Seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars—minus the ten percent commission, that left him six hundred and seventy-five thousand, spread over ten years. Coming out of his agent’s building onto Madison Avenue, he almost smiled at this slight resentment he felt at having to pay Billy the seventy-five thousand. A gaunt, good-looking woman smiled back at him as she passed; he did not turn, fearing she would stop and begin the conversation that by now was unbearable for him. “I only wanted to tell you that it’s really the wisest and funniest play I think I’ve ever . . .” He kept close to the storefronts as he walked, resolving once again to develop some gracious set of replies to these people, who after all—at least some of them—were sincere. But he knew he would always stand there like an oaf, for some reason ashamed and yet happy.

A rope of pearls lay on black velvet in the window of a jewelry store; he paused. My God, he thought, I could buy that! I could buy the whole window maybe. Even the store! The pearls were suddenly worthless. In the glass he saw his hound’s eyes, his round, sad face and narrow beard, his sloping shoulders and wrinkled corduroy lapels; for the King of Broadway, he thought, you still look like a failure. He moved on a few steps, and a hand grasped his forearm with annoying proprietary strength and turned him to an immense chest, a yachtsman’s sunburned face with a chic, narrow-brimmed hat on top.

“You wouldn’t be Meyer Berkowitz?”

“No. I look like him, though.”

People on couch
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