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  • Kenny Meyer

Issue.4: Going with the Flow

By Kenny Meyer

Eugene Pierce concluded his presentation and folded his hands in a gesture of patient composure. He leaned forward in his plush leather chair. “Questions?”

The Waynes strained at the columns of prices up on the wall-mounted display. Mrs. Wayne sucked her face into a thin-lipped pucker as she stared at the numbers. Mr. Wayne blurted out a two-note grunt that signified what he already knew: life’s deck was stacked against you.

“I guess we won’t be seeing any of your French chateaus,” said Mr. Wayne to Mrs. Wayne.

“I guess not,” replied Mrs. Wayne.

“I know these are tough decisions,” assured Eugene with a rehearsed nod. “Especially for those, like yourselves, with a family history.”

“It’s not difficult,” said Mrs. Wayne who paid the bills and kept the books, “Do we look like people who belong to some country club and drive a fancy car. Well we don’t.”

“I’d rather be put in a Cadillac than a nursing home,” muttered Mr. Wayne.

“I don’t want to hear any more Cadillac talk,” replied Mrs. Wayne with a scowl and lapsed into a frustrated silence.

At that moment Eugene was certain the Waynes would be signing a contract. He just had to be patient. He need only wait for the sense of defeat to take hold. “You can’t rush a close or a punch line,” he reminded himself.

Eugene lived by mottos like these. He was blessed with a lucky good nature and a fortunate trust in the conventional, hard work and himself. He was not plagued by doubt of country or religion. He had no need to dispute those who did. He was content in the knowledge that when you did ‘good’ for yourself you did ‘good’ for others. It was with a feeling of pride and modest superiority that he savored the pungent aroma of the executive leather and stole a glance out the window. He had a commanding view from the eighth-floor of Envision Mutual. The town and country spread out below. Overhead a convoy of cirrus clouds converged on the horizon with the golden ribbon of the river as it wound its way inexorably west. He saw it as a sign. Nature was guiding the way.

Mrs. Wayne let out a deep sigh.

“You can’t dress this up,” said Eugene taking their side in the matter. “Long-term care is expensive. Very expensive. But, god help us if you catch some kind of Alzheimer’s. Of course, I needn’t tell you.

“No you needn’t,” scolded Mrs. Wayne.

“However,” Eugene interjected as if interrupting himself, “there is an option.” He pushed back from the table. The Waynes watched him with suspicion as he strode with a self-assured ease to the credenza. “This plan is not for everyone.” He pulled two glossy brochures from a drawer. “Perhaps you’ve heard of it. It’s our patented Quality of Life Plan. We call it our Qual Plan.”

“I’ve heard of it,” said Mr. Wayne.

Knowing her husband’s habit of trying to be smart, Mrs. Wayne shot him a disapproving glance. “How about we just listen to what the man has to say.”

Eugene handed a brochure to Mrs. Wayne and then to Mr. Wayne. He was confident she would make the decision. “It’s a fraction of the cost. Your monthly bill won’t cost more than a nice meal at Denny’s.”

The Waynes unfolded their brochures. Mrs. Wayne bowed her head in study. Mr. Wayne flipped the brochure back and over as if he was looking for a secret compartment.

“No doubt you’re thinking, ‘what’s the catch?’ said Eugene.

“So what’s the catch?” asked Mr. Wayne

“No catch. The idea behind our Qual Plan is simple. We only insure people who will never need long-term care for a brain disease. You don’t have to pay for those people who hang on and on. People will say they’d pull the plug. No one ever does. Am I right?”

The Waynes nodded without being quite sure what they have agreed to. But he had their undivided attention.

“No doubt you’re asking yourselves…how can we do that? Mr. and Mrs. Wayne, the answer is simple. Technology.”

It’s a funny thing about human nature. People find details reassuring even when they don’t understand them. So Eugene explained, as he had dozens of times before, that the Qual Plan program relied on an FDA-approved Mensdente technology that fits in a dental implant.

“The implant is a brain sensor. It detects mental processes through a small antenna that is passed through the dentum. It also holds two medications: a dose of the gamma facilitator Abitonin, and a dose of the neuromutator Desinophrine. When the implant detects the dementia signals from the brain, the medications are released. The Abitonin will decouple the senses and the patient enters a deep and dreamless sleep. The Desinophrine will shut down all the autonomic functions. The patient just passes quietly and painlessly. No lengthy stays in nursing care. No psychic stress. No hand-wringing decision. It’s a natural and peaceful passing.”

