Lin Page 5
expressways, and yet a few years hence he might return and stumble upon the smothering odor of grilled meat hung up in the windows of a new restaurant, an old man showing off his few remaining teeth in a childlike grin as he invites you into a store crammed with bric-a-brac from previous eras and revolutions, the pleasant sight of a woman in a pleated skirt holding an umbrella up against the newly nonexistent rain.

Today he is near the river, enjoying the sight of the fresh fruit stands and herbal medicine shops along the promenade, the boardwalk under his feet waxy with moisture. Things have changed for the better - back then there were shacks, garbage heaps, armies of flies. School is out for the day and the children dart through real and imagined crowds, inventing whole worlds to battle for. A girl around seven years old runs smack into his knees and falls to the ground with a theatrical oof.

He tips his cap to her. Are you all right? he says.

She stares up at him, squinting. And then her mouth drops into a dumb O.

You're the Sun Man
, she says.

I haven't heard that one, he lies. Actually, he is surprised that anyone remembers him, let alone recognizes him.

They say you melt when the moon comes out. Like a witch.

I thought witches like the moon
, he retorts pleasantly.

She is on her feet and all abashed, her hair twirled about her fingers.