Forgetting the Easy
Although Garreth's dreams that night were rocky crags that he was
forced to stumble down in order to arrive prostrate in his bed,
he awoke feeling thoroughly good, aside from a sizable hangover.
The sun had only recently come up, and few cars were skulking through
the street just past his window. Garreth closed his eyes and then
opened them, enjoying the show of sparks and light and pressure
disperse towards the periphery of his vision, feeling much like
a child arrived wet in the world.
His bladder, soaked the night before in alcohol and having moved
little since, pushed impatiently on his kidneys. He waited for a
while, playing an old, childish game of waiting as long as possible
to pee until the pressure on his central plumbing was almost volcanic.
He played the game without ever remembering the game's starting
point, only the reason. It was a story his brother had told him
often, that if he set foot, even one toe, upon the ground, and then
did not immediately run to the bathroom, leathery fingers would
surround his ankle, and drag him down through a portal under the
bed to another world.
Where the leathery fingers, when Garreth's eyes followed them upward,
would lead up to a leathery, wicked body of some terrifying, dream-craggy
being. Where the being, whose description was never the same but
rather frighteningly mutable, would drag Garreth back to his horrible
home built of human skulls, insulated with human fat, and protected
from the elements by a covering of streched, tanned human skin.
Where the leathery being would happily chomp first on Garreth's
feet, up the legs, devouring his knees with relish, and then proceed
next to his fingers, sucking each bone clean before chucking the
rest of the lot into a pile for use later.
The story had been told to him in just that way, hundreds of times
with terrifying sound effects, by his brother. However, this memory,
as well as his urgent need to micturate, disappeared when he noticed
his hands and forearms had been transformed into the chelipeds of
The claws, black at the tips, wet and smooth with a hollow hardness,
scrabbled at the sheets until he could lift them off and pull himself
out of his bed. In the bathroom, he ran the new claws under the
faucet for a long time, first under scalding hot water until they
began to turn a translucent fire-red, and then under freezing cold,
where they regained their deep, ruddy hue.
He began to calm himself then, speaking in his own head like a tiny
therapist finally awakened by the violent, crying need for a tiny
therapist. It's simply a dream, he told himself. Too much red wine
last night. The opening party had gone quite late, a party celebrating
the success of his latest showing, a party at which there had been
exactly one person he knew. That one person had left after a while
because, she told him, she felt like she was standing in a room
full of cannibals. She had also said, apropos of something he could
not figure out just then, that he shouldn't wait for her to call
him again. No offense, of course, she said, but you're just too
much of a victim for me.
Of course he wasn't offended, he remembered saying to her through
He had drunk too much and remembered being warned by his agent that
he was getting the tiniest bit out of control. The agent had introduced
Garreth to people many times over in an effort to keep him busy
and not drinking, but that strategy had proved less than successful.
Everyone else had spent the evening preening around, gushing over
the prints that Garreth had created. The images were all the same,
as far as Garreth was concerned. Broken clay pots with seeds pouring
out of them. A simple enough image. One he had been seeing in his
head without rest for the last five or so years. Rather than using
it as a motif, though, which was the way everyone preferred to discuss
his work, Garreth was simply (and this he would tell this to anyone
who listened, whether critic or potential customer) trying to get
the picture right.
All of that time hunched over copper plates, etching grooves by
hand and using acids only sparingly, preferring instead to get the
effect straight from his own hands, by feel rather than by sight.
All of those prints of different pots, Native American, Incan, Japanese,
Sudanese. All of them at a different angle, with subtle shifts in
light and different approaches in shadow, from the realistic to
the cartoonish and back to a middle realm that was neither. And
the seeds. Clusters of tiny ovules from innumerable species of plants,
real and imagined. All of that, and each one just not enough. A
feeling he couldn't put into words, or obviously onto paper, but
a slow, maddening itch taking up permanent residence in his fingers
that would not stop no matter how many pots of seeds he drew.
