An annoying man. Rick Ames can be an annoying man. He lived in a small old country town at this time, and worked in the general store. He wouldn't sell you any of the things on your shopping list; not even the ones you had underlined. I came up from the city for a weekend, and asked Rick to grant me an interview. He declined quietly and slipped out the back door. He trudged through freshly plowed fields, the moist earth clinging to his shoes, until he came to the village stables. The horses available each had neuroses which made them unattractive to horse thieves. But today Rick was buying. ``Give me your best horse, and I don't care whether he steals.'' The geezer scratched his face. ``This one don't steal; he begs. We hate to part with him though. My mother says it's good luck to have such an animal on the premises.'' ``Your mother has been dead fifty years and you know it. No wonder these poor horses have such trouble adjusting to the present. Each and every one of them lives in the unspecified past.'' ``No they don't. Besides, this here horse costs more than you're worth.'' Tired by the prospect of arguing with the difficult horse trainer, Rick left town in style, aboard a tiny train. I saw him as he went by with his head in the clouds. The clouds had to be pretty low for that to happen, and they were. It was a tired day all around when Rick finally got finished leaving town. We had an early dinner, and dozed right offf just after. The next morning, bright and early, I returned to my job in the city. I edit books about paste. And when I don't do that, I sample paste to see if they've made any improvements. You see, what I haven't mentioned, is that no one can whip up a batch of paste as well as Rick can. That's not entirely true, incidentally. You would think it, though, because no one can write about paste as well as Rick can. I had to find him for my anthology. Besides, well, youi know the rest. I had become interested in Rick as a person. That's all; nothing more to tell for now.
I caught up with Rick in Chicago. We went to dinner at a restaurant he knew. The fish was quite excellent. I asked of his health. ``Ah, not so good, my friend.'' We had, as you can see, become friends, or patched up our friendship, it really doesn't matter, and also I pretty much forget. ``Are you still such a stupid person and such an expert on Shakespeare... Well, it doesn't matter.''