A clap of thunder precedes the smoke in the distance and Xarlemagne knows that it his own hovel caught fire even before anyone can confirm it. They do so on their way past, in the opposite direction, what’s left of their own personal belongings thrown together in burlap sacks and, more often than not, slung over their shoulders. I count a travois or two but I might just be seeing things. Hallucination hounds me from morning `til night lately, becoming so familiar with my comings and goings it can recite my itinerary pretty much from memory. And what a capacity for recall hallucination has! Xarlemagne grumbles about it at night by the fire, his arms beefy and covered in an impossible to precisely identify grime (the theories, though, proliferate in inverse ratio to the odds of identification – resulting in a phenomenon I like to call “the righting of the Mayflower” after a film I stumbled on once when I was a child, a film concerning the unforeseen consequences of the scuttling of a replica of that infamous vessel). I’m a little frightened at the turn the conversation is about to take, something I can determine beforehand simply because I have spent so much time in the company of Xarlemagne and the others of his ilk who accompany us as far as the city gates and then turn on their heels and run, afraid apparently they will be recognized and someone inside will let the falcons loose upon them. I wonder why I can’t remember anything that doesn’t somehow involve me, that can’t be labeled as such and stored away like so many containers of turpentine. Where is the rest of the world when it’s not passing directly before my disinterested gaze, when it’s not occupying the nerve cells at the back of my eyes? I know we must act as if it has its own autonomous existence, because if we don’t, our friends and our acquaintances will stop speaking to us one at a time and drift away like nearly identical common weed seedpods on a moderate breeze, almost as if they have been instructed and swallowed up by this new worldview itself, by the implications of it suddenly coming to light. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had my fill of what others call decorum when they probably mean dignity. Of standing upright for as many as eight hours a day. Maybe what we remember, what we cling to so desperately, is nothing much more than something we intended once to remind ourselves of, but forgot almost immediately because it was so trivial. To pick up the dry cleaning, say. To bone up on the card tricks that come in handy at social gatherings where you don’t really know anyone. And we have simply been adding to and elaborating on these original kernels (these specks and stains) obsessively every day for twenty or thirty years until they become entirely outsized and possessed of such apparent significance, we can’t imagine going anywhere without them. We can’t imagine ourselves complete should they break free of our grasp and escape, or worse yet, should someone come along and appropriate them for his own inscrutable ends.