This article is taken from Stand 234, 20(2) July - September 2022.

Robert Garnham Can I help you?
Most mornings he would wake, and look out the open window as the sun shot holes through the jungle canopy, luscious and verdant and vivid with green fleshy leaves whose wide fronds and vines gave off a continual fruity aroma. He knew that nobody would ever find him here, or the shop downstairs, but he didn’t mind, because being here was an act in itself, a declaration. Monkeys hooted in the branches, multicoloured birds squawked and trilled, there were insects everywhere and strange things crashing through the undergrowth, but he was the only person for hundreds of miles, and for the last ten years he hadn’t sold a single book.

‘Sometimes,’ he’d say, ‘I feel like I’m the conscience of the world. But I suppose, that’s what living alone does.’

In fact, they’d never had a customer. Not even a browser.

Bananas for breakfast again. Coffee, goat’s milk, then outside on to the verandah and a shower from a bucket with a hole in the bottom. The water was already warm, the jungle was already steamy, but he felt it cleanse him of whatever philosophical conundrum he might have been pondering during the night. He didn’t have to worry about anyone seeing this routine because the shop wasn’t on any map, though instinctively he would turn his back to the jungle and the prying eyes of howler monkeys and various macaques. It helped him clear his head. Sufficiently washed, dried, then dressed in his linen suit and tie, he would go downstairs and on ...
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