William Fitzgerald Reorganizes

He had been out of sorts ever since he killed a man whose face he never saw in a house he couldn’t remember. It wasn’t the death that bothered him — the blood on his hands and the guilt that went with it had been washed cleanly away into the cracked porcelain sink of his new office three weeks ago, and he had washed the red ring from the bowl with the same dispassion he used rinsing the dinner plate after a particularly rare steak. But the questions gnawed at him in novel ways, and the anger he had carried for years against humanity as a whole without ever finding a particular target had centered around the intangible men or women who had invaded his home and carried him hostage to that ugly, leaking house with nails covering the walls, and then carried him away from the warm body with the hammer, back to his house, back to his city.

That they knew about him, more than he knew about them, was not to be borne.

His little leatherette book had burned in the fire that destroyed his old office building, burned in the little space behind the picture of the angel, and with it the names and sins of nearly a hundred influential or well-to-do citizens. The loss of income was slightly annoying, but he remembered enough names — without the accompanying concrete details necessary for blackmail — to twist a few knives. He felt better after calling a judge, a city alderwoman, and the governor’s husband. More names would come to him, more crimes and peccadillos; he had faith in humanity.

A new building, a new desk, a new leatherette book, blank and expectant; the same thick, syrupy coffee, the same Midwestern scotch in the same plastic bottles. He was a creature of habit, like the swallows, like the Canadas goose, like the hibernal bear.