Change of viewpoint. A black phone purrs in a south-east corner office, high inside the GE Building. An arm in a white shirt lifts the receiver, and a man’s voice speaks with quiet authority: “Yes?… A visitor? We’ve scheduled no one… Jaymi who?… Jaymi Peek… You ‘think I should see him’? Why would you think so?… OK, OK, I’ll play along! Make him wait a few, then send him in.”
Yes, you’re puzzled, Marc, but you’ve decided it must be a close family member who’s persuaded your receptionist to act mysteriously. All right, you’re happy to have a quick break. Your arm puts the phone back and joins its companion arm, folded on a lap facing out through the glassy night, four miles south through a crisp electric sky to the red lights winking on the towers downtown.
To most individuals, that silent red winking might look hesitant, softened and delayed by the distance, you reflect. To you, though, its nature is clear. It’s the pulse of the power structure, hunched like a spider at the centre of its web, here in New York City—omnipotent, relentless, unassailable. And who knows that web and works that power structure as you do? Only a handful of other tycoons, hidden like you behind the noise of politicians and the flicker of the media, in office suites in New York, Washington, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong… And the lights wink on, and off, and on, and off, above the restless night.
Brick by brick, shaft by shaft and pane by pane you built the tower of your empire: gradual, ineluctable and ruthlessly careful. And now, with its glinting keys a-twirl on your finger, you stand behind its highest pane and watch with a long-matured pleasure, as the masts on its roof fling away around the globe a world of signals that you authorise. How many d’you recall of the million bits of paper you have scanned like lightning in the course of your career, or the myriad phone-calls and meetings? Six days a week for three decades you have woken in Westchester at five beside your sleeping wife, exercised, showered, donned a faultless business suit and tie, eaten, processed paperwork inside your morning limo to Manhattan, worked demonically till night, been driven home, spent some time with your wife and gone to sleep, planning next day’s schedule. (You brought, to your very first date with her, a résumé—remember?) You’ve lashed and slashed and slave-driven everyone at work, most of all yourself, for years and years without relent, to remain in the international corporate stratosphere. A hundred and twenty offices, in ten countries now. How addictive it has been! And how you’ve loved it, or could never have sustained such an effort.
No, you weren’t too hard for me to pinpoint from the street downtown—a very big fish, on which to test my fishing line.
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