3

There are frogs billowing with the mellow organ sound of the earth, under bridges water shimmers with the light of the moon and on this dark night houses are quiet as stone, blind as moles and dreams sublime as astonished honey. The dead are sleeping in California under grape-grown soil, the dead are sleeping under the sometime snow of the far north, the dead are resting and feet tread silently throughout the night.

Over the hills and far away a jazz band is playing.

A lady full and roiling with liquor is dressed in white, stumbling home and no one cares.

The orchids of a private house are full and rising into the night.

Adam is dreaming and Leopold is half-dreaming.

I never truly sleep; I just lie there and wait for morning, that's how I've passed centuries. Stumbling around in the semi-light-dark, waiting for morning.

When the king slipped away of old age I went back to my father, back under the great green wood; he offered me no counsel but said that a man's life is his own to live and others can only guide him.

I suppose that's when I learned—or perhaps began to learn—that all but gods are men, for anyone can die quietly away, even elves. The heart may not stop beating, but it no longer knows for what cause it beats, the beating becomes monotonous, it becomes a joy to no one and a disturbance to the mind.

I don't think I ever made the confessions to anyone. Nor the other to me—it's a sad kind of resignation, when something as insurmountable as time interrupts the ideal, by then all you can do, all you have to do is accept it. But I think my father might have known; we've always been quietly communicative in that sense—I've never seen him look so sorry, and I was sorry in return. For what? For having been born what I was or for the heart that is uncontrollable and traitorous, I'll never know.

When my father sailed for the Havens I left with him, but when I returned—here lies another great tragedy, Gimli died; that staunch old rascal, he only knew my sadness, not what caused it but nevertheless made things better with his wholesome joy—when I returned I took one look back and said my father as he waited by the shore: I'm a wandered you know, a foolish little wanderer, and I will be until eternity beats it out of me.

My lone boat beat on, against the current, back into the past.


-When something lives forever, there is always the threat that what has happened will happen again. And in that the future can be read as clearly as memory.

--I'd like to be an elf, Eldarion said, tumbling towards me.

I reached for his small hands, white and alabaster, and in the evening glowing like subtle stars. –Oh but then you'd have to think about tomorrow for eternity.

--I don't mind.

I said softly and leaned into the wind—Eldarion, Eldarion, you would have to leave the world behind.

--But I am brave enough to forsake it; we all must, and watch me…!

He grew old, frail like a leaf and tumbled far, far from me.

Leopold woke up with a cry and sob; they really did have that conversation so very long ago, but the boy had only crawled into his lap and laughed at him for being gloomy, then Gimli had burst from the bushes with a blueberry tart procured from the kitchen for the child.

He eased himself out of bed, below he could hear the soft step of old Mrs Morgan bustling around preparing breakfast for the lodgers of the worn brick house. The other lodgers were arising; he heard Billy Payne strike a match against the wall in a room next to his. Morning cigarettes for the sleepyhead; morning sorrows for the newly-awakened, and morning breakfast duties for the old widow downstairs.

After a meal of toast and butter, well-mixed with the chatter of lonely young men and morning papers he left for the bar: two buses, heaving and clanking with loose metal bits, down the long busy streets, romantic young women strode up and down the merry boulevard and men were either hopeful or established and satisfied in their sleek cruisers, sliding by behind glazed windows.

The bar-tender and the singer were already present and sweeping back and forth over the creaking floor-boards as they sighed in tandem with the Victrola's wearied waltz.

--Crank it up for us, Leo! Called Ray; Mary Reed, who went by the stage name of Ruby, twinkled with the many winking rhinestones on her gown, under the weak fluorescent light they were obviously cheap replicas of diamonds.

--How about I played for you instead?

--That'd be sweet, Lee. Said Mary who liked to come up with nick-names and used 'Honey' on strangers.

And after another waltz they all sat down to have lukewarm water, all the while pretending it was perfectly chilled martini, but they laughed and were familiar and were happy anyway. This happened every day.


In the day there are few customers, Ray and Mary dance some more: foxtrot, waltz, any dance they know of. Leopold writes sonatas, concertos and poetry, more songs for Mary to sing. Ray occasionally experiments with new mixtures, sometimes these cocktails sell like hotcakes and sometimes they don't.

On other days the bar only opens at five, on these days Mary might work as a waitress or line up for an audition at the theatres that line the fancier side of New York, Ray might wander around the park and be as philosophical as ever a bar-tender could be, he also doubles up as a caddy for the rich anonymous men who while away their free time at golf.

Leopold writes more concertos and is working his way up to the ranks of musical genius, according to Mary, this usually happens in his room, or it could happen at the docks as he watches sailors load and unload and go through the motions of a mundane, but otherwise useful life. Leopold feeds ducks at the park, or he stays home to help Mrs Morgan keep the house clean. Sometimes he's dreaming and on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Mondays helps banks with their bookkeeping from his tiny corner of the universe labeled: Part-time clerk.


One night Adam stumbles in for a drink. For this hopeful young cub-reporter it's been a long hard day chasing down news all around the precinct. Alcohol keeps the sorrow from biting, for it let's the sad tell of what is dear to their hearts.