“Bless you, boy,” said the blind man. – Another car arrived. The rain was stopping.

Henry took a deep sniff. “I know that limo smell.”

“Jesus God,” said Constance Rattigan, leaning out. “What a sight. World’s champion Martian. World’s Greatest Blind Man. And Sherlock Holmes’s Bastard Son.”

We all responded one way or another to this, too tired to keep it up.

Constance got out and stood behind me, looking down.

“Is it all over? Is that him?”

We all nodded, like an audience at a midnight theater, not able to take our eyes away from the canal waters, and the lion cage and the ghost behind the bars that rose and fell and beckoned.

“God, you’re drenched; you’ll catch your death. Let’s get the kid stripped and warm. All right if I take him to my place?”

Crumley nodded.

I put my hand on his shoulder and held tight.

“Champagne now, beer later?” I said.

“See you,” said Crumley, “at my jungle compound.”

“Henry,” said Constance, “come along?”

“Couldn’t keep me away,” said Henry.

And more cars arrived and police were getting ready to dive in to get whatever that was out of the cage and Crumley was walking over toward Shrank’s hut, and I stood there trembling as Constance and Henry peeled off my wet jacket and helped me into the limousine and we drove along the middle of the night coast among the big, sighing derricks, leaving behind a strange, small apartment where I worked and leaving behind the dark, small lean-to where Spengler and Genghis Khan and Hitler and Nietzsche and a few dozen old candy wrappers waited and leaving behind the shut trolley station where tomorrow some lost old men would sit again waiting for the last trains of the century.

Along the way, I thought I saw myself passing on a bike, twelve years old, delivering papers in the dark morn. Further on, my older self, nineteen, wandered home, bumping into poles, lipstick on his cheek, drunk with love.

Just before we turned in at Constance’s Arabian fort, another limousine came roaring the other way, along the shore highway. It passed like thunder. Is that me too, I wondered, some year soon? And Peg, in an evening gown, with me, coming back from a dance? But the other limousine vanished. The future would have to wait.

As we pulled in to Constance’s sandlot backyard, I knew a simple present and the best kind of alive happiness.

With the limo parked and Constance and me waiting for him to move, with a grandiose wave Henry raised his arm.

“One side or a leg off.”

We stood aside.

“Let the blind man show you the way.”

He did.

We gladly followed.

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Categories: Bradbury, Ray