Only the incessant scratch scratch scratch of quill on parchment breaks the stony silence. Head down, failing eyes squinting the gnarled hand grips the long gull feather with aching fingers. The thick leather bound ledger, with its yellowing pages, drinks in each slow and deliberate mark he makes. Each page filled with names, amounts, dates. Simple transactions in a ledger. A dark celebration of the efficiency of books well kept. He looks up as the door swings open slowly, wincing as the late afternoon sun streams through illuminating the room within. The scratching stops. Both the sunlight and the stranger are not welcome, and already he knows what happens next.
The dilapidated stranger stands before him, cap in hand and eyes filled with a sadness he has seen so often in so many men in these recent years.
“I am looking for my wife and children” he states quite calmly, voice trembling. “You sold them 7 years ago and I need to know where they are”
He won’t remember the face of the man standing before him when he has gone, the conversation will melt away like all the others, and for that he is grateful. Only time can now release him from the things he has seen and done. He picks up the quill, the scratch scratch scratch resumes as the door closes, and at last he is again alone.