I Who Have Been So Many Men. He opens his eyes in the dark, and hearing nothing but silence, he cannot tell where he is, or the time, the day, the year, the period of his life. Presently he has no name, no face and no biography. There is no clear boundary in his mind between sleep and waking, just as there is none between his shadowy limbs and the still black shapes in the room or the very darkness of the air. He could be in Madrid, in London, in Paris or in Lisbon. He could be waking up from a drunken stupor or an opium dream in a hovel crammed with books, manuscripts and old newspapers somewhere in Edinburgh; or on a tavern floor in Baltimore, his mouth pressed against the filthy boards, a thread of blood or spittle at the corner of his lips. He may be opening his eyes in a room of whitewashed walls inside a boarding house in Ibiza or in Portbou. As it grows brighter, it will be possible to tell if the sky in the window is a flat gray, which could mean Paris in the winter or Berlin. As the first morning sounds become audible, they will provide him with further clues. The scrape of a shovel on the sidewalk will reveal that he is in New York, where it snowed all night and the doormen are busy opening paths outside their buildings. Or he may hear the bell on the watchtower, and then the one that rings the hours in the cathedral, and almost simultaneously the low tones of the Chancery clock. Then he would be in Granada, in an old house somewhere in the Albaicín.
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