A man has died, but in his casket, in his skull’s gray dungeon—the world’s tiniest theater, his last thought remains. Down in the ghetto of the dead, the terminal second of an existence otherwise unimportant is kept in perpetuity.

Henry is about to walk out of his house into a night that is quickened with the radiant zeal of the stars and cautionary gaze of the moon. He is just under forty, and wears blue jeans, tee shirt, and loafers. His freedom can be measured by the eagerness of his eyes, his confinement by the distance of his hand from the doorknob. His one passion is to leave, to be out of the house. He has left the bed strewn with sheets half-fallen to the floor; clothes cascade from open drawers, chairs are heaped with towels, the floor is scattered with socks and underwear. It is a tableau of dishevelment whose duration he could not have foreseen.

In the scented summer night, in the damp, vegetative kingdom of Henry’s garden, Cathy waits. She has run all the way from her house, without clothes. Panting lightly, staring at the door from which Henry will never emerge, Cathy seems cool, her flesh milk-tinted, phosphorescent, luxuriant. In the moon-drenched blaze of rhododendron, Iceland poppies, Persian buttercups, small ovals of shadow cascade over the spectral hills of her blue-white bottom. Poor Cathy! About to run in and get Henry, she has been years in a half-crouching, half-standing position, the recipient of unceasing moonlight pouting down.