“So then basically you’re dead,” said Mrs. Wayne.

“Think of it this way Mrs. Wayne, you’re not a burden on the people you love,” replied Eugene. “Who wants to end that way?”

“We could give up our Denny’s night,” suggested Mr. Wayne.

Eugene continued. “Many of our clients have the implant installed by their family dentist at the next checkup. It’s quite simple. There is a reasonable balloon payment payable by the estate — but, at that point, it won’t matter to you. Aside from that, no one need ever know. We offer complete confidentiality.”

“I’m not sure I like the idea,” said Mrs. Wayne.

“Take your time,” said Eugene. “Did I mention? The plan includes ten years of free dental insurance.”

As Eugene completed the Wayne’s contract, his mind wandered. He was thinking of his accomplishments: Top in the sales ranks for six months. Moved to the eighth floor. Lunch with the boss. Just last week Mr. Glass had said, “The Company has its eye on you.” These thoughts produced a feeling of virility. He now had money. He could buy Sophie a home in Indian Hills or a boat or a Mercedes. She could decide. His life would be perfect. Except for the separation. But that was temporary.

He knew he was partly responsible. There had been too much time at the office, an indiscretion at last year’s sales meeting and the titanic argument about the Qual Plan. What was the harm in flirting? And what about her family’s history of dementia? Did she want those healthcare vultures pecking away at their money? Is that what she wanted? Maybe he had pushed too hard. “I should have left sleeping dogs lie,” he thought. He had replayed that argument many times, but it was the memory of being told to leave that left him in a spitting fugue. “I should have never, never left. Never.”

He had. He rented a tony apartment in town. He hated it. He hated the frozen dinners, the rented furniture, and the muffled conversations outside his door. He missed their family dinners. He fumed at the thought he could not give his son the daily guidance he required. He was embarrassed to admit the trouble at home. This was not who he was. The separation had lasted long enough. He was ready to return home. He was sure he could win her over. He would be a better dad. A better husband. He would promise to make them happy. If he had half-a-chance, the storm would surely pass.

It was with that very thought in mind, Eugene left work early to catch the end of Sean’s Little League game.

Eugene was late. His son’s team was in the field. Fifteen runs behind. Sean was on the bench. He was staring at his shoes and scratching patterns in the dirt. Eugene walked behind the dugout, greeted Sean’s coach and kneeled behind his son, “Hey buddy.”

“Hi Dad.”

“Where’s your mom?”

“Don’t know,” replied Sean indifferently. The boy had yet to perfect the teenage art of passive defiance. “She’s supposed to pick me up.”

“I’ll give you a ride.” Both father and son knew that would not be necessary. “Did they put you in already?”

“I got a nose bleed. Mr. Andersen didn’t think I should play.”

“Should I talk to him?” said Eugene. Last week Sean sat out because of a sprained thumb. The week before a fly ball hit him in the chest.

“Dad! You’re embarrassing me.”

Eugene took a seat in the bleachers. He sized up the other kids. “What’s so special?” he thought. There was nothing his son could not do. He formulated a checklist. “Strength, discipline, determination, practice, practice, practice.”

After the game Eugene put his arm around Sean. “We’ll work on this together buddy. Me and you. We’ll work hard,” he said. “We’ll get more playing time.”

“OK,” replied Sean. “But, I hate baseball.”

“No you don’t. Trust your old man on this. He’s been there. You keep at it. What do we say when things aren’t going how we like?”

“When the going gets tough… the tough get hungry.” Sean laughed defiantly at his own joke which Eugene ignored for persistence was not a laughing matter.

Just then Sophie drove up and honked. They headed toward her car.

“Dad, can I ask you something? Mom says you want to kill Grandma.”

“Of course I don’t want to kill Grandma.” Eugene hugged the boy about the shoulders. “I want her to live forever, but no one lives forever. Do they?”

Sean reflected on the question. “I guess not. Can you catch what grandma has?”

“Don’t worry son; it’s not contagious.”

They neared the car.

“Dad, can I ask you something else? Are you moving back home?”

“Soon. Soon. I’m working it out with mom.” He opened the passenger door and leaned in. “Hi honey,” he said. “You sure are looking pretty.”

“Thanks,” replied Sophie. She moved her purse to the back seat. “Get in the car Sean.”

