Last night I found myself in the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station.
It was late, the restaurant maybe a quarter full, two or three people drinking at the bar, waiting for the clock to move.
There was a man sitting under the arches near the front. He was slowly sipping on seltzer water.
This is the nexus of the world, right here, under these arches. Secrets are told and captured.
He rattles the ice in his drink and smiles at me.
I come here to perform certain…business deals. Move certain properties that most people can’t or don’t even think about owning.
He pulls a folder from a briefcase and places it in front of me. It’s a listing for some of the most famous buildings in New York City. The Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, The Public Library on 42nd Street, and Madison Square Garden.
I come from an old New York family. Here since the damn city was built. My ancestors walked Wall Street before it was an actual street. But…as it happens, the family isn’t doing so well. In fact, we are barely hanging in there. So, we’re trying to sell of shares of our real estate portfolio…or entire buildings if we can find the right buyers.
But with how high-profile our portfolio is…well, you understand why we keep it a bit of a secret.
I buy us two drinks and he steals a bowl of peanuts from the next table over.
He introduces himself as Parker and thanks me over and over for the drink. He says he knows I can’t afford the buildings his family owns, but maybe he can find something for me.
I stop him with a wink and he laughs, relaxes into his chair and pulls out a flask of gin to add to his seltzer.
Ah, it’s an old family game…you’d be surprised how often it works. People, man, they just want to be known for something. Like everyone’s wishing to be in some history book.
He chews on a toothpick and drinks slowly. Whispers flutter all around us under the arch. Secrets and stories, passion and sobs.
Well, listen…if you’re not interesting in any buildings, I’ve got a nice bridge I can sell you.
He laughs and gets up from the table. We shake hands and he walks away. As he passes under the arch he whispers “wankers” and leaves without turning around to see the faces of the few diners.