SinnerBy: Sierra Simone
With the right pen, a man can rule the world.
You wine them, dine them, flash them smiles, slip them gifts, massage them with compliments and praise and give them the old hey-buddy-buddy. You play golf or see the ballet or compare four-thousand-dollar suits and ten-thousand-dollar watches, and then you casually apply the leverage, the bladed facts against the soft underbellies, and handshake by handshake, you build yourself something new and shimmering and golden.
And when they’re at the precipice, the point of no return, when they are looking behind them and see their last chance to back out—that’s when you hand them the pen.
And they take it into their hands and it’s solid and weighty and cool to the touch, and they uncap it to see the engraved gold nib ready to drip with the promise of money and power. And when they press the pen to the paper and the ink flows so crisp and dark, like some kind of inky, terrible blood, that’s when it’s done.
That’s when you rule the world.
I’m not a good man, and I’ve never pretended to be. I don’t believe in goodness or God or any happy ending that isn’t paid for in advance.
What do I believe in? Money. Sex. Macallan 18.
They have words for men like me—playboy. Womanizer. Skirt chaser.
My brother used to be a priest, and he only has one word for me.
Armani tuxedo, Berluti shoes, Burberry watch.
Blue eyes, blond hair, a mouth a little too wickedly wide.
Yeah, I know I look good as I step out of my Audi R8 and walk into the hospital benefit.
I know it, the valet taking my keys knows it, the girl working the complimentary bar knows it. I give her the classic Bell dimple as I take a scotch from her, and she blushes. And then I turn and face the crowd of milling wealth, sipping my Macallan and thinking about where to start first.
Because tonight is my fucking victory lap.
First of all, I inked the Keegan deal this afternoon—which is this sexy stack of papers transferring a deserted downtown block of nothing to a New York developer—and my God, you would not believe the money these people have. It’s not normal money. It’s like oil money. It’s not only making my firm a shit-ton, but it’s going to anchor my position at Valdman and Associates, just in time for Valdman to retire and need someone to sit in that coveted corner office and count all the gold coins.
Second of all, I inked the deal, not Charles Northcutt—fuck that guy—and I would like to rub it in his stupid face tonight. I know he’ll be here because he can’t resist free drinks and bored trophy wives.
And third of all, I’ve been clocking a lot of late nights on the Keegan thing, which has severely cut into my sex life, and I’m hard up for it. I’ve got a few regulars saved to my phone and there’s always the exclusive club I’m a member of, but tonight’s my victory lap. That deserves something special. Something new.
I take another look around the room—Valdman’s in the corner with his wife, laughing and red-faced even though the benefit’s only just started, and Northcutt is right at his elbow, of course.
But tonight is mine, and there are gorgeous women everywhere, and maybe I’m just another white guy with too much money in a sea of white guys with too much money, but I’ve got the advantage. I’m a sinner with a dimpled smile and perfect hair, and I know how to make sin feel like heaven.
I swallow my scotch, set the glass down, and head off into the fray.
An hour later, I feel a nudge at my elbow.
“Dad’s here. Just so you know.”
I turn to see a man my age offering me another drink and giving me a convenient excuse to lean away from my current conversation and examine the room.
Sure enough, Elijah Iverson’s father is across the room, surrounded by the usual cluster of hospital mega-donors and society leeches. Dr. Iverson is the physician-in-chief of the hospital’s cancer center and an ever-present figure at these kinds of events, so I shouldn’t be surprised he’s here, but my skin tightens uncomfortably all the same, sending prickles of heat down the back of my neck. I close my eyes, and for a minute, I hear the clatter of casserole dishes and my father’s raised voice. Elijah’s mother murmuring pleadingly. And I can still smell all of those flowers, white and cloying and needy, funeral flowers for a funeral that shouldn’t have been needed.
I open my eyes to Elijah’s knowing, rueful smile. He was there that day too, the day our families went from beyond close to something else. Something cold and distant. Elijah and I had stayed close—we’d bonded over Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in kindergarten, and a TMNT bond is a bond for life—but the rest of our families peeled apart, as if there hadn’t been two decades of shared barbecues and Pictionary nights and babysitting and slumber parties and late-night card games filled with wine for the adults and as many snacks as could be quietly snuck up the stairs for the kids.