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In middle age, debt has become the most significant relationship in Harry Salter's life. He was born to wealthy parents in leafy and privileged Rosedale, at a time when the city was still defined by its WASP elite. But nothing in life has turned out the way Harry was led to expect. He's unsure of his place in society, his marriage is crumbling, his son is bordering on estranged, and on top of it all his father is dying.
As he sits at his father's bedside, Harry inevitably daydreams about his inheritance. A couple of his father's millions would rescue him from his ballooning debt--maybe even save his marriage. But when the will is read, all that's left for Harry is $4200. Dale Salter's money is gone. Out of desperation and disbelief, Harry starts to dig into what happened to the money. As he follows a trail strewn with family secrets and unsavory suspicions, he discovers not only that old money has lost its grip and new money taken on an ugly hue, but that his whole existence been cast into shadow by the weight of his expectations.
One fifty an hour, maybe. ” “According to whom? ” “According to Ty. He knows this guy. ” “Ty the money expert,” Gladys said. “I’m going to call him. ” “How long will he take? ” “I don’t know. He probably needs to see the paper before he can give us an estimate. ” “At $150 an hour. ” “I can’t see it being more than a day. ” “A $1,200 day. ” “Look, Gladys, if this helps us find that money, it’s a small, an infinitesimally small price to pay. It’s not an expense. It’s an investment. ” His debt took issue with this and made its presence known, a sudden high-pitched squeal from a Dantean hog slaughterhouse.
He took lovers because he needed a witness for all that he admired in himself. He purposely slept with the wives of men he knew. A form of score-keeping, I suppose. Press felt inadequate among some of those men. So he fucked their wives. Not an original idea. ” “Do you think he and August did this together? ” “If August was involved, then someone like Press or Ebbetts would have to be. Someone who is evil enough to take the initiative. I can’t imagine all of them working together, though. ” They chatted for a while longer, then Harry got up to leave.
The world of his youth had been gone for decades. All those gleaming Bel Airs being washed in driveways, outdoor hockey, two brands of jeans, Presbyterian cooking—all of it breathing its last. The factories quietly leaving, moving offshore, the workers losing their jobs to Malaysians. The suburb losing its way. Who was next? Would the sons of Rosedale find themselves scalding pigs in ill-lit abattoirs, standing in puddles of blood? Would they seek solace in beer and large families? Every empire collapses eventually, Harry thought.
What if there is money, Erin? There might be $8 million floating around out there. Even if it’s just $2 million …” “You could afford a divorce, Harry. ” If there really was no money, it occurred to Harry, they might need to sell the house. It had been the first of his investments to disappoint. Real estate was supposed to be the bedrock, but his house had proved to be the foundation of his debt. Every detail of the house’s inflated price, ongoing disappointments and lawsuit-threatening renovations was etched in his mind.
He could hear Del talking to whomever she was with. You will die when you see the master bedroom. “Let’s chat this week, Harry,” Del said before turning again to her clients. Harry pressed End. If they sold the house for $850,000, there would be roughly $420,000 left after paying off the mortgage, line of credit, real estate agent’s fee, taxes, legal fees, credit cards. They could pay cash for a very modest, possibly cheery condo downtown, cycle everywhere, get out to more plays, go to cheap, hip restaurants.