The alarm rang and the radio spat news.
Bonwit Teller opened his eyes to a foggy San Francisco morning.
He threw off the comforter, angrily pulled down the shades, and
crawled back into bed.
The phone rang
“Hi Bonwit, it’s Jerry. This is your wake-up call per your request.”
“Are you up?”
“That was a helluva rant you gave last night”
“Which one? I was drunk.”
“About old man Lazaro.”
Bonwit sat up.
Jerry continued: “You made old man Lazaro look like a jackass.”
Bonwit answered: “I guess I owe him an apology. I say wicked things
when I’m drunk. Thanks for the wake-up Jerry.”
“Let my people go,” Bonwit heard a beggar say.
He dropped some cash into the beggars’ cup and hurried into
He saw the same beggar sitting cross-legged in front of the
He held a sign that read: “Dying from AIDS. Please help me.”
Bonwit dropped some cash into his cup and hurried onto
The N-Judah to Ocean Beach arrived; Bonwit was desperate
to take it.
He wanted to run from the Financial District and its beggars who follow him everywhere, who sit in front of the Pyramid and glare at him: as if he is the one who stripped them of everything and left them to starve.
“They glare at me.,” Bonwit muttered to himself. “Not my secretary; not
old man Lazaro.”
Lazaro’s face formed in his mind; boyish yet old; kind yet cruel.
Bonwit spat on that face and remembered his rage at last night’s dinner.
Lazaro compared Bonwit to a General in a noble army.
“That’s what you are.” Lazaro said. “And the sales force is your troops. They depend on you for supplies and protection. Think of our company as a complex system of privileges and obligations. Your people need you Bonwit.”
“I’m just a fucking travel agent and you’re just an old queen!” Bonwit drunkenly snarled.
The skyscrapers sprouted arms and hands; they pointed at him
Bonwit entered the elevator and felt his stomach drop.
Bonwit thought; I am truly a pain in the ass.
As if I don’t know why I’m here.
I am Master. It’s that simple.
The doors opened onto the thirteenth floor and Bonwit smiled benevolently at the housekeeper. “Good morning Violet.”
“’’Morning Mister Teller.”
“Have I met my obligations to you this week?”
“I got a paycheck if that’s what you mean?”
“I’m so pleased.” Bonwit replied.
He entered his office and rang his secretary: “Mary, will you call the Whiskey Shop and have a bottle of Macallan 1939 delivered to Mr. Lazaro?
“Yes Mr. Teller. Mr. Lazaro is in his office and wants to meet with you.”
Bonwit entered Lazaro’s office and took a seat.
Lazaro glared at him. “Bonwit, darling! You’re late.”
“I walked this morning.”
“That’s terrible for the waistline! I’m removing you from the Texaco Account. Shirley complained this morning.”
“She said Hal’s tickets were late.”
“I had those tickets printed and sent before Shirley ordered them.”
Lazaro shrugged and smiled. “Maybe she has it in for you.”
Bonwit returned to his office and crossed to the picture window
behind his desk.
He studied the expanse of the Bay Bridge and the inviting waters