It was a risk in the businesss, William Fitzgerald knew that. Even if you played things close to your vest and didn’t draw any attention to yourself, even if you were as cagey as Odysseus and as sly as Autolycus, it was still a risk. He salvaged what he could of his pride, as their fists smashed into the face he didn’t even bother to guard.
He wasn’t sure why he was being beaten up (he crumpled to the ground, and the five men began to kick him with heavy boots. He curled into a ball, instinctively, and their feet crashed into his back again and again. He worried about his kidneys.) because he wasn’t just then working, but doubtless there was some reason for it. He had offered the men money and his watch in the professionally frightened manner that he adopted when he was robbed, but they had only laughed and closed in on him.
A particularly vicious kick crashed into the back of his head and he passed out.
When he woke, William Fitzgerald was lying in a crisp white hospital bed. He was covered in bandages. No casts, though. He approved of the professionalism of the men. There were no flowers in the room — which was good, as he loathed flowers. Smog yellow sunlight filled the room. There was a cream colored card on the table next to him, with his name is calligraphy on the front. He reached an arm swaddled in gauze painfully over for it.
Inside, the card said, ‘With My Compliments.’ It was unsigned. A hundred dollar bill was taped to it.