Whenever the Viking who lived in 4D was home, he’d invite Brenda over for some horns of mead. He’d talk to her about his raiding expeditions. He was tall & broad chested like a model for athletic wear. Encouraged by his candor, Brenda would lean toward him in an attitude of tender attention & try not shudder as he described his dragon ship gliding from the fog, the villagers—mostly women—crying for mercy. As he spoke he’d keep his eyes on a photograph above the couch, a portrait of a beautiful young woman wearing blond braids and a cone-shaped helmet. Brenda tried leaning closer, but the evening always ended when the Viking stood, shook her hand, & bid her goodnight. Once, when the mead was especially sweet, Brenda drank a fourth horn & then a fifth. She looked hard at the photograph & in her best soprano starting singing to the tune of “Ride of the Valkyries”. The Viking smiled & joined in with a throaty baritone. After a few bars his voice broke into a sob. He stared down into his horn. Brenda felt the urge that often came over her at parties to dab her mouth with a napkin. It happened, said the Viking, the day her opera-singer boyfriend got drunk & drove her car into a pack of black motorcycles.


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