James handed me the phone. “Who is it?” I asked. I set my drink down. I was so focused on my writing that I had not even heard it ring.
“Sonny Mehta,” he said.
“The Sonny Mehta of Random House?” I cannot say that I actually knew Mr. Mehta. It was far more accurate to say that I knew of him. He was the most powerful publisher in the book business — why in the world was he calling me? I took the phone.
“Yes,” I said into the receiver. “This is he. . . I see, yes. Well, I am afraid that it is too late, of course. . . Yes, I do appreciate the offer, I will keep it in mind. Bye.” I handed the receiver back to James.
“And?” He took the phone from me.
“He wanted to publish the book,” I said. “As you heard, I told him no. I would prefer to make an honest living.” I picked up my drink, downed it and motioned for another.