His tales of a place he once called home, now reduced to ruins and smolder, carry a weight he has become accustomed to straining the muscles of his back against. He keeps postcards in his wallet, folded and creased in the center to the point of perforation, pulls them out when he is homesick or when anyone asks about his origins, always tucks them back into the pocket with more spite than he cares to portray. Most observers simply nod their head, "how beautiful it is," –was– "you're lucky to have been a part of it." He smiles, the genuine kind of smile that takes precise attention to detail and years of practice to counterfeit, says "I know." Some bold and curious or ignorant and inconsiderate listeners poke their furrowed brows into his upturned palms, ask him, "did you see the fire?" They want to know –must know– if he could smell the smoke from the next town over, if he could see the sky illuminated in the distance, the red hue seeping into the blue-black night, they want to know how big it was, a house fire or a holocaust, if he tried to put it out or if he stood idle, looked for faces in the flames, if it left anything but charred floorboards and fireproof safes, the combinations written on scraps of paper now insignificant. You can see him fuming from across the room, his face illuminated, the red hue dripping down his neck, his voice becomes victim, tries to keep it steady but you can see losses on his tongue, he trails off into silence, leaves nothing but stubbed toes and sentiments, "I'm sorry I asked." When he talks about the people he knows –knew– there, he always starts with a chuckle, a little grin as if something had just reminded him of them, they were all kids back then, his eyes turn child again while he talks about how they played in the storm drains and then he snaps them shut, remembers the cigarette butts, remembers the lighters they bought at the drug store, how they had loved to see things burn until they couldn't stop it. He talks about this place he used to call home, doesn't know what to call it anymore.