119,212
07.03.2019

Through the years, I’ve pieced together bits of information he’s let slip when I’ve been the last one here at closing. In the late eighties, Ronny was a Wall Street big shot, living the dream. Then, on a Friday night, he and his family were driving out to the Hamptons for the weekend. Because he’d gotten jammed up at work, they’d had a late start, and a drowsy truck driver nodded off at the wheel, flew across the median into oncoming traffic—and smacked headfirst into Ronny’s BMW. He made it out of the accident with a concussion and a shattered femur. His wife and daughter didn’t make it out at all.

He spent a few years drowning in a bottle, a few more sobering up. Then he used the settlement money to buy this place. He doesn’t come off as bitter or sad, but I wouldn’t say he’s happy either. I think the gym keeps him going, gives him a reason to get up in the morning.

“Back up, Shawnasee!” Ronny yells at the fighter who’s got his sparring partner pinned against the ropes, pummeling his ribs. “This isn’t Vegas, for f**k’s sake, let the guy breathe.”

That Shawnasee kid’s an ass**le. You know the type—young, hot-headed, the kind of prick who would get out of his car to beat down some poor schmuck for cutting him off on the freeway. Which is another reason I like boxing—it’s the perfect opportunity to put idiots in their places without being charged with assault. Shawnasee’s been trying to goad me into the ring for a few months now, but it’s no fun fighting someone with piss-poor technique. No matter how hard they hit, they’ve got no shot at winning. I’m waiting until he gets better—then I’ll kick his ass.

I catch Ronny’s eye as he breaks up the fighters and greet him with a nod. Then I head back to the locker room, change out of my suit, and hit the bag for half an hour. Next, I use the rowing machine until my biceps are screaming and my legs feel like Jell-O. I finish off with ten minutes of speed jump roping, which might sound easy, but it’s not. You try jumping rope for half that time and I’ll bet you feel like you’re going into cardiac arrest.

When the ring is empty, I climb in and go three rounds against Joe Wilson, an uptown lawyer I’ve sparred with before. Joe puts up a good fight, but the session clearly goes my way. Afterward, we tap gloves affably, and I go back into the locker room and grab my stuff. I smack Ronny’s back on the way out, jog to the subway, and catch my train home.

I’m not ashamed to say my parents hooked me up with my apartment after college—in those days, this place was slightly above my pay grade. The location is great—walking distance to the office and a killer view of Central Park. Because I’ve lived here since college, it lacks the stylish consistency you’d typically expect in the home of a successful businessman. Take a look around.

Black leather sofas face a big-screen television with a top-of-the-line sound and gaming system sitting on the glass shelves below it. The coffee table is also glass, but it’s chipped around the edges from years of contact with reclining feet and glass bottles. A shadowy painting of a mountaintop by a renowned Japanese artist hangs on one wall, and my prized collection of vintage baseball caps hangs from hooks opposite it. A lighted display case is perched in the corner, showing off the crystal etched EXCELLENCE IN INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT award I received last year . . . and the authentic Boba Fett helmet that was worn during the filming of The Empire Strikes Back. Built in, dark-wood bookshelves are lined with collectible sports memorabilia, books on art, photography, and banking, and about a dozen mismatched frames with photographs of family and friends from the best times in my life. Photographs I took myself.

Photography is a hobby of mine. You’ll hear more about that later.

In the dining room, instead of a totally useless formal set of table and chairs, there’s a pool table and a Space Invaders arcade game. But my kitchen is fully set up—black granite counters, Italian marble floors, stainless steel appliances, and cookware that Emeril would be honored to own. I like to cook, and I do it well.

The way to a man’s heart may be through his stomach—but it’s also the most direct route down a girl’s pants. For women, a guy who knows his way around a kitchen is a big selling point. Tell me I’m wrong.

Anyway, my apartment is kick-ass. It’s large, but comfortable, impressive without being intimidating. After hosing down in the glass-enclosed, triple-headed shower, I towel off and spend a minute looking at my reflection in the full-length mirror. My normally light brown hair is dark from being wet and sticks up at odd angles from the towel. I could use a cut—it gets pretty-boy curly if I let it grow too long. I rub the stubble along my squared jaw, but I don’t feel like shaving. I turn to the side and flex my bicep, proud of the muscle that bulges. I’m not bulky like a meathead, but I’m tight, lean, and powerful, without a centimeter to pinch from my six pack, let alone an inch.

Checking myself out in a mirror might seem douchey to you, but, trust me—all guys do it. We just don’t like to be caught doing it. But when you put as much time into your body as I do, the payoff makes it worth it.

I pull on a pair of silk boxers then heat up a bowl of leftover pasta and chicken. I’m not Italian, but I’d eat this every day of the week if I could. It’s about eight thirty by the time I finish washing the dishes. Yes, I am a man who washes his own dishes.

Be jealous, ladies—I’m a rare breed.

Then I flop back on my awesome, king-size bed and grab the golden ticket from the pocket of my discarded pants.

I finger the letters on the bright green cardstock.

DEE WARREN

CHEMIST

LINTRUM FUELS

And I remember the soft, smooth flesh that swelled from the confines of her tight, pink shirt. My dick twitches—guess he remembers it too.

Normally I’d wait a day or two to call a girl like Delores. Timing is everything. Looking too eager is a rookie mistake—women enjoy being panted after by puppies, not men.

But it’s already Wednesday night, and I’m hoping to meet up with Dee on Friday. The twenty-first century is the age of “Maybe He’s Just Not That Into You” and “Dating for Dummies” and “The Girlfriends’ Guide to Dating,” which means calling a chick for a random hookup isn’t as easy as it used to be. There are all these frigging rules now—I found that out the hard way.

Like if a guy wants to meet up with you the same night that he calls, you’re supposed to say “no,” because that means he doesn’t respect you. And, if he wants to take you out on a Tuesday, that’s a sign he’s got better plans for Saturday night.

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