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And taller. He was floating, still with eyes shut. I'm fairly
hardheaded as a rule but it was too much, his shoes
six inches off the floor now. I pushed a tan chair
right of the andirons to about a foot from his left arm
and, apologizing, stood on it and waved
my arms above his head. I felt foolish (there was patently
no thread or wire, in that light, hauling him up
from the ceiling), climbed down and ran my hand between
his soles and the hearth tile. Again there was nothing.
"Wil," I said. He shivered, and slowly came (how shall I say)
back to earth, more hunched as if reassuming weight.
The clock ticked. I hadn't noticed it before, its skeleton
smiling at me, hooded. Wil opened his eyes.
There was a pause. "All right," I said, "how do you do it?"
”You mean," he said, "how was it done, like a conjuring trick?
Actually how I do it is not important. I mean
the principle isn't even interesting. You could say
I levitate myself by accident." "You must do something."
"Forgive me if l repeat," he said, "it's not a technique.
l do something -- it may only be a bit of behavior.
But I was doing it the first time I levitated." "Yes?"
I said. "I found myself saying, quite absently,
’S is P.' I still do. I did it now. That's all."
"So," I said, "you might not have come on this at all
if you hadn't put salt in the wrong container." (I'm
afraid I was a little bit bitter. I felt like Watson.)
"Do you think if l said it ... ?" "No," he said smiling,
"I don't think it's causal. It's just something I do,"
and turning put the speckware shakers on the mantel.
His hands came up, the fingers flat on its brown surface
as if he felt dizzy, his face to the clock face.
"You'd better go," he said apologetically. "Something
about this takes it out of me." I felt slighted though
suppose I shouldn't have. He turned to me and came very
slowly forward while I drank the last of my sherry.
A thought came to my mind, that I should have given him
a nudge while he was floating, to see if he'd drift like
a balloon or test his inertial mass. Too late.
"I am sorry," he said. "I'm glad you came," and ushered me
as if by the force of an absence of will
across his chocolate carpet to the door.
Perhaps it was his manner, or that what had seemed to me
not much less than a miracle should be by him presented
as ordinary, if not a minor breach of good manners,
but on the threshold, glancing at his dun-colored room
I resolved not to see him again, and haven't.

Copyright Gerald Burns 1995-1997

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