The Price of a Reputation

His hand trembled as he poured the brandy. He downed two in quick succession.

“So… What does that ass of an inspector say?” I asked.

“He claims to have found a half dozen violations, any of which could close the restaurant. For the right money, he’s willing to overlook them. This is a plant—a plot to extort money by threats.”

“What’s the amount?”

He paused. “10,000 pounds.”

I was aghast. “By George; it’s enormous! Do you plan to pay him?” I perched myself on the edge of his desk and drained my snifter.

“Of course I do, you little fool. There isn’t much else that I can do. The restaurant’s reputation is my reputation as well. All this irritation is purely subjective.” He gestured. “Don’t sit on my writing-table: you’ll break it.”

I stood. “You should involve the police, you know.”

“I have nothing in writing. Anyhow, there’s no good bothering now. I have to give him my decision before noon tomorrow.”

I indicated the empty snifters. “Another?”

“Oh, chuck them over the bannisters into the hall.”

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