Ride a Cockhorse
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A revolution is under way at a once sleepy New England bank. Forty-five-year-old Frances Fitzgibbons has gone from sweet-tempered loan officer to insatiable force of nature almost overnight. Suddenly she’s brazenly seducing the high-school drum major, taking over her boss’s office, firing anyone who crosses her, inspiring populist fervor, and publicly announcing plans to crush her local rivals en route to dominating the entire banking industry in the northeast. The terrifying new order instituted by Frankie and her offbeat goon squad (led by her devoted hairdresser and including her own son-in-law) is an awesome spectacle to behold.
Brimming with snappy dialogue and gleeful obscenity, Ride a Cockhorse is a rollicking cautionary tale of small-town demagoguery that might be seen to prefigure both America’s current financial woes and the rise of Sarah Palin. Frances is in any case a beautiful monster of an antiheroine—resist her at your peril!
Fitzgibbons maintained her self-control with heroic forbearance, a grim expression on her lips, till she was locked in the back seat of a cruiser. The police cars started up and seemed to be moving about in every direction possible. However, pictures of the most frightening nature were erupting in Mrs. Fitzgibbons’s mind. She imagined her tongue being torn out. She had a vision of a severed head in her lap. She tore at her manacles. The naked trees flanking the road to Smith’s Ferry offered a
When Mrs. Fitzgibbons came sailing into the bank at ten-twenty, darting in at the front door past Mr. Donachie, the tails of her raincoat flying, the bank was unusually busy. The level of activity was brisker than on most Mondays. Had it been the third of the month, when depositors lined up in droves with their government checks, she might have seen the cause of it; but today was the nineteenth. All eight teller windows were open, and the line of patrons sprawled about the floor like a snake.
stepped forward and took over. Mr. Zabac simply vanished behind her shoulder. In truth, Mrs. Fitzgibbons was herself quite amazed at her composure before the cameras, and at the facility of her tongue. “How wonderful!” Bruce cried. “Interviews are a piece of cake.” Without looking, she dealt Matthew her empty champagne glass. Bruce and Matthew stood on either side of her chair. Matthew was eyeing her in raptures. Mrs. Fitzgibbons was very full of herself. Bruce had stopped the video and backed
such a sordid act. As it happened, though, the first extraordinary occurrence of the day did not originate with Mrs. Fitzgibbons. It started with a sudden shout from someone in the back offices. An instant later, Mr. Hooton was standing in the doorway of his office, waving a sheaf of papers in his hand and demanding an explanation. He was in a fury. The sight of the massively built man, his physical frame shaking with outrage, was not that of a displeased employee but of an infuriated boss. The
the wall. A nervous shiver ran the length of her body. “He insults me to my face. I have him in my hands.” “He doesn’t understand who you are.” Howard’s moral descent was framed in his sallow cheeks and sickly smile. “Mind you,” she went on, “this pillar of the community is embroiled with a prostitute, a big-titted, hundred-dollar-an-hour whore from Lyman Street who looks like she could blow up the Goodyear blimp all by herself—and she works for me.” Howard was enthralled; he was sweating.