It’s a credit check site, a place you go to check on someone’s credit to see if you should make a loan to them," she said.

"Mr. G– is listed on that site?"

"Everyone is," she replied. "You and me, all our friends, Dodie, everyone. That’s where the kid got the address."

"He seemed harmless enough to me," I told her.

"Let’s hope so," my wife responded.

The warmth and fresh air had made me tired. I took a nap. When I arose, it was approaching supper time and I found that we had no liquor in the house. I heard the sirens wailing as I drove to the package store. There were many sirens and they screamed down the road that led to Mr. G–‘s house.