This all became too much for Larson. His concentration wavered, and his passion for his work phased out. Previously his home was familiar as a work place, it was now his lot to be indoors, or at least in the shade at most times of the day. This would mean he was further confined to the walls of his home, with the intermittent excursion into his narrow suburb. The space he had earned through years of dedication and focus had begun to describe its own shape more that ever. High walls and a constant retreating public were even more distant and alienating than his native Dumfries.

The problem was in that people were not communicating with each other, and it was not that he had been able to stop what he was doing long enough to take notice before. This became the space which he despised. He longed for a community like a polar bear would snow.
Shama had kept a close watch over Larson. She could see the cynicism leaking out in all his mutterings and found the clutter of his home to reflect the disdain with which he was interacting with the world. It became too much.  She decided to make a concerted effort to get Larson out of the house more often, to offer him an alternative to his navel gazing, a characteristic which had begun to spell out his demise. This would mean quite some sacrifice on her part, and a respective level of tolerance on his. In Shama’s plan, a series of scenic drives would offer such an alternative.

 
In the beginning the drives were quite enlightening for Larson. He had never the time to view the beautiful coastline without the pressure of a destination; he was, to some measure, lulled by Shamas’ slow swaying through the undulating landscapes. After a week of such amateur therapy an incident struck a deep chord within Larson. While driving with Shama down quite a steep hill, at around 10:30 one morning, a young black man ran into the middle of the street, through a gap in the traffic. He was retrieving a rugged old blanket which appeared to come from a construction site near the section of road they were entering. While the man’s clothing hinted that he was working on the site, he could just as easily have been a passer-by making opportunity of a lost rag. The interpretations were open yet the nature of the retrieval was clear. The receptor was poor.
     
It was not so much the incident in isolation as it was the significance of the blanket in the equation. Larson had an almost identical one at home, a blanket his dog usually slept on. Never before had a single moment spat so much sense into Larson’s existence. It was at this point that Larson decided to dig a hole.
In return to his days as a refined geology scholar, Larson prepared his kit fit for excavation. Appropriated from his selection of garden tools stored in the corner of the garage above his home, the kit was comprised of several spades, a large fork and a smaller shovel. This prepared, he then covered the majority of his skin with one of his darkest suits, the one usually reserved for formal gatherings. With seeming purpose, he set out in all his weakness, towards some of the more open clearings in the burnt-out forest on the hill at the tail-end of his home, and, upon finding a suitable spot, he began to dig.
     
 
     
At first, with quite some haste and fervour, he managed to clear a surface area of approximately one metre squared. The deeper he managed to penetrate, the more rocks he crossed and successively the more difficulty he encountered in clearing away material. Within eight hours and with much strain he managed to reach a depth of around one metre, at which point he began to clear away all trace of loose soil and obstructing rocks from what he deemed the significant body of his hole. With a dustpan and brush, and then finer paintbrushes, he managed to clean up the surfaces of the exposed stones to a point where he was ready to begin profiling the layers and variety of rocks. With tedious detail he had, within three days, completed the study and duly presented his synopsis to Shama for her approval.
Shama realized there were no differences between the rocks Larson had numbered; his profile was fictitious. Consulting a psychologist about how best to deal with the awkward situation, she was advised to relay that he should take up a musical instrument or frequently attempt crossword puzzles in order to keep the inconsistencies at bay.
     
 
 
   

james beckett 2003,

thanks to

judy farah, robin farah, glen, brendon busy,

masha du toit,

gregg smith and stewart bailey