The glass express elevator in the Corry Building descends from the 65th floor at what feels like terminal velocity. I close my eyes and try to breathe slowly.
Ordinarily we’d be returning from a fortnight’s skiing at Lake Louise up in the Canadian Rockies at this time of year. But with Emma pregnant and advised not to fly, five days of aromatherapy and macrobiotic cuisine in the Cotswolds seemed more appropriate. Followed by a few days at home preparing the twins’ nursery. Whisper it quietly but I was quite glad to escape to New York on “urgent” business.
At around the 20th floor my shirtfront feels wet. I open my eyes and look down. My white shirt is blood-soaked. For a moment I think I’m dying. Juliette, my bag carrier, gazing down into the fast-approaching atrium, suddenly notices my distress and gallantly offers me a linen handkerchief.
“It’s alright David. It’s just a nosebleed. Perhaps it’s all the coffee. Raises the blood pressure.”
“Really? Did you know that, among its health benefits, coffee is a diuretic and reduces the risk of gallstone disease?” I splutter, as belligerently as I am able.
“It can also reduce the risk of Parkinson’s” I continue, refusing to take medical advice from a graduate trainee. I immediately regret the strategy. Juliette must now think I can’t handle pressure, may have a progressive and incurable neurological condition, am virtually incontinent and battling with gallstones.
The lift decelerates and reaches the ground floor. I stagger out, blood-soaked, angry and sweating profusely, refusing Juliette’s offer of support. Security guards rush towards me, reaching for weapons. I slump to the cool marble floor…
A few minutes later, Juliette has explained the situation and I’ve returned from the rest room, cleaned up and wearing an ill-fitting security guard’s spare white shirt. I knot my tie and pull my jacket tightly closed.
“Thank you gentlemen.” Juliette and I turn and walk towards the exit. I hear the security guards chuckle behind us.
We come out of the Corry Building on Broadway, opposite Trinity Church and just around the corner from the NYSE. It’s raining. New Yorkers fly towards us, umbrellas with spokes protruding, claiming exclusive airspace rights and attacking us like chariots armed with scythes. I try to dodge them.
And then I stop. Stand still. Maybe it’s time to stop drinking coffee. Well, at least to drink less. The umbrellas slide harmlessly past me.
Juliette stands on the kerb, endeavouring to hail a cab. My phone rings. I take it from my jacket pocket. It’s blood-stained.
“Mr. Cashman? It’s Angela Valentine. The chairman’s executive assistant. I’ve Sir Roderick for you.”
“Oh.” “David? Roderick. Sandy’s just quit. Damn him. Need you back here PDQ. Calm the troops. Get the first flight. See you in the morning.”
Come on Juliette, let’s walk. It’s only four blocks.”
City Dad will be continued on May 17. See past City Dad columns at www.cityam.com