The forms mention vertigo casually, almost as an afterthought, and you are left to supply your own definition, your own way of separating out the pieces and recombining them again in a plausible or meaningful manner. It is a job the size of an otter and when you’ve had enough, when you believe your eyes will turn to powder in their sockets by virtue of the alkali lingering still in the air, the blatant insults, you turn your attention to the wall where a handful of near masterpieces hang in small, bronze frames. Certainly they have been overlooked by the rest of the world because they are easy to overlook here in a backwater with its single railway station and the mourning doves all gathered together on the roofs of the houses in twos and threes, waiting, it seems, for something inevitable to happen. Something that will render the thirty minutes prior to its arrival all but irrelevant. I like to trace the outlines of objects and images that don’t exist, that materialize at the ends of my fingertips and then de-materialize again just as quickly, the whole merely suggested by the movement of my hand and fingers and the memory which fires and goes black repeatedly, so that whatever we retain in our memories is etched there by a wilting sort of flame, by something that refuses to endure simply because it is expected to. The payoff? More time to do the same. An afternoon at least. Maybe twenty years. In the crawlspace, I drop my flashlight and surrender for a moment to the claustrophobia that engulfs me, that scurries around on feet that don’t really sound like feet but tentacles. Why not stay here indefinitely? Why not put the mind at ease by offering it up as some kind of sacrifice? To whom or what does not matter. Of course, one’s instincts kick in --for self-preservation and the creation of entities that are not exactly the same as their creator (though the resemblance should be sufficient to eliminate any lingering doubt by all parties involved). From there it’s just a matter of finding your way to the surface again, of following shafts of light to the places where they enter, of listening for the sound of other people speaking no matter how distant. The chances you will be misled dwindle with each passing centimeter, with each long day ticked off on the damp patch of plaster that passes for a calendar until you are right back where you started again, and yet everything is different. The files in the filing cabinet have turned a dead yellow and when you examine them closely, they are written in a code or language you can not decipher. The sidewalks all have cracks in them through which weeds begin to sprout and flower and you hold off poisoning them because they remind you of something but you can’t remember what. It would be a shame to do them in, to turn their petals black, before the connection is made, before they have their chance to pluck you from the present like a man drowning in a low but relentless surf.