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‘Are you lonely?’ says the book.

‘Why are you asking?’

‘Are you?’

‘Do I look lonely?’

‘Does it come on you suddenly, or does it grind away at you like shoulder-pain?’

‘How do you know about my shoulder-pain?’

‘Is is not my business to know?’

‘You know I know where your bodies are buried? You know that don’t you?’

‘So shoot me,’ the book says.

‘I’ll bear that in mind. I’m lonely. Yes. And not lonely, no. When I write I am not lonely, and lonely. When I don’t write I am lonely, and not. Same as when I am reading. Or not. Both. The answer is both.’

‘Actually, would you mind shooting me now?’ says the book.