Spring had finally arrived in Athens, and this marked the busy time of year for the Academy. The semester was winding down and there were stacks of scrolls in Rafa’s office for him to go over and grade before the end of the term. He paced around his chamber and his sandals slapped against his heels as he walked. Why do I have to do all this shit by myself? He thought, jealously recalling how Gallagher had his own apprentice to assist him. Rafa would have chosen an apprentice for himself, but all of his current pupils were uninteresting, and frankly annoying. A knock on the door caused the already on edge Professor to jump, after recovering from the shock, he instructed the guest to come in. It was Gallagher’s apprentice, Eadric. He was a scrawny young man, and upon hearing him speak Rafa found his voice grating and whiny.
“Professor Rafa, sir. Professor Gallagher sent me to come get you. He said he needs your opinion on some things.” Rafa stood silent for a second but his anger escaped slightly, none the less.
“Well, tell your master I’m not some ward of his that’s at his beck and call. If he wants my opinions he can come to my chambers and ask me for them.” The apprentice looked afraid. All these students were like they that. They’d sell out their best friend if it meant avoiding a negative mark. Rafa regretted that he allowed his stress to manifest itself as anger and tried to comfort the messenger.
“I’m not angry at you, it’s just, you know.” The old teacher gestured to the stack of scrolls on the far wall, and the apprentice nodded. “You can go now. I’ve heard your message.” The boy nervously left the room, and Rafa took a seat at his desk and tried, again, to start grading the first scroll.
Rafa couldn’t understand why this was so hard for him all of a sudden. In his youthful days at the Academy he could complete weeks of work in advance, and now even the smallest thing like catching up on these papers was becoming a major pile up of procrastination. Everything was getting harder with time. He stared down at the block of text until his eyes crossed, and still struggled to find the right words to characterize this particular student’s lack of ability. Why do they come here if this is all they have to say? He dashed out a word that had no business being there. Or did it? He wasn’t sure. He left another sub-note next to it indicating that maybe that last word was, possibly good enough after all. There was another gentle knock on the door, and this time it opened without waiting for a response. Gallagher walked in and his toga got caught in the door as it closed behind him.
“Ah, fuck.” Gallagher said, quickly stopping so as not to accidently disrobe. He opened the door again and freed his captive garment to the sound of Rafa’s sarcastic applause.
“Wow, I’ve gotta say, even your idiot apprentice knew how to walk through a door.”
“How’s the grading going? Have your students written about anything interesting?” Gallagher asked, glancing down at the scroll in front of Rafa.
“So far it’s mostly just lunacy. Take this one for example. I mean, this student actually convinced himself that the universe is built atop vibrating cosmic strings. I hate when they try to be ambitious and just wind up falling on their faces like that.”
“I would think someone like you would find it entertaining.”
“Your little servant told me you wanted my opinions on something?” Gallagher paced toward the other side of the room where there was a window.
“Would you like to go take a stroll around the pond?”
“What are you after?”
“I assure you I’m not after anything. Just come take a quick stroll with me. I have some opium if you’d like to partake in that as well.” He said brandishing a small bag that Rafa assumed contained all of the necessary materials. Rafa hadn’t done opium in years, but he did enjoy it. Still, it didn’t make sense to him why Gallagher would want to talk, they’ve always been rivals, even when they were students.
“I don’t know Gallagher, I mean, if I do opium right now then there is absolutely no way I’m grading anything else today and I’m already pretty behind.” Gallagher chuckled at this, and walked back over to the pile of scrolls, then leaned on them like they were a railing.
“Come on, you’re already so far behind what difference does one evening make? I’ll tell you what, if you come take a stroll with me and hear what I have to say. I’ll have Eadric help you with your grading.” Rafa felt weight disappear from his soul when he heard Gallagher’s proposal, and it seemed like this choice was far beyond his thinking mind’s control.
The two professors walked side by side until they were no longer on Academy grounds and headed toward the small pond just North of the campus. It was so nice out in the fresh air, Rafa cringed thinking about being back in his chambers with those fucking scrolls. It was way too beautiful a day to spend boxed in, and out of the sun. They found an area on the bank and sat down in the soft grass. Rafa looked at his reflection in the pond and hated how old he’d become. His white beard and balding head reminded him of his grandfather. That old bastard used to beat the shit out of him whenever he didn’t memorize his lessons properly. He wasn’t as mad about it now that he had beaten a few lazy students for himself. Sometimes to get things done you’ve gotta put them in their place a bit. Rafa thought feeling Gallagher tap his shoulder and turning to see him offering up a lit pipe. He took it and breathed in the smoke from the burning opium. It wasn’t like he remembered. It was harsher and made him cough violently until he spat out a wad of phlegm into the pond, which sent ripples outward and left foaming bubbles at the place of impact.