Eugene stood back. The boy climbed in.

“I thought we could all get a pizza.”

“Yea!” said Sean.

“Another time,” replied Sophie and put the car in reverse. “There’s a chicken in the oven.”

“I hate chicken,” muttered Sean.

Eugene watched in frustration as Sophie drove away. He decided to head over to the Oak Room in the Grand Old Herzbach for a few drinks, a steak and a few more drinks. He was a regular now. He enjoyed chatting up the pretty servers. And, he liked hanging around the upscale business travelers — men and women untethered by home. Most nights he would manage to find a conversation. It wasn’t that he was in the market for a hook up, he simply wanted to avoid going to his apartment.

Eugene sat at the bar. He had ordered a bourbon, neat, when Tom Sadowski gave him a slap on the shoulder. “May I join?” asked Tom as he took the next stool. “Sarah dear,” Tom said to the young woman behind the bar. “You are one slinky creature this evening. Can I have a round of what my good friend Gene is having?” Tom was an Envision lifer, past his prime, burdened with a double alimony and no hope of retirement. Sarah was a seminary student, who was slow to take offense so long as men like Tom were generous.

“I’ll buy,” said Eugene. “Closed a contract today.”

Qual Plan?” asked Tom.

“Damn thing nearly sells itself.”

Sarah set the shot glasses down with a clatter.

“Be generous darling,” said Tom.

“The name is Sarah,” said Sarah. “Only big tippers call me darling.”

“Tell you what darling,” replied Tom. “You can write your own tip. How’s that?”

“I’m good,” she replied.

Tom raised a toast. “To the Qual Plan, the best insurance invention since bourbon.” The older man drained his drink, set it down with a clatter and gave his junior colleague a pat on the back. “Ever imagine you’d be rich?”

“I did.”

“Ever feel any compunction?”


“You know…The Qual Plan.”

“What do you mean?”

Tom held out his glass and called out. “How about another round darling.”

Eugene held his hand over his glass.

“Listen Pierce. I’ve been at this game a long time. We’re not selling mom-and-pop life insurance. This thing is different. It’s… creepy.”

Eugene twisted on his stool. “We’re selling insurance people can afford. Protection they need.”

Tom waited for Sarah to pour his double and leaned in with a sotto voice. “Just between us chickens… Three of my Qual Plan clients have vanished. Thin air. Vamoosh! Three! Kinda odd, don’t you think?”

“But Tom, it could be anything, right?” Eugene took a nip. He heard the rumors, but they were like Sasquatch, no reasonable person would believe them. “Besides, the numbers nerds would be all over it. Probably just coincidence.”

“Probably,” replied Tom dismissively and then added with conspiratorial gravity. “Must be aliens.” Tom raised another toast. “To wealth. Something we can depend on.”

“To wealth,” replied Eugene.

Eugene returned to his apartment. Tom’s story weighed on him. He opened a beer. It was too late for sports. He tuned into a talk show. The political humor annoyed him. He surfed. A sitcom. The local news. He couldn’t put it out of his mind. Two of his Qual Plan clients had gone missing. He went out on the deck for a breath of the night and then back in for another beer and collapsed on the sofa. “Coincidence,” he said aloud to the TV.

The cooler days of spring gave way to the thick heat of summer. It was Sean’s eleventh birthday. They threw a party at Splash Kingdom. It was a hot breezeless day under a blue sky. Eugene was in the water tossing the screeching kids into the air. Sophie sat under an umbrella with her friend Donna sipping tea by the gift table. Donna’s son was on the team.

“Gene seems like a good dad,” said Donna.

“He’s got his points,” Sophie admitted. “You don’t live with him.”

After cake and soupy ice cream, Sean ripped open his presents, setting each aside in turn before greedily tearing into the next. Mom and Dad watched eagerly. Sean grabbed a square box, shook it and read the card. “Love Mom and Dad.” The boy smiled at them. Eugene gave Sophie a nudge. Sean pulled out a new baseball glove, slipped it on and pounded it with his fist. “Thanks.”

Eugene beamed. Sophie stiffened up.

“It’s a Wilson,” said Eugene. “The Pedroia model. Fly balls just stick.”

She leaned over and whispered in his ear. “He wanted a fiddle.”

Eugene could not immediately make sense of her words. “He what?”

