Every time Billy Bilkim Costanza entered the antique shop where I worked, he would find some excuse to say, “The mountain still calling me, boy. The voice in my ears might change but the message always remains the same. Always the same.” Sometimes he would pretend he was examining one of the old, creaky lamps that Mr. Pervez, the owner of the shop, had bought at a garage sale and whisper gloomily, “I don’t think it’s a good idea to ignore the mountain. I might be playing with fire.” Then his gaze would shift from the cluttered shop with its cracked teapots and freckled brass decanters to the door facing Albert Street. He never stayed longer than twenty minutes or so.
Costanza was different from all the other customers, not only because he never made a single purchase, but also in the way he would frequently gaze outside and breathe in little gulps, as if he was suffocating or hiding from someone. And he always left in a big hurry.