So the showing had been more or less a success that Garreth had
endured very well he thought, all things considered. On the way
home, he could only remember snippets, his agent telling him how
he hadn't completely fucked things up. That all but three of the
pieces had sold. He remembered falling down stairs. Being carried
back up to his door. The creak of one board as he crossed the threshold
and was tossed into bed. His agent telling him that he was supposed
to be eccentric anyhow, as all artists were. That Garreth's public
visage could stand to get even weirder, as personality sometimes
sold as much as talent did. His future, he remembered hearing from
a source somewhere above him, was just in front of him. If only
he wanted it. That, he distinctly remembered saying back, was total
But now, with these claws staring at him, he was blinded by the
monstrous expanse of his future. The futility of the operation of
putting on clothes, much less working with etching tools, brought
him to the verge of tears, and he finally just walked into his studio
naked, determined to work on his art that morning whether by hook
or by crook. He looked at the small plastic Mexican wrestling figures
he had originally seen on a trip to Tijuana, a lonely driving trip
through Mexico he'd taken by himself after his father died. He remembered
seeing them on a small table wrapped in a plastic bag, one hundred
for roughly a dollar. He had picked up two bags, not sure of what
he'd do with them, but certain that they were useful. The last five
years (give or take six months) had been spent thinking about them
every day, while printing his images of broken clay pots which sold
for head-scratchingly-large prices. He was unable to even put the
figures in a drawer or a cupboard during that time, much less throw
Screwing up his courage, Garreth began sculpting landscapes for
the figures. He reasoned that his left claw, the larger one, was
likely better for crushing. The right, the smaller one, was curved
and hooked, which, after a few tentative snips at a steel bucket
filled with water, proved better for cutting and biting through
He found old paint cans and buckets and gently crushed their sides
with his left pincer, so that they looked wounded, but were not
punctured, and filled them with the hot wax and figures, one by
one. When they cooled, he was able to either slip the blocks out
of the cans or cut away the buckets with his right claw to reveal
the piece. The figures hung suspended like bugs in amber, each one
grasping a small sign on which was painted a word, the tiny populace
resembling drowning passengers. The signs were barely readable,
as he encountered trouble first popping the lids of the paint cans,
and then trying to pick up the paintbrush in his monstrous, powerful
claws. He simply poked two small holes along the top of the lid
and poured the paint into a coffee cup. As for the brush, he had
settled on holding the stem in his teeth. The signs looked like
The next month was spent in the same
way, and it went quickly. His agent ordered pizza for him nearly
every day, and brought Garreth money, slipping the envelopes inside
his mail slot. Every three days, a new envelope, more money from
the paintings that had sold, found its way into Garreth's claws,
and supplies arrived outside his door in large cardboard boxes.
And so, with logistics taken care of, he worked on the figures in
wax, and on the signs.
When finally he ran out of figures and wax, he began twisting metal
into sculpture. The sculptures were horrifying, his agent said when
he actually came inside the apartment one day, like you took your
insides out and stretched them over wire. He also said he could
sell them in a heartbeat, and that Garreth should maybe move into
a bigger studio, that he could command a bigger budget now that
he was working with bigger materials, no more of that Mexican wrestler
crap. But his agent also asked if they could continue to do their
business from the phone from now on because, he said, he was a little
frightened of Garreth. But, he added, at least for the image that
was probably a good thing. Think of Dali. His agent never specifically
mentioned the claws.
When he went out, Garreth covered his hands with old scarves so
that no one would see them.
The days slipped past without much notice to either Garreth or his
work. He sculpted all day until his body gave out from exhaustion
at around seven or eight each night. His body was taut and heated
by this point, cleansed and virtually wrung dry of any strength.
In his chelipeds he felt almost nothing. Only long strands of muscle
and nerve running together, caressing each other beneath the section
where his own pink flesh reddened and ossified, connecting his human
arms to the claws.
He sat in his chair, listening to the drone of cars outside his
window, or to the weak voices of other people in his building whom
he never saw. He would sit because he was too weak to stand any
longer, holding his claws out before him with the last of his strength,
turning them over in the light, looking for some connection between
his past life without them and the new one with them. He barely
remembered what had come before. None of his prints were left, each
piece sold to someone else, even the copper plates themselves, so
he could not even conceive the images he had once created. His other
memories were dry and tired, too, and flaked away like old paint
in the evenings.
He was able to eat only by holding the pizza box in his larger claw
and sliding each piece forward until he could grasp it in his teeth.
When he was finished, he stood for a few moments and looked out
his window. One night, three months and three days after the claws
had first appeared, found him as always watching from his window,
tired and full. His eyes followed a plane of light from somewhere
above to the large oak tree across the sidewalk from his building.
