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The African Gentleman

…and The Plot to Re-establish The New World Order

A Novel by Fred Beauford

Chapters 32-33


"Oh, stop it Eric," Gladys answered playfully. "If I partied the way you do I would never get anything done."

“Which would be my bad luck, wouldn’t it,” he answered with a sly twinkle in his light brown eyes.

She turned to me.

“This is Eric, my esteemed editor and publisher.” She turned back to him, “And this is my friend Jamison Omak.”

I held out my hand to meet his. “So, you are Eric, Gladys’ powerful muse, the one who inspires all of that creative juice,” I found myself saying to him in a friendly fashion, genuflecting, caught up in his web of charm.

“Ah yes, Jamison, the muse. The infamous muse,” he quickly answered, convincingly turning inward. “That ruthless bitch Goddess that promises everything, but gives little, and is never satisfied. Well, my new friend, you have the wrong man. I pay Gladys way too much money and attention to be a true muse.

“A real muse would ignore her pathetic pleads for an audience and put her calls on hold, would never call her back and would bitch slap her every now and then; and, on occasion, in an unexpected gesture of kindness, would hold out his hand and give her the great honor of kissing his ring.

“I adore her too much to be that way, and I bend myself to her wishes, hardly a role any self-respecting muse would play. Know what she said the first time we met?”

“No, I answered, “I can’t say that I do. Although it must be interesting, or you wouldn’t be so eager to tell me.”

It seems that I threw him somewhat off his game with that line. It’s a good thing I’m a trained actor. I live for moments like this.

Eric looked first at me and then at Gladys. “Your friend is pretty quick on his feet. I like that.”

Gladys giggled like a young schoolgirl at his remarks, and her blue eyes were suddenly bright and wide.

I knew that he was her major financial lifeline, as Assai had been mine; and to some degree, still was. I could see that she also adored Eric for more than the food he helped put on her table.

“But tell me the story of your first meeting,” I pleaded, genuinely curious as to how these two Americans grew to have such obvious affection toward one another.

“It was simple, Jamison,” Eric answered, regaining complete control, “I met Gladys in a bar near here. I immediately noticed that short red hair from the moment she walked in with a friend. They sat next to me. I remembered that old saying: ‘the only thing that you know about a woman you pick up in bar is that she loves to drink.’”

“But I didn’t care. Gladys was just too compelling. I ignored her friend, and indeed tried to pick her up. Although I often call myself bi, I have never been able to resist women like her. I used my best line. I told her that just from listening to her for the short time I had, that I wanted her to be a major part, a partner in fact, in my quest.”

“Your quest?” she answered.

“Yes. I said to her, ‘My quest is to take over The City.’”

“Her highly intelligent blue eyes all at once lit up, and she quickly answered, ‘Let’s do it!’”

“We never slept together, but so what.”


There was something I really liked about this guy. He was both effete and manly. A manly dandy, if you will. I wanted to get to know him better.

“Are you a writer?” he asked.

I thought I heard genuine curiosity in his voice, and I felt a small tinge of happiness that he was finally showing some real interest in me.

Gladys answered before I had the chance. “Oh no, he’s an editor.”

“Really?” Eric said. "A good editor is a hard thing to find these days. People’s brains have still not fully recovered from that electronic bs. We still have to put a complete end to it, don’t we? Give me a few good editors, and a few good art directors and I could rule the world.”

“Don’t you think that you could also use a few good writers?” Gladys injected.

“Ok Gladys, if you insist, a few good writers like you, as well. Then I could rule the world. How’s that?”

He turned to me in utter, believable exasperation. “See how quickly I give in to her? Now, does that sound like a damn muse to you?”

I laughed a loud, booming, deep bass, stage actor’s laugh, almost losing control of my body, obviously impressed at his wit and quick verbal skills; but I also heard his editorial. Like that white haired man in the bar in The Village, he had taken a stand.

