In Pudley-on-Snodgrass, as in most places, there were many different sorts of mornings. Bright, singing-aloud sorts, and rain-pouring-off-the-eaves-with-distant-thunder sorts; those hot summer mornings when the air is thick and your face is sweaty as soon as you step outside, and, once or twice in a winter, the sort of morning that is white and sparkling and perfectly still. The Zoppo enjoyed mornings, generally, when he was left alone in them and no one hurried him, but his favorite sort of morning was the grey sort that comes after rain, with fog dripping from the pine branches and wrapped about the Sheep’s Weed monument. On mornings like that people whispered to one another and ordinary sounds like train whistles and car horns seemed far away and strange. The Zoppo loved the wet pavement, the way the water droplets hung on the downward-barbs of the barbed wire fences, the way tree tops and tall signs and the flag in front of the post office became invisible and the edges of buildings were softened. They were secretive sorts of mornings, when knobby-jointed dogs followed rabbit trails under the fog and a Zoppo could become a mysterious figure going silently somewhere. Even when he was not mysterious, the Zoppo liked to go silently.
*The important parts, for publication here, are the mornings. They are real. The things you don’t understand are fictional, and needn’t be understood to understand the mornings.