The moon is full and white and he watches it hang static and alone in the sky like a beacon to worlds ancient and afar. A breeze warm and comforting carries the cigar smoke away from his face and he breathes in the night air, floral, dense, fecund. Wade is at relative peace, adrift in the cosmos. Crickets and other night insects shriek in rhythm from the shadows. Direll jumps over the back fence and ambles toward Wade in the moonlight, his hand raised in greeting.
How’s your eye? Wade says.
Still cain’t see shit out of it.
Direll sits next to Wade and exhales deeply. He takes a plastic lighter from his shirt pocket and lights a joint. Wade puffs his cigar and the men sit silent listening to the crickets and also sounds they can’t hear.
Pretty moon tonight.
Reminds me of when I was a kid, Wade says.
Not sure. Stimulates something vestal, I think.
The men are silent.
Beautiful, though, Wade says.
Seen your Comanche pal tonight? Direll asks, smiling. He puffs long and deep on the joint and blows out what appears to Wade to be an impossible quantity of smoke, a long uninterrupted ribbon.
He’s Patwin. And no.
Insects resound in the thicket of brush to their left. The sky is open to everything. The sliding door slips open and the boy peeks out at them.
Can I play one more before bed? he asks.
Say hello to Direll.
One more round of what? Wade asks.
Death Membrane, Direll repeats, looking out over the yard as if out at sea or as if he could see the words there in the half-light. As if the words or the game itself fashioned up from the underworld or vapor. The joint is tucked away out of the boy’s view.
One more round, Wade says, and the boy is back inside.
The men are silent and the moon glows as if from within and Direlle exhales sharply and says, You watch that game tonight?
Wade looks at him and puffs his cigar. No, he says. I was reading.
What you reading now.
Wade puffs on the cigar and says, Fukuyama.
Fukuyama, Direll repeats, nodding, staring at the yard again and the shadows therein.
Then they’re silent for many minutes, both of them chasing certain and uncertain thoughts. Direll tosses the roach into the grass and sighs. He says, Brother, I got to be going.
Wade watches his neighbor walk to the fence and climb over. He looks up at the moon and stares at it, wondering about it. He tamps out his cigar and stands and walks inside, the crickets announcing his departure.