I wanted to turn the conversation back to me. “I don’t do the kind of editing that you do. I am the editor of”

“Really? I heard of those guys. Didn’t I just see somewhere that they sent the founder back to his homeland? That he was the mastermind of people trying to stop the plot to reestablish the new world order?”

The editor in me could easily see The Plot to Re-establish the New World Order in caps, and maybe italics.

“This is his homeland.” I answered. “They just sent him away. And there is no way he could be a terrorist.”

I felt a bit of an edge coming into my voice as I thought of my friend Assai. I knew he liked me, and we liked each other, because we were both the outsiders. I had to pretend I was a snotty African American, some of whom ancestors never spent a day picking cotton.

Now they were the snobs, and avoided people like me, because they claimed to have saved this place from itself.

Who knew what Assai had to face just to prove he belonged. Of course he belonged, and I wanted to do something to help him, and return him to his real “homeland. But at this point, I had no idea as to what I could do.

“You know,” Eric said to me, giving me a quick, appraising look, “I had to let someone go and I need a good editor. Ever thought about working on books?”

“Yes, that’s a great idea!” Gladys said with excitement to Eric. “He reads all of my stuff and offers great suggestions.”

It’s true that I had read all of her “stuff,” but it is not true that I offered her many suggestions. I did once at her usurping Liz Gant. I told her that since it was clear that she was going to use her, that at least I should have some say about what she was really about.

“This is my story. I will work it out without your advice, thank you,” she replied coolly, and that was the end of that conversation.

After that, I kept my lips zipped, only offering words of encouragement of her work with: “Interesting.” “Great idea.” “Reads well.” “Hard to put down.”

That kind of stuff.


It didn’t take long for me to make a quick calculation in my mind. I was the son of immigrants who considered themselves lucky to get in just as the doors started closing again. I was raised with a highly practical way of looking at the world, and I could still hear my dead parents quietly whispering advice to me, telling me that I was a prince of a fellow, but to be careful.

What I knew of the book world, even with well-heeled novelists achieving celebrity status these days, a stature Gladys aspired to, was that it was still on shaky ground, although it had made a remarkable comeback.

I was tired, however, of their constant bragging about how our electronic days were over after so much of our world was fried. But they couldn’t kill the entire thing, just as the original designers envisioned. We are still here; and what people like Eric pay is peanuts, chump change, as that old expression goes, compared to what I was now making.

His revolution may one day overtake people like me, but not exactly at this point in the game. He was still playing catch-up.


“Thank you for asking, but right now I am happy where I am,” I answered.

Eric just shrugged his shoulders and turned to Gladys and flashed her a bright smile.

      “And my book, dear?”


I later asked Gladys what I should think of Eric and what was he all about.
“I think that he thinks that he is smarter then anyone else, that much I know, but I guess that in his position he has to be that way,” she answered.

Now that was an interesting answer. “How’s that?” I asked.

“Well, think about it. Suppose the people you worked with, and are supposed to provide leadership and inspiration to, met you for an early lunch and informed you that they had just finished part three of their bestselling historical fiction trilogy on the history of the Papacy. And it’s not even noon.

“He told me once that an ex-girlfriend of his, a Russian woman, said he reminded her of an old Russian count who would often come to family dinners. No one knew where his money came from, or if in fact he had any. But who cared if he had money or not, he was such an amusing, bright and charming person. He was splendid company.”

I was suddenly beside myself. “A damn Russian count!” I blurted out with contempt, against my will, all of my prejudices and resentments surfacing. “No wonder African Americans are such elite snobs. I hate to typecast people, but you know what I mean Gladys. Jeezes, now it’s Count Eric. There are so few of them left in The City that you would think they would be more humble.”

Gladys smiled at me with a sexual, fellow conspirator look.” That’s why I love you, handsome. You aren’t one of them. Just keep purring to me at night in that great voice, and who needs them.”

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