I was a shopper in a dark aisle. Stoplights, squares of gum-pocked cement, a camera store called Shuttered. It was Friday. Midnight. I was walking down Granada Ave with no cell phone, knowing the time from the sign at the bank I’d passed three or four blocks ago. Or maybe it was a credit union. It may be obvious now, but the vacancies were a metaphor. Store windows in the dark. Raccoons—three or four of them—emerging from the condemned craftsman near Byrd Park and standing on their hind legs, unbothered by the rain. It was raining then. It’d begun to spit. Attention, a person named Jenny had said, is our last and most precious resource. She poured a mixed drink and handed it to me, unfamiliar with my history. Types of, scales of, ways to give and receive. I needed water and fresh air. Do you ever feel your phone vibrate when you are without it? Twin chirps of a car horn at an empty intersection? Now and then I think about how certain stars are inaccessible to the gaze, directly, so you have to look at the adjacent stars, ingest them in the periphery. Yes, I took a sip. Maybe two. But once the gin bloomed I put the red cup down and excused myself. The porch light flickered when I stepped out, then settled. Drinking isn’t the problem, my brother said once—we were driving back late from Uncle Terry’s service, six or seven ticks below the speed limit—the problem is drinking. He was like that; I always sort of knew what he meant. That night on Granada I had someone to call but nothing to call them with. The one car I saw go by had one of those Jesus fish on the back, but with a hook in its mouth, a sort of joke I guess. It slowed but did not stop at the red light. I don’t know why I didn’t go back for the phone. I’d have to return the next day, knock, ask for Jenny. Maybe Gabby would give me a ride. The rain wasn’t stopping or speeding up, and when I turned to pass the parking garage on University I could hear someone in there, high up practicing a wind instrument, maybe a flute. Two or three times before I’d heard this but it was usually a band practicing, a small group. Percussive. Imprecise. I pulled off and stood under the awning of the salon next door. Before he died my brother had gone on a real bender—eighteen or twenty beers a day, the nurse said. He’d been calling in sick at the lumber yard but still took shifts in the ambulance, night shifts in the North End. Death was all around him. Maybe you know what this is like, hearing music overlaid with rain. They stop competing after a while. Low thrum on acrylic canvas. Continuous glissando. Widening stream in the margin of the street.