6:40 A.M.


Wachtmann glared at the parrot and tried to recapture the chords he had seen in his dream. He kicked off his blankets. The cloth had slipped from the top of the cage and hung down like a tongue. Beckmesser was rattling his throat and adjusting his wings. His right eye was completely closed now.

Wachtmann pushed himself out of the bed. He threw the plastic cup into the trash bag and limped to the window. Again the window was stuck. The fog sliced off the top half of Telegraph Hill, as though someone had pulled down a shade. He could hear the foghorns on San Francisco Bay. Downstairs in the kitchen Tsugami was chopping the kidneys for the cat. Wachtmann put all his weight on the frame. The window came down with a crash. Tsugami stopped chopping.

He climbed on the stool and unfastened the cloth from the cage. When he offered Beckmesser the tip of his finger, the parrot retreated one hop. Another long rattle. It was not a good rattle, Wachtmann listened. The rattle was bad. He climbed down from the stool and limped over to the table. As Beckmesser got worse, he seemed to be expanding in some curious way. Filling up more of the room, Wachtmann picked up the pen. Once again, he was seeing the chords he had seen in his dream, an arrangement of cubes. Beckmesser lifted one foot and the cubes changed their shape. Wachtmann set the pen down. Tsugami was chopping again.