He slams the book down onto his desk and stares out the arched window, clasping a wrinkled hand over his forehead. The hum of cars driving past agitates him, like the wasps that buzz in his garden when he's trying to enjoy a tankard of cool beer. He'll need a beer soon. But first he grabs the book and throws it at the wall. Its pages crumple on impact, and it crashes to the floor.
"Bloody rubbish," he says.
He walks across to his kitchen, and takes a can of beer from the fridge, pouring it into his tankard. He swears to himself as he sips it. The beer calms him down.
When he's finished he picks up his wallet and walks out onto the street towards the bookshop. As always he goes the the secondhand section - a book that's been read must be worth reading - and chooses a title that attracts his attention. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
The girl at the counter never lets him pay full price.
"That's two-fifty," she says.
He hands over a fiver, and tells the shop assistant she must take the full three pounds. She gives him too much change, and he pretends not to notice.
Back at his flat, he scuttles upstairs, goes to straight to his study and sits at the desk. He holds the book tight to his chest, feeling its energy.
"This is the one," he tells himself.
He lifts the book to his face, breathing its aroma.
This is the one.
He flicks the pages with his fingertips, listening to their gentle click.
This will be the one.
With trembling hands he places the book on his desk and opens the cover.
As he begins to read, he stops shaking. The words meet his eyes and hold him, enchanted.