An elderly woman with a gun comes into the library where I'm working and takes everyone hostage. This continues for a while, then a patron agitates the woman in such a way that she sets down her gun, and I grab it, since that's the sensible thing to do. But even as I'm reaching for it, I feel an inexplicable but unmistakable regret that the hostage situation is over. As I train the gun on her, she comes closer, daring me to shoot. I wonder if the gun is unloaded. Without hesitating, I fire, and in my mind, I see a diagram of a tiny pellet entering her brain, with a dotted line marking its trajectory. The police take reports, patrons continue to use the library, and life goes on.
Then I'm traveling, and it strikes me as very important that I go swimming in the Ganges River. I strip off my socks and outerwear and walk over to the edge. This part of the city is built up on a sheer concrete ledge, and the murky river lies at least a hundred feet below. I wait for some local boys to jump first so I know it's safe. There are some American college girls in bathing suits laughing and goading each other, working up the nerve to jump. As a joke, I grab the nearest one and jump off, pulling her with me. Right at that moment, I realize that I've forgotten to step out of my unlaced running shoes. In free-fall, I take off my shoes, hold one tightly in each hand, and pinch my nose shut just before I hit the water more-or-less feet first.
There is another abutment right at water level, so it's easy for me and the girl to climb out of the water. Someone says the nearby duct is a sewer. The water really doesn't look all that dirty, but for the first time, I regret my impulsiveness, and try to will my immune system to kill all the microbes, thinking of the many diseases and infections I may have just contracted.