he kept a postcard pinned to the wall next to his desk. "see hawaii," it invited, with letters bold and red. beside the invitation stood a native girl, grass-skirted and dark, her lithe arms raised and bent just so, caught in mid-dance and staring straight at him. he would look at this postcard every day, most often right after lunch. it kept him going on the days when he wanted to walk away and never return. there were times, as he sat eating pastrami in Kahn's Deli, that he fought the temptation to run to the station and take a train going anywhere not here. but the promise of the girl in the picture brought him back. he would tell himself that leaving meant never seeing her again, neither in life nor in print. and every day, at two minutes to one, he would return to his desk and see her, standing, waiting, encouraging him to keep going. work hard, she seemed to say as she smiled. save your pennies. see hawaii. find me.
at night, when he returned to his empty efficiency on the third floor of a dying brownstone, he would think of her right before he fell asleep. he would cling to the promise of hawaii and her.