Every town the size of S—- has a wonderful backside. That is to say, behind the main streets are labyrinths of gardens and wild, lovely spots where lovers meet, and promise not to part, and then part. These gardens and fenced-in meadows comprise the secret side of town. When your heart is heavy with something to hide from the eyes of others, you might find yourself here: climbing over the fences; past the apple trees, maples, lindens, and birches; beyond the vegetables and raspberries and gooseberries; to the middle of a stand of lilac bushes; where a ruined gazebo stands, blackened and lopsided with decay.
On this night, you would see a wondrous thing in that gazebo: A man sits all alone, drinking cognac, while a young monk scurries down the steps of the gazebo and rushes off into the night. And if this weren’t curious enough, you also see, just on the other side of the lilac bushes, two pairs of lovers – one dark pair, one light pair – sitting still as stone in the moonlight. For a moment, you think the lovers might be statues, and the young monk a ghost. Only the drinking man seems to be made of real flesh and real blood. But there’s something scary in his brooding that keeps you from approaching him. As you approach, you hear the lovers begin to whisper to one another, excitedly. You creep closer, in order to hear what it is that they’re saying.