The next morning Mr. Perlmutter finds himself on his living room couch. The front door is open, his clothes are dirty and he has a bruise above his left eye, but there is no other damage. His wallet and keys are in his trouser pockets. He doesn't know how he got home -- his car is nowhere to be seen -- but the bar and his toolbag are both lying on his front porch.

Though it makes no sense to him, though in fact nothing has made sense to him for a while now, Mr. Perlmutter picks up the bar and his other tools and walks away from his house, heading deliberately down the street until he comes to a main road, where he turns left and begins walking toward the center of town. Eventually he comes to a Chevy Blazer parked at a downtown meter. He swings down his bar and approaches the left rear wheel: but the tire is flat, the chrome rim already lipped and buckled. He steps back from the curb and looks again at the truck, which he is sure he's never seen before. Black with maroon accents. Government plates.

Mr. Perlmutter puts down the bar and walks away.