Her eyes narrowed. She spoke in couplets. “He wants… to play… the fiddle. Not baseball.” She turned to check if Donna was listening. “You should pay attention sometime.” Her words were hushed. She pointed at his chin. “If you did, you would know.”

“So, buy one,” he retorted forgetting about who might hear.

Sophie said nothing, but there was no mistaking from the set of her jaw and the fix in her eyes she would see this through.

“OK, OK. I’ll buy a damn fiddle.” Impulsively he added, “But only if I move back in.”

“No chance.”

“OK, that was stupid. Come on Soph, Sean needs his Dad at home.”

Her face colored. She stepped away. “You don’t get it. You’re never gonna get it.” She jabbed her finger at his chest. Her voice rose. “People don’t live by a recipe.”

“Mom,” yelled Sean. “Can we go back in?”

“Of course,” they said in unison hoping, for different reasons, they had not been overheard.

June had given way to July when Eugene received a call from Dolores in Accounts Receivable. “Your Qual Plan client, Mr. Bruce McElheny. He’s 3 months behind,” she said. “Should we cancel?”

“I’ll handle it,” said Eugene. He left Mr. McElheny a message. Two days later he called again. “He’s away on one of his trips,” thought Eugene and set a reminder to call again in a week.

Sophie invited Eugene to dinner. Sean had completed his first month of lessons. He was ready for his big moment. To Eugene’s delight, she prepared his favorite pot roast. “At last,” he thought.

After dinner, Sophie cleared the plates and Sean got out his shiny violin. After a formal bow, he closed his eyes, affected a deep concentration, shouldered the instrument, and then scratched through miserably squeaky versions of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and Turkey in the Straw.

Eugene braved the recital with a stern bearing keeping time, as best he could. Sophie stole confirming glances at Eugene while clenching a hand over her mouth to restrain a laugh. They applauded with more relief than pride to the final bow.

“Bravo! Earl Scruggs in the making,” declared Eugene

“Earl Scruggs plays the banjo,” said Sophie.

“Earl Scruggs but on the fiddle then,” said Eugene.

Sean bowed again and asked to be excused. When the boy was out of earshot, Eugene whispered, “He’s going to need a whole lot of practice. Maybe he should stick with baseball.”

“I need a favor,” said Sophie.

“You want me back?”

“Be serious.”

“I am.” He reached for her hand.

She drew away. “Don’t do that.”

“I want us to be us again.”

“Please Gene. You’re you. I’m not that person anymore. There is no more us.”

“Want me to change? I’ll change. Let’s be a family.”

She began to pace the room.

“So, the pot roast was just a pot roast? Was it?” He felt powerless. She had drifted out of the reach of his persuasion.

“I want your help Gene. Is that too much to ask?” She sat in a chair across from him. “Mom has turned for the worse. She slipping. She knows it.”

He sighed. “So that’s it.”

Sophie continued, “I think she wants it. Will you sell her the implant?”

“Of course,” he said with a new and unsettling understanding of the rift that had become his marriage. But he wasn’t discouraged. He remembers a saying about “those who wait.” He just needed patience.

He was doing the paper work for his mother-in-law’s contract when the call came in.

“May I speak to Mr. Pierce?”


“This is Sue McElheny. Bruce McElheny’s daughter? We just heard your messages. I’m sorry to say, we haven’t heard from Dad in over four months. He never returned from a fishing trip. Please cancel his policy.”

Eugene set the phone lightly on the cradle. “There it is again.” His eye caught the photo on his desk. They are at the zoo. Sean is in front; beaming. Sophie head is sweetly on his shoulder. His breath quickened. A knot gripped him in the solar plexus. His thoughts locked on that single creepy worry. What if Sadowsky was on to something?”

He turned to the window. A haze lay over the countryside; the river snaked indifferently to the horizon. He needed to know for sure. He grabbed his coat and took the elevator up to Mr. Glass’s office.

Everyone in the company knew to call him Mr. Glass. He was a stout man, less than average height, given to pin stripes, white shirts and solid ties. His thick glasses magnified his eyes which betrayed nothing of the thoughts behind them. Outwardly he was mild and avuncular. Appearances were misleading. He was an unscrupulous man; a skilled ingratiator who owed his status as newly anointed gentry to the proceeds he accumulated by poaching clients from colleagues that he had connived to dismiss.

“Have a seat Eugene,” said Mr. Glass with a sweeping gesture. “Are you enjoying your work?”

