"As I lay with my head in your lap, camerado" has reminded me of Hannibal ever since the first time I read it. This story began simply, as a single image -- Hannibal, hunched over a copy of Whitman with a pencil and his cigar, chuckling as he "talked back" to Whitman over a poem which is, for all intents and purposes, about him.

But as the story was written, it stretched and changed until it became both an intimate, meditative look at how Hannibal "ticks" and a companion piece to my previous A-Team story "Wailing Wall". (I've tried to make "Cigar Smoke and Moonglow" stand on its own, but the reader would probably benefit from reading "Wailing Wall" as well. Certainly it will give you a clearer picture of what went on that night when Hannibal was at The Wall.)

Looking back over it, however, this story is also a pretty accurate reflection of how I feel about the world right now.

A few days after the first anniversary of September 11, I wrote a note to someone I won't meet for years -- the child I one day hope to have. I wrote a lot of things, but they can be summed up by a single passage:

"These things I know: that hope is right and courage is real, and despite all its imperfections the future we are building for you will be a good one -- because life, even in a terrible time, is joyous and True and, at its heart, worth living.

These are the things that I know."

The words were true then, and they still are today. I really believe that -- as Hannibal said -- it's all going to be all right.

Bless each of you. Thank you for reading. And, if you have time, a review would be appreciated. Thank you once again,

Skybright Daye