Friday, May 4, 2007


Note: This story began on April 25 and has no foreseeable end.

In Mumbai, Cliff and I shared a room at the Grand Hyatt which—if you ignored the central air-conditioning, television, minibar, shower and bath—was somehow reminiscent of our family home at the corner of Lake and Center streets. Maybe it was the two single beds, but more likely it was the two of us.

While my attention was elsewhere, Cliff has become the most successful of our siblings. And I’m not thinking in terms of wealth or celebrity. Instead, I am measuring by the admittedly subjective standard of dreams. Cliff, among the four of us, is closest to making satisfactory use of his talents.

Watching him and Sandy work together—the nods and murmurs, the pins and tape, the continuous small adjustments and readjustments—I experience a jealous thrill. Here is something he can do better than almost anyone: the mysterious and judicious application of creativity and connoisseurship.

Cliff knows more than I will ever learn about any number of subjects—modernist furniture and architectural pottery, for example—but, by that strange calculus of time and family, I am still his older brother, still in possession of a few mysteries myself.

“So,” he asks, as we drift side by side on the Hyatt’s twin boxsprings, 7000 miles from our former bedroom, “what happened that night the police brought you home?”

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