There had been a number of visitors that afternoon. He heard their names, but those syllables and the people attached to them vanished from his attention and memory equally quickly. They impressed him as shadows. And luckily, they came in cars of their own and were going off in the wrong directions afterwards. Besides, none thought of asking him if he needed a ride. He was glad to have the ride home on the bus without them.
It was chicken-farm country. He kept observing the approaching chicken houses along the highway as all being potential monasteries. He wasn't sure what to expect. The driver let him out at the designated place along Route Nine. The rain was bludgeoning its will upon the ground. He hopped and scrambled his way across the empty highway to a bar on the opposite corner. It was not as-closed as it looked. But it may as well have been. No one seemed to speak English. German came pouring out of mouths, and Russian, but no English. He had the strange feeling that he was no longer in the United States. He was almost sure of it when a Mongolian face came in. The man carried what appeared to be a wet bag of groceries to the bar.
"Do you need help?" he asked in perfect English.
"Monastery? Yes, one block that way."
"Thank you." He pulled his collar up in anticipation of the rainfall.
"You are very close now," said the broad face, smiling. His hand reached up and scratched his left ear.
He shook his head to clear it, for he suddenly felt strange. And running, he quickly splashed down the street. The rain was lighter, so he decided to walk, although the rain still splattered about him. He didn't want to run past it. Run past it? How could he miss it? On this street of cottages and bungalows, how could he tell which one was a monastery? Not a clue.
Yes, one! He suddenly remembered. It was next to a church. But could one of these plain buildings be a church? And one of the simple wooden-frame structures next to it be a monastery? He smiled at this thought. But then he laughed when he saw the real church. It was the definition of a church image out of a book of fairytales!
White, structurally heavy and broad, with a staircase which went up to an ornate double-door above which rose a steeple with a large blue spire atop it, onion shaped, jewel shaped, that just exuded happiness. Next door was a flat building, set back from the road, its walkway penetrating a sodden flower-garden. That's it.
"This is it!" he almost heard his own voice, as if from just above his head, as if from just below the clouds. As if....
And he walked up the cement porch steps, feeling as if the proportions of the steps were not relative to each other, and that they had not been designed for normal legs and feet.
He could see people in the livingroom. Some wore robes. He rang. An oriental face appeared. It said, "You cannot come in...."
"But I called... And the other continued...."unless you take off your muddy shoes."
His shoes joined a jumble of shoes just within the doorway. Some were new. Some were scuffed and worn at the heels. Some were neatly together, as if on display in a shoe store window, others were nowhere near their mates and off at peculiar angles to each other. A few overlapped onto a strange shoe, nose pointing into the room past the people, towards a painting of a Buddha on the wall. The Buddha did not seem to notice the shoes.
"Ah," he said, looking at the group of about a halfdozen Caucasian faces and then to a lama seated near the window. The monk who had let him in had vanished somewhere while he removed his shoes.
"Hello," he said, looking at the monk, whose finger seemed to be tracing little patterns on his knee. "I am.... My name is...."
"I am..." said the monk. "My name is..." gesturing to an empty seat near him. "Please sit down."
He sat down awkwardly, observing that only two of the others sat on a couch, while the rest sat on the floor, white socks, grey socks, socks with holes in them, crossed over each other in some loose cross-legged position. He wondered
if he should sit on the floor. No, of course not. The lama had mentioned the chair. But why wasn't anyone else sitting in it, next to the monk? Protocol? Shyness? He looked at the lama, who seemed to be squinting. Then he seemed to be sniffing, making little wrinkles in his upper lip. His lips pursed, then he relaxed and spoke.
"We did not know if you would get here."
Then he waited. The others waited, as silent as corpses. "Uh. I got here." Another silence and he watched the Buddha image. He could not tell where the Buddha was looking.
"You did not get lost?"
He was about to tell the monk about the bar and all the lack of communication. "No. I did not get lost. I am here. There was a little rain. I got wet and..." He was aware that he was speaking in spurts but did not stop, could not stop. "But I got here. I did not get lost. Perhaps...." Silence, within which he noticed that the crossed legs of the monk thrust one heavily-socked foot into the room in front of him, very visible. It jiggled. It rotated and jiggled, as if testing the reality of the room. or as if impatient about the reality of the room, of the conversation, or the people in the room.
Nonsense! That's just nonsense. The foot just jiggled at the ankle, it swivelled at the ankle. That's all.
