The balcony is strewn with scattered detritus of a day at the beach – porous coral, pearlescent cowrie shells, sandals, and scattered sand reflecting moonlight. The air above the canal is warm, sweet and pungent. The Scorpion, well above the horizon at this latitude, seems to crawl across a billion suns of the Milky Way. A bit above and to the left of the stellar arachnid, I search for Sagittarius A. I home in on that nebulous area at the center of our galaxy as a familiar and mysteriously comforting place to rest my eyes.
An instant before I hear his voice, I know I will hear it. I feel the familiar onrush of sensation, waves of pressure arising from within me, and the inexorable refashioning of my field of vision into rhythmical patterns. All this signals his arrival. And yet I cannot avert my gaze from the night sky.
“I am here beside you now, Art. You don’t need to look at me. Just keep your eyes where they are.” I hear his voice as a soft echo within me.
A thousand nights lost in dreaming, scanning each fluorescent horizon for a glimpse of him, wondering, wondering why, and wondering when I would see him again.
“You’re still with me, then, Keith.”
This conversation takes place inside of my body. The soft earth-bound sounds of night birds, crickets, and splashing water are not interrupted by our words.
“Sure, what do you think?”
“I think…I’m ready. What do you want to do?”
“Let’s go back to the cave,” he whispers.