I was compelled to jump from a balcony. The musing was so far from casual that I did not even believe it to be reality, which made it all the more probable that I would act upon it. The ears emptied by rushing air, the empty street, the hotel room still behind me all taut with convex pressures. For certain I needed a keeper.

Without seeing his face, only red hooking of his ear, he would be the rudder of my life for the foreseeable future. He will make the decisions. My Guide and I were together on a train. Beside him a woman fought to consume a fist-sized plug of chewing gum with her entire mouth, tonsils, lips, and nose. His measured breath seemed to draw the woman in and release a silent, amorphous almost body, not woman, dim. Trees racing past their silhouettes tread the horizon in faintly vertiginous ash.

Beside her sat a blind man with dog hair tufting from the skid at the bottom of his cane. His eyes just slivering beneath the lids were completely white eggs that he might not even know to lay. Similes are of little use to the blind. The man began slapping his elbow. His broken front teeth hung over his lip in what must get mistaken for a smile; this was subtly the surfacing of pain on a face that didn’t know what to emulate.

He had no eyes; he wore hearing aids that presumably he could turn off. As the man agitated by the world unrelentingly breaking in on him with its nettles and nudges of other people going about their lives wants to invert the bilious darkness of his guts into a portable crypt, so the blind man might, must, harbor a desperation for mastery of stimuli, for escape from the chamber of his guts.

A shadow from a waving hand dodged the etiolated plastic jamb of the window. My Guide pressed his face closer but never close enough. Still without turning to my shady vantage, the sun bald through the sky burns through his ears projecting living red arteriole fans.

The following dawn an iridescent blue aurora divides the starched rococo pattern of the curtains in the motel room he shares with an old man. The canyon walls materializing out of the dark are drenched in a rolling ambergris front. A thick mist of drizzle is visible before the rock.

I stand in the field beyond the motel watching the vent in the curtain of their room. He is coming down the stairs, stops, maybe to look back at the blinded brown horse and the blinded white horse in the back field, but is gripped presciently by the aromatic charge of the air, or the sudden pressure around his head of his cap soaking through, or the clouds slumping down the slate cliff and pooling into the empty field around the corner of the building. I am still watching the vent in their curtain when they breach into the field. He and I wince, though somewhat relieved; we don’t recognize each other. This comfort in strangeness can happen but once in such an empty tract.

I lost them in the fog as they headed up the canyon road until it stopped. From there they walked into the canyon where it rose and narrowed. His companion put on a poncho and when my guide’s shirt no longer beaded the rain but drank it he did as well. They swayed like two blue ghosts, as a descending woman called them. The rain tapped on his hood and on his shoulders in unrepeatable code. Nagging fingers of water ran down his plastic raiment and fogged his neck. Juniper berries drifted against the canyon walls. Some had blossomed into little urchins of soft new scales. Wild turkeys strutted into a clearing. The half-eaten cactus pears bleeding onto the sand lay unclaimed. He stopped at the base of a high segmented cliff missing a cleft like the shim from the eye of an ax. Slots of the jelly milk sky eased between the segments and forth from them visible only before the black shade of the cliff a much finer rain came than he expected from the tapping on his poncho. The vague droplets fell in flagellate swerves like a mistake in his eye when he looks into the dead and flushed ochre wall of his enormous motel room.

