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Don’t shoot me! I’m just picking mushrooms!

Communication with Doug was a haphazard affair. He had no phone or email address. Sometimes he used the phone of his roommate in Westport, a guy who claimed to have once been a stockbroker and a documentary filmmaker and was now living on disability after a Navy diving accident. Other times Doug borrowed a phone from a friend or relative. Calls came through at odd hours on lines listed as blocked or restricted. As frustrating as this could be, it was hard to be annoyed when the voice at the other end impersonated a game-show host or IRS flunky. “Allo, allo? Ees dees Monsieur Cook? Congrat-u-lations! You are zee winner . . .” Whatever I was doing, I always dropped everything to join Doug for a day of picking mushrooms. Even when it meant a hostile patch.

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