For two long, glorious weeks in New Zealand David Brown lives without thinking. He hikes, he fishes, he marvels at so much beauty in such a small space. He avoids newspapers, radios, televisions, computers, phones, anything that would connect him to the world, to other people. He can’t quite avoid everyone, but he keeps his interactions to the absolute minimum. When he says something, people are surprised at his accent. It’s all very soothing. He’s sleeping more, almost four hours a night; it feels sinful, indulgent. An orgy of sleep.
Of course it can’t last. He’s hiking through the mountains feeling almost human again when he comes across the body, soaking wet from the spray of a waterfall. He knows it’s dead as soon as he sees it, right in his gut, doesn’t need to roll it over and look for what killed it, though he does, anyway, because what else can he do? He writes down everything he can for the police in Wellington.
He doesn’t get any sleep that night. In the susurrus of the city he hears a waterfall; the summer sweat on his face feels like so much spray on the face of a young woman dying in the mountains.