So this is what it comes to, after all. Where's the point of knowing - of half-knowing, partial comprehension - where's the point of it now? Say you come to understand. Maybe not understand, maybe a glimmer. But the light of the glimmer is sufficiently bright to see by, and if the interiors of all the buildings are perhaps still unknown, the layout of the streets is clear enough. Fine. So, what - take a walk? Going where? Look around on that street. See any pedestrians? It's not like they're all off to the beach for the day, either. No late-evening returning here. This is a city of the mind in which no one lives but him. Never have, more than likely, never will.
Once there was a time when he thought, if he just knew his way around, if he got familiar with the intersections, learned the shapes of the buildings, found the landmarks - then ... something. What? Unclear. But some worthy result, surely, for the labor. Oh, yes, very worthy. Now he could make a map. Sell it to himself.
He shifted his butt on the stool and took another sip. Is this a clinging? All those articles. Magazines. What do they know? Probably everything. Probably true. The great comfort of knowing that.
Most likely, there never had been a goal. Only the exploration itself, it was distracting, it was interesting. Lord knows, there was still more to do. Pry open one of those doors, poke around inside, open up the windows and air out a building. Look in the closets. See what scurries out. But.... the heart's out of it. He could only play a game for so long before he would forget to forget that it was only a game.
All of it, really. A game. Let's play Interested In Work. Or how about a nice hand of Bask in Offcast Radiance of Youth? A round of Contemplating the Verities? Ah, yah. Ah, yah. Hang up a sign, give the place a municipal identity. Cliche City.
He looked at his watch and noticed it was almost midnight. Half-heard conversation flowed around him, him like a rock in a slow stream, the erosion constant but hardly noticeable at any moment. It's all about being interested, he thought. It's about not ever thinking outside the lines, or else being dragged along by a curiosity or some other odd spark, no matter does this matter, you just want to KNOW. That's when it works. That must be what animates these others. Or perhaps not. Others. Aliens. Always.
Rather, not aliens. One alien here. One alien that needs another beer. He got up and carried the glass up to the bar, a steady walk yet. Early still, late start, long practice. "Heya, Julie." "Hi, Leo. Another?" "Yes, thank you." Wait. Faces of the living. Must be fun. "Here you go." "Ah, thanks." Walk back, sit down. Plop.