When he relaxed his eyes and focused on the spines of the leaves,
darts of rain appeared. The whispering sound of a storm began to
increase to a steady chatter of clacking, and the street awoke as
the gathering rain hammered its skin. A female figure in a dark
coat, her long hair flattened by the downpour, passed on the street
below. The heels of her boots clacked against the pavement with
more alacrity than the pellets of rain, making her heard well above
the sound of the storm. She stopped just in front of the tree and
raised her arms. The simple motion struck at Garreth as he felt
himself raise his own arms, placing a claw on either side of the
window frame. She gathered her hair and tied it into a simple damp
knot. Garreth felt an itch underneath his crushing claw.
While she was tying the knot, more footsteps bulleted up from down
the street. A voice dopplered, getting clearer as the footsteps
gained volume, and finally another figure, holding an umbrella,
hurried up to the woman. "C'mon," he said, "C'mon." Garreth heard.
The woman lowered her arms. "C'mon. It's fucking raining. C'mon."
Garreth watched her turn and walk away from the other figure, who
ran a few meters to catch up with her. The man grabbed her arm and
whirled her around, the damp knot swinging. His face was obscured
by the umbrella. Hers was not, although Garreth could only see slivers
of flesh, a cheek, one small, round ear. Her coat stopped just above
her knees, and Garreth could see her dark boots reflecting the streetlights.
The knot swung again and Garreth was stunned to see her lunge for
his building's door. She slammed the row of doorbells with the heel
of her hand repeatedly, and Garreth's apartment was flooded with
noise. "Open up!" She was screaming into the intercom. "Open the
door! Open the goddamn door!" Startled, Garreth held up his hands
and backed away from the window, unsure of what to do. The screaming
continued, and now he could hear the man's voice over the loudspeaker
too, urging the women to shut up, a voice dosed liberally with threat.
The cacophony rose, and Garreth continued backing away from the
window, until he reached the intercom box and pushed the IN button
with the tip of his tongue. Almost simultaneously, the din ceased,
his tongue still resting on the button, leaving the apartment filled
only with the sounds of the storm outside and Garreth's open-mouthed
breathing. In the center of the room his body stood, no longer exhausted,
eyes open and alert, arms at his side.
He walked back to the window and saw that both of the figures were
gone now, the foyer door shut. Garreth waited for the sounds of
footsteps to return, or the pounding of fists on his door to recommence.
He went and wrapped the scarves around his hands before returning
to the window. His claws, covered in soft material, shook. Thoughts
of violence crossed his mind, of damage his claws could inflict
on human flesh given their effectiveness on steel and iron. But
these thoughts aggravated the itching in his pincers.
Peering through the Judas-hole, he half-expected to catch the slivers
of her face again, but saw only the stairs and banister, the cheap
black carpeting. In his mind, he turned the slivers over to try
to fit them together into a complete picture, eyes, hands, damp
hair tied in a knot. Blood rushed in his ears, and his head and
hands grew warmer as the rain increased in volume.
He stayed that way, in the center of the room, for nearly three-quarters
of an hour. His hands drooped as gravity hauled them earthward.
Weariness prowled back into his limbs and brain, and before long
he sat down crosslegged, and, in a few moments, was fast asleep
on his floor.
Upon waking, he shook the scarves off of his arms and realized that
his hands had returned.
He cried for a long time, almost the entire morning, unable to decide
whether he was crying out of joy or from loss. The man and woman
from the night before were mere shadows in his brain, and by the
time the sun hit its zenith in the sky, he could only remember the
buzzing of his doorbell.
Walking into the front room was painful. He tried twisting a large
corroded iron bar that he had selected from the dump nights before.
But without the claws the operation was useless. He dug out tools
from the basement and tried those, but the movements took too long,
and by the time he bent the bar a millimeter or so, he had forgotten
what he'd intended to make with it.
And so at the end of the day, he went to the store downstairs, bought
a bottle of paint thinner and vodka, and sat in the front room,
in front of the last few remaining landscapes imbedded with Mexican
wrestlers, next to an iron sculpture hanging like a dead tree. He
unscrewed the bottle of vodka and drank three-fourths of it, and
then unscrewed the container of paint thinner. He drank half of
that quickly before he could vomit it up, but began throwing up
liters and liters of liquid before losing consciousness in a pool
of stomach contents.