He looked at the others in the room. They were all men. But of various ages. A few seemed to be together, but some were alone. In looking at them, he felt that they were the loneliest people in the world. Dark lines were under their eyes and a glossy shine in their eyes. Their entire bodies seemed to yell for help. He wondered if they were on some drug at the moment.
The lama spoke kindly to them all. He listened to the others and discovered by their spurts of words that the jiggling foot caught them as well. He was glad to be listening instead of talking. The lama had the others in his gaze.
He was able to watch the lama.
The lama studied his visitors, intellectual or deranged as they might or might not be, fixing them with his eyes, like insects .... or butterflies .... on a pin. That did not mean harshness. All softness saturated that looking. All pity sat behind it. He had not made them insects ... or butterflies.
"Geshe-la," said one young man directly in front of them on the floor.
"Ye ... es?" the monk smiled.
"Do the Tibetans believe in ... reincarnation?"
"Reincarnation?" He looked at one of the other visitors.
"Rebirth..." offered one of the smug ones sitting on the couch.
"Oh!" Then smiling again at the person on the floor. "Ye ... es! Yes! Very definitely!"
"Is it...." wild eyes speaking, "...important?"
His voice seemed to mock, eyebrows reaching and causing four solid lines on his forehead. "VERY imp-portTANT!" Looking and smiling.
"All Buddhists believe they will be reborn. And have had previous lives...."
The lama turned to him and said, as if directly to him, "It is very logical...." and back to the others with a quick sweep of the room, "...to talk like that. It is logical." Pursed lips, squint. "Tibetan logic." His eyes were almost closed, his nostrils flared. "Very deep."
A long pause, with the rain picking up and striking the window to remind them of another world.
The lama suddenly put both feet on the floor and leaned forward in his seat, speaking to the people on the floor, then lifting his eyes only to the others. "You believe that? Do you not? Do you believe that?"
He said it with his face full of warmth and joyfulness. His entire manner was like a kindly grandmother offering cookies to little children.
He watched him. And the lama turned quickly and caught him watching. His expression shifted and although still smiling became more formal. Their eyes met unblinking. There were no insects, no butterflies.
"Ah," the monk said to him, as if no one else were in the room. "Where were you born?"
"And your mother? Hmmm? Father? Ah. . . . "
He answered each in turn, trying to give the minimum each time. But each time he gave more information than was requested.
"Which year.. oh?"
And the monk suddenly looked away, giving a nod. The other monk came with a pot of buttered tea. The lama had a saucer with his cup. So did he. The others did not.
As it was, the others took a sip of the tea and drank no more. He had refill after refill.
"May I have another cup full?"
"You seem to like our tea."
"Have you ever drunk it before?"
"No, but it is good ......
"Yes, perhaps..." said the lama, looking at him.
"What were the flames ... those lights?"
"Ghosts," the sherpa answered.
"Yes. They were trying to save you."
"Save me!" he exploded. "They were trying to kill me! "
"Their idea of saving you is different from yours."
She watched him sleep. It was very deep. "Nell, that's only logical," she thought, and got out of bed.
There was reflected street-light in the livingroom. She fumbled, found some cigarettes, and put one to her lips. The flare of her cigarette-lighter temporarily revealed her nude body.
Standing in the dark room at the window, she looked blankly down at the street. The orange tip of the cigarette flared and pulsed.
He missed them.
Who did he miss?
He could not remember
A piece of glass fell next to him and broke into smaller pieces in the darkness. He could have heard it, but he was paying no attention.
A foot swung past overhead, grazing his shoulder. "You there?" the hovering voice asked. "What the hell's the racket for?" The other's body landed off to his left. Hands searched in the dark.
"Patrick!" it called up to the ceiling. "I've got it!
I found the flashlight!"
"Does it work? What's wrong down there?"
A beam of light suddenly swung around the room, stopping at the figure on the floor.
"He's allright," he called up. Then, more softly, to the other, "What's wrong with you? You allright?"
"I dunno..." Pop-eyed. "Shine the light..." pointing, "...over there..."
There it was, as before. Blue-black with great teeth and claws. "Oh!" came as tension became released, relaxation coming into his being.
The other was puzzled and looked back and forth from his companion to the wall and back again. "What's the matter?"
He smiled, touching the tangled hair on his head, searching out the spot with th&-, blood-clot. "I thought .... it was alive ......
