34. Spy Money

Excerpt from The Lost Chapters by Lisa Anderson, first published in 2013

Buffy finished her gin and tonic. “Love, I’ve got to go. I wish I could do dinner but I just can’t. Stay and finish your drink and I’ll talk to you next week.” Buffy leaned down and kissed Alan on the cheek.

“It is always great to see you, Buff. And thanks.”

Four tables of men on either side stopped talking as she made an S with her body to get from behind the table. Christ she’s good-looking, Alan thought, and she’s shacked up with Charlie Wacker.

Alan waved to the waiter again and gestured with his hands that he wanted him to write up the check.

He wasn’t sure what to do. Could he really tell the president of the agency that a girl he knew was sleeping with Charlie Wacker, the president of Baker and Dodge, and that Wacker told her in bed the other night that Baker and Dodge was going to get the new Jamesville Foods Wholesome Soup account? Howe wouldn’t believe it and he’d ask questions Alan wouldn’t be able to answer. What was the point of saying anything?

So, they had done all that work, two creative groups, an intense push. What would be next? Go through the motions? He had recognized something was up when he gave the presentation to Wholesome’s executives. The company men had said all the right things, but it had seemed phony, unconvincing. So he’d run to his various sources to see how Dunaway could preempt whatever Baker was showing the client. Finally, he’d had lunch yesterday with Giff Norman to try to persuade the client’s representative that Dunaway was committed. He’d put in his noble effort. What now?

It would be hard to keep silent. But he would if he had to. This was business and who knew, maybe somebody would change his mind, he thought. Maybe Wacker was giving Buffy a lot of crap.

The check was $11.50. Four gin and tonics. Jesus, this town is getting expensive.

He peeled off a twenty dollar bill from the small fold of dollars he took from his pocket. Goddamn spy money, he thought.

The waiter came with the change and Alan got up, tipped the white-coated Italian and walked briskly out through the crowded doorway into the lobby. The noise in the King Cole Bar faded behind him.

He walked slowly through the lobby taking in the people sitting by the windows and standing around the cashier’s cage and front desk. He inhaled a mixture of perfumes that he could vaguely distinguish. Alan could always spot Shalimar and Magriffe. Small wonder. Kiki wore Shalimar and Liddie, his wife, wore Magriffe.

He bought a copy of the New York Post, stepped through the revolving door, and beckoned the doorman to hail a cab.

© Lisa Anderson 2016


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