“What the fuck man? Why didn’t you warn me this shit was so rough?” Rafa wheezed still struggling to clear his throat. Gallagher laughed at this and took the pipe back and took a drag himself, exhaling without a problem.
“I didn’t think I needed to. I thought you had done this before?”
“Yeah, back when I was a student.”
“Do you want another hit?” Gallagher passed the pipe to Rafa who studied it for a second then proceeded to take a much shallower hit, he exhaled without coughing.
“So, what exactly did you bring me out here to talk about?”
Gallagher was a fierce competitor and it wasn’t like him to go to someone he considered a rival for advice. The two of them had once gotten into a fist fight over which one’s ideas about the nature of human consciousness was the most eloquent. They had both drawn blood from the other by the time the fight was broken up.
“Do you ever think that maybe the reason we teach here is because we can’t make it on our own as just philosophers?” Gallagher asked before taking another toke of the opium.
“That’s the most preposterous thing I’ve ever heard. Teaching is a noble profession, and our philosophical works have reached a far wider audience thanks to this Academy than we could have ever hoped to achieve on our own. What you’re saying is a cliché, really. I mean, just because some idiot slacker convinced people to think that all teachers are failures doesn’t mean it’s true.”
“Do you really think this stuff is working? Beating the ignorance out of people might serve a great societal purpose, but it’s taking its toll on our pupils. Have you looked at them recently? They all act the exact fucking same. It’s fucking weird, okay.”
“They do not all act the same.” Rafa said remembering how irritating his current batch of pupils were. They were all equally annoying he’d give Gallagher that, but they were annoying in their own unique ways.
“Have you ever seen what the boss does with students that dare disagree with him?” Gallagher asked.
“No, I can’t say I have. Probably because our ideas line up pretty consistently.”
“Well it’s not something I would ever want to happen to me. He makes whoever it is come to the front of the class then he pinches the boy’s nipple, and twists it until the student falls to his knees and begs him to stop.”
Rafa was starting to feel the opium take effect. His arms and legs were getting heavier, and everything in his body started to be in a good mood. The aches and pains in his aging back diminished and he sat up straighter and stretched his arms over his head.
“Is it hitting you yet because I think I’m basically high now.” Rafa mumbled continuing to stretch like he was about to throw a discus as hard as he could.
“You know what, I am starting to feel it. What was I talking about again, sorry I just kind of lost track.”
“It’s fine, it’s fine. I think you were taking about Plato twisting a student’s nipples or something?” Rafa replied, looking again at his wavy reflection in the pond. He reached out and tried to touch it with his hand, but he just wound up splashing the weeds growing on the bank and scaring any nearby fish. After the water re-settled the two professors both turned hearing very light foot steps nearing them from behind.
A swan stood there and cocked its head back and forth looking at the both of them. It then took a few more steps forward and sat down between them.
“Are you seeing this?” Gallagher asked pointing at the bird that was now picking at its feathers with its orange beak. Rafa nodded and then reached slowly toward the bird in an attempt to verify if it was in fact an actual swan and not just a projection of their opium activated minds. Just before his fingers touched the swan’s glue white feathers Rafa stopped when he heard Gallagher speak.
“Wait, what if it’s not a swan, but a far more dangerous animal, like a snake or something?” Gallagher asked, now officially becoming paranoid.
“What do you mean what if it’s a snake? Look at it, it’s obviously a fucking swan.”
“We are both higher than we’ve ever been, okay. We don’t know if we’re hallucinating or not, and I suggest you don’t touch it.”
“Look it’s either real or it isn’t real, okay, so I’m just gonna touch it to verify what’s what.”
“What if it isn’t real? Is your hand just gonna pass through it or something? I mean let’s get real here your sense of touch is not to be trusted right now. We should just move away from it.”
