Imagine a town where no one walks the streets.
Where the sidewalks are swept clean as ceilings and
the barber pole stands still as a corpse. There is no
wind. The windows on the brick buildings are
boarded up with doors, and a single light shines in
the all-night diner while the rest of the town sits in
In an hour it will be daylight. The busboy in the
diner counts the empty stools and looks at his
reflection in the coffee urns. On the radio the
announcer says the allies have won another victory.
There have been few casualties. A man with a wide-
brimmed hat and the woman sitting next to him are
drinking coffee or tea; on the other side of the
counter a stranger watches them as though he had
nowhere else to focus his eyes. He wonders if
perhaps they are waiting for the morning buses to
arrive, if they are expecting some member of their
family to bring them important news. Or perhaps
they will get on the bus themselves, ask the driver
where he is going, and whatever his answer they
will tell him it could not be far enough.
When the buses arrive at sunrise they are empty as
hospital beds--the hum of the motor is distant as
a voice coming from deep within the body. The
man and woman have walked off to some dark
street, while the stranger remains fixed in his chair.
When he picks up the morning paper he's not
surprised to read there would be no exchange of
prisoners, the war would go on forever, the
Cardinals would win the pennant, there would be
no change in the weather.