The Yet-To-Be Finished Memoir Of Wilbur P. Falcone: Part II

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The light streaming into the hotel room blinded Wilbur. Or at least she thought it was a hotel room. She didn't actually know where she was, or what time it was, or who the guy passed out next to her was. The only thing she knew for sure was that she had a pounding headache and that there was something sticking to the back of her knee. She reached down and peeled it off-- a greasy crumpled up wrapper that judging by the smell once held a Taco Bell Gordita. Not that she could remember eating one, let alone doing so laying in bed next to a guy with a barbed wired tattoo inked around his arm, and then writing "If found call 555-9768 and ask for Phil" down his back with a tube of lipstick, though it was clearly her handwriting, her color, and her artistic sensibility in the stick figure drawings next to the note.

The phone on the nightstand lit up. Wilbur let it ring through. It lit up again. Who could possibly calling? Who knew she or man-of-unknown-origin were here? It lit up again. On the third ring she picked up.

"Hello?"

"Good afternoon!" a too chipper voice said on the other line. "This is your wake-up call."

"I asked for a wake-up call?" From the looks of things she knew she certainly needed a wake up call, but not the kind that phoned you from the front desk, the kind that said splashed cold water on your face and said, "Wake up and take stock of your life lady you are in a hotel room with a guy with a barbed wire tattoo laying in a bed surrounded, literally, by trash, from Taco Bell. You don't know what city or state you're in and while you're mercifully fully clothed and don't have to contemplate what the spawn of this night of wrongs might look like, it appears somewhere in your travels you acquired a Credence Clearwater shirt that you turned into a crop top."

"Why yes ma'am you did."

"What time is it?"

"12:37PM on the dot, the exact time you asked us to call."

"Do you know why I asked for that time?"

"I wasn't working when you checked in ma'am but let me check the notes. Let me see, it says here you told Bobby 'Must be up by 12:37, no earlier, not later, have business to tend to. Do not fuck me on this Bobert. Are you writing this down Bobert? Make sure you're writing this down.'"

"Jesus fucking Christ," Wilbur muttered under her breath.

"Sorry ma'm I didn't catch that."

"Nothing. Thanks."

*************************************************************

24 hours earlier

Wilbur tapped her foot impatiently on the plush carpet of the Bergdorf's Private Shopping salon.

"Honey, I'm not getting any younger out here," she shouted in the direction of the dressing room. "Are you trying on the entire fall line in there? Let's hop to it!"

A tanned assistant shopper whose pants looked liked they'd been painted on his body giggled in the corner.

"Hey Guatemala, what are you laughing at," Wilbur asked. "It wouldn't hurt you to hop too it too," she said, tapping the rim of her empty champagne flute.

The shopper scurried over to replenish Wilbur's glass with the bubbly cooling in the ice bucket next to her. "Thanks, Guadeloupe," she said. "Owe ya one."

Kathleen emerged from the dressing room. While her latest juice cleanse had done wonders for her figure, the tartan double-breasted power suit did not.

"Well," Kathleen asked cautiously. "What do you think?"

Wilbur turned to the shopper, widened her eyes and mouthed "Wow."

"I think it's nice-" Kathleen started.

"Honey, no," Wilbur said.

"But I--"

"Honey what do you bring me here for? Do you bring me here to tell you that you look good in a frumpie twinset? Because I thought you brought me here for my honesty and sense of fashion. But maybe you brought me here to tell you look good in a frumpie twinset, and I didn't get the memo."

Kathleen turned and went back behind the curtain. She came back out in a Michael Kors chartreuse silk shift dress with a boat neckline and a loose silhouette.

"Honey, what is this?" Wilbur asked, gesturing toward the piece of offending clothing. "What's going on here?"

"But this is--"

"Ah, ah, ah."

"But it's--"

"Bah, ah, ah, ah."

Kathleen went back behind the curtain.

"I tell ya, Guacamole. Sometimes it's just not even worth it."

***********************************************************************

22 hours earlier

Wilbur finished her flight of martinis and willed the waitress at Swifty's to pick up the pace with her card. If it weren't for the grilled branzino and the stiff ones she would've started avoiding this place entirely years back, when it became overrun with the wives of junior investment bankers, euro trash, and has-beens.

"Wil-BURRRR!"

It was the unmistakable sound of Laura-well, actually what was her last name these days? All Wilbur knew was that she'd been "the wife of" at least three times in the last ten years, that she'd had her face done more than that, and that she'd been angling for an invite to one of Wilbur's Sunday night cabaret parties at the manse since they day they'd met. She was also one of Wilbur's fiercest frenemies.

"Laura!"

"The girls didn't think it was you but I said, 'Who else would be downing martinis at 2 but Wilbur Falcone?'

"I didn't think it was you but I said to myself, 'Who else but Laura has a face that looks like the love child of Bruce Jenner and and Helena Bonham Carter?' I swear honey it's like The Scream come to life in here."

"I'm just glad you still have the money to take yourself out for a nice lunch, what with Phil's business troubles."

"I'm just glad you finally got a man to respond to your personal ad: '45 wagon with a busted axle and too many miles on her to count'."

Laura pursed her lips and turned on her heels. Wilbur recrossed her legs with an air of satisfaction and winked at the table next to her, who'd been listening into the conversation, as if to say "That's right. What you just witnessed was a li'l dance I like to call Game, Set, Match."

She was still smiling to herself when her waitress approached, Amex in hand.

"I'm sorry but this card's been declined."

Wilbur stared at her, blinking. She couldn't be sure but it almost sounded like whatever the waitress had just said had been in a language that wasn't English.

