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  • I glide through the night, silently poaching your thoughts. Hey, Jack, do you remember that time you told your bar buddies about spitting in your boss’ coffee? How loudly you laughed? I was sitting two seats down, nursing a beer. Michael, when you confessed to your seatmate that you had lost your faith in God and was pondering leaving the church, I was one row behind you. Aisle H. And, Ilse, that day on the beach in Nice when you described every juicy detail of your sexual encounter the night before and your friend motioned toward me with her head and you said, “Don’t worry. He looks too stupid to understand German”? No doubt Goethe's German would have been beyond me, but yours came across loud and clear, Fraülein.

    “Judas!” you cry. “How dare you mine our lives, our stories, our very being for your own purposes!” I am guilty. I have never betrayed a loved one’s confidence, but I’ve appropriated shamelessly from passing strangers. You speak the language of life and it is oxygen to me. I cannot live without it.

    I am the fortunate writer who can go largely undetected but in whom, when I am noticed, people confide. I take, yes, but I also relish giving.

    Steve, I gave you much more hair than you actually have. I made you thinner, Alice, and a ravishing boudoir goddess. Arnold, I gave you snappy comebacks that you couldn’t have come up with in a geological epoch. I made you the savvy, independent woman you always wanted to be, Marie. And, Richard, I turned you into a suave, intriguing villain when in reality you’re just another run-of-the-mill prick. I even retrieved your wayward faith for you, Father Michael, like an eager, two-legged Labrador.

    I owe you big. You owe me big. We are grist for each other’s mills. Like it or not, we are the two it takes to tango.
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