He begins with a bang at the center of his story. It's spring of that revolutionary year, not too far in. Meringues of snow line the sidewalks, but a freshness cuts the air. Goddard Byrd--known to his friends and enemies as "God"--has just emerged from an afternoon at the Parker House Hotel, a virile, uncircumcised male of his class, upbringing and era. His prostate gland and his praeputium have not yet been removed, and he is unburdened, just now, of Puritanism's load. He has drunk a glass of gin, then lain with Mrs. Viktor Rebozos--whom he must remember to call Aileen--and both of them are better for this exercise.In bed, she tells him he is a bear, all paws and claws. She insults him, purrs, climbs on top. She wants to know if he could be any wild animal, which would he be?