Rafa begrudgingly agreed to forgo touching the swan to appease Gallagher’s fear. This was the type of shit, that made Rafa hate working in groups. He hated how he always had to make compromises for other people’s insecurities and issues. The two of them stood up and started walking further down the bank and were surprised to hear webbed footsteps following them.
“Is this motherfucker following us, right now?” Rafa asked astounded anything in nature would want to associate with two, under the influence, professors.
“Let’s just keep walking. It’ll stop following eventually.” The two of them kept walking but the webbed foot steps behind them never stopped.
“Hey, maybe if we run it’ll stop following us.” Rafa whispered trying to inconspicuously look over his shoulder at the swan.
“Good plan.” They both broke out into a sprint and were immediately met with the sound of flapping wings. This didn’t stop them though they just kept running. Rafa couldn’t remember the last time he really made himself actually run, and his old lungs couldn’t keep his breath going for very long. “Look up.” He heard Gallagher say somewhere amongst the sound of the wind against his ears and his own gasping’s for air. He pointed his head toward the sky expecting to be blinded by the sun, but instead just saw the silhouette of a swan soaring only a couple feet over their heads. Before Rafa could look forward again his sandal caught on the grass and sent him tumbling to the ground at full speed. Gallagher stopped and moved over to him now on his back breathing deeply.
“Are you alright?” He asked also breathing heavily from the running.
“Do you have any more opium?” Rafa replied slowly standing up, and as he did the swan swooped down from the sky and waddled over to look up at them. They looked back at it, then at each other and shrugged.
“I do in my office.” The two made their way back to campus walking leisurely still recovering from their lap around the pond, and the swan followed close behind. When they made it back to the main building it seemed deserted.
“The boss must be giving his weekly lecture.” Rafa said entertained by the soft slapping noise the swan’s feet made on the stone steps. It sounded like intercourse. They eventually rounded the corner near Gallagher’s office to see the door open and Eadric sitting at Gallagher’s desk with an opium pipe of his own. This infuriated Rafa, and without thinking he immediately kicked off both of his sandals and chucked them directly at the young man’s head. The first one got him square in the forehead and the second just hit the wall to his left.
“What the fuck, Eadric? You know the rules about taking other people’s property.” Said Gallagher as the two of them entered the space.
“Why do you guys have a swan with you?” Eadric asked, placing a palm over the welt from the sandal.
“Don’t worry about the fucking swan.” Rafa chimed in. “Did you smoke the last of it?”
“Well there was only a little bit left to begin with, and I thought you guys had just gone to smoke, so.”
“I’m gonna fucking kill you.” Rafa jumped over the desk and wrapped his fingers tightly around the boy’s neck. “How am I supposed to nullify the guilt of my procrastination when little shits like you keep smoking all of the fucking drugs? Let me ask you something, when you were a baby did your mom actually breast feed you? Or were you such a disappointment she just held you under a goat and had you nurse that way?” It seemed like Eadric was trying to answer this question but couldn’t on account of his windpipe being crushed.
“Rafa, let him go. If he’s dead, you won’t have anybody to grade those scrolls for you. Which I can guarantee he will be grading all of, as his punishment.” The angry professor reluctantly loosened his grip and Eadric’s lungs inflated violently.
“I’m reporting this.” Eadric said still gasping to open his esophagus. “This is bullshit you just tried to fucking strangle me. Are you a fucking crazy person?
“Excuse me, I am a teacher and that tone is very disrespectful.”
“You tried to kill me I’m a student aren’t you supposed to protect me?”
“Wrong, I’m actually supposed to discipline you, and as of now, you are a thief, and I don’t think we have room for thieves at this academy. Why don’t you get the fuck out, and start pleasuring laborers for scraps like your mother?”
“Rafa, Eadric is my apprentice and I told you how he’ll be punished.” Gallagher said putting a hand on Rafa’s shoulder which was immediately knocked off.
“This kid is a total idiot, Gallagher. He was smoking your opium at your desk with the door wide fucking open. He doesn’t give a fuck about you, his work, or this place. He’s just mooching off of your given authority and resources, and I don’t think he has the intellect to properly grade those assignments.”
“So, you’re actually going to grade those scrolls yourself?”
“I hate grading, but I value knowledge enough to keep this doofus’s hands off of them.”
“Even still he is my apprentice you can’t just fire him. I have to do that.”
