by Felice Picano
Both women had stepped away from the table. Lizabeth, his agent, to the restroom, Andrea Kelton, the editor who'd just said the words to make him float on air while seated still on the big moderne banquette, had received a phone call from her office, and had wandered off somewhere at the far end of the restaurant trying to get better wireless reception. Leaving Niels LLewellyn alone to sit and gloat. Around him: the delicate tinkle of crystal and silver against porcelain in the overpriced eatery, and it's otherwise artful sonic decor of swirling waters covering the multi-million-dollar deals being proposed and sealed by the industrial and media movers and shakers about the big, posh, water-hushed room.
It was something to savor, as had been Kelton's words, "this is unquestionably your breakthrough book. We're so proud to be involved!" Followed rapidly by further indications of how proud they actually were, including the stunning figures of the enormous first printing the company had settled upon, the pre-publication acceptance as a "main selection" by the book club, with its own concomitant huge printing, and even -- he was to expect it as soon as this week -- an unprecedented further advance upon his advance of a year past, actual cash more than double what he'd received, as though confirming the success of a novel not yet in print, never mind one liable to ever succumb to the vagaries of the marketplace.
Lizabeth returned first, and confirmed the second advance and pre-sale, and huge printing all meant there were to be no vagaries of the marketplace at all now. They -- she and he, together for twenty-six long years, through wheat and chaff -- had been elevated, as though on an enormous dose of morphine, a good half foot so far above the buy-and-sell mentality that had so enclosed them all of their professional and personal relationship. Niels was now about to become a "personage," and she too, at least in the "industry" a correlative mini-personage. They toasted each other's good sense and tenacity and lifted a glass edge toward whatever literary gods there still might be in this ghastly age, to help them ever onward.
Then Kelton was back, closing the phone and saying, "The advertisements are set now for a national vend. Six major newspapers and three magazines," and Niels sank back into the banquette and listened almost as though he were not the major reason, but instead some hanger on, or better yet and ironically, given his age, a child, as the glories of his immediate future were trotted out in all the brightest colors with metaphorical pennants excitedly set to fly in front of him.