The other laughed. "That's bloody rich! Afraid of a painting.... some stupid smear of paint...."
Patrick landed with a thud near them. Dark rings circled his eyes. He looked more dead than alive.
"Goodbye, Drelhu," he called as he stepped onto the wooden timbers.
"Goodbye, little brother," the other grimaced, solemn faced.
He put his attention to the makeshift bridge. It was tied with bits and lengths of wood and barely cleared the tumbling water beneath his feet. Leaving one shore of boulders and arid rocks, it crossed to the other shore, equally rock-strewn. Shakily, his steps took him over the hundred foot length of bridge. He was now on the other side of the Chu-Po, aimed south towards the forest and its villages. He could get guides there. Then he could progress further. He interrupted his thoughts. He turned to wave again at Drelhu.
But he was gone.
All he saw was the churning white river and its environment of glacial debris, the hap-hazard tumble of stones everywhere. Of course, he could not see Cho Tabla. He was already too far south for that.
He shifted his pack and started to walk, one step after another. He was a little disappointed that Drelhu had vanished so quickly.
The right foot moved and then the left foot moved, one after another, following the path. He wondered if Dorje Drelhu was watching. What would he do that for?
She was worried that he was tiring of her. But it was a needless worry. He was more taken with her than before. He was amazed and puzzled by the strength of the feelings.
"And what did you see?" she smiled when their breath became more normal and the gasps quieted down.
"What makes you think that I saw anything?" he laughed.
"You always do! C'mon! What was it?"
"Far away, somewhere far away. Lots of blue and a white square floating...."
"A building..." he corrected. His hand in the dark was shifting from one position to another and touched her ear. "A monastery. But it was floating in the sky... It had lots of windows ......
He paused. "And you?" he asked. "What did you hear?"
"Sounds," she giggled, turning and pressing her face into his hand. "Music, I guess. This time it sounded like KLING KILNG kling kling kling-ng-ng-ng."
"Never," she answered. "And you? No sounds?"
"Nope," he laughed. "I must be a specialist in light ...
"At least we're complementary." "Ah," he leaned forward. "I'll compliment you anytime." The person of light kissed the person of sound.
One day he said, "I have a suggestion...."
"Yes?" the full lips asked.
"Let's get married."
"Okay!" she answered, without hesitation.
"And I have a suggestion too."
"What?" he smiled, easy and comfortable.
"Let's quit our jobs and go on a trip
"Far, far away!" he finished for her.
"Yes," she said.
"Yes," he nodded.
And they did go far away.
Flames leaped. They seemed to run up the face of the darkness. And he yelled aloud at the river, cursing the rocks and the water in turn. Then as the great linear rhythms pulsed beneath him, he screamed at the rain bludgeoning the river surface. "Where are you?!!?"
Drowned out. The sounds were too great in his head.
"And the rain it bludgeoned the sidewalk"
"The rain struck hit BLUDGEONED-the sidewalk
That's when all the cracks came HA HA. It blossomed!"
One line after another.
"Bludgeoned the palm! of the right hand and the lefthand. His!
Hers! Whosoever! BLOOD ... ED the page!"
Solid or broken.
"It was a rhyme! A rhyme that answered quietly. It' a lot "
Easier. Whisper. "that way!"
"Where are you?"
It was very quiet. The rain had stopped. But everyone was still asleep. He was awake wondering how long they would walk. He looked at the others and wondered why he was travelling with them.
"Not why ... How," he thought. "How is it that we're travelling together?"
He stared at the dim figures. It was not dawn yet, but he could make out the shapes, lying on the floor in the sleeping bags. Sounds of breathing. Quietly. Very deep.
"There was yesterday," he said aloud. He saw Melody stir. "And there is tomorrow."
She did not wake but it made him watchful. He looked from Melody to the dark forms of the other three sleepers.
Two men and one woman.
Two and one.
The dark-haired woman stirred, moaned. He did not move.
He did not trust himself.
He felt the light, the shadows, changing. Perhaps nothing was changing. Perhaps it had always existed. "Balanced on the edge between light and dark," he thought.
Far away, above their heads, he heard a gong. It was slowly being struck. One, two, three times. Four, five, six times. As it continued, darkness surrendered, fled in front of the sound and~the coming light.
"It's not necessary to get married," she said.
He was caught by surprise.
"It'll just slow us down," she continued, inspecting a loose button on her jacket.