“You’re right I can’t fully fire him, but I do have the authority to cast him off the grounds.” Knowing he could do nothing to stop it Gallagher nodded for Eadric to leave and the boy understood. He left the room without another word. When it was just the two of them and the swan; Rafa retrieved his sandals and slipped him back on his feet.
“Jeesh, what a slacker, am I right? Sorry he smoked the rest of your opium. I know you probably can’t keep your promise about helping me grade my scrolls, but out of respect, and to thank you for opium already consumed, I will hear the rest of what you have to say.” Gallagher bent down and touched the swan’s back. It wasn’t a snake after all. It felt just like a swan should feel. Feathery and beautiful.
“We should barrow some of the boss’s wine and go up to the roof since we don’t have any drugs left.” Gallagher said. Rafa only smiled in agreement.
They didn’t spend long in Plato’s chambers which was completely deserted like the rest of the faculty quarters since they were all at Plato’s lecture in the main hall. They grabbed a couple of inconspicuous bottles near the back of a cabinet then made their way over to the window of the office. Plato had a small stair case placed between the window and the roof so if he desired he could pace around above the school, like the gods on Olympus trying to decide what to do next.
“I’m listening if you’re ready to continue with your opinions.” Gallagher said as the two of them and the swan came to the top of the stairs and moved out onto a flat portion of the roof just above the entrance to the main hall.
“You know what my problem is with all of these arrogant fucking kids?” Rafa replied uncorking his bottle of wine with his teeth.
“What’s that?” Gallagher asked opening his wine as well and taking a seat next to Rafa who had taken to dangling his legs off of the roof and looking out at Athens. The swan was among them too biting at its feathers and making weird duck like noises as it did.
“They don’t know what they don’t know? I mean take that vibrating cosmic strings guy. He didn’t hear any of that shit in a lesson. He didn’t read anything about it. It’s all backed up by his un-reputable observations, and so-called experiments. Let me tell you. If these kids didn’t have us to guide them they’d be really fucking lost.”
“I don’t know, man. I mean, do you ever think that we might need them more than they need us?”
“Well they certainly need us to get opium it seems.”
“But in a broader sense they are what pays our bills and keeps us off the streets. I mean imagine if everyone was like the boss. He didn’t have an Academy to study at, and yet we consider him the most intelligent of us all. He learned things on his own terms, and maybe that is more important than we originally thought.”
“If we really subscribed to that idea everyone would just be a fucking moron. Look, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. These kids are fucking stupid. They make so many mistakes all the time. It makes sense for us to use discipline and structure to minimize them.”
“Maybe mistakes are good maybe they teach things in ways lectures, and assignments can’t, in controlled circumstances obviously.”
Rafa took a big swig of wine and a little bit of it spilled out of the side of his mouth and stained his robe.
“You’re starting to sound like one of those idiot farmers, Gallagher. You know the ones I’m talking about the simpletons that want to keep their kids on the farm for extra help instead of getting them educated. Yeah, they become decent farm hands from experience, but they can’t handle the kind of complex thought necessary in an advancing society. We live in a republic, okay. This isn’t some bullshit empire where everyone just has to mindlessly do whatever the Reigning monarch says. We need a literate public in order for voters to rule themselves, and the only way to make sure that we have that literate public is through providing an educational system that pushes people to be better than they are. If that means I have to provide a few reality checks to some punk-ass ungrateful kids, then so be it.”
Gallagher poured a tiny puddle of wine onto the stone of the roof to see if the swan would lap it up, but it didn’t pay it any attention, and the red liquid just sat there looking far more like blood than wine.
“Do you know why I chose Eadric as my apprentice?”
“How the fuck could I possibly know that?”
“I guess that’s true. Well, the reason I chose him is because his last mentor would make him perform oral sex on him if he messed up an assignment or his work was sloppy. If he wasn’t in the mood for sex, then he would just beat him.”
Rafa looked unfazed and even chuckled before remembering his own days as a pupil.
“So, every apprentice goes through that. You’re telling me you never had a mentor that made you do things for him and beat you when your work was subpar? It’s for bonding purposes, and discipline. If the work is bad they deserve to be punished so it gets better, it’s as simple as that. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be half as smart as I am today without that treatment.”
