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'And you have to remember, for most of us we see that maybe once or twice in twenty years. Maybe never. Why, California in this day and age is a whole civilization of people who never witness a death. They never even see a dead body Why, they think when they hear somebody's dead that he forgot to eat his health foods, or hadn't been jogging the way he should have been...

He realized that he had never had his knowledge of a human being commence at such a pitch, and plunge so deep so fast. It was like what was supposed to happen with sex, but seldom if ever did. He had entirely lost sight of the fact that she was the woman who'd rescued him; that is, a strong sense of her character had obliterated that vague impersonal excitement he'd felt on first meeting her, and now he was making mad fantasies about her in his head.

She had laughed softly under her breath. 'Every goddamned death's a murder. Why do you think they come after us doctors with their lawyers?'

Now he lay on the rug, thinking how much he liked her and how much her sadness and her aloneness disturbed him, and how much he didn't want to leave her, and that nevertheless, he had to go.

'And you have to remember, for most of us we see that maybe once or twice in twenty years. Maybe never. Why, California in this day and age is a whole civilization of people who never witness a death. They never even see a dead body Why, they think when they hear somebody's dead that he forgot to eat his health foods, or hadn't been jogging the way he should have been...

The sun was burning through the eastern windows and skylights. He could hear her working in the kitchen. He figured he ought to get up and help her no matter what she'd said, but she'd been pretty convincing on the subject: 'I like to cook, it's like surgery. Stay exactly where you are.'

Now he lay on the rug, thinking how much he liked her and how much her sadness and her aloneness disturbed him, and how much he didn't want to leave her, and that nevertheless, he had to go.

'Well, it was luck for me, all right,' he'd responded, and he had felt an extraordinary sense of well-being when he said it, and he wasn't so sure why.

But the point was, he had to leave, and he didn't want to. And it made him sad suddenly, sad and almost desperate, as if they were somehow doomed, he and she.

It was an easy exchange, deepening their knowledge of each other, and amplifying the intimacy they'd already felt. He had liked what she said about going out to sea; about being alone on the bridge with the coffee in her hand, the wind howling past the wheelhouse. He didn't like it, but he liked to hear her tell about it. He liked the look in her gray eyes; he liked the simplicity of her easy, languid gestures.

She had reflected for a moment. Then she had said, 'Yes, and no. I mean maybe it was just luck.'

'Well, let me tell you about one other supernatural event,' she'd said, smiling. 'It's when you've got one of those dead bodies lying on the deck of your boat, and you're slapping it around and talking to it, and suddenly the eyes do open, and the guy's alive.'

When she'd been describing the rescue to him in more detail, she had said a strange thing. She had said that a person loses consciousness almost immediately in very cold water. Yet she had been pitched right into it, and she hadn't lost consciousness. She had said only, 'I don't know how I reached the ladder, I honestly don't.'

'I know what you're saying.'

Why did this other thing have to be happening? Why did this feel like stolen time?

He was thinking that she was the first thing in all these weeks that really mattered to him, that took his mind off the accident and off himself. And it was such a relief to be thinking of someone other than himself. In fact, when he considered it with this new clarity, he realized he'd been able to concentrate well since he'd been here, concentrate on their conversation and their lovemaking and their knowing of each other; and that was something altogether new, because in all these weeks, his lack of concentration - his inability to read more than a page of a book, or follow more than a few moments of a film - had left him continuously agitated. It had been as bad as the lack of sleep.

The sun was burning through the eastern windows and skylights. He could hear her working in the kitchen. He figured he ought to get up and help her no matter what she'd said, but she'd been pretty convincing on the subject: 'I like to cook, it's like surgery. Stay exactly where you are.'

The sun was burning through the eastern windows and skylights. He could hear her working in the kitchen. He figured he ought to get up and help her no matter what she'd said, but she'd been pretty convincing on the subject: 'I like to cook, it's like surgery. Stay exactly where you are.'

She had smiled so beautifully at him then. He had started kissing her, and that was how that particular segment of the conversation had come to an end. But the point was, he hadn't lost her with his crazy rambling. She had never once tuned out on him.

'Exactly, but it's deeper even than that. They don't believe they're going to die Why, I have been to California memorial services where nobody even mentioned the dead guy But if you really see it... and you're not a doctor, or a nurse, or an undertaker... well, it's a first-class supernatural event, and just probably the only supernatural event you ever get to see.'

When she'd been describing the rescue to him in more detail, she had said a strange thing. She had said that a person loses consciousness almost immediately in very cold water. Yet she had been pitched right into it, and she hadn't lost consciousness. She had said only, 'I don't know how I reached the ladder, I honestly don't.'

It was an easy exchange, deepening their knowledge of each other, and amplifying the intimacy they'd already felt. He had liked what she said about going out to sea; about being alone on the bridge with the coffee in her hand, the wind howling past the wheelhouse. He didn't like it, but he liked to hear her tell about it. He liked the look in her gray eyes; he liked the simplicity of her easy, languid gestures.

Why did this other thing have to be happening? Why did this feel like stolen time?

He had even gone into his crazy talk about the movies, and the recurrent images of vengeful babies and children, and the way he felt when he perceived such themes - as though everything around him was talking to him. Maybe one step from the madhouse, but he wondered if some of the people in the madhouse were there because they took the patterns they perceived too literally? What did she think? And death, well, he had a lot of thoughts about death, but first and foremost, this thought had recently struck him, even before the accident, that the death of another person is perhaps the only genuine supernatural event we ever experience.

She had laughed softly under her breath. 'Every goddamned death's a murder. Why do you think they come after us doctors with their lawyers?'

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