Sleep defeats him and he dreams through a grey dawn. The ground is a map of farmland, pine groves, and irrigation. Roads branch like tributaries- drifting and interconnected, destination meaningless. He is an asteroid, his skin will burn off any second now, his hands clutch at the air's resistance, the wind is rejecting him, an unknown blood type is hurtling through his veins and it's about to make him burst out laughing. There is a river at his ears, talons on his stomach, fury beating at every molecule, and a dim recollection of a safer place abandoned for this beautiful fatality. He is skydiving. Through the clearest day there's every been, without plane or soul in sight, he is projecting himself, missile-like, through endless pillars of heated thermals, cold, wrenching plunges, and invisible somethings that pummel his skin. There is nothing on his back but a shirt and suit jacket, and he's never felt more secure.

Visuals shift and he is in a sea of people who are breaking against skyscraper shores. They're all shoulders, feet, and elbows, shoving, moving him inexorably as the tide, pushing him away from an open car door and the hidden face inside. There is no sidewalk, no street, the concrete is constant, neutral, spiderwebbed like shattered glass. If he would trip he'd be trampled, forgotten, fit into a crevasse with chewing gum and cigarette butts, exiled. He looks at the sky to get his bearings, still possible even as window-mirror walls sway and tip with the jarring of the crowd. Something above him, watching him, falling, speeding, smiling at him, dropping, serene.

He wakes to a sore neck and a temper-he lacks the patience for symbolism.


He will not pay attention to the road, believing wholeheartedly that the driving will take care of itself. He will watch the sun. The daylight will spy on him during his drive down. It will sneak, stealthy, over pointed treetops all along the east face of the mountain, illuminating and somehow furtive. He'll turn on the radio for inspiration.

Travel to exotic Thailand. Accommodations and meals included.

He'll elaborate one way. He'd done informal recon in Bangkok the past three days, applying pressure here, there, until somewhere gave. Leaning until someone popped like champagne, information flowing though his fingertips in rivers sickly sweet with possibility, sticking to the hard palate like peanut butter where he just had to keep tonguing it, staying an extra night to get the whole story from the horse's mouth. Bangkok had been ugly, but smelled wonderful. The women were walking, talking birds of paradise. The food was Picasso on a plate.

The Twins and the Brewers took a rain check last night.

He'll elaborate another. A client in Minneapolis needed personal attention, something that could only be appraised on sight, as photography could not portray texture. A busy season, this time of year. He'd meant to return earlier, but the Midwest had had other ideas, blackening the sky and taking aim at the Twin Cities all weekend. If he ever had to watch that much American television programming again, he'd shoot himself.

Ritually, he'll consider telling the truth. Ritually, he'll reject that idea, and turn onto Highway 151 towards the nearest airfield.