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The Final Premise


September. Interesting, how you can think about things and think about things and when you go to set them down or explain them, it seems you've thought about them too much, and now you're all thought out, like logs that have done their burning and have no energy left but to lie on the bricks and smolder. So you think "to hell with it" and move on to something else.... Douglas had that thought a lot these days, about being all thought out, like the logs, and he did what the logs did. He noticed too that he was beginning to slouch. It was something he noticed years before, actually, when he bought his last suit, but it was becoming more pronounced. He noticed it on his way to work when he passed his ghostly reflection in the butcher shop window, his reflection stuttering past the pyramids of tomato-sauce cans and applesauce cans, his graying head fading past the pink of a gaping piglet dangling from its ankles, then paler as it passed the salamis. He would catch himself then and walk with his spine erect. Until he forgot and began to slouch again. Now and then he had the sullen, downturned look of a man who was about to kick his dog. Which he didn't have. His wife wouldn't allow it because of her succession of long-haired cats - white ones with blue eyes, orange ones with yellow eyes, or fat, complacent calicos with eyes that didn't match. It gave them an intelligent look, he thought. Independent. Freethinking. Drunk.... He had grown fond of her cats. Loved them, actually. Because he loved her. (He had explained all this to himself many times.) And he admired the way she held her ground about it, admired her gentle persuasiveness and tender strength. Her single-mindedness. Devotion.... But that was before she became ill.

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