A soggy evening set in, looming darker as I crawled north.  The rain banged hard on the truck’s metal roof as I slipped across the border.  The lightening fell hard all around me.  I could feel the storm in my bones.  The storm helped me feel at large in the world, a feeling I’d been seeking since the argument with Helen.  I felt scared of what was to come.  I didn’t know how to extricate myself from the pointless dialogue.  I just wanted to be left alone to finish what I had started, and then I could decide on Helen.

I rolled into Memphis that evening, long after the , and checked into a room at the Peabody.  I’d heard it was one of the finest hotels in the South and I wasn’t disappointed.  The extravagant Grand Lobby was done in hard woods; it shined with a recent polish.  A fountain dominated the lobby.  If I’d gotten there during the day I would have seen the famous marching Peabody ducks swimming in the fountain.  There were only a few people in the lobby—it was dinnertime—and they all sat on hardwood furniture with clean-shaved physiques and polite postures.

I couldn’t see the Mississippi from my room.  My view was obstructed by the several blocks of city standing between the Peabody and the river.  The façade of the adjacent building was yellow brick in the shadows of dusk.  Down on the street the cars had turned on their headlights and there was still a rush hour bustle.  I looked at the building out my window and imagined I could see the river beyond the yellow wall.  I submitted to the river’s gravity and lay back on the bed.  I lay shirtless, ceiling fan on high.  When I drifted off to sleep I imagined the river: brown and constant and cool and larger than me.


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