Roscoe's and Beatrice's biggest problem was, and always had been, managing to live on his bank salary.
This year, as the figures he had been working on tonight showed, the Heywards' expenses would substantially exceed their income. Next April he would have to borrow to pay the income tax he owed, as had been necessary last year and the year before. There would have been other years, too, except that during some he had been lucky with investments.
Many people with much smaller incomes would have scoffed at the idea that an executive vice-president's S65,000 a year salary was not ample to live on, and perhaps to save. In fact, for the Heywards, it was not.
To begin with, Income taxes cut the gross amount by more than a third After that, first and second mortgages on the house required payments of another $16,000 yearly, while municipal tax ate up a further $2,500. That left $23,000 or roughly $450 a week for all other expenses including repairs, insurance, food, clothes, a car for Beatrice (the bank supplied Roscoe with a chauffeur-driven pool car when he needed it), a housekeeper-cook, charitable donations, and an Incredible array of smaller items adding up to a depressingly large sum.
The house, Heyward always realized at times like this, was a serious extravagance. From the begining it had proved larger than they needed, even when Elmer lived at loose, which now he didn't. Vandervoort, whose salary was identical, was wiser by far to live in an apartment and pay rent, but Beatrice, who loved their house for its size and prestige, would never hear of that, nor would Roscoe favor it.
As a result they had to scrimp elsewhere, a process which Beatrice sometimes refused to acknowledge, taking the view she ought to have money; therefore to worry about it herself was lese majeste. Her attitude was reflected in countless ways around the house. She would never we a linen napkin twice; soiled or not, it must be laundered after every use The same applied to towels, so that linen and laundry bills were high She made long-distance phone calls casually and rarely deigned to turn off switches. Moments earlier, Heyward had gone to the kitchen for a glass of milk and, though Beatrice had been in bed for two hours, every downstairs light was on. He had irritatedly snapped them off.
Yet, for all Beatrice's attitude, fact was fact and there were things they simply could not afford. An example was holidays the Heywards had had none for the past two years. Last summer Roscoe told colleagues at the bank, "We considered a Mediterranean cruise, but decided after all we'd prefer to stay home."
Another uncomfortable reality was that they had virtually no savings only a few shares of FMA stock which might have to be sold soon, though the proceeds would not be enough to offset this year's deficit.
Tonight, the only conclusion Heyward had reached was that after borrowing they must hold the line on expenses as best they could, hoping for a financial upturn before too long.
And there would be one satisfyingly generous if he became president of FMA.
In First Mercantile American, as with most banks, a wide salary gap existed between the presidency and the next rank downward. As president, Ben Rosselli had been paid $130,000 annually. It was a virtual certainly his successor would receive the same.
If it happened to Roscoe Heyward, it would mean immediate doubling of his present salary. Even with higher taxes; what was left would eliminate every present problem.
Putting his papers away, he began to dream about it, a dream which extended through the night.
In their penthouse atop fashionable Cayman Manor, a residential high-rise a mile or so outside the city, Edwina and Lewis D'Orsey were at breakfast. It was three days since Ben Rosselli's dramatic announcement of his impending death, and two days since discovery of the heavy cash loss at First Mercantile American's main downtown branch. Of the two events, the cash loss at this moment weighed more heavily on Edwina.
Since Wednesday afternoon, nothing new had been discovered. Through all of yesterday, with low-key thoroughness, two FBI special agents had intensively questioned members of the branch staff, but without tangible result. The teller directly involved, Juanita Nunez, remained the prime suspect, but she would admit nothing, continued to insist that she was innocent, and refused to submit to a lie detector test.
Although her refusal increased the general suspicion of her guilt, as one of the FBI men put it to Edwina, "We can suspect her strongly, and we do, but there isn't a pinhead of proof. As to the money, even if it's hidden where she lives, we need some solid evidence before we can get a search warrant. And we don't have any. Naturally, well keep an eye on her, though it isn't the kind of case where the Bureau can maintain a full surveillance."
The FBI agents would be in the branch again today, yet there seemed little more that they could do.
But what the bank could do, and would, was end Juanita Ndnez's employment. Edwina knew she must dismiss the girl today. But it would be a frustrating, unsatisfactory ending.
Edwina returned her attention to breakfast lightly scrambled eggs and toasted English muffins which their maid had served a moment earlier.
Across the table, Lewis, hidden behind The Wall Street Journal, was growling as usual over the latest lunacy from Washington where an Under Secretary of the Treasury had declared before a Senate committee that the U.S. would never again return to a gold standard. The secretary used a Keynesian quotation in describing gold as "this barbarous yellow relic." Gold, he claimed, was finished as an international exchange medium.
"My God! That leprous ignoramus!" Glaring over his steel-rimmed half-moon glasses, Lewis D'Orsey flung his newspaper to the floor to join The New York Time,, Chicago Tribune, and a day-old Financial Times from London, all of which he had skimmed through already. He stormed on about the Treasury official, "Five centuries after dimwits like him have rotted into dust, gold will still be the world's only sound basis for money and value. With the morons we have in power, there's no hope for us, absolutely nonel"
Lewis seized a coffee cup, raised it to his lean, grim face and gulped, then wiped his lips with a linen napkin.
Edwina had been leafing through The Christian Science Monitor. She looked up. "What a pity you won't be around five centuries from now to say, 'I told you so.' "
Lewis was a small man with a body like a twig, making him seem frail and half starved, though in fact he was neither. His face matched his body and was lean, almost cadaverous. His movements were quick, his voice more often than not impatient. Occasionally Lewis would joke about his unimpressive physique. Tapping his forehead he asserted, "What nature omitted on the bodywork it made up behind here."
And it was true, even those who detested him conceded, he had a remarkably agile brain, particularly when applied to money and finance.
His morning tantrums seldom bothered Edwina. For one thing, over their fourteen years of marriage she had learned they were rarely directed at herself; and for another, she realized Lewis was girding himself for a morning session at his typewriter where he would roar like the righteously angry Jeremiah that readers of his twice-a month financial newsletter expected him to be.
The high-priced, private newsletter containing Lewis D'Orsey's investment advice to an exclusive list of international subscribers provided him with both a rich livelihood and a personal spear on which to impale governments, presidents, prime ministers, and assorted politicians when any of their fiscal acts displeased him. Most did.
Many financial men attuned to modern theories, including some at First Mercantile American Bank, abhorred Lewis D'Orsey's independent, acidly biting, ultraconservative newsletter. Not so, however, most of Lewis's subscribers who regarded him as a combination of Moses and Midas in a generation of financial fools.
And with good reason, Edwina admitted. If making money was your objective in life, Lewis was a sound man to follow. He had proved it many times, uncannily, with advice which paid off handsomely for those who followed it.
Gold was one example. Long before it happened, and while others scoffed, Lewis D'Orsey predicted a dramatic upsurge in the free market price. He also urged heavy buying of South African gold mining shares, at that time low-priced. Since then, several subscribers to The D'OrseyNewsletter had written to say they were millionaires, solely as a result of taking this advice.
With equal prescience he had foreseen the series of U.S. dollar devaluations and advised his readers to put all the cash they could raise into other currencies, notably Swiss francs and Deutsche marks, which-many did to their great profit.