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A Guidebook to The Afterlife

In places, Bill and Carol merge into, or become, doors or windows,
opening onto a crowded but illegible back yard.
As was predictable, a radical change in outlook became apparent

in the living room. What a cute baby, we said. We're friendly
that way. And what a fine painting, we've one just like it.
What's common, besides our basic nonobjective approach,

is the extraordinarily large size of our davenports. But life
is conflict, Bucky reminds us. These two factors are interrelated,
we're certain of it. If only we could remember how.

It's the memory that goes first, as dear old mumsey would say, they say.
What a great dog, we replied, pulling on the sock puppet.
We should take some comfort in that, Nell says, but we don't.

The wall sconce's a new opportunity for working out inner impulses.
Well, perhaps, but aren't we jumping the gun a little here? Bucky
asked. It's all about pie, in the end. Apple or pumpkin.

The rhythms of Mario and Irene, however, are collusive,
changing menus and dinnerware abruptly. I love what you've done
with the place, we say. And what a nice old lady. Be careful,

it's perishable, Irene remarks. It's all about lawn care, you know.
All in all, most of their days look unfinished
and indeterminate. Maybe because there's no conscious process

between the original impulse and the application of hours.
An amazing cat though, we offered. And it matches the bedspread
beautifully. It's all about one's choice of background

music, Mario said from the stereo. He's always finding clever places
to hide, Irene said, full of local pride. Not to be outdone, Bucky
found references to or reminders of events or feelings in his own life.

Well, it's my life's work really, he says, with parts
of the guest room affixed here and there. We're sorry, Bucky,
we meant to address you more formally, we said. They call each other

for as little as 2¢ a minute there, he replied, imagine
that. We look into space, and space is a long way off. Look closely
and you can see them. Looking closer it's all just you looking.

—John Gallaher



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