Excerpted from the novel HOMER & LANGLEY,
that just came out from Random House
this September 1, 2009 by E. L. Doctorow.
The cop didn't seem to hear. I leave the accounting to you in good faith, Mr. Coller, and I will come by of a Wednesday morning for the remittance and no questions asked, but with a floor of ten dollars.
Langley said: What do you mean "a floor"?
The cop: Well, sir, it would not be worth my time for anything less.
Langley: I understand that criminal matters in this city do press upon your time, Officer. But you see we don't charge much for our tea dances, they are offered more in the nature of a public service. If we have forty couples of an afternoon it's a lot. Add to that our overhead—refreshments, labor costs—and well, we might think about supporting your Police Beneficiaries League with a bribe or, as you call it, a floor of maybe five dollars a week. And for that we would of course expect you to stand out front every Tuesday and touch your cap.
Well now, Mr. Coller, if it was up to me, I would say to you "done and done." But I have my overhead as well.
And that is … ?
My sergeant over to the precinct.
Ah yes, Langley said to me, now we're getting to it.