"Don't you want to get married?"
She looked at him coolly. "Sure I do, but...
"It would take time. My mother is sure to want a reception. You know .... 11
"We can skip that ..
"No," eyes again on the button. "She'll really want a big wedding and all..."
"But that is such a production...."
"That's what I mean," looking at him, half-sorrowfully. "Let's just go! And get married when we get back."
"Honeymoon first?" he laughed.
"Yes," she laughed. "You're not shy are you?"
"Not me, " he smiled.
"Not me," she echoed.
Everything was arranged.
Tickets, inoculations .... everything.
They both were excited. The excitement became more subdued as the departure date came closer. He thought of all this as he went to work on the subway. The life in the office was almost over. Good for that! The blue columns of the 51st Street station clicked past his eyes. FIVE-ONE. FIVEONE, FIVE-ONE. He got orange afterimages. Blue-black tunnel. Coughing, snarling and scraping plunge down the tracks.
"AHHHHHH!" The squeaks in pain of metal on metal. Lights surrendered off and fought back on. Faces of the riders all had eyes looking somewhere else.
But not until, in the gasp of the mind, it had been 4-2, 42-42! 42-42-4!
Three, three. Three.
They wandered in the postcards of India. They even mailed some paper postcards to the United States. For no real reason they mailed them. Perhaps to give their days some structure, some substance. Early on, they had stopped taking pictures of each other with monuments and ruins.
"Why does Sahib and M'msahib only photograph the cows?" asked an indignant bicycle rider. "India also HAS-AS fact-toe-ries and E-LEC-trick plants!"
They thanked him for his advice, going back to their hotel quickly to avoid a pack of beggar children. They were very disturbed by the crippled children tugging on their sleeves, rolling eyes, wailing and--in failure--cursing and spittting at them. They would have been more disturbed if they had known that many of the mutilated had been intentionally deformed by their "Fagins" for solicitation of sympathetic and horrified responses, a planned professional mastermind creating crowds of beggars for his own purposes, the harvesting of sympathy and dread.
In Srinagar, they felt as if they were the only tourists in the entire beautiful valley. And that was close to the truth. Trouble was brewing between India and Pakistan at the nearby border/cease-fire line. The fighting may have already started without news coverage to inform everyone. The Kashmiri Moslems spiritually identified with their fellow religionists across the border. They did this most strongly during peaceful times. When there was talk of war, suddenly India was their country.
For some, all they wanted to do was to go south to safety. The main road had been closed due to landslides. Air travel was the only way out.
They arrived as the crush of fleeing people was beginning. It would be weeks before they could get out. In innocence, which turned out to be for the best, they did not think of leaving. They could not have, in any case. They rented a houseboat on the lake. They took a bus to Pahlgam, and rented horses to ride in the forested hills. They observed the pilgrims, in ones, twos, or families of numerous members, equipping themselves and heading northeast to journey to see Shiva's great icicle in Amarnath Cave.
They smiled at all this devotion located in white-haired, bent, or red-haired straight, black-haired, tall men. These pilgrims were going on foot or horseback--some being carried in chairs--to visit that holy of holies (amongst the holies of holies). Shiva's phallic lingam appeared only when sufficient warmth had come to the mountains, to open the cave of ice where it presented itself erect in its womb of ice. When the weather cooled again, it would grow and fill that cave completely until the next summer.
"Little too cold for me," Melody smirked. "Brrr! Icey lingam!"
"You like it warmer?" he smiled.
"You bet!!" she said, grabbing his elbow.
Of course, they did not go on that Hindu pilgrimage. They returned to their glorious houseboat to loll away hot afternoons inside the railway-car string of rooms or on the rooftop deck, suntanning until the sun struck shadows across them via colorful awnings, making them think of supper.
This was how it was, day in and day out. The flights and diving splashes of kingfishers did not register at all. Melody delighted in oiling her body for the afternoon cooking, stripped down to the most minimal of bikini bottoms.
"We're very far from shore," she answered his eyebrow questioning of her near-nudity. "The houseboys are downstairs. They don't see anything...."
As it was, the servants hardly ever missed anything, but they gave an impression of semi-blindness or indifference. They were neither blind nor indifferent. Their guests were paying for this playful dozing away of Godlike immortal sunshine. As clients, they were not to be criticized. It was not good business.
