Uncertainty Is the Problem

The day after Christmas, Liam fastened Charlie’s leash to his collar and then drove to the Dime Savings Bank in his van. He liked seeing Liam McKiernan—Handyman painted on each side of it. Better than working for someone else, not that he’d had a choice after he got laid off. When he and Charlie reached the bank, its white-haired uniformed guard, Fred, stood behind the vestibule’s glass doors. He wore a holster with a handgun. Not a bad job, if you don’t get shot. Since the bank had never been robbed, and probably never would be, all Fred did was give each customer a mint Life Saver.

“Top of the morning to you, Liam. Hear you’re a handyman now.”

Liam stopped. When Charlie didn’t stop, his leash yanked him backward, he yipped, and the coat Liam had bought to keep the dog warm got rumpled. Liam knelt, smoothed it out, Charlie licked his hand, Liam rubbed his head, then he stood up. “When did you hear this?”

“The wife was at midnight Mass the other night when you were an usher.”

“I didn’t see you there,” Liam said.

“And you never will. That silly religious stuff’s not for me.”

Liam knew he wasn’t an apostle, but silly? That was a bit much. Still, free country.

Liam took out of his pocket some of the business cards he’d had printed. They read “Free Estimates. Call After 6:00 p.m.” He’d secured three dozen with a rubber band and offered them to Fred like he was offering him a cigarette. “Would you mind giving these to people as they leave?”

“I’m a bank guard, not someone waving around Live Nude Girls flyers in Times Square. Don’t worry. Word will get around.”

Fred had a point. “Well, no harm, right?”

Inside, Dorothy, the teller Liam liked because she’d never frowned at him years ago whenever he withdrew money from his savings account to spend in the bar across the street, asked Liam how much he’d like to withdraw. He had seven hundred and thirteen dollars and a few cents saved. “Can I get thirty in cash?” He hoped this would be enough to pay the vet.

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