Keller emerged from the shower and stared at himself in the mirror while toweling himself off. His co-workers were right: he was beginning to look like Rip Van Winkle. His hair straggled past his shoulders and his beard would soon reach his chest. Keller was glad that today would be his last day as a retro-hippie. People at the bookstore would certainly be surprised when he showed up at work the next day clean-shaven and with a buzz cut. Then again, maybe they wouldn’t be all that surprised. In his meticulously structured life, Keller’s sporadic bouts of unpredictability had themselves become more or less predictable. Keller had tried to explain this to Margaret once, but she hadn’t known him long enough to understand. Maybe after today, Keller could see her again, if she wasn’t too upset by the way he had so abruptly disappeared nine months ago.
Keller couldn’t afford to get maudlin now: it was Liberation Day, after all; he forced himself to focus on the plan. After getting dressed, Keller went to his front closet and removed a brand new trench coat. Keller put it on and began checking its pockets, which he had filled the night before. Everything was in place. It was time to go. Keller went to the phone and called for a cab. He checked the trench coat’s pockets one last time, then went down to the lobby to wait.
Keller was never able to completely reconstruct the next two hours. He remembered telling the cab driver to take him to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and he remembered feeling self-conscious about being so precise: after all, the cabby knew they were in Philadelphia. He remembered paying the museum admission, which he had never done before, since he had only visited the museum on Tuesdays when admission was free. And he remembered instinctively looking for Margaret, even though he knew it was her day off, and that the plan depended, in part, on her absence. But from that point on, it’s as though Keller were watching from a distance: he remembers seeing a bearded man move through the museum, and how he inconspicuously put on a pair of gloves, then entered the ground floor restroom. Keller also thinks he remembers making his way to the section of the museum that housed the Arensberg Collection of 20th-Century Art, eventually arriving at his ultimate destination: the small Plexiglas display case that contained Marcel Duchamp’s With Hidden Noise.