Marietta hated the idea and searched for some pretense by which to challenge it.

She swerved to avoid a pothole. The silver-grey Chevy belonged to her grandmother, having been pre-owned twice since its birth some 20 or 30 years ago, about as long as Marietta herself had been alive. Like her grandmother, it was aged and tiny, and it hesitated in second gear. But it gave Marietta a sense of purpose, the first time in a long time that she remembered having one.

I should help you in,” she finally said, as she pulled into a parking space. “I’d hate for you to trip or something and get hurt.”

I’m not an invalid,” Gran said.

I know. But I’m supposed to be taking care of you.”

You don’t have to hover over me. I’m not going to break.”

So she left Marietta stewing outside in the car, angry and alone, flipping through radio stations, searching for something that would soothe her, watching her grandmother limping toward the glass-plated showroom just off of which was the office, thinking that Gran was just another job to the man waiting within, just another opportunity to take advantage of, just another account someone defaulted on, just another debt someone couldn’t afford to pay.

I’m Mrs. Mildred Kramer,” the old woman said to the man sitting behind the desk.

Jeffrey Tanner heard and recognized the name. He had handled the account personally, and he knew why she was here. For a fleeting moment, he thought of offering her a seat. But then he thought the better of it: he didn’t want to start by being too friendly.

Instead, he said, “What can I do for you, Mrs. Kramer?”

I’m here to talk about my car.”

Well, what sort of car were you interested in?” Play dumb. Make her do all the work.

Instead of answering, she staggered to his guest chair and collapsed into it.

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