The next three days were a series of screaming, warbly snapshots
that came and went faster than Garreth's brain could process their
Miles of road strewn with thumbtacks and scraps of smoking iron
in front of him, and that somehow became Garreth's dog when he was
ten years old, which he only owned for one year. One whole year
when he was ten years old, until his own brother Richard, seventeen
years old at the time, left home and took the dog with him. His
brother had hated the dog since it set foot in the house, yet it
was the one thing he took with him when he left. Garrett had always
wished that his brother had simply killed himself and left it at
that. Why did he have to take his dog, his only dog ever and in
fact his only pet since? Richard never came back, though he'd written
years later to say that he'd gotten married, had two children, and
that they loved the dog very much.
Many others, too many others that had little or no meaning, and
many that had too much meaning for him to focus on. Other friends,
other family members. His father who died of cancer two years earlier,
rotting away remarkably fast from the inside out, not slowly like
it always happened in books and on television, but rather infinitely
more terrifyingly. In and out of hospitals, seeing nurses and doctors
conditioned to be stoics by their close proximity to death. Watching
the body that had once towered over him turn into a husk, an insect
cocoon that held nothing at the end but dusty seeds. His father's
hands, rough and strong and gnarled from loading trucks throughout
his years, barely able to grip Garreth's, the fingers and palms
drying into papier-mâché. The whole time Garreth telling himself
that it was a learning experience essential to his art, locking
away the terror he really felt. After watching the hospice company's
truck drivers haul away the oxygen tank and the bed, he sold the
house, bought a car, and drove to Mexico. Where he found the wrestlers.
More mind-photos of lesser import: artist friends who had come and
gone, people with talent and others with drive, almost all of whom
had stolen something from him-a toothbrush, money, a rug, ideas.
His first car, a beloved brown Cutlass Sierra he bought two years
before he had a license and totaled a week after. People and people
and things and things.
On the third day he woke up, his body wrung like wet cloth, his
insides burning, throat coated with glass. Somehow Garreth pulled
himself up on his hands and knees, retched more, and then slipped
on his own insides. He cried to feel some moisture come into his
eyes, but cried harder when the only thing that came out was a yellowy
Somehow he was able to pull his inflamed into the bathroom, afraid
to look in the mirror, afraid to see what had happened. He chose
instead to turn the water on in the tub and wash himself clean.
When he returned to the front room, he fell on the couch and slept,
hoping he would finally die.
The next day, instead, found him feeling better. He cleaned the
apartment, wiping up the water and blood and vomit with old t-shirts,
filling the leftover cans and buckets that he'd fashioned into moulds
with his claws with the refuse. Used the tools to cut up the remaining
lumps of wax and filled garbage bags with old metal that looked
only like old, twisted dead metal again. And when he was finished,
he threw everything else away inside the small apartment, all of
the paint and tools and figures and books. Finished the whole operation
by cutting off all his hair with an old pair of orange-handled scissors.
That night he pulled on a large grey coat and walked down the street
to a small restaurant called Johnnie's. H took a small sign off
the frosted front window he'd seen a million times before, one that
had been up for so long that the edges had yellowed and started
to curl upwards like eyelashes, that said DELIVERY PERSON WANTED,
and went in.
"Sure you're not gonna scare the fuggin' customers are you?" The
owner, a short stout Greek man who belched near seven times during
their fifteen minute conversation, and had sad eyes that Garreth
decided he liked, looked Garreth over and finally said "Well, we'll
give it a shot, won't we?"
He bought a bicycle from the second hand store after his first week
of running around, an old Chinese model that had three speeds and
a grating bell and weighed something close to fifty pounds, a bicycle
that could hit a tank and get only minor scratches and wouldn't
be stolen by the most nearsighted thief. He liked the fact that
it was solid, and unmoving.
The delivery business was by no means brisk, but Garreth was there
both mornings and evenings, with a few hours off in the middle of
the day for walking as far as he could one way and then back before
his next shift started, or else taking the train in the exact same
manner, back and forth. Just as long as he didn't have to go back
home. Johnny didn't really need him there so much, and even told
him so after a couple of days, but Garreth didn't care, and only
said I know, I know.
