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  • They drove past the National Library, past the diminished edge of downtown, through the scarred and ominous industrial flats, past trails of workers in hard-hats trudging the avenue’s gravel-lined shoulder; then along the eastern boundary of Regent Park, where the vendors packed away their wares, bagging up old magazines and books, sweeping away the remains of cut flowers and discarded banana leaves, stacking boxes of stolen electronics into the beds of rusty pick-up trucks. Nelson sat by the window and watched his city, as if bidding farewell. It wasn’t an unpleasant drive: at this speed, along these roads, beside these fallen monuments, the capital presented its most attractive face: that of a hard-working, dignified metropolis, settled by outcasts and opportunists; redeemed each day by their cheerless toil and barely sublimated willingness to throw everything away for a moment’s pleasure.

    Nelson was lost in thought. There could be no place in the world to which he belonged so completely. Of course, this was why he’d always dreamed of leaving, and why he’d always been so afraid to go.
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