She was a crabbed woman, bent and hunched forward over her knobby hands as she sat on the scarred leather chair in William Fitzgerald’s office. Her lips were pursed tight; deep, seamed lines radiated from her mouth like Van Allen belts of bitterness. She held a maroon chequebook in her hands, fingers curled defensively around it. William Fitzgerald offered her some coffee, not expecting her to take any. She didn’t.
What was the trouble, William Fitzgerald wanted to know. It was her no-account son-in-law, said the crabbed woman, whose name was Opal MacIntyre; she didn’t trust him. He was fooling around on her poppet, her own daughter, she knew it. William Fitzgerald made the noise he made when he wanted people to think he was being sympathetic. He saw the righteous vindication lurking within Opal MacIntyre and it fed him. Such things could of course be looked into, and surety was worth something, indeed, but everything these days had a very concrete price, he observed.
Opal sniffed, nostrils pinched as her mouth. He needn’t have any concerns about her, she said, she knew the value of knowledge, she said. She was willing to pay. She swiped the chequebook through the air at his head, knuckles white on the maroon cover lest it slip inadvertently from her fingers.
Well, then, said William Fitzgerald. Yes, indeed.