Del got himself into trouble over the chickens on a regular basis, sometimes even having to answer to the county investigators themselves. His neighbors or family members would lodge a complaint and the investigators would have then to come and investigate, but Del was expert at concealing his true nature. He’d learned it in the war where he’d also first contracted the, what? illness, I suppose you’d call it. The unusual proclivity. I don’t mind what anybody does so long as they don’t do it in front of me, but Del had this off-putting habit of describing his desires in such detail you couldn’t help but feel after a while as if you were right there with him participating. It was enough to make you grind your teeth at night when you were trying to sleep. Once home again, I sleep until 3, the exhaustion set into the bones themselves and hibernating there overwinter. My dreams come fast and numerous, each having something to do with what I had seen during my recent sojourn in the wider world, but altering it, in the fashion of dreams, to tell me something, I suppose. To instruct me. My task then is to decipher the instruction from the whimsy, from the imagination unfurling itself like a panther from the shadows. Then again, perhaps the imagination’s will is the lesson to be learned, the thing to be adopted as a primary benefit in and of itself. I have never been able to make heads or tails of aesthetic or metaphysical theory, but maybe my dreams are smarter than I am and it’s time to stand aside and let them take over before I botch things irreparably. What things would be botched has yet to be determined, of course, and by the time I roll out of bed and have a nibble at the last tangerine on the counter, I have dismissed the prospect as the ravings of a half-conscious man. A man with a dull ache in his scrotum from having slept on it funny. Soon, I am rifling through drawers and cabinets, in search of the substances I have previously sworn off, but finding none, I begin to panic. What happens if I must face the entire evening ahead with nothing but my own thoughts to keep me occupied? What happens if those thoughts turn out not to be my thoughts at all, but mere bits and fragments stolen wholesale from the books I read (or at least skimmed) in college because someone told me to read them and I didn’t have the fortitude to resist? I didn’t possess the obstinate certainty that comes of consuming substances all day around the clock instead of doing whatever it is you are supposed to be doing. Like picking your kids up from the skating rink. Or preparing reports to deliver the following morning to a roomful of men and women who don’t give a damn what’s contained in those reports – the projections and the promises and the figures splayed out before them in faintly pornographic poses -- any more than you do.