Exile seems more and more likely, days spent in a shack on a promontory overlooking the sea. What’s to complain of? My ribs ache on one side only, in the evening when the wine has grown bitter and the conversation circles around ideas that have only recently gone out of fashion. Neuropathways and brie cheese. The distance between two points that seem to be placed directly on top of one another. I’d like to take the opportunity to recall past events that may or may not have happened to me, to bundle them up with twine and toss them to my accomplice waiting in the next room, but I know she is sleeping and the least disturbance is liable to enter her subconscious mind and re-arrange the contents, not necessarily for the better. Just try then to undo the damage with bicycle rides, with miniature origami flowers arranged in intricate patterns. Not that anyone affected would recognize the damage had been done in the first place. They would glance at you out of the corner of their eyes and shrug their shoulders and the rest of the afternoon might be spent then repeating meaningful phrases as if to leach the meaning from them and turn them into a veritable gruel. On the sidewalk I am forced to turn my body ninety degrees repeatedly so as to be able to pass safely through barriers placed there specifically to keep me out. The idea seems to be that my presence will make others uncomfortable and they will flee in all directions in a panic, but precisely the opposite occurs. Before I know it, I am surrounded by curious faces, people with expressions of wonder and something even like (dare I say it?) awe in their eyes and around their mouths as if they have just stumbled on a fragment of an Ionic column sticking up out of the broken asphalt of a parking lot. I am offered joyful chanting on all sides, and handshakes and even a mint julep by an old man who says he has seen me before, on the other side of town where things like this just do not happen. Where you are told what to wear and how to behave and what subjects to study from the time you are eight or nine years old until the time they put you in the grave, and even then, there are plenty of expectations. You can’t just lie there, for instance, at your ease for all of eternity. You must make every effort to start another journey, to gather what things you need and set off (after, of course, a sufficient enough time has passed to allow those who knew you or those who just thought they knew you to grieve) over the mountains that mark the barrier between this world and some other one that probably, if we are being honest with ourselves, looks a lot like this one and offers many of the same pleasures and disappointments. Fact is it’s hard to take seriously the alternatives that have been presented to us in the meantime. The stratocumulus clouds. The doe-eyed virgins in their tunics.