On the cover of Hayman’s Proust, something miniscule has just moved. Something so small as to suggest it is not really there at all has diverted my attention away from where I had originally intended to aim it, namely in the general direction of the standing water out the window. Or maybe the stray piece of cardboard poised to turn circles beyond that. We can strain our senses to the breaking point and still not retrieve the information we desire or understand the information we do manage to retrieve, but this doesn’t mean we are fated to stay locked up inside our own minds forever like actors no one remembers the names of anymore wandering around inside black and white films. It does mean, however, that any attempt to break free, to escape our original bondage is likely to appear to others desperate and pathetic. Akin to trying on pants two sizes too small. Or walking down the middle of a side street, all but daring the occasional car or lumber truck (the driver of which is, no doubt, lost and in danger of receiving a citation) that happens by to continue in a straight line as if you weren’t walking there. As if you were in no danger. Even Eulalie counsels restraint and her throat is more supple than mine, her hearing so acute as to suggest she hasn’t aged a day in more than twenty years. She keeps a room at the very top of the tower now, or so I have been informed by those who claim to visit it at regular intervals. Their reports are not to be trusted. For one thing, they contradict each other, one recalling a thick sable blanket on the bed, another recalling no bed at all but a hammock fastened loosely at either end into the plaster of the wall. Sometimes (as is the case with Eulalie, now grown so mythical as to seem something that should be made of marble rather than flesh and blood or whatever it is she is actually made of) when anxiety finds us and we haven’t been looking for it, and we haven’t been trying to avoid it either, the sound it makes is very like someone regaling a crowd around a fire with tales that have no beginning and no end, that seem almost to spin themselves into being out of the very light itself and the surrounding darkness, and maybe too the soil underneath which is damp and full of rotting plant matter and millipedes. Eulalie explains that there are only two ways of ascending the ladder she sends down. Neither of them is obvious, neither lends itself to what we like to call intuition or common sense because we have no better term for the state in question. We don’t even have time to memorize the faulty terms, to put them to practical, if imprecise, use. When I am at the bottom rung looking up, the fear courses through my body like conger eels in the shallows around some uninhabited island. It makes me wish I had never set eyes on Eulalie all those years before, wandering alone on the desiccated plains of the llano Estacado. Or was it a courtroom? No matter. It’s time to start climbing, time to place one hand above the other and repeat the process until such time as it no longer seems like a conscious process at all but is rather something accomplished solely through instinct -- like breathing or perspiring or conjuring up the shadowy niches and seldom-seen corners of one’s old childhood home when one is deep in the act of dreaming.