“Hats off, gentlemen. Hats off in deference”: this was his frantic call, erupting out of the oppressive summer night as though it were heat thunder roiling forth from the past. It drew me from my wife’s side beneath our thin, sweaty sheet, to the window, which stood open, helplessly welcoming whatever breeze might come, but never does, from the Garnet River.

“What is it?” my wife asked.

“Washerbaum, I think.”

I saw him beneath the streetlight: Captain Washerbaum, the once fisherman, who still held to the docks like a shadow during the day, though his rig had long since been repossessed.

No doubt it was him, for no one could mistake his hair, so like the feathers of an osprey, and his unkempt white beard.

“Yes,” I whispered, “it’s Washerbaum.”

The Lament?”

“I think so.” Every year, never on the same day, never, perhaps, even in the same month. Captain Washerbaum called a night vigil in honor of his dead wife, Rosina, who had drowned herself in the Garnet River while giving birth…