William Fitzgerald Becomes A Reluctant Optimist

Work’s been dry lately. Not so much that people are better—in William Fitzgerald’s experience people never change much for the better or the worse—but that no one seems to care about the old things one way or the other. He calls the people in his little book and they laugh at him. Go ahead, they say, let it out. Who cares? Take out an ad in the paper. He tries, he does, but none of the journalists he knows can be bothered. Corruption, incest, addiction, who cares. That stuff won’t even make the back pages.

He’s got money stashed away, so it isn’t like he’s going hungry, but it puts him out of sorts. The time is suddenly in joint with him, and for William Fitzgerald that’s deeply uncomfortable. People are beaten in the street, the wealthy roll through poor neighborhoods with long guns poking out the windows hunting sport, and no one cares. His storehouse of sins is suddenly worthless, common goods, after a life spent collecting vileness.

He is at the corner of 12th and Broadway when traffic stops and a crowd comes growling up towards him, armed with bats and manhole covers, glass bottles and cigarettes. There is blood in their voices, old blood, blood of the old world, and William Fitzgerald, dry old vampire that he is, shudders at the scent of it. He does not join them, but as they pass he picks a stone up off the street and follows.