Outside, same as inside, that same tiredness not fatigue, that same humor not happiness. In the yellow light of streetlights—barn, road, row of mailboxes—or in the dim overhead light of frontroom—couch, television, windows showing black—it was the same, a sameness not monotonous, a curiousness not intriguing. Tom was having an experience, and he didn't know what to think of it. One way or the other, he was having an experience. What did the woman in the passing pickup think of him? Tom didn’t really care, yet he wondered, if only for a moment. He had to be more independent, to be above what strangers might think. And why not turn on the television? Tom could think of better things to do, but what? None of these things seemed interesting. He knew he was avoiding something. “I’ll have to admit,” he thought, “that I’m no better than the rest of them—I, too, am attracted to the mindless state, as much as I resist it.” Outside, he sat on a wall. A pickup passed and a woman looked at him. He asked himself what he was doing there, although he knew what he was doing there. Under the streetlights, he realized, the street, stop sign, and freeway overpass, and the parking lot, cars, and bowling alley had a definite quality. They were a part of the scene, unusual not strange, familiar not habitual, and they existed thus in the same air that Tom was now conscious of breathing. “How strange,” he thought to say, but stopped himself before he began. It wasn’t the least strange; in fact it was entirely the same.

29 August 1981, Fortuna