cocais

6

Roy nods. He curses himself for being too self-absorbed lately to have guessed the real reason for the meeting. Gus is old school, he’s always crapping on in his endless memos about how Honesty and Personal Integrity and Reputation are the most important qualities for a sports agent. Roy tries to look appropriately sombre.

Gus: Roy. As you must have heard me say ad nauseum, an agent has to be somebody a player can trust.

Veronica: It’s true. He does say it all the time.

Gus: Another thing people get sick of me saying is that there’s nothing more important than a good reputation.

Roy continues to nod. He’s beginning to feel like one of those bobblehead car ornaments. 

Gus: If an agent is known more for his love life than his ability to broker winning deals, then we have a problem.

Roy looks between Gus and Veronica. He can almost see something twitching in the corner of Veronica’s mouth, like she is struggling to suppress a smile. He blinks and it’s gone. He feels like he’s arrived late to a movie theatre and is stumbling about in the dark, unable to find his seat.

Roy: I don’t quite follow. I thought this was going to be about my cocai- I mean, my accidental valium overdose.

Gus: You’re not focusing on the bigger issue here, Roy.

Roy: The bigger issue?

The movie is in a foreign language. And there’s no subtitles. He looks at Gus helplessly.

Gus: Your marriage break-up.

Roy: We’re not…we’re separated, that’s all. We’re talking. I’m optimistic. I spent several hours at the house yesterday, as a matter of fact-

Gus: I originally called this meeting to discuss why I think it’s so important for agents be married. And to get some feedback from you about the state of your own marriage. Then as fate would have it I received a phone call last night that just served to add further weight to my convictions. The call was from Blair Valentine, the wife of Josh Valentine, the basketballer.

Roy can see the roof of Sonia’s parents’ brownstone from here. It’s a wonder Gus hasn’t mentioned Sonia’s father yet, the famous sports journalist Frank de Prima. It’s always been a point of pride for Gus, the fact that one of his top agents is married to Frank’s daughter.

Gus: To cut a long story short, Mrs Valentine was browsing her husband’s text messages when she happened upon a text sent by yourself that appeared to be an invitation for him to attend some type of orgy.

Roy: Wait. Hold up a minute. She was browsing her husband’s text messages? What kind of a person-

Gus: So you don’t deny it.  

There it is again, something briefly puckering the silken mask that is Veronica’s face.

Roy: I sent it to Josh by mistake instead of my friend, Joël. See how similar their names are? And it wasn’t an invitation. And it wasn’t an orgy, for Christ’s sake. It was just a um, get-together. For some old friends.

Gus doesn’t want to hear it. Single agents are liabilities, loose cannons who can’t keep their pants zipped or their names out of the news headlines. Married agents work harder and for longer hours, and if they have children are even more productive; there is pressure to send their kids to private schools, to take their families on exotic holidays, and to maintain expensive cars and lifestyles. They feel responsible for providing for their families, have more self-control, and will also secure more clients. It’s a scientifically proven fact. Veronica has all the data on her iPad.

Gus: I don’t want to lose you, Roy. You’re one of my top men. But my priority must always be our clients. I hope you understand.

Roy understands. If Roy wants to save his job, he will do whatever it takes to save his marriage. It’s that simple.

So, so simple.