The man on
the lawn had been wishing again. This time he had wished for important
things: a good pillow, peace in Connecticut, five or six crisp one hundred
dollar bills, daffodils in spring. Mrs. Crown hadn't wanted to listen.
"That man is a slowly diminishing pang," she said to Mr. Crown. "In fact,
he's all pang. Why doesn't he get off the lawn and do something?"
"He's an educated man," said Mr. Crown.
"There have been too many educated men.
And without even trying," said Mrs. Crown and went into the kitchen.
At the table,
the son was bending over a cousin's letters. This cousin had died the
year before after giving a speech at the bicycle club. He had been nineteen.
Now his letters were spread all over the table. Some of them smelled like
ink and some of them smelled like marigolds.
"I don't know why you bother with those
things," said Mrs. Crown.
"One day," said the son, "I'm going to be
"There is no country where every patch of
wood gives up an incense of song," said Mrs. Crown.
"Leave the boy alone," said Mr. Crown.
the man stayed on the lawn wishing. Then night came and he was still wishing.
He had wished all summer but never for so many hours in a row. It's got
to get worse before it can get better, thought Mrs. Crown. She stood on
her porch and called out to him. He was now wishing for a new furnace,
the protection of the salmon habitat, a fool's heart, and someone to take
his place on a church committee.
"Who are you?" said Mrs. Crown.
The man lowered his eyes to the ground.
"I think I know," said Mrs. Crown. "You
whisper in the meat-packing plant. You breathe deeply and point toward
herbal teas. You fix people's pillows. Listen, I've got a boy in there,"
she said and gestured to the house. "Your wishing is making him agitated."
It was dark and Mrs. Crown did not see which
direction he went.
stood perfectly. There was music on the radio in the kitchen. She had
not slept in several days. The neighbor knocked on the door. He was wearing
a running suit. His chin was stubbled, his bag was stuffed with what appeared
to be presents. He was giving out the homemade gargoyles again.
"To ward off the evil," he said to Mrs.
Crown. "You look tired today. Here, pick your favorite."
"There's still so much I don't want to know
about you," said Mrs. Crown. She chose the first head in the bag, and
the neighbor ducked out the door.