It was an ordinary lamp with a tall black stand of carved wood, an amber shade with tassels, and a long black electrical cord. And one evening, a confessor beat this lampstand to death. In the house where he was lodging, he had endured days of listening to the man and his wife argue over the item until he could bear it no more. Abandoning his books, he stormed out of his room into the living room, dragged the offensive thing outside onto the second floor terrace, and began to strike it against the cast iron balustrade. Exhausted from the attack, he jettisoned the lamp into garden below. Something had shattered—most likely the light bulb. The landlords laughed until they were in tears, but the confessor left that very night and went to live elsewhere. One evening, many years later, the confessor dropped by to visit the older couple, thank them for their hospitality, and give them some presents. As he spoke of his misadventures, he noticed the man and wife exchanging furtive, suspicious glances. And just as he began to recall his departure from their home long ago with a bitter laugh and apology, his words trailed off. For behind the old woman’s chair the tall, black lampstand with its golden shade burned in the corner, casting its warm glow on their explosive laughter. Long after, whenever he wandered alone through the night country of dark streets in ruined cities, the rare vision of lamps through windows filled his heart with their butterscotch glow and bitter sweetness.