“Very much sir.” answered Eugene.

“Good! That’s what we like to hear,” replied Mr. Glass. “We want our people happy.” Mr. Glass was only a decade older than Eugene, but made a practice of affecting exaggerated seniority. “What’s on your mind?”

“I was just wondering Sir… I’ve been hearing something that bothers me… About our Qual Plan/ I mean… have you heard anything about people disappearing?”

Mr. Glass sat forward and folded his hands. “Why on earth would you ask such a thing?”

“I’m probably overreacting. It’s the scuttlebutt. Do you think the implant could be faulty?”

Mr. Glass gave a sigh of relief. “Of course, it could be faulty. But it’s not. The thing was completely proven.” Mr. Glass came around his desk and sat next to Eugene. “You’ve been one of our top guys. It happens to all of us at some point. We are a business of odds. We bet on people. Sometimes the odds go for us, sometimes against us. At some point any pro in our business will feel like a jinx. It’s an occupational hazard.” Mr. Glass gave Eugene an encouraging pat on the hand. “Listen son, if you are really, really troubled, there’s only one cure. Put your money where your mouth is.”

“You mean…?”

“Of course I do. We’ve all done it,” assured Mr. Glass. “I’ll just put it this way Pierce, you won’t be the first Envisioner to obtain the policy. Consider it. It could put your mind at rest.”

Eugene returned to his office and slipped his mother-in-law’s unfinished contract into the bottom drawer. It had to wait. What would he tell Sophie? He spent an hour sorting out his thoughts and then messaged her. “They are going to discount the Qual Plan in the Fall. Can we wait?”

“OK,” she messaged back and signed with the ‘disappointed’ emoji.

He then completed the paperwork and submitted his own Qual Plan.

The procedure itself was not as painless as he had been led to believe. Several visits were required. At first the implant felt like a marble in his mouth. For weeks he worried it with his tongue. But, in time, just as Mr. Glass had promised, there were no other effects. He felt a deep sense of relief, and while he kept his own implant a secret, he became an uncompromising advocate for the Qual Plan. His confidence was redoubled. He had been doing the world some good.

The day Sophie’s Mom signed the contract was bitter sweet. Sophie was appreciative but distant. Outwardly he was professional, inwardly the experience was surreal as if he was in another body.

The feeling persisted. He continued to feel odd, not at all himself. The next week, Eugene began to experience very odd sensations. The things he touched seemed to have a taste. Not a pleasant taste; yet not like any taste he had experienced. Then, periodically, he thought that he was hearing tastes. The effect was something like a rapid sequence of tones, like a bird call.

At first, he dismissed these sensations as errors in recognition, as one might awake with a fright in the middle of the night to the sound of a refrigerator compressor. Simple explanations seemed to satisfy. That sense of taste from a touch was due to reflexively putting his hand to his mouth, and that sound in taste was merely the routine consequence of chewing.

Then came flashes of sensation that were harder to explain.

There were tactile and olfactory sensations from what he saw. He smelled sounds and heard smells like the pungent camphor-ish whiff of Perry Como in the elevator and the pianistic arpeggios from the flowers at the market. There were new smells. Nothing familiar like the smell associated from the sound of crackling bacon, but rather completely strange and novel smells seemingly triggered by the sound of a horn or ring tone. At times smells had tactile effects like the stinging heat of a hot match from the scent of his receptionist’s perfume.

Then the sensations came in waves lasting for three or four minutes. No two waves were alike. Sometimes his taste would disappear and he would only hear a flavor. Other times his taste would be fine, but an odor devoid of smell would press on him like a crowd on a subway car. Sometimes a French fry would screech like a passing siren; other times it would produce a deafening jet-like roar. Worst of all were those times in conversation when the sound of words would disappear and his mouth would fill with awful nauseating tastes.

In the fourth week after the sensations began, they intensified. Wild cacophonies of perceptions crashed in without reference to his surroundings. He couldn’t discern if the phone rang or if there was a knock on the door or even whether it was day or night. All the while he maintained a rational grip on who he was, but otherwise, he could discern nothing of reality as if he was floating in a raucous variation of a perfectly dark, soundless space.

