Upriver, beyond the rubber tappersâ€™ camp, there is a hut, an apt hut for a Mistah Kurtz, and it is here you will find the ghost of Don Pedro, the Walnut Man. In life, Don Pedro was known as the Walnut Man because he seemed forever to be chewing upon a walnut, and he carried always in his pocket a paper bag crammed with walnuts. When he died, and found himself wandering as a ghost, he learned that there are no walnuts for the dead, none to chew and none to carry in his phantom pockets. His ghost was drawn to the hut upriver as if by magnetism, and now the ghost of Don Pedro haunts the hut, bereft of walnuts, and never at rest.
Mistah Kurtz would have been at home in this hut, set in a thicket of dense foliage, entangled in fronds, a long long way upriver, but Don Pedroâ€™s ghost loathes it. He keens and wails and bashes upon walls and overturns the furniture. Much as he desires to jump into a boat and paddle downriver to where the rubber tappers hang about in their camp, drinking Avigdieppe and exchanging lewd stories, he is impelled to remain in the hut, miserable and craving walnuts.
What did he do in life, Don Pedro the Walnut Man, to earn such a fate? Did he kill, or maim, or crush the spirit of another? Did he offend the mighty forces which parcel out the destinies of the dead? Why is he forbidden to rest, and made to stalk this Kurtz hut upriver, and its little fenced-in garden, where grow wild fruits and berries and trees of precious sap but no trace of walnuts?
If we could answer even one of those questions we would know more than it is proper for us to know. There would be a shift in the balance of things, and a new world would be open before us, but it would be a world even more terrifying than the one we inhabit, and we would want to wrap cloaks around our heads, and hide in the shadows, but we would no longer have any shadows, only a hideous light beating eternally upon us, as it beats upon the ghost of Don Pedro the Walnut Man, even as he crashes into the walls of the hut and knocks over chairs, and still, still tastes those walnuts he chewed, in his memory of the life before, when he had a mouth for chewing, and a paper bag crammed in his pocket.