Being temporarily short on funds, Alexander Hammil joins the army of the goddess of love.

“I’ve never been a solider,” he tells the recruiter with the velvet fog voice.

“Don’t worry about it,” the Fog murmurs. “I’m sure you’ll do just fine. Nothing to it.” He writes Alex a check, and waves it idly about while he talks. Alex can’t keep his eyes off it; five thousand dollars is more money than he’s seen in a year. “Come on, I’ll show you the temple.” He puts the check in his pocket, absently.

The temple is very tasteful, almost severe, all white marble and hushed tones. The Fog loves it: “Built in 1231 by the architect Commodious, this is the oldest temple still in service. There are older holy spots — rude shrines, sacred glens, auspicious mountainsides — but here the shaping hand of man has molded unfeeling rock into forms of praise.”

Alex pauses before one of the statues. The goddess looks down at him with blank, silent eyes. “Look out for me, lady,” he whispers. “Am I doing the right thing?”

She closes one eye in a conspiratorial marmoreal wink. Don’t worry about it, kid, we all muddle along.