White-dressed male servants served the mutton for supper. It seemed very elegant, served as it was in the handcarved panelled diningroom. Especially as twilight fell. At least, for a while. Then it became a hypnotic boredom of epedemic proportions.
They looked across the table at each other.
"What is that?" he asked the houseboat owner.
"A water-pipe...." he said, demonstrating a series of bubbles by blowing into it.
"What do you smoke in it?" Melody asked.
The dark-skinned, straight-featured man.touched his
moustache and his white eyes moved back and forth between them.
The pipe sat on a sideboard in the dining area, gently swaying with the motion of the boat. A picturesque and decorative object.
one day, when he was on the roof deck, Melody went to the side of the floating palace where the kitchen-boat was connected. A connecting plank balanced between the giant houseboat and the clapboarded one alongside. She made a noise on the plank. The houseboat owner appeared.
I'Ah .... " she hesitated.
"Yes?" his eyes half-closed, but completely aware of the bronzed woman in her two-piece bathingsuit.
"Will you ..." She looked towards the roofdeck and lowered her voice, "...get me some ... thing to smoke in the waterpipe?"
He did not answer. She wasn't sure that he had understood.
"Some-thing better than tobacco .... " she continued.
He smiled and nodded, taking a quick look at the roofdeck.
"Yes-s-s," he said. "I will give MImsahib whatever she wishes."
She turned and vanished into the ornate houseboat. He did not move, watching her torso move as she walked. Then he quickly stepped across the kitchen-boat, climbed into the dugout Shikars. Under the awkward-looking roof-awning and
decorated sign proclaiming its identity as "Texas Beauty," he paddled off towards the shore. He returned just before supper with a package which he quietly gave to Melody when she was alone.
"Will there be anything else?" he asked.
"Yes," she glanced into the livingroom to see if anyone were listening.
"Yes?" he echoed softly.
"Yes," she now whispered. "Tomorrow, when Sahib goes town, I want you..."
They both were silent for a moment.
"...to help me ... " she continued, struggling with her words, "to use..."
"Help you ... use ... ? What, M'msahib?" A very slight smile on his face which she did not see.
"Show me," she gulped out, "show me..."
"Show you .... Of course I shall show you...."
She stopped speaking, hoping that this meant he understood everything.
"Show you what?" he asked, much to her exasperation, for she was sure he understood.
"How to smokel" and she nodded towards the pipe in the diningroom, "the pipe...that pipe .... "
He smiled and nodded. "I will show M'msahib whatever she wishes," he whispered in tones which had now become the sounds of conspiracy. "I will show Mlmsahib," he continued, squinting and pulling on his left earlobe, "how to use," his
eyes opened and closed, "whatever the M'msahib would like to learn ... to use."
"Thank you," she said a little more formally and loudly.
"Do not thank me," he muttered, watching her walk away. "I am ... The pleasure will be all mine...I am-here..."
But she was already beyond earshot of his voice, as low as it was.
"....to serve you."
Water slapped against the side of the boat.
"I'm going up, today," he said.
"Can't you wait another day?" she asked. "I'd go with you tomorrow."
The houseboat owner directed the houseboys in the clearing of the breakfast table and the carrying off of the breakfast dishes, out of sight. There were sounds of Klink Klink. None of the servants seemed to be aware of their conversation.
"Why can't you go today? I thought we'd both go today .......
"Tomorrow," she said, touching her suntanned leg. have a slight burn ... the walking would aggravate it....
He squinted at her legs. "The weather might change...." Lines on his forehead.
"Oh, go ahead!" she suddenly seemed to decide. "You go
walk up to Shankara Carya temple. I'll do some reading....
"It's okay?" he asked. "I can stay...." she said.'
"Sure? Well then .... Be sure to stay out of the sun.. while I'm gone."
The houseboat owner coughed.
"The shikara is here to take you to shore, Sahib and M'msahib..."
"Only I'm going. M'msahib will be staying on the boat."
The Kashmiri did not look at either one of them. "As you say, sir. Will you be back for lunch?"
He glanced at Melody, who was watching a blue kingfisher strike the surface of the lake near some lotuses. "Uh ... no. I doubt it."
He turned to go to the dugout. "Stay out of the sun, Melody," he instructed.
"I will, " she promised. "I'll spend the entire day in the bedroom."
"Good," he said. "I'll see you later."
He looked at the young man with the paddle. The houseboat owner said, "This is my son. He will take care of you."
