The Broker and the Bum

Chapter 1:

The cherry red Lamborghini pulled up to the base of the high-rise in downtown New York City, engine roaring, and music on high. Several onlookers stopped to gawk, some to take pictures, but everyone took notice. Even a couple blonde bombshells stopped to snap a selfie.

Matt Herde slowly took his glasses off as he observed the casual cacophony that had formed around him. As one of the youngest and most successful hedge fund traders in Asset International’s history, he was used to people fawning over him. His client list was long, his numbers were fantastic, and he knew he wouldn’t have to search for work in years. Asset International did everything they could to keep him and to make him happy, including a corner office with a view that was second in size only to the one the CEO sat in.

He slipped the car into park, silencing the massive V-12 engine and stopping the party around him. The door slid vertical – only the coolest cars do that – and Matt buttoned the third button on his custom-tailored, hand stitched, $9,000 suit. This was a Wednesday; he usually wore his best suits on Friday.

“Hey buddy, nice car,” a random stranger called out to him.

“Thanks,” Matt said with a slight grin. He twirled the keys and put them in his pocket before gracing the curb with the presence of his alligator boots. He winked at the girls with the selfie. They giggled back, and he made a mental note to talk to them when he had more time, which was not often, but often enough that he had become quite the popular arrival at all the local clubs around town. People knew who Matt Herde was, and if they didn’t, they wanted to the instant he walked in.

Yes, life was good.

He glanced down the street at the local rabble. Beyond the pedestrians scurrying about lay a man with a sign out asking for help. He was covered in filth and grime, and his clothes were all a different variation of the color brown. His sign read, “DOWN ON MY LUCK. EVERY BIT HELPS.”

I bet every bit does help, ya lazy bum. Matt thought. If you really wanted money, get off the curb and go find a job. After all, I work hard for my money, nearly 70 hours a week at this point. Why does he get to sit around and ask for money?

Matt was a man’s man. The kind of person who was reliable, always ready to work long hours, cover a meeting, do a presentation – whatever his bosses and coworkers needed. As a result, he was pulling in a very hefty salary. Hefty even for New York City, as the stare of several passersby could attest to.

He knew the value of hard work, and because of the long hours spent working in his 20’s, he was now enjoying the rewards of his labor in his 30’s. He was at the top of all the party lists, had three houses in different states, and had a luxury condo downtown with a breathtaking view of the city.

Yes, life was good indeed.

Matt walked inside the huge double glass doors of Asset International’s seventy-eight story building. His shoes click-clacked across the tile floor as he strolled across the lobby, checking his Rolex to make sure he was on time.

7:30, he thought. Enough time to make some calls before Lucas comes in.

Lucas was a new broker with the firm. He had only been with the company for two years; previously he had been with a firm somewhere out west. He had made an impact in his that short time, however, nabbing high profile clients with several of the big corporations around town.

Matt hated him.

He hated him not because he was good at his job; Matt hated Lucas because he was everything Matt was not: humble, honest, benevolent, and most frustratingly, a family man. Lucas had married his middle-school sweetheart; not high-school mind you, his middle-school sweetheart. They were in love before either one of them got to really experience the awkward teenage years, and the fact that they stuck through it made Matt even angrier. No one should be that happy, or lucky, after all.

Oh, how he really hated him.

Matt had worked hard: put in the hours, sacrificed his weekends – sacrificed his life – and it was beyond frustrating to see someone walk in and have it all, literally.

Oh well, Matt thought, I’ve still got Michael on my side, at least. That’s what ten plus years of industry-leading service will do for you. Lucas doesn’t have THAT.

Michael Brent was the founder and CEO of Asset International, and at seventy-six years old, was looking to retire sooner rather than later. He had taken AI from a three person office in rural New Jersey to one of the largest firms in downtown New York City.

And with a net worth of just over five hundred million dollars, Michael didn’t really need the money anymore anyways. Like Matt, Michael also had multiple vacation homes, but his one in the Florida Keys was his favorite. He was set to retire there sometime within the next year.

Who would replace him? Or better yet, who should replace him?

Matt knew the answer. Me. No one else has performed better under pressure. I’ll take this company to five times its current valuation within ten years.

Matt smiled at the thought.

His office was on the forty-second floor of AI’s tower, which owned seventy-eight in all. Not all were associated with AI, but all of them paid a king’s ransom to put their office in such glorious real estate. Michael Brent had indeed built quite a monument to himself.

“Good morning, Matt.”

Matt turned to look at his secretary, Mary. She had been with him for several years, and while she was loyal to Matt, he had always considered her grossly incompetent, losing messages constantly and running late. She claims it’s because of her three young kids and new-found role as a single mother, but Matt didn’t really believe her. Quietly, he had already been searching for her replacement.

“Good morning, Mary,” he replied. “Is the coffee on?”

“Yes sir, and I’ve got the six scoops as you wanted instead of the regular four. It’s been brewing for the last 20 minutes.”

“Fantastic.” Maybe she wasn’t all that bad after all.

Maybe she wasn’t all that bad after all.

He sat behind his oak desk and began to go through the day’s client list. He had targeted some of the bigger corporations in the city, as well as some major clients in other states as well. He would make a few phone calls, throw in a few impressive words, and most likely have made another hefty commission by lunch.

But first, coffee.

He wheeled around in his chair and sat looking out through the glass. He took in the landscape ahead of him, feeling much the same way that King Kong must have as he walked to the edge of his cave and scanned the horizon. This is my city, he thought. I own it, and everything inside of it.

Looking down, he noticed the street-dweller from before, still sitting and holding his sign. Matt didn’t know how much money he had made so far that morning, but he was certain that it wasn’t as much as he would have made if he simply got up off the curb and got a job.

Freeloader, Matt thought.

What a Bum.

…Read the rest of “the Broker and the Bum” Here!