In situations like this, the parents take over again. They speed over in police cars, inherit the emergency. The crazy husband is out of the picture. But the crazy husband had that wondrous ex-wife, that love of his youth, that constant something, always there, within. She took me home from the hospital, drove me to my apartment.

Can I stay with you?

“You always could,” she said.

What soothing words. Not true, actually – but true in a certain, symbolic way. Soothing, nonetheless.

She gave me clean towels, water, soap for the blood. Threw my clothes in the washer.

Hey, man, this thing is playing itself out anyway. What’s wrong with a little sympathy? What’s wrong with throwing a guy a pillow, a blanket? Giving a guy the couch? Letting him wake up in the same house as his daughter?

So that’s the way it goes, sometimes, when enough of the dots are out. You find somebody worse off; you get better. Sure it’s an illusion. But what isn’t?

Illusion works as well as anything else. That is all dots are: illusions, pebbles of ink that represent details that aren’t there anymore.

It wasn’t as late as you would think, considering. The drive over, the airport, the hospital – and back at dusk. These days, the sun stays up, slows down as it sets.

Anyway, this nut’s not going to crack, let me tell you. I hear the bells chime – six o’clock, seven, whatever – and I go right on.

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