The master has spread a white blanket out on the veranda, plopped himself down on his belly, and is basking in the bright spring sun. The sun's rays are remarkably evenhanded, imparting the same radiant warmth to this humble abode with weeds sprouting from its roof as they do the Kaneda's fine drawing room. The blanket, though, is woefully ill-matched to the day at hand. It was woven as white, shipped and sold as white, and the master even went and bought it for its fair white shade. -- However, that was twelve or thirteen years prior, and its time of whiteness is long past. It's now well into its discoloration phase, ashen-gray in hue. Whether there's enough life in it to go darker yet is an open question. It's thoroughly frayed and threadbare, and to call it a "blanket" anymore is downright presumptuous. The shorter word "blank" better describes it. In the master's mind, though, if it's lasted a year, or two, or five, or even ten, then it's good for a lifetime. He plays things day by day. And what is it he's doing, lying on his belly on his cherished blanket? His chin is propped in both hands, and a cigarette is wedged between the fingers of his right hand. That's it. Of course, there may be profound cosmic truths racing through his dandruff-covered head like chariots of fire, but I have to say I think it most unlikely.
His cigarette burns slowly toward his mouth. His attention is fixed on the smoke that rises from its tip. He follows the whisps with his gaze, oblivious to the growing column of ash that crumbles away and drops onto his blanket. The smoke floats and sinks on the spring breeze, drifting round in myriad layers and grazing the dark roots of the wife's freshly washed hair. -- Ah yes, did I neglect to mention the wife?