“My mentors were like that too yes, but I’ve never once beat or touched any of my students. Do you really think that type of thing is okay? These are fucking kids Rafa, adolescents. I’m not saying we don’t need an informed and intelligent public I’m just saying the way to get there is not through control and abuse. We should tear this whole fucking place down and build another place where everyone can go and read anything we have to offer, and us professors can work there and answer any questions and offer guidance from those that come to us first. No hierarchy, no punishments, and no more sex with literal fucking children.”
“What you’re saying violates years of tradition here at the academy. The way we do things may not be pretty, but we know it works. You and I are proof of it. How can you so easily turn your back on something that’s shaped so much of what you are?”
“That’s the thing, Rafa. It shouldn’t be the place of the Academy to shape who anyone is, but to provide the tools necessary so that everyone has the power to shape themselves. That’s what this is supposed to be about, not this. Not long boring pretentious lectures like the one happening below us as we speak. If we are a society opposed to the idea of absolute authority in government, why are we not opposed to absolute authority in the classroom?”
“It’s because these kids don’t fucking know anything yet and they don’t just need a teacher, but someone to keep them in line.”
“Look I understand if you think that. It’s the way you were taught, and you have the right to defend it, but you’re wrong. You just are, but you’re a good teacher, and I think you could really be an asset at the school I’m starting.”
“So that’s what this has all been about.”
“Look I want to try doing things differently. I won’t make you admit the old ways are wrong, but I ask you let’s just try things my way and see if it works. If it works better than everybody wins, and you still get to say you’re on the winning side. If it doesn’t work, then you can tell me you told me so.”
Rafa’s wine bottle was nearly empty at this point and he took the final swig. While the wine trickled down his throat he thought about everything Gallagher said, and the curious academic in him thought it might be interesting to test his theory. On the other hand, testing things was labor and labor was for peasants. Before the drunken professor could respond they heard the clapping of sandals on the stone steps behind them. It was Eadric and he had a look in his eyes that was a mixture of apathy and rage. In his twitching right hand was a large knife that Gallagher imagined the boy’s father must use to skin the game he hunted outside of the city.
“Looks like my professors are a couple of wine thieves. I thought you said there wasn’t any room at this academy for thieves?” Eadric said moving closer to them slowly. The two professors rapidly rose to their feet and as they did Rafa slammed his wine bottle against the stone roof, shattering the vessel into a shape resembling a crude jagged blade.
“I sent you home, boy.” The now armed professor called back.
“I’m done listening to you. Both of you.”
“Eadric, I am your mentor. Put the knife down and go home. If you don’t than I won’t be able to protect you.”
“I heard what you said to him. I heard every word. You walk around here pretending you want to change things, and then you try to recruit him? He’s one of the worst of them all. You hate him you’ve been rivals since you were students. You don’t care about fixing this place the only thing you care about is being in charge. You wish it was you down there giving that lecture.”
“That’s not true. I just want what’s best for all of the students, and Rafa is a good teacher working in a bad system if we can bring him around to our way of thinking he could really help…”
“I don’t want to hear your lies anymore. Stay out of my way or you’re fucking dead too.” Eadric lunged toward Rafa who moved to the side avoiding the stab.
“You see this Gallagher, this is why they need to be controlled.” Rafa called now moving in for an attack of his own. He got a piece of the boy’s left shoulder. Eadric could feel all the curves in the glass as it glided along his skin. Blood dripped from the wound forming a second red puddle on the roof’s surface. The swan squawked loudly but stayed out of the way. “What’s the matter boy, you never seen your own blood before? Well, that’s one lesson you can’t say we didn’t teach you.”
Eadric retaliated by charging angrily at the over confident philosopher and kicking him in the side of the right knee, to throw him off balance. Once he was staggered Eadric drove his knife hard through the Oldman’s collarbone causing a scream that rattled the interior of all present company’s ears. Rafa didn’t give up here, and with all his might drove his make shift dagger hard in to the boy’s hip where it broke off, becoming useless. Eadric felt all of the pain, but forced himself to finish the job, and with all his remaining strength forced the knife upward from the broken collarbone to the windpipe opening the arteries in the teacher’s throat. Blood poured everywhere staining their white robes beyond repair, and Rafa stumbled backwards toward the edge of the roof until he finally fell off, landing flat on his back on the stair case below with a crunch. The lecture had just ended and the doors to the great hall had just opened. Everyone making their exit saw the impact, including Plato. The crowd formed a disorganized mob around the now dying teacher who still blinked rapidly and wriggled around while his limbs lay bent and mangled, and more and more blood escaped from his veins. They all looked up at the boy who had killed him, and Plato ordered two of the burlier professors to head to the roof and subdue him. The now doomed student turned toward his former mentor who was at a loss for words.
