Concealing yourself inside the barrel is preferable to tottering down the mountain pass in hushpuppies, your vision altered permanently for the worse by the angle of the sunlight and your tendency to rub your knuckles into your eyelids before they are completely closed. My jacket, in the meantime, makes claims across the back, sports letters placed there in complete sentences with a steady hand and a warm iron or a great deal of gold thread, but I can’t remember who might have alerted me to this fact initially. It could have been the man who used to live above me and who was forever sailing paper airplanes down onto the heads of passersby and whistling bits of Iolanthe in such a way you got the distinct feeling he believed he had somehow invented them, he had pulled the tunes out of the convoluted matter inside his skull. When I would quiz him on the particulars, he stated that he didn’t believe in free will. In fact he didn’t believe in will at all, but rather a force very like it with the difference being this force (for which he was still hoping to find a suitable moniker) affected nothing but itself. It inflated itself and sketched itself in a mirror on a regular basis and every now and then it would transform as if by magic and proper planning both into its exact opposite, much the way certain microscopic life forms can, when necessary, turn themselves completely inside out. So as to escape predators, I suppose. Or demonstrate their superior flexibility to those other life forms that just happen to occupy the water column next to them and that can’t really see what’s going on because they haven’t developed rudimentary eyes yet. This means the entire enterprise is wasted on them, but not on us. Maybe -- I used to say to him when I wished to cause a scene or simply to exercise the tendons in my jaw because my jaw was sore at the time and prone to lock up on me and cause unbearable pain, something which I, of course, wished to avoid through these preventive calisthenics -- maybe the movements we witness are random, while at the same time they are intended somehow to illustrate and confirm that all random movements are not the same. Some of them carry with them a definitive meaning, a theme, much the way horsemen tend to carry blankets around with them even when they are not riding a horse. This is especially true in those desert communities you can find just south of here where travelling by foot is seen as a badge of great honor because the distances to be covered are so enormous, and the time for covering them has all but come and gone.