“Help me to the window,” said the old man to his aide. “I want to show you something.”
The old man put his face to the window, like a kid looking into a candy store.
“You see those two buildings on Fifth Avenue. I own them. I own forty-seven properties in Manhattan, twenty properties in Brooklyn, and twelve properties in Queens. I practically own the city.”
“Your legacy is clear, sir. We will remember you as one of the greatest men the city has ever produced.”
The old man laughed.
“What do you know about Boss Tweed?”
“He ran the city in the late nineteenth century. Today, he is nothing more than an obscure answer on Jeopardy. No one will remember me.”
The crowd below had gathered in strength. This morning, even the scared New York Times had weakly endorsed the rabble-rousers of the Occupy Real Estate Movement. The angry mob marched down Fifth Avenue with their signs and banners and angry voices calling for an end to all private property. Ground Zero was the old man’s apartment tower, the third largest building in the city, where apartments started at $20 million dollars. Last week, the old man’s organization installed bulletproof windows in his penthouse, in case one of the armed protesters hijacked a helicopter.
“Where are you from?” the old man asked his aide. “For all the time you’ve been here, I’ve never asked you about your family.”
“I’m from Staten Island, sir.”
“I was born in the Bronx. Morris Avenue. It was a nice place back then. We used to play stickball in the street. I kissed my first girl on Morris Avenue. Mary Lapazza was her name. Of course, everyone I know from that time is dead by now. Including Mary Lapazza. “I’m going to make it big for you, Mary,” I once told her after she decided to go to the prom at Andrew Jackson High School prom with Arnie Weinstein instead of me. “I’m going to make it big, and then you’ll come calling on me!””
The old man jerked unsteady on his cane.
“Would you like to sit down, sir?” asked the aide.
“No. I’d like you to go buy whatever property is now on 145 Morris Street in the Bronx. I don’t care how much it costs. I want you to buy it today. And then when you buy it for me, I want you to drive me over there, because for the rest of my life, that is where I am going to live. And die.”