The mysterious smoker was often sighted on bridges or at the back of candle-lit cafes, near lampposts and next to arched gateways. Nobody ever got a good look at his features, but they sensed his presence and absence in both a menacing and reassuring way. It was long thought that he was integral to the narrative, the way a loaded pistol in the first act of a play might be significant, but then nothing ever happened to link him to any critical event. Some claimed that he made smoke signals to warn angels. Others divined words, signs, portents and fates in his curling blue smoke, the way one reads tea leaves or coffee dregs or the sudden flight of birds. Nothing was certain. After a brief flicker the match blows out in the wind. And thus he vanished, like his mysterious smoke.