I told her (I always remember the remote past first). ‘It was an orange-colored cotton twill sort of material.’ ‘That was my piqué,’ says she as normally as you please.” For some reason he flushed and fell silent.

. . .

Jamie—who, he was told, had a severe and atypical mononucleosis—saw him as a fellow technician, like himself an initiate of science, that is, of a secret, shared view of the world, a genial freemasonry which sets itself apart from ordinary folk and sees behind appearances. He lent the engineer a tattered offprint of a scientific article which was written by his brother and which he kept under his pillow. It was titled The Incidence of Post-orgasmic Suicide in Male University Graduate Students, and divided into two sections, the first subtitled “Genital Sexuality as the Sole Surviving Communication Channel between Transcending-Immanent Subjects,” and the second, “The Failure of Coitus as a Mode of Reentry into the Sphere of Immanence from the Sphere of Transcendence.” The engineer read the article twice and could not make head or tail of it, except a short description of technical procedure in which Dr. Sutter, following some hunch or other, had examined the urethral meatus of some thirty male suicides for the presence of spermatozoa.

To Mrs. Vaught elder he was as nice as he could be. His manners were good without being too ceremonial. There was a lightness in him: he knew how to fool with her. They could even have a fuss. “Now you listen to me, Billy Barrett, it’s time you buckled down,” etc. So acute was his radar that neither Mrs. Vaught nor her husband could quite get it into their heads that he did not know everything they knew. He sounded like he did. She would speak allusively of six people utterly unknown to him—“So I took one look at her when she got home from school and of course her face was all broken out and, I said ho-ho—”