“What was that?” I asked.
“You mean about the counteroffer?”
“No,” I said, “before that, about keeping the client.”
We were driving north on 71st Street, and I remember it as vividly as when Kennedy was shot or when the second tower of the World Trade Center crumbled. It was August, the monsoon season, when the dry heat turns wet. There was lightning, but only a hint of rain. You could smell it. It was past ten o’clock, and this was our second trip to the Smiths’ house. We had just left the Browns, and things were not going well.
We had negotiated only a dozen or so deals. We were just getting started, and we were so green. If there was a mistake to be made or a screwup lurking in a corner, we seemed determined to find it. We were intense. We were broke. Well, less than broke. We owed a lot. We even owed my dad, which was sort of the barometer of “brokedom.” When we owed Dad, we were there.
I was 50 years old. We hadn’t always been broke. We’d had some successes and some failures, some ups and downs. When we started in real estate, we were ending a long hiatus, which some would call a period of not working and spending what we had until there wasn’t anything left. Actually, we had spent the past couple of years scouting for books. Every Friday morning we would get up at 4:00 AM to scour the newspaper’s classifieds and route our morning. We went to as many yard sales as we could until the sun and heat chased everyone inside. We spent the afternoons ...