Josh Russell

One day was dim as January, the next blue as June. Frost furred Monday's shadows but Tuesday's noon burned the necks of workmen repairing a roof. Someone claimed to have seen sheets of ice shaped like the profiles of saints floating on the Tiber, someone else swore he witnessed a moving island of orange and white flowers. It was hard to dress in the mornings because rooms held the air of the day before. A palm to the windowpane helped the decision, but it was not always accurate. Wednesday lines curled from the doors of cafés and young men blew into their hands; Thursday the cold sharpened and widows wore their dead husbands' coats over their own; Friday a policeman thought he saw snowflakes fluttering under a streetlamp, but they could have been moths. Then Saturday the sun rose with a snap and naked children splashed in fountains while their mothers basked bare-armed. That night those same mothers opened their windows to let in the warm breeze and woke the next morning to the moaning of pigeons roosting in dresser drawers, escaping Sunday's chilly dawn. The bells rang and rang.


This distillation is the entire "first draft" of an unpublished novel about 1890s Rome and Buffalo Bill's Wild West show.