The Quite American.

It is a large, damp, sea-facing attic with a box bedroom, box bathroom, box kitchen. The walls bow beneath my palm. I best not get drunk. I move in and I make a pyramid of my belongings: how did they do that?

On a shelf above the bath I find a paperback of Graham Greene’s The Quiet American. The bottom third is swollen and stained and has obviously spent some time in water. I take this as a lucky omen. I put it back on the shelf and carry on with my life.

The next day a woman appears.

Hey. I’m the previous tenant.

Her accent is quite American.

Hello. I’m the new tenant.

I fetch her the wet novel, which she takes with a pinch.

Come to a party, she says. This weekend. Come as a pirate. Come as a corsair. She almost says, resistance is futile. Eventually, I may come to consider the inking of these three words, quirky, shocking, kitsch, on the left side of my neck – resistance is futile – capital R, capital I, capital F – as a wisen thing.

She hands me back the novel, saying, I best not keep this. It fell down the john.

I put the book back on the shelf, rub my chin and dismantle the pyramid. The wooden leg being somewhere near the base. Glad I packed it.

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