He worked for weeks that way, pedaling all kinds of sandwiches to
the different neighborhoods encircling the Greek's store. He would
go anywhere, even places that the owner said were too dangerous
before slamming down the phone on the inquiring customer. Garreth
made him call back and tell them the sandwiches would be there in
twenty-five minutes or less. He went into any neighborhood, no matter
how far away. The owner laughed because his was the only restaurant
whose delivery area included the entire city. Garreth never encountered
trouble, never had a single person try to rob him or hit him on
the top of his skull with a metal flashlight, never was scared of
anyone or anyplace.
He was out. After months of self-exile, he was out on his feet or
on his bicycle and very little else mattered to him. His thinking
was arrested. The loneliness he'd felt hanging on him like an unwanted
gift was gone. Burnt up in the flashes of wind hitting his face,
the sun infecting his skin.
Johnnie's volume tripled, quadrupled. The owner saw business like
he never had before. Since he as a rule always paid the delivery
person less than the cooks, he fired the three cooks he had, hired
three delivery boys, and moved Garreth behind the counter. Now Garreth
worked all day, non-stop, from the time the shop opened until the
time the shutters slammed shut. Instead of the few hours of walking
or riding the train during the day, he rode his bicycle thirty or
forty miles in the dark after the shop closed, going as far as he
could and then coming back exactly the same way.
Garreth was unsure about the change, but the Greek refused to hear
Perhaps against his own wishes, the sandwiches Garreth made became
art. He made stacks of cheeses and sauces that made people nearly
fall down in tears when they opened them. He baked breads throughout
the day, fresh loaves of wheat and grains that reminded people of
their grandmothers and other pasts that they might or may not have
had. He roasted huge slabs of lamb and pork and beef in gravies
and sliced them all off the bone.
The shop took out half page ads in the newspaper and the owner even
toyed with the idea of opening a second store. Of course, there
was only one Garreth, so the idea was forgotten as quickly as a
On the same night the owner thought briefly of expanding his business,
at roughly the same time, fifteen minutes after the shutters closed,
Garreth was riding his bicycle on one of his forty-mile circuits,
and found himself behind a truck with an open back door. Inside,
he could see flats piled with wide sheets of metal. Trying to empty
his head of all but the menu for the next day, he drafted behind
the truck to give his legs some rest. The heavy bicycle glided along
the street, relieved of the wind pressure in front of it, and Garreth
tried to stack all of the things he had to do the next morning upon
opening the shop. Setting the meat to slow-roast was first, followed
by all the vegetable prep work. Sauces and dressings could be started
then. Of course all of this depended on whether or not the meat
was delivered on time.
While he was deciding whether or not to try figs in the stuffing,
he barely noticed that the truck slammed on its brakes. The driver
was trying to avoid hitting someone streaking across his path, that
someone being someone who had just robbed a liquor store a few blocks
down, which information was unknown to Garreth, and would have made
little difference in unfolding of the following events. Garreth
was simply unable to stop in time, could not even tap the brakes,
and threw his hands out in front of him to brace himself. Crashing
head on, his arms thrust forward a few feet into the back of the
A small bolt wiggled loose from the impact, allowing the two hundred
pound door to fall with such force that it severed both of his hands
just below his wrist. The liquor store bandit squirreled off down
the street. He found himself wishing for death again, the sound
of his own blood jetting out like a washing machine in his ears
before the pictures came again. This time, they were longer, slower,
His mother in her workshop days before she died, killed by a transient
who stopped to help her carry the groceries into her house one day
after work, on her way home from the store, just twenty feet from
her front door. Instead, when she turned to grab the other bags,
he pushed her inside the car, locked the doors, drove her out to
the country, raped her repeatedly with various objects that Garreth
couldn't recall because not even the newspaper would print their
names, and then dumped her in a drainage ditch somewhere outside
of East Moline.
But the image was from a pre-time, of his mother in her workshop
because she had been a potter. Sold most of her pieces in one store
that wasn't there now, that was, instead, the back party room of
a bar. Pictures of her floated up to the surface, working at her
wheel with Garreth watching, she aware of his eyes on her shoulders
but not wanting to break the spell. Her hands smoothing along the
sides of the wet, warm clay, curves and elegant lines seemingly
pouring out of her fingertips onto the vases and bowls. After his
brother took his dog, he lost interest in other children, and would
spend all day in the garage that was her studio. There, he became
fascinated with her hands. Hands that she would cup his face with,
still warm and clayey, and then kiss him on the top of his head.
Fingers almost like magic, palms soft as sunshine. Hair pulled back
and tied into knot with grey streaks that shone like silver.
