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  • The Manhattan Lunch: Two Versions
  • Peter LaSalle (bio)

I. Magazine Girls

For about a month after Hennessey was outright fired by the brokerage house, waiting to get what was sure to be the indictment from the federal court, he simply didn’t go out much at all.

Most of the time Hennessey stayed in his spacious apartment on West Fifty-Fifth, and he made sandwiches for nearly all his meals, occasionally heading to one of the many reasonably priced restaurants on Ninth Avenue in the evening. On Ninth Avenue he would first walk some. He would maybe go to a place called El Deportivo that was Puerto Rican, nothing fancy, where along with the stewed guisada they gave you a choice of white or yellow rice and black or red beans (he always went for the yellow and black combination); or there was the Galaxy Café, where never taking one of the booths or the tables in back, Hennessey would sit at the diner-style counter more or less staring at the framed photographs of supposed entertainment celebrities there on the wall above the shelves of pies and cakes under glass (he wondered if anybody else his age, thirty-five, even remembered anymore shaved-headed Telly Savalas, shown with his name scrawled prominently in one corner of the studio-lit shot). But when Hennessey found himself paying at the Galaxy’s cash register one evening and being told that because he had arrived before six he qualified for what they advertised with a window placard as the “Early Birdies’ Special,” he became self-conscious—after that, despite the decent meals there, he started avoiding the Galaxy altogether, if truth be known. Of course, he avoided news on the Internet and especially in the newspapers. The Wall Street Journal’s extensive coverage of the supposed financial scandal was painful to face, and much worse would be to pick up the floppy tabloid slab of the Post and possibly see (this happened once) his own name prominently mentioned in yet another piece concerning the “outrageous swindle” and it being a good example of the current “rampant greed,” or that’s what it was as far as the noisy Post was concerned. [End Page 65]

He had played hockey in prep school (his father, a state-office clerical worker in Massachusetts, moonlighted weekends as a salesman in the appliance department of Sears to help pay the bills to send him to ritzy Milton Academy; his kind mother, so concerned that Hennessey do well in everything in life, always encouraged him even when his grades weren’t all that good), true, he had played school hockey, though Hennessey certainly hadn’t been of the caliber to play college-level, at Division III Bowdoin or anywhere else. Still, he liked hockey, and it got so that his evenings took on a pattern of watching all the televised Rangers games that winter, with the home ones broadcast from the Garden less than a couple of dozen blocks away. On some evenings he watched the pregame show and thought he might take a cab or even walk at a good clip down to the Garden to buy a twenty-five-buck ticket from one of the guys in hooded sweat shirts perpetually pedaling them outside; there was always an available seat, scalpers’ surplus, when it was somebody of little consequence like the Phoenix or Vancouver team in town, but he never quite mustered the resolve for that.

He slept a lot, screened calls to make sure that it wouldn’t be somebody from his family or whatever who might be offering more advice or condolences, neither of which Hennessey really needed. But one night at about nine he looked at the caller ID to see that it was Tom Bettencourt, an old pal from Bowdoin. Tom was somebody Hennessey had spent a lot of time with when they’d both first found themselves in New York after graduation, before Tom’s marriage and his kids, and Hennessey did answer the ring, glad to hear Tom’s sort of dry but laughing voice again. Automatically, Hennessey went through his side of the story on what had happened, though...


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pp. 65-77
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