After drinks with Herbert, Tom returns home to his “dingy” brownstone apartment, where he shares a dirty, small room with a man named Bob Delancey. “The main advantage” of the place according to Tom is his ability to receive mail there addressed to George McAplin—an alias he uses in order to conduct a low-level con in which he poses either over the telephone or in written correspondence as an IRS official and collects checks for additional tax money from the elderly. Though he has collected nearly two thousand dollars in checks, he cannot cash them, since they’re made out to the Internal Revenue Service. Tom plans to destroy the checks before he leaves for Europe. In the morning, Tom excitedly dresses and heads off to Radio City to obtain a passport.
The filth and squalor Tom lives in spur him even deeper into his entitlement—he feels he deserves better than what he has, and, as his current scheme to escape his circumstances is failing, he jumps eagerly at the opportunity to mooch off of the wealthy and generous Greenleafs. Tom’s low-level tax fraud scam is pitiful in that it’s so wildly unsuccessful, but admirable in that readers are given a sense of his potential as a conman—he has been carefully honing his gifts for vocal imitation and spinning intricate lies.