When he woke up in the hospital, he was almost unsurprised to find
that his hands had been replaced by large, sad-looking white daisies.
He found out from the doctor that the driver had stopped to fix
the latch on the door when he saw Garreth. He had torn his shirt
in two and used the pieces to wrap tourniquets around the blooming
stumps where hands had once been. He had even picked up the hands
and thrown them in the beer cooler he had stashed behind his front
seat, but by the time they had arrived at the hospital, saving Garreth's
life and not his hands became the main priority.
The doctor said nothing about the flowers.
Garreth was released after a week. The Greek came once to bring
him chocolate and tell him that he'd fired all the delivery people,
rehired both of his cooks, and invested the money he had made in
the stock of a small Internet company. The whole time, he looked
at the floor and said nothing about the flowers.
"Can't say that I'll rehire you.
"Not that I wouldn't like to, but you know I'm just a small businessman.
The Greek didn't come back after that day, although he did send
a card wishing Garreth would get well soon. He appreciated it. After
all, who else had come to visit? Of course, he laughed to himself,
who else was there? At the end of two weeks, Garreth left the hospital
and went back to his apartment.
He spent seven days in his home, eating bad takeout food, watching
television, not sleeping, and generally trying to move his mind
to a less lonely place. While the petals of the flowers hadn't much
force, he was able to move them, with languid yet controlled thoughts,
for small tasks like picking up a plastic fork or pushing a button
on the remote control. He watched infomercials, news, sports, biographies,
dance parties, tapdancing dogs, children's cartoons, talk shows,
ugly people wanting to be beautiful people, beautiful people lamenting
their imprisoning beauty. He watched everything, including the flowers
growing brown and limp from lack of sunlight, until the eighth day,
when the power was cut off. Since he had been in the hospital, his
bills weren't paid promptly, and things began to shut down, like
a giant beast headed for sleep. First the electricity, and then
the phone (not a big loss, since he had barely used it since his
father died anyway), and finally, the water. By the time the shower
stopped running, Garreth knew what he was going to do.
Throwing some clothes in a bag, Garreth walked down to the bus station
and bought a ticket to the city's outskirts. The next bus was already
in the dock, half-full of people fifteen minutes before departure.
It was an old bus that had been freshly washed, the air around it
smelling faintly of oil and stale air conditioning. The green and
blue paint made the picture of a long racing dog stretched across
the silver side, from stem to stern. He thought of the dog that
had been taken from him by his brother. The dog had been a mutt,
sort of German-shepardy looking with large eyes and a huge tongue.
He remembered the way the dog would stretch out on the floor of
Garreth's room to sleep, so big that he could almost reached both
walls, right forepaw and left hindleg reaching out in polar directions.
The doors stood open, inviting him in.
The flowers were too big to cover up with scarves, so Garreth simply
went and sat down on the seat, his giant petaled hands gleaming.
No one on the bus paid him any attention, so wrapped up in their
own loneliness, people talking to themselves or their children who
wouldn't sit still and behave, men going home or going to look for
work, old people with no other place to go at that particular moment.
Folks who had families and lives chopped off from them like a useless
appendage by the closing of the bus doors. Garreth decided that
he liked the bus.
At the city outskirts he walked in the opposite direction that the
bus had come from. He walked through a field of dead wheat that
hadn't grown that year, through fields of corn and soybeans leveled
by drought or other natural destruction. He slept on his bag, curled
up behind a fence to keep the wind at bay. When he awoke, he looked
back at the fields he'd crossed, at the path he'd taken, and it
was all colored a young, bright white. He looked where he had slept
and saw the outline of his form circled by a wreath of white flowers,
still in their buds. The form was long and stretched out, from the
tip of his right index finger down to the toe of his left foot.
Looking down at his hands, he saw that the flowers had disappeared.
The stumps where his hands had once extended from were now cauterized
and clean. Garreth rubbed them together and felt the warmth that
the friction generated.
He smiled a bit, a sad smile perhaps, but a smile nonetheless. His
smile was soft white too, a shining thing that would lead him all
over, he knew. Stretching his back, he looked in front of him, saw
dead fields and more fields, empty lots, dead land that he would
eventually cover. Saw trains he would take in the upcoming weeks,
months, years. Saw people he would smile at along the way, and,
if he was lucky enough, speak to.