THURSDAY: A Man of Respect

BY MILES WHITE

Copyright is held by the author.

SEYMOUR WAS sitting at his table having breakfast when the man sat down. Seymour looked up, surprised – he was sitting at his table after all. Seymour had seen everything and nothing surprised him much anymore, but this guy surprised him. Nonetheless, he offered the guy some breakfast – he was having scrambled eggs and lox — but the guy declined. He didn’t want any coffee either. He didn’t want anything. Suit yourself, Seymour said, and went on eating. He wasn’t going to ruin his breakfast just because of this guy. But Seymour could talk to anybody. That was his gift. He was a rainmaker and a fixer. He could fix anything, and if he wanted to make a deal he would find a way to make it happen. He was going to fix this.

So, look, ah . . . Bowie figured, what could it hurt. He told Seymour his name. Bowie, eh? Seymour said. So look, Bowie. This is not a good time. I have a lot of reasons why it’s not a good time, but the main reason is I’m having too much fun. He meant that to be funny; Seymour had an easy sense of humor. He could make a joke out of anything. Bowie was not much amused, but he did ask Seymour if he could smoke.

Now see, I like that, Seymour said. That’s respect. I don’t see that from a lot of young guys coming up these days. You learned some manners along the way. Sure, go ahead and smoke. Want me to go get you an ashtray? Bowie told him no, to stay and work on his breakfast; he flicked the ashes on the table. Seymour did not much like that and wanted to take back his previous complimentary remarks but didn’t think that would be particularly helpful, all things considered. He went on about his breakfast but kept talking.

So, look, Mr. Bowie. Is Bowie your first name or your last? Your first? OK, look Bowie, let’s say you’re making 10 grand. That’s about right, right? Forget about that. You’re working for me now. I cover the ten grand and I double it. Then I give you 50 grand — and I’m talking all cash here — to go say hello to Lucky for me. I mean, we are talking about Lucky. Am I right or am I wrong? Bowie nodded yes to Lucky, but said no to the deal. Seventy large was a hell of a lot of money, but it wouldn’t do him any good if he couldn’t spend it. Seymour decided to muscle the guy.

What do you think? he said. You think you can come in here like this? Hey, I got friends too, and Lucky ought to know that. He thinks he can treat me like this? You think you can come in here and treat me like this? I’m Seymour Bellow. I got a big family. I have children. I have a wife. I am a man of respect, and what do they do? They try to push me out and they don’t even have the guts to come say it to my face?

Seymour puts down his fork.

I am telling you my friend, and this is the best advice I can give you. You get up now and you walk out of here and maybe we can all forget about this little misunderstanding. I’ll deal with Lucky myself and you’ll be in the clear. There’s a hundred grand sitting in a trashcan in the backyard. Take it on your way out and we’re square. Are you hearing me on this? Open your fucking mouth for a change. Can you talk? Who am I talking to here, myself?

Bowie asks Seymour if he is finished with his breakfast. No man ought to be interrupted when he’s eating a meal. Seymour stands up from his chair and slaps his hand down hard on the table.

This is a disgrace, he says. This is what I deserve after all these years? I don’t get respect? I don’t get courtesy? I got to take it from a mook like you? You who come up here in my own home? In my fucking house? You think I deserve this? Do I fucking deserve this? And I got to take it from a monkey like you?

Bowie has had enough.

You finished with your food, he says. We got business. You want to do it here or you want to go in the bedroom? It don’t matter to me, but it gets done.

Seymour stands up straight and juts out his chin. He wants to show Bowie how a man of respect handles himself. He won’t let it be said that he did not stand up like a man at the end.

You don’t go in my fucking bedroom, he says.

 

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