The box

The bank is large and ostentatious: marble facades and room for ten tellers, though only four are occupied this afternoon. There will be a robbery here tomorrow.

I’m waiting for the woman who handles safety deposit boxes to take her break. She’s way too diligent for my taste. The young man who covers for her over lunch doesn’t know any of the customers. This is good for me; Mrs. Swan’s husband has been dead for seven years.

“Good afternoon,” I begin, with calm authority, “I’d like to open my box, please.” Before he can ask, I pass the key and the signed slip to him.

“You’re supposed to sign this while I’m watching,” he says, pushing the slip back towards me.

“Oh, right. Yes. Shall I get another slip?” I’m patting my pockets, “And do you have a pen, please?”

A pause. He’s got other things to do, this isn’t really his job.

“Nevermind,” he pulls the slip back, “just remember for next time, alright?”

“Yes, certainly,” I say, as if there might be another time.

“Mr. Swan? Box 498? Follow me.”

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