And what’s more there’d be too much to tell, with his folded-up face and our proximity, the fact that we’d lived so close to each other growing up, that in high school we’d mostly talk to the same girls and dress the same and find the same tired things funny; and in any case there’s very little time now, I’ve very little time to talk about an old friend, maybe my oldest, the kid I’d met by the barn, whose webbed feet I’d commented on, whose father wore only hot pants, whose mother ballooned and sagged and ballooned and sagged with the men she’d met and lost, her cigarettes jammed in a flower pot by the bed; for it’s not so much that I’m rushing or that I want to leave off here, but rather that to begin such a thing would mean I’d have to end it, and I don’t want that, I don’t want to draw him in hard lines; instead, if I could, I’d tell how he’d guess the music on the radio, Dinosaur Whatever-they’re-called, he’d say, reclined, his feet on the dash, or the band after them, Sebadoh, and he’d be wrong most of the time, of course, sometimes horribly so, not even in the same Barnes-and-Noble genre, alt-country when he really meant R&B, but it was understood that this was a highly imperfect science, and on those rare occasions when he’d nail it, when he’d offer up “Cowgirl in the Sand” and there they’d go, those first little licks and then the big kick-drum entrance, we’d pull off to the side and just listen for a while, and for a few minutes he’d be quiet, terribly quiet, quiet with loud eyes the way he was in an argument, hearing everything you’d mentioned and planning his point, following your mouth until you’d finally stopped, then noting softly that all that’s wrong; perhaps there’s very little in saying he wore the same shoes every day, in school and out it was always a pair of moccasins, stupid beige numbers, fur-lined, reeking of something inhuman, and when a friend would ask he’d reply that they were lucky, that he could walk silently through dry leaves, that in winter they were warmer than boots, that he had no time for socks, and so on like that for ten minutes maybe, until you were off the subject altogether; and then, I remember now, there was the time on the carpet, the time when our upstairs had been redone and the tacks were still visible but it was so soft, he said, this grown man, thirty-six, I think, saying how soft it all was, lying down with his face in it, body slack, and he was there for an hour and I went downstairs for a phone call, realizing by the end of it that he was gone, his shoes not by the door and a note in the kitchen, Left, it said, and in the morning I saw his outline, heat-pressed into the fibers, a likeness gangly and lonely, it seemed, but fair.
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