The man, if you can call him that, is nearly six and a half feet tall, with a tall black top hat and a golden watch-chain at his waistcoat. He is clothed in black satin, attended by five short footmen all in shrouds; they are decorated with silk roses. His teeth are very white.
They load their countryman up with a practiced precision, into his accustomed sleeping-place. He told Jacob Lusk it was for his guitar, but a man should fit inside. He does, now, blossoms painted on the sides, and the small men bend down, to gain a better purchase and get their fallen son inside. He watches, without speaking; he does not issue orders nor does he bend to aid them.
The horses are anxious tonight; they chip at the paving and send up sparks. A chill wind caresses Randy's scalp and he shudders from somewhere deep within himself. The leader swings his head up, and around, to look them in the eyes.
"Who pays this one's passage?"
Randy fights through his pockets -- sticky toffees, a button -- looking for the coins Paul made him promise to offer, when they came. He holds them out, not daring to look into those fiery eyes, and the man beckons him closer. Closer, still. From the carriage issues a sound, like a final exhalation; like the last chord in a symphony finally coming to rest. The man's breath on Randy's ear feels like the chill fingertips of an oncoming fog. One bent hand wraps itself around his shoulder, leaning ever closer, to deliver his final message.
What the man in black said to Randy, I cannot relate and he refuses to share. We watched them make their way down the boulevard, around a corner, taking their fallen son home; we took Randy inside, gave him his hot chocolate and his Doritos and left him alone only a few minutes, to get his bearings. We slept, all of us, fitfully that night, and greeted one another in the morning with the hooded eyes of those visited by spirits and phenomena. We did not speak of it again. And what the man said to Randy, I do not wish to ever learn.