While they stray through the mist I have slid back to gain access to their room. Where My Guide is not I become the landmark of him. A key had been left in the door for him the evening before and therein a second key was left on the small table against the doorside window. This I had taken stealthily in advance of him and the old man before posting in the field for the night. Where they are not now I become them. The expiry of the window air conditioner rushes out into the room and stalls. That sound is protracted and repeated. A freshly vacated motel room is miraculous. I couple it only with the funeral parlor in its capacity to bilocate the human individual into a setting that whatever is known to primarily compose them has fled. It also competes with the funeral parlor in the thickness of its lit air. Something too revealing is concealed behind meticulously pleated curtains. I began in the arm chair beneath the window but was so compelled by the vast field of bare carpet between the unmade beds and the far wall that I spread out there and read the bracketed passages in his dog-eared book ‘Peaceful Death, Joyful Rebirth’: Billions of bacteria, I am told, live in our intestines alone. Every one of them has a mind and seeks happiness. The curtains in the funeral parlor keep death in, not the light of the sun or the wash of the clouds out. I had always believed that the barring of natural light from the parlor was to protect the memory of the vacated corpse from the pale probe of the sun laying bare its failure to flush and prickle. It said here is a translucent body that could no longer live. But it is to keep that thin pallor from taking wing on the air and dusting the rest of the walking and blissfully alive with the foundation makeup of what seems a pathetic afterlife. I throw the curtains overlooking the canyon road. The clouds have feathered up, draping the far high crease of the canyon. Sheeting rainwater on the dark cliff straight out reflects the sky. For a moment I am ten million years hence in the erosive death of this canyon. The ochre of the room smothers me when I see the fleshy white sky. These colors are too close to the colors of the mind. I often refuse to acknowledge that the sky is the blue that it is. It shocks me too much. I rush out of the room on foot up the canyon road. He can pull the curtains shut again when he returns.

I have lost them but I climb the canyon floor as it rises and the sand yields to rock and clouds sail around me, then beneath me. The clearing out to the white sky is intermittent. Less frequently the canyon floor materializes. I catch views to the opposite canyon wall where folks cut out of frayed cloth stumble up a trail. Like me their akathisia is rooted in an unknown. I have tried to give it a body at least. I have tried to give chase to that body. There my master steps out of the trees into the sand dimpled by the swelling rainstorm. I stand at the edge of the trail with smooth shear rock glossed down to him.

The will to live is like the belief in vision. I believe it has been with me always, that I see even when my eyes are closed. I know that something else exists, a tendency, that something else can be obtained. In that sudden binary where always there is one and the other is its opposite, I feel the magnetism of the canyon floor. Liquid in my skull lurches forward as if to leap out on its own into the rain and cloud. This tendency reaches around and blinds the capacity to see life eternal, pulls me to the edge and evokes in me the crunch of my skull quickly and simultaneously eradicating him and the canyon and the sky into precious disparition. But it is a vacuum that is the conjecture of the living. It is a charade of death because the emptiness of death can’t be known to the living. My master would beautifully accuse me of professoring myself out of suicide, but overthinking often has its merits.

He sat up late by the low stave fence with an unopened can of Black Label ogling a prone cow. Her head of curly hair swirled in ringlets from the damp. An enormous, brown, ill-proportioned spot ran up her neck and down her snout shy of the mouth. It was a blemish that would relegate any human woman to a shuttered apartment or at the very least some oddly plastered hairdo. She sat there peacefully as the dusk swelled. Rather often she would creak deeply and kick out her hind legs straight across the ground to what a cow might want for an ottoman. I sat within a break of stocky, black cypresses across the pasture. I slept there too.

The blinded horses were up to the fence in the morning. What they wore was more of a mesh mask that matched their coat. It bound them all at once into a single color, without feature, like a weathered statue. They stood near the spot where the paddock and pasture met at a ruined series of stave aisles and leaning pens that funneled beasts to a ramp. The vague wrecks and silver silhouettes had never been repaired after their initial improvisation. No memorial but decay protects their final hooffalls.

The rain fell consistently. My guide looks up the valley intently. I wanted to think he surveyed for me and might find me but I had recently roused in the cypress and remained darkened amidst them.

All of us headed up into the valley as if into a cloud about the scrub and juniper and the rain-heavy blond sand. I followed as close as the mist would afford. I believed in the fortuitousness, or at least in the persistence of my shadowing, that I would be guided to some unveiling of a truth that I had heretofore excluded myself from allowing to irradiate me. It was a delicately elastic connection, following through the fallen cloud. I worked to keep their forms just barely material as they trudged. Yet the volatility of the mist to the winds that peeled out of the walls of the canyon often laid us all three bare with a crisply foreshortened stretch of wort or sand gathered up immediately so that I might almost tap him on the shoulder and ask “where are you taking me?” My heart would freeze in the expansion of a drawn beat and all the blood in me seemed to swell and hold with my breath until the gauzy arms once again barred me from them.

