On his clammy bench, Cassius readjusted the damp cardboard under his buttocks. The hardened snow that stuck to the thick brown paper made the faint sound of a cloth being crumpled as Cassius shifted. The old man with the sparse gray beard pulled up his coat collars and lapels for a second time and wrapped them around his neck, which was reddened with the sharp frigidness of the December night. Lightly as a quarter rest on a music sheet, a frost-bleached leaf whirled before his eyes and landed quietly on his knee. As persistent as a metronome, waves crashed onto the sand, marking time in adagio.
A squirrel jumping from tree to tree or scratching in the snow, a bird singing or flying off, a distant unidentified rumbling, the breeze shaking branches, water dripping from a rock … The familiar rhythms of the evening spun before him but never came quite close enough to touch.
Cassius inhaled deeply, the bitter air giving him pause as he visualized the music again, forcing his mind to feel disoriented and intoxicated by it. To feel its magic, to absorb its spirit-power and let it overtake his soul.