The Search for Life in Distant Galaxies

He walked from Powell Street up Eddy, then right onto Larkin and through the Gates of Little Saigon.

There appeared to be a newly forming galaxy in this location, birthing from two ancient colliding galaxies. A wondrous cosmic event was unfolding.

He made several entries about this in his field notebook that he always kept in his back pocket.

He labeled six constellations that day with a comment about the particular density of the configuration in this quadrant of the Tenderloin and would later begin to assemble this information into a map of the newborn stars.

The constellations were labeled as follows: Mangosteen, Saigon Cuisine, Turtle Tower, Pho 2000, Pagolac, Them Ky, Vietnam 2 Seafood.

He entered Them Ky.

The restaurant looked at first glance like the other small Vietnamese restaurants that now dotted his neighborhood. A few remnants of this year’s official San Francisco Tet celebration hung on the wall next to a plastic shrine with some plastic figurines and plastic flowers inside it. Was this the public face that the owners had created behind which another, private space existed; a hidden room where the real shrine to their ancestors was kept and lovingly cared for with fresh flowers and fruits and bathed in the smoke of sweet incense?

He ordered some Pho and looked out onto Larkin Street.

No. There was no secret room, no private space where a real shrine existed.

The galaxy of ancestors was crashing into the galaxy where his friend James had died–leaving the remnants of its violent origins behind as little more than interstellar space debris, floating in a vast dark void of forgetfulness—illuminating an unbroken here, a continuous present folding in upon itself creating the illusion of past and future.

He recorded none of these later observations in his notebook.

It was all becoming unbearable to Ed Marker.

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