It was Jim's first trip since his two years in jail. Besides coming to Philadelphia, he was also going to New York and Boston, all to do some antique shopping and other business. The primary other business in Philadelphia was to visit the Athenaeum, specifically to see the other Napoleonic coronation crest.* Jim had only ever seen the one that hung in his study at Mercer House, and he wanted to make sure his crest and the one in Philadelphia were identical. Upon seeing the Philadelphia crest, we were at first caught slightly off guard because the Philadelphia crest was on a black velvet background and Jim's crest in Savannah was on a red velvet background. The three of us stood silently for at least a minute, staring at the crest. Finally, I said, "They look the same to me." Jim replied, "To me too."

It is strange to think that Jim, Harold, and I are perhaps the only people in the twentieth century to have seen both of Napoleon's coronation coach crests in person.

That evening, the three of us had dinner at The Fountain. It was there that I told Jim about the exploding quartz pyramid I just read about in James Merrill's The Changing Light at Sandover, and for the next four years Jim referred to me as Mr. Mysterious Pyramid.

*The two golden crests originally on either side of Napoleon's coronation coach still exist. One crest is on display in Philadelphia's Athenaeum. The other crest is part of the James A. Williams Estate, and was on display in the motion picture Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

This page was first published at 1999.01.08 as page 109 of schizophrenia + architectures.



Quondam © 2004.03.11