[If you have not already done so, you must
read the Introduction
Revenge Should Have No Bounds 010
Chapter 4 (2 of 2): The Broker
You had to know something about his story to appreciate this.
In many ways he was an old-fashioned kind of guy, his basic sensibilities shaped by a world that was as foreign to me as the nineteenth century was to him. He’d been born in 1950, joined the army straight out of high school, and arrived in Viet Nam just in time for the Tet Offensive. He’d spent four years fighting that useless war, had won three purple hearts and, in his last month in the field, a Distinguished Service Cross for valor in action. That was for exposing himself to great personal danger while safely extricating his infiltration team from a murderous ambush by enraged Viet Cong and single-handedly wiping out eleven of the enemy.
No, there was nothing wrong with Len’s manliness and courage under pressure. He came back with his chest full of medals, handsome in his uniform, and everybody’s patriotic photo op. At the time nobody paid much attention to the haunted eyes. I’d heard his rambling stories over and over, and before I decided to do some research on what went on over there all those years ago I could hardly believe some of what he told me he’d done. I did now.
And it had all caught up with him by now as he aimlessly roamed the evenings, haunting the bars and hotels of the city, eating his heart out, drinking his liver away, prowling for the old magic. In the afternoons he would drop by his brokerage house to watch clients’ decimated funds sink even lower.
“Greece and all that, you know,” he would tell me by way of explanation. “Thank God my own stuff is in China!” Sweet guy, for a broker handling other people’s money! The prosperity of the swinging nineties and early two-ohs had unaccountably and, it seemed, irredeemably vanished for most of them.
Down the last of the drink went. “Come on,” he said, brightening up. “Get me out of here, Mazarine!”
We took the elevator to his suite. At that time of day there weren’t many guests going up, so we had the cage to ourselves. Len kept up his endless chatter, fearing, as he always did, the emptiness of silence, as if that might allow his inner demons egress. I smiled whenever he looked at me, nodded understandingly at the right points, largely tuned him out.
The theme of today’s irate and obscenity-ladened lecture was intransigent stocks and the perfidy of capital. Like most of the so-called professionals in the brokerage houses Len had been spectacularly wrong about the direction of the markets the last few years. It was a simple fifty-fifty bet: up or down. On behalf of his clients he’d followed the ovine herd, all the way down. He’d kept advising his frantic and clueless customers to stick with his mindless mantra that ‘things are going to turn’. And by the time they had ridden their net worth down some eighty percent it was too late to get out. Uncounted hundreds of millions of value had simply vanished and in their stead had begun the gatherings of drooling lawyers and circling lawsuits. Len was actually worried. “What if they check my personal accounts?” Yeah, Len, good point there! No wonder he was in a funk and chattering away like someone with a bad case of Tourette’s.
Of course, his own money was secure. What little private funds he controlled that weren’t working in Asia were all tied up in old wealth, and the current myth he was pushing was that he had wisely avoided investing any of ‘the family money’ in the recent bubble economy. The truth was somewhat more complicated: during the years of damage, he had raged and regaled me with running commentaries on his rather clever and repeated, if fruitless, efforts to invade the trusts for cash so he “could make a killing” in telecoms and chips. The legal teams that had responsibility for the family trusts stuck to their fiduciary guns, however, and not a penny of the principal was ever released into Len’s irresponsible hands. Lucky guy! Maybe he would finally get to spend all those generational assets when his disillusioned clients – or, rather, their cunning lawyers – came home to roost.
I’d never taken all of his ‘free advice’ seriously nor, certainly, had I ever let him handle a nickel of my money. I had, and still have, a number of clients from the financial community, and you didn’t need a Ph.D. in Economics to figure out that the ones who weren’t out-and-out hustlers simply didn’t know what they’re talking about. Pure and simple. Like everybody else, they were just guessing, but in a more Latinate vocabulary. I said a silent prayer once more to that accounting professor I’d had and to on-line trading where you were your own portfolio’s potentate.
The elevator came to a stop and we stepped out into the hallway. His room was three doors off to the left, and soon we were ensconced in a cozy little suite of about 2000 square feet. Remember, personally Len was loaded. Now he was all business, my business. No foreplay today. Maybe it was the old Freudian cliché about cryptic relationships between money and sex. Or was it money and shit? No matter. He seemed to have sobered up in a flash, tore his clothes off, ordered me to do the same, and jumped into the super-king bed pulling me with him. All his rage and confusions had gone to his smaller head. Jabbering away in heated anger about the nastiness of my anatomical parts as if the total ‘I’ were some sexual synecdoche, he fucked me — rough, hard, fast. Maybe he was thinking he could use me to help him repopulate those worlds of loss where all those dollars that had perished in the wars. At the last second he extracted himself for an arching shot all over my belly and its dark delta.
SOP for Len.
I smeared it around a bit the way he liked me to. “Really great, honey, you still do it for me,” I lied enthusiastically.
He gasped something about gratitude and spun off to my side trying to catch his breath. I just lay there a few minutes. That took all of, what, three minutes? And he’d booked me for two hours. We still had fifty minutes left.
“Thanks, Mazarine,” he reiterated with greater clarity, the panting notched down to normal respiration. “You just go ahead. Shower up. I think I’ll stay here for a while and take a nap. I’m beat.”
I kissed him on the cheek and took my shower. He was asleep by the time I was finished and dressed, and the envelope with my name on it lay in front of the door I quietly opened and closed on my way out. In the hall waiting for the elevator to come up I took a quick peek into the envelope. Whatever else you might want to say about him, Len was not stingy.
Time for brunch.
The door opened and a wizened bellboy rolling a cart piled high with luggage emerged. He gave me a knowing look that said he’d seen it all and I wasn’t fooling him. Two adults and three children followed him to the door of one of the suites in the opposite direction from Len’s. The kids looked properly subdued and on their best behavior for such a grand hotel. I stepped aside and let them pass, then got in the elevator and punched L.
The doors hissed shut and the descent began.
TO BE CONTINUED