After he had left there were only two images he could remember anymore. The first was in the small attic bedroom he had rented years ago. It was nighttime and heavy into the dead plumes of autumn. There was a lamp switched on next to the bed. There was some music playing and a girl sitting up on his desk (half of that might have been a movie he’d watched the night before). But as he recalled it now, the girl was in his room and was paying no great attention to him. She had been dangling her skirted legs off the desk and presently, she removed a sweater from over her head and was wrapping it around her naked shoulders. He went to window and opened it. He could smell the damp pavement from his street. He turned around and, leaning against the windowsill, faced her. He was about to speak when there was a noise from below. Three raccoons had gotten in the garbage. A moth flew into the room.
It had been a year since they offered him the job. The first manned mission outside the solar system. It would take innumerable years and he would have to be awake the entire way. He would spend time orbiting each of the planets. So far he had encountered only one. Which planet was it? We may never know. He gave it another name. He called it the Keymaker. There are several accounts which might sum up his impression so far: The planet is massive, spherical in shape. From it, one derives a great sense of wonderment and longing.
There is more data but we do not know it. He does not know it either. In space, flesh travels faster than memory. With him we have discovered this. And we realize now that he has gone insane.
With the second, he is driving a car. It is a clear sunny day and he is driving near the ocean. The radio is on and his left arm hangs out the window. He is going to pick up his cousin at the train station. On the way however, he stops to buy some pot. The boy selling is thirteen years old. The boy has loose bright clothes and wears a fake beard. After lighting up, he continues on his way. He feels better now. More spread out. He is driving toward the train station. His cousin is waiting and it has now been over an hour.
As he pulls over the tracks, he catches a brief glimpse of the iron lines shooting into the distance. His eyes narrow and suddenly he can see past the curve. For a moment he blinks infinity. He feels the car slow to only a fraction of a movement of the wheel. He tries to regain his breath but feels only dread, pulsing sore and out his chest, as he tightens on the brakes.