By Andrew Hoffman
From South: Locate Polaris in the night sky (I am no longer accepting daytime visitors). Close your eyes and inhale deep. Let the air hunker down in your lungs too long. Exhale and cough. This will make you more alert. Try to decipher the obstacles before you by scent alone. Tear blades of grass from the ground and toss them into the air to see which way they drift. This won’t matter. Follow the North Star. You will eventually see a tree. Find a stone approximately the size of an egg and place it in your right, front pocket. Climb the tree at a pace that makes you sweat. This will also make you more alert. At the top of the tree, look down, search for its shadow. If you find a shadow, look in the opposite direction and locate the street lamp. Retrieve the stone from your pocket and swiftly release it in the direction of the offending light. Accuracy is paramount. Once the lamp has been neutralized, make your way to the ground. Realign yourself with the pole star. Close your eyes again. Listen to the obstacles before you. What information can be gathered by their sonic waves? If nothing specific comes, attempt to throw your voice in your direction of travel and listen for the return of any irregular vibrations. This will likely be of little use. Continue following Polaris. You will eventually see a drugstore. They’re everywhere. Enter the drugstore and shield your eyes. The fluorescent lights will harass you. This combined with the previous high concentration on sound waves and your sore hands from tree climbing will have given you a mild headache. Find the over-the-counter pain relievers. Scan the ingredients on the boxes. Return the medicines to the shelf. The fact that you are surrounded by aspirin and ibuprofen will cure your headache. No need to ingest any of them. Their bitter taste is best left alone. On your way out buy a popsicle. Be nice to the cashier. They just want to be at home. Put a penny on the take a penny, leave a penny tray. Distance yourself five hundred paces from the store. Take five minutes to enjoy the popsicle and let your eyes adjust to the dark. Save the wooden sticks. Never waste any of the animal. Find the star again. Hold your breath and plug your ears. Use only your sense of sight to learn about the obstacles ahead. The longer you hold your breath, the more alert you will be to your surroundings, until you pass beyond the lack-of-oxygen-in-the-brain threshold. You will then start to get drowsy and be ineffective. Breathe again. You will still be ineffective. It’s a hard realization, but necessary. Accept it, and continue following the path star. You will come to a steep downhill grade. Run as fast as possible while approaching and make bounding leaps as you descend the hill, while keeping your speed. You will tumble. You will fall. You will sprain a finger. This will make you feel alive. Use a popsicle stick as a splint to keep your finger immobilized. Suck in the night air. Think about the promise in the pain in your finger. Revel in the ingenuity of your wooden medical apparatus. Fall back against the incline of the hill. Watch satellites and airplanes cross paths above. Sigh. Use all your senses because that’s all you can do. Close your eyes and let sleep prevail. Nothing will be happening at my place anyway.