Amelia and Paul moved dreaming through the color photographs of human lives in articulo mortis, in Europe, in the album. “First,” Paul said, regarding the first photograph closely, “we visit Denmark’s unique Tivoli Gardens with their bursting green, red and blue and silver fireworks at a quarter to twelve. Bawdy pantomime it says here.” They looked in every direction but all they could see was a few hundred chaps from the U.S. Department of Commerce. “Those chaps from Commerce turn up everywhere,” Amelia noted. “That must be a really fascinating Department to have so many decent looking young men, chaps I mean, in it, at the point of death.” Paul looked at Amelia as if he would like to strangle her. What a thing to say! Especially now, on Thermidor the thirteenth! (It’s too bad Amelia is Japanese. Not in itself, for I like Japanese people and their warm buttered legs, but this pachinko parlor is driving me...)



Ezra looked carefully around the French room. Yes, it was empty. If one excluded Paul. Excluding Paul was the reason Ezra was looking around the room. Ezra pretended not to see Paul. Yet Paul was palpably present. There he is, sitting on a cask, mending his pike. (Well, I can’t ignore him forever, Ezra concluded.) That damned Paul is always busy. Never an idle moment to imbue with the raincoat colors of fancy under the ax. Would that I could say of you, Paul, that you left things alone once in a while. But in fact you are always tampering. Those strong brown fingers forever shuttling back and forth like some insane loom weaving beautiful Czasy tapestries in brilliant hues.

Paul is not serious. It is what everybody says of him. How to give him a degree of seriousness that would lift his works to importance?

“Did you bring the twine?”

“Yes, here’s your damned twine!”