excerpt from ‘a spot of bother’ by mark haddon

He would have to kill himself.

It was not a comforting thought but it was something he could do, and this made him feel a little more in control of the situation.

The only question was how.

Jumping from a tall building was a terrifying idea, easing your center of gravity out over the edge of the parapet, the possibility that you might change your mind halfway down. And the last thing he needed at this point was more fear.

Hanging needed equipment and he possessed no gun.

If he drank enough whiskey he might be able to summon the courage to crash the car. There was a big stone gateway on the A16 this side of Stamford. He could hit it doing 90 mph with no difficulty whatsoever.

But what if his nerve failed? What if he were too drunk to control the car? What if someone pulled out of the drive? What if he killed them, paralyzed himself and died of cancer in a wheelchair in prison?

“Sir…? Would you mind accompanying me back into the store?”

A young man of eighteen or thereabouts was staring down at George. He had ginger sideburns and a navy blue uniform several sizes too large for him.

George realized that he was crouching on the tiled threshold outside the shop.

“Sir…?”

George got to his feet. “I’m terribly sorry.”

“Would you mind accompanying me…?”

George looked down and saw that he was still wearing the suit trousers with the fly undone. He buttoned it rapidly. “Of course.”

He walked back through the doors then made his way between the handbags and the perfumes toward the menswear department with the security guard at his shoulder. “I appear to have had some kind of turn.”

“You’ll have to discuss that with the manager, I’m afraid, sir.”

— excerpt from chapter 1

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