He did his best to carry on as normal until the day he awoke in a state of incomprehensible sensation. He could not see his furniture or his TV or hear his alarm clock. He sensed only a kaleidoscope of pungent odors and dancing sizzles on the back of his tongue as he tried to move his arms. He was paralyzed with fear. He knew he must remain as he was, or at least, how he last remembered he was, but nothing in his senses could confirm he was actually there. He strained for comforting phrases like “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” and “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” But, these mottos no longer held the power to reassure or distract him from the reoccurring question, “why me?” or the ineluctable self-incriminating thought, “what was I thinking?”

When the sensations subsided and his sense of the intelligible world was restored, he was left in a numbed state of confusion. The day was lost. He had missed work. He had failed to pick Sean up at school. There were calls from the office. Sophie had left a blistering message. He was overcome with a wave of embarrassment and shame, yet none of that really mattered. His situation was dire. He pulled on some clothes and drove himself to the Emergency Room.

Eugene sat on the edge of an exam table dressed only in a snowflake gown. Doctor Tremain examined the test results. “It’s very curious,” said Dr. Tremain. “Your cholesterol is on the high side of normal; otherwise, you are in perfect health. None of your symptoms correspond to any side effects listed for the Mensdente implant. I’m guessing it’s just the stress at work or trouble at home. I recommend you take time off. Avoid as much stress as possible. And lay off meats and sugar. Stick to fruits and vegetables. Meanwhile, I’ll refer you to a neurologist. Perhaps they will have something to add.”

As is often the case, a visit to a doctor is all that is needed for a cure. The next morning Eugene awoke symptom free. And the next day. He was reluctant to trust he was back to normal, so he adhered to the doctor’s advice and secluded himself. He turned off his phones. He avoided all contact with the office or his neighbors. He resisted all temptation to call Sophie and Sean.

In the days that followed, he noticed changes. He noticed the small things out his bedroom window. He heard the music in the songs of the morning birds, savored the freshened air of fall and absorbed the painterly colors of the maples. He also became conscious of an emerging apprehension that crystallized into feeling betrayed. Betrayed by work. Betrayed by Sophie. He had done the expected. What had it gained? How could he continue to trust the norms he had lived by? He had lost his old sense of what was right. He was gaining a new sense of what was wrong.

On the fourth day, he was convinced the nightmare was over. He resolved to return as a new man, to make changes, to set things right.

He awoke with a plan. He must notify all his Qual Plan clients of the risks. He must convince the company to stop selling the product, abandon the policy. He must see Mr. Glass.

He put on a new shirt and his best suit. He straightened his tie in the mirror, and thought, “when the going gets tough…” At one time, the clothes or the motto would have cemented his resolve. Not now. He would have to power through this day on nerves.

By the time he stepped off the elevator onto the tenth floor of Envision, he had sweated through his shirt. He strode into Mr. Glass’s corner office and demanded to see him.

“It’s his golf day,” said Mr. Glass’s secretary. “He’ll be in by ten. Should I tell him you want a meeting?”

Eugene took the stairs down to his office. He was greeted by several colleagues. It was business as usual. No one took notice of his absence. No one seemed to notice his change. “Just as well,” he thought as he closed his office door. He tossed his jacket on the credenza and paced rapidly for ten minutes before collapsing into his leather chair. He ignored the message light that was flashing on his phone. He swiveled around to the view of the river. He followed the sinuous course west to the horizon. He felt calmer. His eyes were drawn to the undulations in the rippling current. There was a new sensation. Word-like, nonsense ideas were forming in sing-song rhythms from the patterns in the current. At the shock of it he turned away. He looked back. This time, the words and undulations were intelligible. “Go with the flow. Go with the flow.” These words began to spiral in a mind worm. The undulations seemed to convey in dazzlingly lucid impressions the causes of the failings of his marriage all the while conveying “Go with the flow.”

He knew at once that it was insane to think the river could communicate. But the feelings it conveyed were honest and true and profound. For the first time he felt the truth of the failings in his marriage and his failings as a person. More importantly, he now felt he knew how to heal them.

He had an uncontrollable impulse to call Sophie. He reached for the phone, and then realized no call would do. He must see her. He must go to her. He must find her at home. He must find her now.

He grabbed his coat and ran to the elevator with a swelling sense of excitement. He was full of the same joy he felt on those first days of marriage. She was the love of his life. He rushed out of the building, but instead of heading for his car he turned toward the river. In his excitement he broke into a run. He was full of joy. As he neared the river he heard it again and again. “Follow the flow.” “Follow the flow.” At the bank he kept running, straight in, headed for the horizon.

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