We'd already discussed by email what he wanted from me - he wanted me to teach him exactly how to walk just like I did. I don't have a particularly powerful or effective gait, so I assume he has some sort of alien purpose. I thought I had told him what I wanted, but then when we sat down on the bench together, he pulled out an onion and offered it to me, still in the branded cellophane bag of a local grocery supermarket. I shook my head and tried to shout to him, over the sound of the choir, what I actually wanted. He kept insisting that what I wanted was the onion, but eventually he got the idea and pulled a different package out of his jacket.
He unwrapped the newspaper wrapping of the package and pulled out a little brown spongy cake and offered it to me. I smelled it and nodded. This was it. The little cake was full of spices -- anise and cinnamon and cayenne and cardamom and ginger and nutmeg and allspice and pepper and even a little saffron -- but under their scent I could smell a rarer flavor: forgiveness.
"Why don't you just sell the forgiveness uncut?" I asked him, but he pretended not to hear me.
"Be careful to eat this within a day," he said, "or it will turn into dragonflies."
Maybe I didn't hear him correctly, though, with all the echoes of singing overwhelming our conversation.