. .He empties his almost empty pockets, places the pen and the smallest of change into the plastic tray, extracts a promise from the guard that the contraband pen will be returned after his visit, steps through the metal detector, pockets the change, and waits for the gate guard behind the thick, shatterproof glass to push the button.
. .Almost everything that happens after that happens in a fog in glaring fluorescent detail, at at least twice its expected speed. Later, in his darker than midnight office, he will be unable to remember most of it, unable to forget his brother’s face or the sound of the closing gate.
. .Half the country was locked in an arctic vortex that night, wind chill readings in the dozens of degrees below-zero, but he’d driven home—an hour’s drive over The Heights—with the window fully open, his hands frozen on the wheel, his eyes blinded, the radio blaring some almost incomprehensible ‘60s tune about love and universal brotherhood he can only just barely recall.
. .When he reached the top of The Heights he remembered how, years before, he’d stopped at a pull-off on a mid-summer night, sat quietly for an hour staring up at Venus, and written a poem about a homesick Canadian dying to get home, flying over the median, sailing over the ditch, and crashing in flames into the granite embankment. After all the years of reading and reading the poem, it had ceased to be a fiction. He never crossed The Heights without recalling it.
. .Now, years and years and half a year later, flying home frozen, he forces himself to decelerate when the headstone grey granite, harder than mere rock, looms, beckoning.