Like it or not, our lives are on exhibition, like we live in a human aquarium. If there were anyone here but us then they could watch us swimming in circles.
Ours is a twenty-first century village in the northeastern United States, a small walkable dead-end neighborhood surrounded by tall pines on three sides and a lake on another — the lake’s at the dead-end side, farthest from the road that passes us by. On little plots of land, little houses are lit up at night from the insides, like the house lit by a single lamp that Mr. Bellis has left on while he goes to the bathroom (Fifty Shades of Grey bent along its spine and left open and face-down on the side table) and the house where a single blazing clamp-on utility light and the shadows it casts prove to the village that even if Roger does spend many hours at Sara Levine’s place (and even if she is twelve years his senior), he is in the basement using the scroll saw while she is upstairs knitting in front of the bedroom window, as anyone who strolls through the village is invited to see. You can see a little something of every villager’s life tonight. Even the Lukas’s place has windows, and the village is dark at night nestled among these pines, so the lights turn on in every home, and who could blame someone for looking at all of us little fishies?
The stars are out. Jerry Randy is also out, just walking, because after all he has as much right to walk the village as anyone else does, seeing as how he lives here, and he knows which houses have dogs inside at this time of night in late winter, dogs that will bark if someone walks by, so he avoids those houses, and his stroll through the village is quiet, the snow banks muffling the sound of his footsteps but not the thoughts of his swimming mind, thoughts that sing out to him in the cold air as brightly and beautifully as the stars shine in the sky. Jerry Randy stalking the street thinks that he knows more about what really goes on in the village than anybody else does. But he doesn’t know that he is being watched.