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“Eddie Fenn was a carpenter though he’d gone to Dartmouth and majored in history. Most of the time he worked alone. He was thirty-four. He had thinning hair and a shy smile. Not much to say. There was something quenched in him. When he was younger it was believed to be some sort of talent, but he had never really set out in life, he had stayed close to shore. His wife, who was tall and nearsighted, was from Connecticut. Her father had been a banker. Of Greenwich and Havana the announcement in the papers had said – he’d managed the branch of a New York bank there when she was a child. That was in the days when Havana was a legend and millionaires committed suicide after smoking a last cigar.
Years had passed. Fenn gazed out at the night. It seemed he was the only listener to an infinite sea of cries. Its vastness awed him. He thought of all that lay concealed behind it, the desperate acts, the desires, the fatal surprises. That afternoon he had seen a robin picking at something near the edge of the grass, seizing it, throwing it in the air, seizing it again: a toad, its small, stunned legs fanned out. The bird threw it again. In ravenous burrows the blind shrews hunted ceaselessly, the pointed tongues of reptiles were testing the air, there was a crunch of abdomens, the passivity of the trapped, the soft throes of mating. His daughters were asleep down the hall. Nothing is safe except for an hour.”