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Living in a fourth-floor walkup was part of his revenge, as if to say to Alice, "Throw me out of the house, will you? Then she'll know I cheated her." The voice was Elaine's voice, the tragic little body her body. Elaine was gone, in the infinite outer space where the mind hides to escape from itself. Before Alvin had taken him out of school Joe used to read books with his mother. "Fine," said Joe, and then, thinking of "The Merchant's Tale," he smiled at his mother. It had been the best time of Alvin's life, better than any life he had created in the lab, but that was when he had believed it. Does he like playing the part that I have given him? " Again Alvin tried to find a way to fend off Joe's story with ridicule. Joe had pierced through shield and armor and cloven him, neck to heart. No hands reach under my armpits to pull me away from the page.
For a moment he thought of leaving it there, with the big-city temptation to mind one's own business even when to do so would be an atrocity. But he remembered Alice saying, "You aren't even human, Howard. It was a strange smile for her, and for a terrible moment she no longer looked like my Elaine, my bright young patient. "I wanted her with me, she was so alive, and when she finally joined herself to the ship, she sang and danced and swung her arms, and I said, 'This is what I've needed; this is what I've craved all my centuries lost in the songs.' But then I heard you." "Anansa," I said, realizing at that moment who was with me. All the cycles of ordinary life played out despite the shadow of inevitable ends. Alvin wanted to apologize but he had no strategy for that so he tried to affirm that it had been a joke by making another. " Joe half-smiled and quickly gathered up the cards and put them away. Cassandra, Queen of Swords, flung her bladed words, and people batted them out of the air like flies, when if they had only caught them and used them, they would not have met the future unarmed. I remember the pen running out of ink, but it is the memory of many pens running out of ink many times, and I can't recall how recent was the most recent case of running-out-of-ink, and whether the most recent case of pen-buying was before or after it.It was his strongest card in their relationship-- that she wanted him more than he wanted her. Stu's ugly wife tried to be tempting, but Howard had played innocent and made her feel so uncomfortable that she dropped the matter. With Father there, they had played at being prisoners, passing messages under the guard's very nose. Had I only waited until your customary homecoming hour, you would not have come, and instead of transplanting a cold rod of iron into my lap I could have walked through the house for the first time as if it were somewhat my own.He thought of this often: at work in the offices of Humboldt and Breinhardt, Designers; at lunch in a cheap lunchroom (part of the punishment); on the subway home to his tenement (Alice had kept the Lincoln Continental). "If you let them make you feel uncomfortable," Howard would often say, "you give them a handle on you and they can run your life." Howard could find other people's handles, but they could never find Howard's. Howard paid careful attention to office gossip and knew that several earlier departures from the company had got caught with, so to speak, their pants down. Now there was no guard, and without the need for secrecy there was no message anymore. At two in the morning he got up from his bed, where he could not sleep, went downstairs, and began to program the graphics of the tarot deck upon the screen. But he sensed that something painful had happened while he was at work. As the night grew later and later, I would have become more certain you were not returning; how daring I would have been then!It dropped to the ground, and Howard backed quickly away, on fire with the pain of a dozen or more stinging wounds. In the middle of the night, in a bathroom lighted by a single bulb, with a travesty of humanity writhing on the floor, Howard could not believe that it had any reality. Yet the thing had far more purpose, far more control of its body than any human infant. I was still there when I was awakened in the morning by Elaine's voice. It's still raining." *** It was a feeling of power, to know that I had called someone back from places far darker than death. But in the back of my mind I was already trying to figure out a way to get the case into print, to gain something for my career. "This isn't, the way she said it was -- she said it was--" She. The baby slithered across the floor as Howard, in pain from the wounds on his body, watched in a panic of indecision. Her life was painful, and yet my promise of devotion was enough, apparently, to compensate. This was what made me feel exhilarated, what kept me blind and deaf to what had really happened. The nurses made a great fuss over her, and the administrator promised to write up a glowing report. I was ashamed of myself, for twisting what had been an honest, heartfelt commitment into personal advancement. Though, maybe they've found a way to boil me in solar energy. I tried to ignore the dull fear that suddenly churned in my stomach.