“Is there anything to do in Sycamore Shadows?” Jim asked.

“More than you’ll fit into a weekend visit,” I assured him. “Most Saturdays, I write for a few hours, then have breakfast with Wilson Hahn. After that, I go fishing, if I don’t get sidetracked. I’ll grab a rod and head to the creek for a few hours. Some days I’ll row a boat out to Swooner’s Island and read or write while enjoying a cigar, or walk up Sanderling’s Run to the waterfall. If it’s hot, there’s no better place to cool yourself, and if you search under the moss, you can find salamander eggs. If I’m feeling restless, I might walk to the mill ruins and poke around with a shovel. You never know what you’ll find. I dug up a hammer one year; Musty Groves found an 1832 penny just last fall. After that, maybe I’ll visit with Sammy Blue, then walk across the covered bridge and climb the hill to where the road fell, or stroll to the campground and visit Shady Glen. If the water’s low enough, I’ll wade the creek back to town, or to the head of Crusoe’s Island to see what’s washed up. You have to get there quick after a flood, before everything gets picked over. Curly found a brand new cooler this spring, and one year Buck Horn found a picnic table. He never located the owner so he kept it. He and I carried it across the creek, but if I’d known Monica would paint it blue, I wouldn’t have helped.

“Usually it’s near suppertime by then, and I’ve worked up an appetite. Most Saturdays, I go to the Girded Loin for meatloaf. You need to get there early if you want a seat. Other nights I eat at the Crawdad Club, or Sotty’s, or fix myself something at home.

“Meatloaf weighs a body down, so after dinner I take a turn around town, looking in store windows, or maybe watch Jiggs mow the graveyard. By and by, I’ll get my second wind and have a ride on the carousel at Hibb’s Land, or skip some stones in Marsuoin Park. After that, folks start to come out on their porches and I might stop for coffee and a visit, or browse the shelves at Castaway Books, or sit in Sanderling Park and read the Evening Shade. Some evenings I’ll catch the early show at the Utopia, then have a snack at the cafe, or stroll to the creek and watch the bats come out. Along about dusk, if I’m not sleepy, I’ll climb the path to Walker’s Cliff and see the sunset. When the street lights begin to glow, I head home, stop to visit Abigail for a while, read for an hour or two, and go to bed.”

No sound came from the other end of the phone.

“You still there, Jim?” I asked.

The line was dead. Jim never came.

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