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“I’d like you to have the word ‘residual’ looked up.”

“Residual?”

“R-e-s-i-d-u-a-l”

Naz tapped a message into his mobile, then stood with me watching the cars turn and cut. His eyes, still sunk, glowed darkly. After a while he said:

“We’ll need to disappear afterwards”

“Disappear?” I said. I looked up at the sky. It was blue.

It was a bright, clear early autumn day. “How can we disappear?”

“Get out. Cover our tracks. We should remove all traces of our activities here, and get ourselves and all the re-enactors well out of the picture.”

“Where can we all go?” I asked.

“It’s very complicated,” Naz said. “There are several…”

Just then his phone beeped. He scrolled through his menu and read:

“Of or pertaining to that which is left – e.g. in mathematics.”

“Left over like the half,” I said. “A shard.”

“In physics,” Naz continued, “of what remains after a process of evaporation; in law, that which – again – remains of an estate after all charges, debts, etc. have been paid. Residuary legatee: one to whom the residue of an estate is paid. Resid…”

“Accrued,” I said.

“What?” Naz asked.

“Go on,” I said.

“Residual analysis: calculus substituting method of fluxions, 1801. Residual heat of a cooling globe, 1896. Residual error in a series of observations, 1871.”

“It’s because the time of year has changed but that’s not how he used it.”

“Who?” asked Naz.

“The short councillor,” I said. “He used it like a… you know, like a thing. A residual.”

“A noun,” said Naz. “What short councillor?”.



---from Tom McCarthy, Remainder [2005](London: Alma Books, 2006), pp.250-251.

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