The driveway was on a slight decline, sloping gently for fifteen yards to where it met the curb. When they first moved in, my father planted a sapling for good luck at the base of the driveway on the slender strip of green which separated the sidewalk from the street. He must have known the roots would one day buckle the sidewalk, provide a ramp for neighborhood kids on their first bikes. He had been trying to bring a little Old World charm and ruin to the trim uniformity of his American dream exile. He knew he himself would never see it but nonetheless... That is the European perspective. It was the last time he went outside.

Jerry had been in the habit of letting the newspaper truck coast out of the garage in Prague in neutral to generate a stronger spark before starting the engine, and he'd noted with satisfaction that the same would be possible here. He was tenacious when it came to his habits and routines. He was meticulous about little things even when everything around him was slipping into chaos.

I imagine him among the musicians on the Titanic who continued playing as they went down with the ship. Perhaps a tympanum player, impeccably attired in his tuxedo, waiting attentively for the moment when he must play his notes, deaf to the screams and exploding boilers until the ship upended and his drum went sliding down the slanting floor, he sliding stiffly after it.

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