Tapered into that faint sheer once he looked back with his lips pursed, his eyes widened and welled. Had he recalled my face from the field outside the motel I wondered what secrets he might now share with a familiar, but also knew that the fear of a reemerging face, though similar to his in blunted expression, might hurriedly erase him rushing back into the thick fog.

As it was, after a few more safe exposures in the valley they hurried off without looking back, and gave over themselves, from where I still trudged, into the consuming silver powder. It wasn’t until I had risen up a hollow on the cliff face where the canyon narrowed that I saw them above me on a series of switchbacks buttressed into the face of a looming monolith. The cloud stood away from the dark emanations of the cliff. At this time as if hurrying away from me I saw them slip into the canyon face at a slit just above a waterfall that had blackened the rock with a primeval excrescence and they were gone. When I reached the notch myself they were again deep and high above me down the finger canyon worn by the waterfall’s little stream. The narrow rift had a clear termination, where, choked with refrigerated pines that rose along its nadir and rose vertically out of narrow ledges a fringe of countless waterfalls hung in the air. They appeared to dissipate into dull tails that fed the saturated air. Escarpments and the cuts of the trail below the precipices of the falls pooled with direct hits. My clothes were soaked fully through. Small falls had pricked through along the rim of the little canyon from what must have been a swelling sea consuming the entire plateau above. Amidst their white coagulation, a thin sheet of running water covered all the rock faces gathering thickness as it was fed by the splashdown of the falls.

My master and his man had stopped near halfway up the canyon face and described the arcs of the falls with their hands down into the pine grove. He pointed down where a larger cataract broke into white spray and where a white and ashen reflection of the sky sieved through the foliage. I was nearly halfway between them and the hidden trench floor of the canyon. He was close enough to the edge that I could see him directly above me, close enough that I felt the specific coolness of the thin sheet of water, moving toward the canyon floor and off to mix away into a mass that could no longer recall its delicacy, that easily drew him lightly off his feet from the ledge, floating down peacefully for a moment still in contact with the rock, then out, still upright, into the mist dissolving fortunately enough before cracking through the pine limbs with the only sound distinct from the hiss of the falls.

Perhaps still in draft of my guide. Perhaps the trajectory mapped out to include the accident contained a plan for the endless development of my guide’s consciousness. Perhaps our collocation at the accident had allowed me to helm that trajectory now, at least for what might have to him been the foreseeable future. I found myself at a restaurant in the night where the older man was drinking wine out of a tumbler at a high round table near the bar. Jarred, or lulled out of my parallelism, my spectralism, I wheeled around with my can of beer and let him watch me pry it open.

“No hiss. My wine is bad too. I have only ever been here one other time, but in Green River, in the biggest motel room I’ve ever seen. There was so much bare carpet I didn’t know what to do. I just stayed on the bed. When I was in Moscow in the seventies I met a man. He was so friendly. He invited me to his apartment. It was so barren and dreadful. It looked like it had been built in a city all at once, all identical, during a few months in nineteen fifty-two. I brought a bottle of vodka to be nice when I met him there, and he insisted that we finish the entire bottle. I never had had so much alcohol. I didn’t even know where I was. I looked around the room thinking it was my room in Green River and that I lived there and that everything else had been stripped away and the motel just repeated into a whole city. I thought that this was all there had ever been, just a bare bulb and some shadows on water-stained walls. You know when you order drinks here they make you pretend you are going to eat. They put a menu on the table so that at the very least you have the intention of eating. In Russia at the restaurants they would come to your tables with menus but when you ordered they would say back to you ‘Chicken Kiev.’ No matter what you said they would say ‘Chicken Kiev’ back to you. Even if you never relented they would still bring you a plate, every night. It was bleak. Nobody ate in the restaurants. They did the strangest thing. If another diner came in they would seat him at my little table with me out of the whole empty, one-meal place. Although I wouldn’t have otherwise, I met some wonderful people that way.”