I had just come from Mother's room early one morning and was sitting alone on the steps at the front of the building when Bill drove up in his little red station wagon. He approached me and, kwing that any change in Mother could only be for the worse, simply said. Let's go in and see, Mother. We remained at her bedside for ten or fifteen minutes, then we went back outside and sat down together on the concrete steps. It was a clear fall day and people of the community were going placidly about their affairs; only Mother inside on the hospital bed was motionless, except for her breathing which seemed to become more labored with each passing day. Bill got out his pipe, slowly filled the bowl with the special tobacco which was blended for him in London, and fished a big kitchen match from a pocket of his ancient hunting jacket. Then, with unlit pipe in one hand and unstruck match in the other, he gazed out at the unhurried traffic anti asked me what my thoughts were on the hereafter. I carefully explained them as best I could, and when I had finished he struck the match on the concrete and applied the swelling flame to his pipe. It didn't catch very well, and I remember he took the pipe from his mouth anti gently tapped the bowl on the step: then. brazing again across the w empty street, he said. Maybe each of us will become some sort of radio wave.
Murry C. Falkner fought in two world wars, flew in the pioneer days of aviation, and served as a special agent for the FBI for many years until his retirement in 1965. He has been published in American Heritage and the Southern Review. Mr. Falkner lives in Mobile.