mad, perhaps, but I nevertheless felt a tremendous power surging through me, a gnostic joy that penetrated deep into the heart of things. Then, very suddenly, as suddenly as I had gained this power, I lost it. I had been living inside my thoughts for three or four days, and one morning I woke up and found that I was somewhere else: back in the world of fragments, back in the world of hunger and bare white walls. I struggled to recapture the equilibrium of the previous days, but I couldn’t do it. The world was pressing down on me again, and I could barely catch my breath.
I entered a new period of desolation. Stubbornness had kept me going until then, but little by little I felt my resolve weaken, and by August first I was ready to cave in. I did my best to contact a number of friends, fully prepared to ask for a loan, but nothing much came of it. A few exhausting walks in the heat, a pocketful of squandered dimes. It was summer, and everyone seemed to have left the city. Even Zimmer, the one person I knew I could count on, had strangely vanished from sight. I walked up to his apartment on Amsterdam Avenue and 120th Street several times, but no one answered the bell. I slipped messages into the mailbox and under the door, but still there was no response. Much later, I learned that Zimmer had moved to another apartment. When I asked him why he hadn’t given me his new address, he said that I had told him I was spending the summer in Chicago. I had forgotten this lie, of course, but by then I had made up so many lies, I could no longer keep track of them.
Not knowing that Zimmer was gone, I kept going to the old apartment and leaving messages under the door. One Sunday morning in early August, the inevitable finally happened. I rang the bell, fully expecting no one to be there, even turning to leave as I pushed the button, when I heard movement from within the apartment: the scraping of a chair, the thump of footsteps, a cough.A flood of relief washed through me, but all came to nothing an instant later when the door opened. The person who should have been Zimmer was not. It was someone else entirely: a young man with a dark, curly beard and hair that hung down to his shoulders. I gathered that he had just woken up, since he didn’t have anything on but a pair of undershorts. “What can I do for you?” he asked, studying me with a friendly if somewhat puzzled expression, and at that moment I heard laughter from the kitchen (a mixture of male and female voices) and realized that I had walked in on some kind of party.
“I think I’m in the wrong place,” I said. “I was looking for David Zimmer.”
“Oh,” said the stranger, not missing a beat, “you must be Fogg. I was wondering when you’d turn up again.”
It was a brutal day outside—scalding, dog-day heat—and the walk had nearly done me in. As I stood in front of the door now, with sweat dripping into my eyes and my muscles feeling all spongy and stupid, I wondered if I had heard the stranger correctly. My impulse was to turn around and run away, but I suddenly felt so weak that I was afraid of passing out. I put my hand on the doorframe to steady myself and said, “I’m sorry, but would you say that again? I don’t think I caught it the first time.”
“I said you must be Fogg,” the stranger repeated. “It’s really quite simple. If you’re looking for Zimmer, then you must be Fogg. Fogg was the one who left all the messages under the door.”
“That’s very astute,” I said, letting out a small fluttering sigh. “I don’t suppose you know where Zimmer is now.”
“Sorry. I don’t have the slightest idea.”
Again, I began mustering my courage to leave, but just as I was about to turn away, I saw that the stranger was staring at me. It was an odd and penetrating look, aimed directly at my face. “Is something wrong?” I asked him.
“I was just wondering if you’re a friend of Kitty’s.”
“Kitty?” I said. “I don’t know