Once upon time, stories always began with an old man and an old woman, possibly as a way of honoring the first parents, who were the first to sacrifice for their children and the first to experience mortality in all of its sadness. This story begins with an old beggar, however, for the earth is old and bankrupt, and everyone is either an orphan or pretending to be one. The old beggar lived on the streets of a vibrant city of bridges and bell towers, lovely trees and arabesques, churches, shops and plazas of cobblestone. The beggar was highly regarded by both the aristocrats and the low lifes. One day, he fell to weeping. A friar came over to see him and comfort him. Perhaps the time was near. Would you like to confess? the friar asked. I would, said the old beggar, but I do not know how. I do not remember my life. The low lifes say that I was once a master assassin, a thief, and a womanizer, and that I continue to rule every gang from where I sit on the street, whispering orders and advice while begging. The nobles praise my devout and pure life and recite the prayers I once taught them. I remember none of this—not one voluptuous body, not one corpse, not one sacred prayer, not one moment from earlier in the day. I cannot even confess my name. Please help me. I beg of you. The friar wanted to laugh and weep. My child, he said, you have been damned in this life. Nobody is more open to grace than you. Please absolve me. The old beggar stood up, briefly embraced the friar, and after rolling up his bedding, took it and started to walk. The old beggar strolled the length of the city, passed through the city gates, and then walked out into the endless countryside.