All Neat and Tidy

“The game’s up,” Cecily tells him, not quite cheerfully. “I don’t know how they found it out, or when, but they’ve clearly found it out.”

Silence at the other end of the line while he thinks it through. She lets him. There’s not too much hurry.

“They can’t–” he coughs– “They can’t have anything solid. We can face it.”

“Oh, no,” she says. “No, that won’t do. No.” He starts breathing harder.


“I’m sorry, Pine.” She’s never called him by his first name, not once. “There’s only one thing to do.”

In his office, despite the exquisite climate control, he shivers. The plate glass window that he’d fought so hard for suddenly drags at him with a bleak gravity. He leans his head against it. Still solid.

“They want to talk to me. They wanted to talk to the servants, too, but I don’t think that will be necessary now. Will it?”

It’s a beautiful day, clear and crisp. He can see the Statue of Liberty, and the bright gem of the bay beyond.


You can’t hear the street from here. Sometimes he gets pigeons roosting outside the window. They had a nest one year.


“No,” he says, and hangs up on her. He thinks about that the thirty nine flights down, hanging up on her. Then he doesn’t think about anything at all.