Cliff's hunting axe, edge a bubbling topography of scars and rust, cast an improbable evening shadow, darkening a narrow half-acre swath of sugarcane. He climbed some steps (built by Rudy so many years ago they'd become a logical bit of landscape), and roared.

Below, idiot servant girl Celeste Huxtable continued a moot experiment. Quarter in, quarter out; quarter in, quarter out; depress the silver button. Brooklyn's spin cycle had gone still as the starry nights the Huxtables had never thought to wish to know. Blackout evenings lost their qualifier, became just evenings, deaf to mechanical demands, unimpressed by gadgets, stupid to the value of a buck.

Olivia watched people, or imagined she did. There went old Hiram, wooden toes a-clacking, as ever indifferent to lovesick lassies' stickum stares. Gorgeous hands swinging easy in the breezy. And Elton Huxtable (in truth captured six years ago, by an angry eagle) dabbling in technologies. You bet, he'll show them all. Amazing she remembered to eat.

Rudy, Cockroach, Nelson, and Winnie were the indomitable quartet. (Fraternity, forfend the decline of the lonesome!) Each Thursday (after having lost track, what was agreed by all to be Thursday), at 8:00PM EST (4:00AM, to them), the muddy-footed foursome trudged together to the island vertex, there to regale a maximum of egrets and sand dollars with quips and morality plays fixed upon a fundament of familial turmoil.

Elton II, avian avatar, necessarily took his meals from spinsterish wing- clipping Sandra. A better birdly life beyond the pale, Elton II turned to a belief in something like reincarnation, arrived at independently of Vedic texts, though strikingly similar. Oh, to have been waylaid by that eagle, to have swapped lots with his namesake! Maybe next time.