He put his foot on the rusted railway line among the nettles, thistles and cacti. In this way he managed to see over the rotted ends of the planks that had been part of the derelict station platform, and into the dark earth of the small garden shaded by the sycamore.

It was the wet season. The morning was luminous, the air crisp and the temperature pleasant. He took in a deep breath, closing his eyes, and then let out a heavy sigh.

A persistent melancholy rumbled inside him. In the eleven weeks he and Gossart had been put in charge of the railway station a despair had festered. The garden had been his solitary relief. More perhaps than a relief. More too than a perfunctory religious rite, such as Gossart practiced three times a day while he lived. It was a food, something as vital to his life as the old rifle now propped up against the peeling green door behind the garden, near Gossart’s shallow grave.

He gave another sigh and opened his eyes once more.

examining the graceless rows…