Jeff Tuttle collects ‘hello’s. Actually, they’re ‘Hi’s. And they’re everywhere. Scrawled in the leather seatbacks of yellow school buses. Scribbled in the marginalia of a library book. Written backwards in the vapor of a breathed-on winter window. He takes pictures of them. Polaroids. Lets them develop in his pocket, then tacks them to his walls at home. He has over 700 by now. Sometimes, when there’s nothing on TV and he’s just finished his last library book, he takes them down. All of them. And he builds a house of cards. A castle of ‘Hi’s, he calls it. He constructs two towers and then tries to build an arched bridge between them. It always collapses on itself. But he doesn’t mind. The wreckage is beautiful, too. He used to have over 1000 ‘Hi’s, but when he moved into his current flat, he packed the pictures in a shoe box. They barely fit, all 1027 of them. But if he was clever with his packing, he could stuff them in. He duct-taped the box and carried it to breakfast. He carried it to work, carried it with him in the truck. Carried it everywhere he went. But then it wasn’t there anymore. So he started over. Sometimes, after a really good book, the kind that makes him feel sad and warm, he daydreams of the Chinese waitress at the Terminal Market. She brushes his hand and leaves a note scribbled on a napkin. “Meet me outside the market doors at noon,” it says. And later, he imagines, when he shows up at the market at noon, she surprises him from behind. “Hi,” she says, giggling. “I have something of yours.” She pulls out a Polaroid, one of his firsts. It’s from a state park in the Catskills, a carving on a picnic table that must have taken an entire afternoon to create. “How did you know it was mine?” he says. She shrugs. “I just had a feeling.” Sometimes, he keeps daydreaming, letting himself concoct an elaborate plot where the two of them explore the city, finding his pictures hidden in riddled locations everywhere. And other times, he snaps out of it, resigns himself to some comfortable sorrow, and tacks his pile of pictures back to the wall. One by one.