William Fitzgerald Works in Carpentry

It was an odd request, noted William Fitzgerald. He didn’t see the point of it, and it was making him testy.

“There’s money enough there and more,” said the grey man. He had grey eyes and hair but it went beyond that. He had a grey personality, one that avoided scrutiny as habitually as William Fitzgerald’s. William Fitzgerald had understood this as soon as the grey man walked in, and resented it. The money was certainly there, more than if the job had been strictly honest, and enough more to make that all right. He didn’t trust him.

“Certainly not,” said the grey man. “That’s all right, as far as that goes. Call him, if you like. His number is –“

He knew the number, was dialling it even as the grey man rattled off the digits. It was one of the numbers in his little leatherette book, one written in the oldest ink, in the strictest cypher.

“Do it,” said the gravelly voice at the other end, before William Fitzgerald could say anything. There was the burr of disconnection. William Fitzgerald recradled the phone without bothering to mime a conversation. He would take the job.

“Of course,” said the grey man. He handed an envelope across the desk to William Fitzgerald. Inside were names and dates and addresses; bank account numbers, safe deposit box keys. And a picture of the gravelly voice, staring forthrightly up from the glossy paper, teeth bright and large in that famous grin. William Fitzgerald set about framing his client, per his instructions, with the quietude of a skilled craftsmen.