The huge aluminum airship
When Osterweil finished teaching the Stevens class he knew with an absolute certainty that he was going to die and he set out to find the piece of music that he wanted played at his funeral. Not just the particular piece, but the one recorded performance that would suffice, and no other.
This confirmation of his death did not refer to that precise moment, just some day; not the present, the future, even perhaps the distant future. Nor was it the general knowledge which everyone shares and dips into now and then--the kind of mortality-nudge which only makes present life more delicious. This was more like some weird gnostic gift of the coming event; closer to an experienced conviction than abstract information and it surprised the hell out of him. He just saw himself dead and that was that!