Of course, he didn’t doubt that David wouldn’t confide in him. In the year they had been acquainted, David hadn’t let him into his life. He never told him, for example, why he had gotten divorced or why he had abandoned literary pursuits.

David had never invited him to his home either. Martin suspected that David would be ashamed to invite such a street bum to his house. He would be embarrassed in front of his neighbors, in front of his journalist colleagues. Perhaps he would even be embarrassed in front of himself. That was alright—Martin had gotten used to it.

“Nothing’s going on with me. Everything’s O.K.” David rolled his jeans almost to his knees and went into the water.

Going in up to his knees, he bent over and began to splash water on himself—on his shoulders, his neck, and then rubbed down his chest and stomach. The water was cold, but it was pleasant in such hot weather.

“Let me help you a little,” he sat next to his son and scooped up sand around the sinking and already shapeless castle. “Who lives in it?”

“The Princess, SpongeBob, Shrek, and a rhinoceros,” answered Anthony immediately.

David chuckled. Together, they continued digging a ditch around the castle, which instantly filled up with water. David suddenly recalled his own childhood, when his family had vacationed in Florida. The sand in Florida is light-colored, soft and smooth; it flows like an ochre spring through your fingers and makes baroque cascades under your palms. But the sand on the New York shore is heavy and coarse, not suited for elegant constructions.

“Dad, will you buy me some ice cream later?”

“Of course.”

Anthony threw down his shovel, went over to his father and suddenly hugged him.


It is more or less understood why Martin needs David. David is like a demigod to him. And a friend, of course. Certainly, their friendship is a little skewed, but that’s how it is. Thank goodness for it. Could Martin have dreamt about it just the year before, when his only friends had been beggars and street whores?