In the puddles the birds are flying and he watches them sailing overhead that way. It’s been a bear of a day, spitting a thin rain that never gets heavy enough for an umbrella but soaks into everything and leaves the buildings and the streets greasy and sweating. He could put up with anything but he hates the damp. It’s been almost a century since he was anywhere near a desert but he can still feel that perfect dryness complaining in his bones.

He doesn’t remember what city this is, Amsterdam, Prague, Pilsen, somewhere gray and cloudy with gray and clouded people. He stays in the alleyways and the ghetto, circling around the Jews like a weathered, tattered moon. Now and then he sees faces peeping at him from upper-story windows, worried faces and beautiful, heavy-lidded and dark. He’s looking for something forever elusive, something not to be found in the crabbed shops or the rows of identical houses, a small shoemaker’s building near the road to Gulgoleth.

He watches the birds in the puddles and wishes he could stop, just for a day, a week, a month, forever. It’s the rain, he tells himself, it’s always the rain that does this.