And so it came to pass that a young man fled from his father's house. He took with him only those items he deemed crucial for survival. Pictures of Pierre Renault, a sticker book, 8 ounces of sharp cheddar (the only food in the crisper except for aging hearts of romaine) and a heart which sat ever more leaden in his pigeon's chest, heavy with anger--that variety of crystalline rage that seems the exclusive domain of angry young men.

The first several hours of his escape passed without incident, unless one considers the repeated attack on his pampered feet by the harsh entreaties of the road. Eventually, however, he found shelter. Having crossed over a paricularly steep rise he found himself in a great and expansive valley. The terrain was foreign to him, but comfortable nonetheless--the sky was clearly visible above, and the ground below was smooth and free of animal intrusion (no bugs...he hated bugs). He spent the last hours of his first night away from home in relative comfort.

The next morning, however, was brutal. The sun shone on him from every direction and he could not see clearly enough to seek shelter. By some strange providence, he had wandered into a valley which seemed "more than friendly" with the sun. In fact, the sun and this valley seemed so well-acquainted they might be referred to (quietly, and at cocktail parties as they pass, whispering some delicious secret to one another and standing closer than one might deem appropriate for an area of primarily topographic interest and a main-sequence star) as "longtime companions of indeterminate degree." Teenage wandered blindly for a couple of hours until his water ran out and his cheese was all melted. Worry began to creep in when he realized that he might have to drink the adhesive from the stickerbook. His initial plan, "Wander Blindly and Hope for the Best," eventually gave way to the more practical, "It must be 1500 degrees. I need to find shade...and fast."

The same force which led him to this strange and potentially lethal place also led him to shade, after a fashion. At some point in his wandering, he realized that his need to squint had been dramatically reduced, and the temperature dropped detectably. After a few moments of standing, swaying, and attempting to regain full use of his eyes, the boy realized he was in a point of shade about 6 feet across. He was not under a tree, nor below an overhanging bit of rock. He was also surprised to discover that was he not stretched comfortably on a mexican beach sipping blue hawaiis beneath a large umbrella belonging to the resort to which he had been assigned by some shadowy government agency in whose employ he would spend 18 months while climbing gently into the graces of certain peace corps representative wanted in six countries for trafficking in white tiger blood and black tar heroine baked into the shapes of various us presidents (subjecting such a cargo to a detailed search is considered treason). The shade seemed instead to grow naturally out of the valley floor. Not one to look gift horses in any of their various ports, vents, passageways or breaches, he sat and tried to gather his remaining senses.1


1 One of the reasons our young friend was having such a difficult time was his attachment to the damned photo collection. The developing fluid was reacting with the extreme temperature, dry air, and terrifically focused sunlight to surround him in a narcotic haze of slowly evaporating photochemical compounds. Many of his journal entries concerning this ordeal are tainted by hallucinations, lucid dreams, and assorted synaptic pyrotechnics which would, eventually, take his biographers months to untangle.