I should have known better than to rip the Confident Man’s copy of the bestseller Blade by Blade out of his hands, fling open the door to Morningside Coffee, and whip the book halfway down Broadway. But I had just broken up with my girlfriend, I hadn’t slept since, and that autumn something about that book seemed to always set me off. It felt as though I was seeing Blade by Blade everywhere—half the suckers who sat next to me on the bus were reading that so-called memoir. § I probably should have kept walking when the Confident Man caught up to me on Broadway and offered to buy me a beer. But throwing his book had just gotten me fired from the café, and so I didn’t have any better offers. Besides, I really did need a drink.
The other café workers and I had been calling him the Confident Man because he always dressed so nattily and tipped so well. But as I sat across from him in the 106 Bar on Amsterdam Avenue drinking the Guinness he had bought me, he told me his name was Jed Roth. My theory had been that he was either an actor or a gambler, but as it turned out, he was an editor. For a moment I thought that Roth might be offering to publish some of my work, but though he remembered having read it, and said he had admired it, he told me he didn’t work for Merrill anymore, wasn’t working as an editor anywhere now.
About the Author
Adam Langer is the author of four novels, including Crossing California, and the memoir My Father’s Bonus March. His story “Golnick’s Fortune” appeared in our May 2009 issue. This story is excerpted from his new novel, The Thieves of Manhattan (Spiegel and Grau).