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Have you ever had a moment, walking down the street from some unfamiliar errand, when the world slews around to reorient itself (left to backward, north to west) and reveal that you’re traveling in a direction orthogonal to the one you thought? If so, you understand the way Eben comes to perceive his own trajectory, over a dry and seedy joint, one cold spring Thursday.

He passes to the left (backward?) and doesn’t bother holding his breath.

“You okay?” asks Josh.

“What have we been doing all winter, Josh?”

“Saving the world,” Josh says, and inhales with the boldness of youth.


It catches him across the jaw and the world’s a blinking, spinning mess, as he tumbles on the long axis of his body to spit blood on the stubblegrass of Fort Wayne, Indiana. What the fuck’s in Fort Wayne anyway? A credit union, two Comfort Inns, herds of engineers and all her childhood. She grew those doe-brown eyes here, and those legs and those white teeth: learned to count, drank beer, stole candy, killed a rabbit in her mother’s van. He came to meet Fort Wayne, and it met him back, with the sharp clean ring of copper pipe on bone.