from “The Pardoner”

Delia had never liked Mort, though she had been his editor, it seemed, her entire life. Every time she had met to discuss the plot of his latest tome (he called his books “tomes,” as if they were already old and musty and infested with worms), he would become grim and silent, his brows gravely furrowed and his demeanor oddly slack. And invariably, he would dig up old grievances: that his last book had been remaindered, that the cover had appalled him, that such memories gave him no peace. The tone of their discussion, now somber, would have nowhere to go but down. Heaven help me, she would think, and to buy time to compose herself, she would fake a cough (in a way she thought must be terribly transparent) and pray for some sort of interruption.