A good man is seized by the police and spirited away. Months later someone brags that he shot him once through the back of the head with a Walther 7.65, and his life ended just there. Those who loved him go on searching the cafés in the Barrio Chino or the bars near the harbor. A comrade swears he saw him at a distance buying two kilos of oranges in the market of San José and called out, "Andrés, Andrés," but instead of turning to a man he'd known since child- hood and opening his great arms wide, he scurried off, the oranges tumbling out of the damp sack, one after another, a short bright trail left on the sidewalk to say, Farewell! Farewell to what? I ask. I asked then and I ask now. I first heard the story fifty years ago; it became part of the mythology I hauled with me from one graveyard to another, this belief in the power of my yearning. The dead are every-
where, crowding the narrow streets that jut out from the wide boulevard on which we take our morning walk. They stand in the cold shadows of men and women come to sell themselves to anyone, they stride along beside me and stop when I stop to admire the bright garlands or the little pyramids of fruit, they reach a hand out to give money or to take change, they say "Good morning" or "Thank you," they turn with me and retrace my steps back to the bare little room I've come to call home. Patiently, they stand beside me staring out over the soiled roofs of the world until the light fades and we are all one or no one. They ask for so little, a prayer now and then, a toast to their health which is our health, a few lies no one reads incised on a dull plaque between a pharmacy and a sports store, the least little daily miracle.