William Fitzgerald Enters the World

William Fitzgerald was following someone. He wasn’t being paid to, which, under normal circumstances, would have meant that he was in his office, meeting with a client, working a little blackmail, or drinking indifferently either scotch or coffee. He had just this instant run out of both scotch and coffee, and was therefore compelled to venture unpaid out into the city, and had fallen by habit behind someone. He followed without noticing or looking at the person he was following. Eyes are noticeable, and attention more so.

He hated exercise as he hated fresh air, clinically, but hating people more (and assistants in particular) he was forced to perform his own errands and legwork. The someone he was following was heading in the right direction — that direction being toward the grocery and liquor store that carried the brands of undrinkable coffee and unpoisonous scotch that he preferred — and he was most comfortable sneaking along behind someone else.

He was thinking of nothing, mind blank with unfocused loathing and ill will. Important thoughts, too, attract interest, and trivial thoughts trivial interest, and both were unpleasant for William Fitzgerald, so he had by long practice learned to think of nothing at all. He filled negative space. People veered away for him imperceptibly, mood soured. The someone he was following moved with similar ease through the busy five o’clock crowd.

William Fitzgerald and the someone came to the liquor store. The someone kept moving past the store, and as William Fitzgerald turned to enter the store, he saw that the someone had no face. None at all. It was unusual, but it didn’t matter to him. His hatred for the someone was nor lessened nor increased; besides that, there was scotch to buy, and scotch to drink.