As he climbed aboard the shikara, he looked back at Melody. She did not say anything.
"I will take care of Mlmsahib," said the owner. "Do not worry. Whatever she wants, I will give her."
"Okay ... uh ... so long," he waved.
She made a slight wave with the fingers of her right hand, but was looking across the diningroom at something on
"See you later," he felt compelled to say, feeling slightly foolish without knowing why.
The water splashed between the dugout and the large, ornately-decorated houseboat. It pulled away and the distance between them grew very quickly. Sunlight sparkled intensely on the tips of the waves. In the distance he could see the rock hill which was his destination. On its summit sat a blunt fist of a building, penetrating the sky. A temple, not a lingam, yet...yet ...
"That goes in here?" she asked.
"Yes-s-s," he said, "and that connects to this. When the heat-the fire...ah... is kindled-like this ... "
"Oh," she said smiling with anticipation. "That is easy...."
"And then you should," his breath was irregular, "suck on it gently... slowly...."
"Simplicity itself," she said.
They fell into silence. Standing next to the pipe on the diningroom table they did not make a motion for a few moments. She looked at the pipe and then at the sunshine breaking on the water. He looked at the line of her throat.
"Shall I," he said at last, "take it into the bedroom?"
"What?" she came back. "What?"
"...bedroom... for you?" lowering his eyes.
"No," she shook her head. "Leave it where it is.
He looked startled.
"I thought, perhaps .... you would like to recline, and I..."
"You what?" she questioned, aware of the strangeness in the room.
He too noted the difference in the room, as compared to his fantasies, "would carry it for ......
"Nevermind," she said, frowning slightly at the man who looked away from her eyes. "Leave it there. You may go."
"I may go?" he seemed to say more loudly than necessary.
"Yes," she said, sitting in a nearby chair and picking up a magazine two years old. "I'll call one of the houseboys if I need anything."
"Houseboys!" he thought, his pattern of thought colliding and smashing against each other. He gritted his teeth and made a slight bow. "Yes, Mlmsahib," he said softly and left her alone, intently studying the fashions-to-be, which had already withered out of fresh memory.
He laughed when she told him.
"The old fool thought I had the hots for him."
"But how did he get that idea?"
She shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe he thought, as a Moslem man ... any woman left alone with him was fair game."
"We'll have to watch that. We are, after all, in another country with different cultural...."
"I guess Western women seem a little loose to them."
He looked at her stretched body, face-down on a large towel, glowing in the sun. "Well," he smiled, pouring some lotion on his hand and rubbing it on her legs, up and down, outside and inside, "I can see the appeal in the case of this one."
"I'll wear more clothes," she said. "Don't want to drive him to frenzy.... "
"I don't think held do anything foolish... like..."
She turned on her side, her breasts quivering. "Like rape? Do you think he'd do that?"
"I doubt it ... but never can tell ... If he was full of something. .. . "
"They don't drink," she said.
"But they do smoke," he said.
"A smoke doesn't drive you to frenzy," she said quietly.
"Well, I'm not familiar with...." and she interrupted him. "Do you think he'd take advantage ?"
"No," he said, looking at the lines of sunshine on the water. "His houseboat business would be ruined ... word would go out-the airlines .......
"Don't you think I'd be worth it?" she laughed, pulling on a T-shirt.
"Ruin my life for a quick trick?" he shook his head.
"Now if you were to cooperate and I could add you to my harem!"
"They don't have harems in Kashmir...." She laughed, wrapping a skirt around her from the waist.
"I'd have one..." he called down after her as she descended the stairs. "One blonde, one brunette-and one RED head!"
....No mermaids?" her voice came from below.
"Mermaids, lady centaurs ... Nymphs, Dryads ... whatever they have in the realms of imagination ... and the real world."
There was a sudden moment of coldness. A cloud had covered the sun. The lines on the water were now devoid of light, and lapped over each other. Blue over green, green over blue, they cracked, joined and parted again. He paused in this shadow., and his flesh crawled for unknown reasons. The breaking loose of the sun drove away these sensations and the half-formed thoughts that accompanied them. Its rays suddenly were hammering down and bouncing off the deck, coming up at his eyes from below, from the opposite direction of their source. He squinted at this and his nostrils tightened. There was a new odor, a dryness on the boat that he had not smelled before.
"Perhaps it's supper," he said aloud. "Some herb that I don't know."