My cousin Ruth worked at Best & Co, which is how I first heard of it. I don’t know what she did there, probably something in a stockroom, or at least behind the scenes, as she was, unlike her numerous sisters, exceedingly plain and physically awkward and her English would not have been up to sales or office work.
In due course my father showed up at Fort Lee police station, having taken the subway to 181st Street and walked across the bridge in the rain. Together we walked back across the bridge and took the subway home to Brooklyn. All I remember my father saying, on that long and dreary journey, was that his boss had told him they could not keep him on if this were to happen again.
I took to daydreaming during these monologues, which Walsh, or Welch, took as a personal offence, and she was not long in spinning her revenge. She called me Brighteyes, after a Viking tale of H. Rider Haggard. It was her conceit that I was Swedish, and therefore thick, and it amused her to address me in a macaronic Scandinavian sing-song.