‘People are talking you know.’
It is mid-afternoon and I have crashed out for a nap. The book has come in with a cup of unappetising-looking tea. Slowly, I prop myself up on the pillows. ‘Who? What people?’
‘How d’you know?’
‘I just know. I heard.’
‘What they’re saying.’
‘Things. Stuff. You know the kind of thing.’
‘I don’t know, no.’
The book looks down at its nails, checking them for signs of ridging.
‘You’ll live,’ I say.
‘Don’t change the subject.’
‘What you are going to say to stop these rumours.’
‘We’ve had this conversation already.’
‘Isn’t this getting a bit Monty Python?’
I take a sip of the tea. Even by the book’s extremely low standards it is disgusting.
‘Something wrong?’ the book says.
‘Nothing’s wrong. Nothing.’ There is a silence. ‘I was asleep, you know.’
The book ignores me. It is pretending to have found an important new discovery on the fingernail of the index finger of its left hand.
‘What I want you do for me is this,’ I say. ‘Next time you see these…people, please can you tell them from me that I am not a recluse, that I am not losing my marbles, and that I have absolutely no plans to tell them what I am up to. And that includes you.’
The book looks up. ‘No plans at all?’
‘None.’ I make sure I hold the book’s gaze. ‘There never was one anyway.’
‘And what if they ask for one?’
‘All of them?’
‘All of them. Ignore them all.’
Perfect, Anthony. Just perfect…I send greetings from San Diego where life is filled with color music and poetry. I’m finally home by the sea. My mermaid tail that shriveled to nothing in the desert has begun to sparkle a bit again…
This all sounds good. And sunny. Which we could do more of here, now I think about it.
Glad all is well with you
and thank you as ever