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Title Page




































About the Author


Copyright Page



The early-morning walls and windows of the fourth-floor apartment were there once more even before you opened your eyes. And outside, the nightlong mid-September drizzle had finally stopped. So you already knew how the neighborhood streets of your part of Greenwich Village and what you would be able to see of the Manhattan skyline would look later on when you came along the sidewalk to the Sixth Avenue bus stop. With your eyes still closed you were also already aware of how the recently rented three-room apartment looked in the dim early-morning daylight.

But before any of that you were already also very much aware of the also and also of who was no longer in bed beside you because you could hear her moving about in the bathroom, and then there was the sound of the shower, which is why I crossed my fingers for good luck once more, thinking, This many miles from Gasoline Point, this many miles along the way.

(You do not wake up every morning actually saying or even consciously thinking: and one and two and three and four and one two three four/one two three four plus the also and also of the specific day of the week, month, and year once more. Not as a deliberate or even conscious routine. But the also and also continuity of the pulse of the conventional actuality of the workaday world of clocks and calendars and maps and mileage charts is there even so. As is also the awareness of local landmarks, and thus destinations and aspirations, however obscure, without which chronology itself may well be not only pointless but perhaps also even inconceivable.)

When I heard the softly padding footsteps heading back through the living room to the kitchenette, I still didn’t open my eyes. So what was said was not good morning. What was said was seven o’clock. Which was also the way Mama used to say what she used to say to let you know that it was time to rise and wash up and brush up and shine up before breakfast and the first bell of school bell time. September, September, and this time in New York. The Philamayork of the old Mother Goose mantelpiece clock fireside tell-me-tale times of the long-gone boyhood nights on the outskirts of Mobile, the Alabama Bay city gateway to the Spanish Main and the Seven Seas.

And also the New York City during the time of the central Alabama college campus clock tower chimes as you heard them through the shrubbery outside the ground-floor periodicals room of the library and beyond the tip-tops of the poplar saplings outside the long second-floor main reading room during study periods; and also as you visualized it in the after-hours darkness of the dormitory lounge when the radio announcers said it the way they used to say it along with the sound of the station signal.

Nor was there anything more evocative of New York as beanstalk castle town of skyscrapers and patent-leather avenues and taxicab horns and motors and subway trains than the Street Scene score that so many sound tracks for drawing-room comedies used to begin with, the camera panning the skyline from the air and then zooming in on the midtown traffic and people along the sidewalks with the shopping district showcase windows sparkling in the background, before settling on the swanky hotel, apartment building, or town house where you picked up the story line.

September, September in New York City once more, and this time also the also and also of Eunice née Townsend now become Mrs. Me plus the also and also of my graduate school course of study at New York University off Washington Square and of hers at Teachers College, Columbia University, up on Morningside Heights. Eunice Townsend, Eunice erstwhile Townsend who was there because she was the one above all others ever considered all the way back to the crepe myrtle yard blossom and dog fennel meadow days of Charlene Wingate, who said, Not now, Scooter, and said, I’ll tell you when, Scooter, and finally did. But not for always.

Eunice Townsend, Eunice née but now erstwhile Townsend. (And also no longer the Nona that she had been nicknamed during her freshman year at State Normal Junior College.) She did not say anything else to keep me from dozing back off to sleep, because we had been married and living together for many weeks then, and she knew that I was already sitting up. Because she was also very much aware of the fact that I was the way I was about never being late for anything, and also that with me it had already become a matter of not being tardy for school bell time long before it also became the basic principle of road band bus departure schedules and being dressed up and tuned up and onstage before curtain time.

Before I opened my eyes I was also aware of the sounds and aromas of breakfast preparations in the kitchen then. But then, as also used to happen during school bell days of the week when it was Mama in the kitchen, and the stove was a wood burner and the light was from an oil lamp, it was almost as if you were all alone. Because you had to prove to Eunice as you used to feel that you had to prove to Mama that you could go out and do whatever you were supposed to do. Because then I was remembering what book I had been reading the night before and what references I was using and where I stopped and put in the page marker and turned off the light. Which is why I also already knew how the desk would look in the morning light before I opened my eyes and stood up and headed for the bathroom.


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