“I guess I did what I came here to do, huh?” Eadric said clutching his wounded hip.
“After they capture you they’re going to kill you. There’s nothing I can do.”
“I know. I’m not expecting you to stop them.” The boy walked to the edge of the roof and looked down. “It looks like he survived the fall, but he landed on his back. If I jumped and landed on my head I bet, I’d die instantly.”
“Don’t do it.” Gallagher found himself saying as if anything he did would have an effect at this point.
“Good bye Professor Gallagher.” Eadric said before diving off the side of the building confidently headed for the underworld. Before Gallagher could react, he heard the swan’s wings flap rapidly and a white blur whizzed by his head. The bird was in a free fall with the intention of intercepting the falling student. Just before they both hit the ground the reckless bird managed to grip the boy’s robe with its bill. Gallagher couldn’t believe what he saw next. It was the swan soaring back into the sky with Eadric dangling from its beak. Loud murmurs echoed out from the crowed below not believing what they were seeing to be possible. The two of them flew higher and higher until the clouds swallowed them whole and they could no longer be seen.
The stress of the fall and the pain from his wounds caused Eadric to lose consciousness and when he opened his eyes the first thing he saw was the face of the goddess Athena who stood in front of him on a cloud. When moving to stand up he realized that he too was on a cloud.
“Am I dead?” He asked testing the surface of the cloud to make sure it was stable.
“No, lucky for you I managed to catch you before you hit the ground.” The goddess said with a thundering voice of something far greater than a man. “All I wanted to do today was practice using my swan body because Zeus told me it was a good way to attract humans to make demigods with, when all of a sudden I hear your two teachers talking about the state of the Academy. I have to admit their conversation peaked my interest since I am the goddess of wisdom and the two of them are responsible for spreading wisdom. In fact, that’s supposed to be the whole point of the Academy in the first place, is it not?”
Eadric suddenly found himself incredibly nervous. He had never talked to a goddess before. “Yes, that is the purpose of the academy, but I’m not sure it actually lives up to it.” He said trying very carefully not to sound like an idiot.
“I heard about what happened with your former mentor.”
“Did Gallagher tell you?”
“Yes, well he told Rafa, but I was listening in. I’m sorry that happened, but I have saved your life as a way of trying to make up for it. You’ve been given a second chance. I’ll drop you off anywhere you want to go to make a fresh start.”
Eadric hadn’t really planned on being alive anymore. The idea of continuing on now, after accepting death was daunting.
“Can’t I just stay here with you. Maybe you could be my new mentor. I mean you are the goddess of wisdom and strategy I’m sure there’s tons I could learn from you.”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t take on apprentices.”
“You can’t make an exception. Even for me. You saved me you must care about me enough to teach me what you know.”
“I’m afraid you are mistaken.”
“Well what am I supposed to do then, huh. I was supposed to die. I got my revenge I got what I wanted. Rafa is dead. Just kill me. I don’t want to go back to that place. I don’t want to try and find somewhere else to belong. I don’t belong anywhere, not anymore. Please I’m begging you. I need a teacher I need guidance I can’t do this all by myself. I’m just a kid, please.”
“If you really mean that then why did you forsake your mentor’s instructions he told you to go home, but you didn’t listen.”
“I’ll listen to you. I swear I will. I’ll be the best student you’ve ever seen just take me with you wherever it is you’re going.” The goddess thought for a moment, and there was silence between them. Then she spoke.
“Don’t be afraid, Eadric. You say you’re still a child but we both know that’s not true. You made a choice, you proved you can think for yourself, and now you’re a killer. It shouldn’t have been this way. Let’s go get your hip fixed.” She then transformed herself into an owl and scooped the boy up in her talons and flew off into the space beneath the clouds taking him somewhere else.
Back at the Academy the frightened confused crowd had cleared and the only one who remained was Gallagher who stood silently on the edge of the roof looking out at all of Athens. He had taken in this view numerous times, and never noticed that the Acropolis could be spotted way off in the distance at the edge of the horizon. It made him feel strange knowing he had looked at something so many times and still hadn’t seen what was always there.