In the mood of euphoria that was everywhere after the war it was still necessary to find a place for oneself. He applied at the Times but there was nothing, and it was the same at the other papers. Fortunately he had a contact, a classmate’s father who was in public relations and who had virtually invented the business. He could arrange anything in newspapers and magazines—for ten thousand dollars, it was said, he could put someone on the cover of Time. He could pick up the phone and call anyone, the secretaries immediately put him through.
Bowman was to go and see him at his house, in the morning. He always ate breakfast at nine.
“Will he expect me?”
“Yes, yes. He knows you’re coming.”
Having hardly slept the night before, Bowman stood on the street in front of the house at eight-thirty. It was a mild autumn morning. The house was in the Sixties, just off Central Park West. It was broad and imposing, with tall windows and the facade almost completely covered with a deep gown of ivy. At a quarter to nine he rang at the door, which was glass with heavy iron grillwork.
He was shown into a sun-filled room on the garden. Along one wall was a long, English-style buffet with two silver trays, a crystal pitcher of orange juice, and a large silver coffee pot covered with a cloth, also butter, rolls, and jam. The butler asked how he would like his eggs. Bowman declined the eggs. He had a cup of coffee and nervously waited. He knew what Mr. Kindrigen would look like, a well-tailored man with a somewhat sinewy face and gray hair.
It was silent. There were occasional soft voices in the kitchen. He drank the coffee and went to get another cup. The garden windows were vanishing in the light.
At nine-fifteen, Kindrigen came into the room. Bowman said good morning. Kindrigen did not reply or even appear to notice him. He was in shirtsleeves, an expensive shirt with wide French cuffs. The butler brought coffee and a plate with some toast. Kindrigen stirred the coffee, opened the newspaper, and began reading it, sitting sideways to the table. Bowman had seen villains in Westerns sit this way. He said nothing and waited. Finally Kindrigen said,
“You are . . . ?”
“Philip Bowman,” Bowman said. “Kevin may have mentioned me . . .”
“Are you a friend of Kevin’s?”
“Yes. From school.”
Kindrigen still had not looked up.
“You’re from . . . ?”
“New Jersey, I live in Summit.”
“What is it you want?” Kindrigen said.
“I’d like to work for the New York Times,” Bowman said, matching the directness.
Kindrigen glanced at him for a brief moment.
“Go home,” he said.
Extracted from All That Is by James Salter, published by Picador, R225. The book is one of AERODROME’s WinterReads.
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