Track 4 From Elton John's 1991 album, The One. A duet with Eric Clapton.

Elton John:
There's a hungry road I can only hope's
Gonna eat me up inside

I'm leaving. Sunrise will find me long gone away.

I didn't have a choice, really. Well, not exactly. Death is never much of an option.

Then again, it's not that simple. It never is.

I know it, and so does everyone else; this is an exile. The spirit of the place has passed its judgment, and the time has long since passed for me to appeal.

But there is time yet. A few more hours. And my work is not yet done.

There's a drifting spirit coming clean
In the eye of a lifelong fire

I have left behind too much in this city, but I have what I came for.

It's funny. I didn't think I'd miss this place. I am reminded of a passage from a favorite book of mine, describing the Rub Al Khali; the Empty Quarter, the most dangerous desert known to man. Every man who ever traveled the Empty Quarter found his way back, somehow seduced by the perfect emptiness.

It wasn't the emptiness that shattered me. That was done by a different power. I don't know how or why I survived. The only thing I did know is that whether or not I was dead or alive was a question of semantics.

I'm standing at the Compass Stone now; across the river from the horrid shack I cannot dignify by calling home. The river itself is filthy, but, having lived next to it, I don't notice anymore.

The town has always belonged to her. Memory is a thorn all its own. At every turn, she is there, in the shadows, watching. And I cannot tell - is she keeping the watch of a patient assassin or of a guardian angel?

But today will be different. Today this town belongs to me.

Tell Monday I'll be around next week
I'm running ahead of my days
In the shotgun chance that scattered us
I've seen the error of my ways

I visit the Museum of Science first, at the river's mouth. She is here, too, among the exhibits. I walk through the exhibits wordlessly, scouring every surface to find the memories I leave behind. When I leave the place, if I have done my work right, there is no trace left, not even a memory.

Eric Clapton:
Well we've wrapped ourselves with golden crowns
Like sun gods spitting rain

Downtown. There are so many people here that it almost seems I could get lost in the crowds. The mall in the tower is the same as ever, no different for the past years. Still the software store, the Museum Company. The cart in the aisle that sold games is gone. I don't miss it.

Found a way home written on this map
Like red dye in my veins

This is different. I visit the place where I found the map in the town center. One more seemingly random little knicknack shop. Games, crafts. I liked this place.

In the hardest times that come around
The fear of losing grows

And then my head raises for a moment, looking up at the sky, gauging how much time I have left. But I stop. Across the cobblestones, there's a Yankee Candle Company. Memories flash through my brain. Not my memories, someone else's, I swear. I shake my head for a moment, trying to clear the cobwebs. It doesn't work.

I've lost and seen the world shut down
It's a darkness no one knows

The Arboretum is the only place I found any peace here, really. And now those memories are coming back again, and I can't really convince myself that they aren't trying to kill me. She's here again. A dress of green silk, a black and gold belt. Those colors trigger even more memories in turn.

This time, I run. I know where those memories are trying to drag me, and I can't go back there.

And I've poured out the pleasure and dealt with the pain
Standing in a station waitin' in the rain
I'm starting to feel a little muscle again
But love is lost like a runaway train

I head west. The Pizzeria Uno. That fateful autumn night. The House Of Blues. They've got catfish tonight. I catch dinner, and head back out into the local mall, just to look at the bookstore upstairs. Against my nature, I leave quickly.

Here there be ghosts, and one of them looks like me.

Further west, I find a movie theater and a Staples. Both familiar. A Dunkin Donuts there, and another memory, something about hazelnut iced coffee. A JC Penny catalog store.

And that's when it hits. I'm him. He's me. Even still, after all that's happened, we're bound to the wheel together. And I can't tell which one is the ghost.

I'm out of control and out of my hands
I'm tearing like a demon through no man's land
Trying to get a grip on my life again
Nothing hits harder than a runaway train

As I sit in the cramped seat of the airplane, I explore all the small chances. Nothing else to do. Two questions are there, and won't leave.

I close my eyes and force sleep. By the time I groggily waken, my legs are asleep, and I'm somewhere a couple of miles above Nebraska.

I'm free.