I'd just gotten a model train set, O-gauge, with lights, and in the dark, the front of the engine cast a pale light over a world of wooden blocks and die-cast trees of various conflicting scales. I'd read in bed, with the light on, even after my parents went to sleep. I’d read Treasure Island, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I would fall asleep with the lamp on, wake up disoriented in the middle of the night.

One night, I opened my eyes, and saw a man. He was in the hallway and perfectly, glowingly white. He had on a tailcoat, and a top hat. He stood, arms down at his sides. Because of his finery, the look of his clothes, I said he was like Fred Astaire. But in fact he had loomed more like my imagination of Lincoln, his face having the same kind of asymmetrical sadness.

I don't believe in ghosts. I am not sure I did then. I closed my eyes. When I opened them, he filled the door-frame. I threw my quilt over my head. It was hot, I could only hear my breath. I counted to ten in my head, and then, gingerly, lifted up the quilt over just one eye. All I could see was brilliant, shining, white.



III. “Buzzy's dead,” Mom said.



Buzz “Buzzy” Ellis had been a hero to me. He had a big yellow excavator, and a bulldozer that he operated. He brought them on a red flatbed truck. It was red, I mean the color was ur-red, original red. Buzzy had a thick walrus mustache, wore boots caked with old mud, and his eyes, set in a face of weathered stone, were two piercing marbles that shined right into you. Sometimes, he let me ride with him, on my father's jobs. I'd almost never seen him out of overalls. I had a small excavator, like his, that fit into my hands. It was cool to the touch, because it was metal, and seemed heavier than its size.