You notice, eventually, that you are being shadowed. It’s a subtle thing — you haven’t spotted the same person twice — but you slowly realize that there are always a set of eyes ready to meet yours when you look up from your paper. You inevitably look away first. That delicate balance has been lost and left you grasping after old habits.
You pull one up against a wall outside a bar one night, a blind Argentine, and push your face in lover-close. What do they want, you hiss, baring teeth. Lamed wufnik, they say. Nothing, nothing. Only to watch! Lamed wufnik.
Lamed what? Whatnik? You rattle their cage for answers and they’re delighted, breath just slightly sweet with bourbon, delighted as any hobbyist full-up with trivia. Lamed wufnik. The twelve people that justify the ways of man to God. Lot’s rainbow. Right? Right.
The hell you say, you say, and way down deep in your mind something unspools, some dim memory of literary detectives and kevlar vests, of saline bags and transubstantiation, combs grown to forests and an old woman become a roaring fire. Why you?
Pfft, they say, why not you? You do as well as anyone. Who are you to say ‘why?’ See how much you think you know! Lamed wufnik. There are no real answers.