"Come again?"

"Your card was declined. Would you like to try another?"

"No, that's not possible. Run it again."

"I'm sorry miss, we've already run it several times already."

"Well call Amex then."

"We already tried them..."

"And??"

"They said the card had been canceled."

***************************************************************************

21 hours earlier

Wilbur had fled Swifty's as quickly as possible. She had no other choice. After the waitress explained to her that her Harbinger Corporate Card has mysteriously been cancelled, the room started spinning and her lungs felt like they were closing up. She was having sort of out of body experience, a panic attack or something; she jumped up out of her chair and sprinted toward the door, knocking a waiter and a tower of oysters over in the process. Once she made it to the street she felt like she could breathe again but she was far from calm. Her panic had simply been replaced with rage and she knew exactly who to channel it toward. She put two fingers in her mouth and hailed a cab like she used to, back when "ladies who lunch" was a foreign concept to her and her livelihood wasn't at the mercy of a man who obsessed with building a cellular network that people could buy into for $10 a month at Duane Reade.

"Where to miss?"

"Park and 57th. I'm in a hurry."

**************************************************************************

20.5 hours earlier

Wilbur threw a twenty over the divider and jumped out, barreled through the lobby and into the elevator. At the 49th floor she shoved open the heavy glass doors and marched past reception, a woman with a mission. She turned the corner and locked eyes with his assistant coming out of the bathroom.

"Miss Falcone, so nice to see you, let me run ahead let him know you're here."

Wilbur blew past her.

"Miss Falcone, please, you know he hates to be interrupted."

Wilbur kept walking.

"Miss Falcone, please I'm begging you."

**************************************************************************

20 hours, 27 minutes earlier

Wilbur threw open the oak door. Phil was hunched over desk with an associate she didn't recognize. They appeared to be reading some sort of outline titled "LightSquared 2.0"

"Wilbur, hi, I wasn't expecting you. Have you met Tom?"

"No. Tom is it? Wonderful to make your acquaintance. Say Tom, could you give Phil and I a sec?"

"Sure, not a problem."

Wilbur waited until the door clicked behind him.

"Sooo," Phil stammered. "What's happening? Have you had lunch? I had this great Cobb salad earlier, just great."

"Oooooo, did you?" Willbur asked. "Did you have a nice Cobb salad?"

It was obviously a rhetorical question, a thing she liked to do before unleashing a hailstorm. Phil knew he had good reason to be scared and tried to play dumb, stalling for time.

"Yeah, I'm not sure what it was about it but I think it was that there was the ratio of chicken to bleu cheese. You know usually people don't get that proportion right and the cheese is too overpowering so..."

"That's nice. I'm glad you had a perfectly proportioned Cobb Salad. You know what I had for lunch, Phil?"

"A Waldorf salad?"

"Nope, guess again!"

"A greek salad?"

"Nope, wrong again!"

"A spicy tun--"

"I had a shit sandwich for lunch, Phil. A SHIT SANDWICH. Topped off with a serving of 'Your credit card's been declined, Miss Falcone.' Any idea why my credit card was declined Mr. Falcone?"

"Well, I, uh..."

"What's that, mumbles? I can't hear you."

"It was sort of part of..."

"SPEAK UP CAN'T HEAR YOU."

"It was part of my [something muffled that Phil hoped she couldn't make out]"

"It was....PART OF YOUR SETTLEMENT WITH THE SEC?!?!?!?!?!"

"Yeah they sort of...demanded I cancel your Harbinger card."

"And why would they do that?"

"They said you couldn't be trusted around investor funds and that it was cancel your card or no deal. BUT ONLY FOR FIVE YEARS. I GOT THEM TO AGREE TO THAT.”

"And you just said yes and signed on the bottom line? You didn't think to, I don't know, go back and negotiate?"

"I just decided it was in everybody's best interest for us to get this thing settled so we can move on."

"So you just threw me to the fucking wolves then."

"No, but Wilbur, I promise, I did this with the big picture in mind. With your long term interests at heart."

"And just what is the picture, Phil?"

"You know...getting LightSquared off the ground."

"Oh for fuck's sake."

"No, Wilbur, I'm serious, I know you said you never wanted to hear that word again but I promise you, now that I can totally focus without this side gig investing it's going to work."

"You're a fucking idiot, Phil."

"Wilbur, no, it's going wor--"

"No Phil, you're a fucking idiot and I-- I can't actually believe I've wasted the best years of my life on you and--"

"Wilbur, listen to me, LightSquared is going to happen, it's---"

"MY PRIME PHIL-- MY FUCKING PRIME on you and this stupid fucking LightSquared." Veins were popping out of her forehead.

"Wilbur, I--"

"I would've been better off hitching my wagon to Steve Cohen's star. Even with the charges!"

"Wilbur--"

"Don't say another word to me, Phil, don't say another fucking word."

*********************************************************************************************

19 hours earlier

Back at the manse, Wilbur tore through her walk-in closet, dumping out shoe box after shoe box. Nothing. She rummaged through all her drawers. Pants pockets. Every secret hiding pocket she had. Nothing. Finally, at the back of her night table, behind the dice and the massage oils, she found it. A crumpled up sheet of paper with a phone number on it, nothing more. Shaking, Wilbur punched in the numbers, half hoping no one would pick up. Then, on the fourth ring:

"Hello?"

"Hey. It's me."

"What can I do for you?"

"Remember when you said to call if I ever wanted out?"

"Yep."

"Well I want out."

"I've heard that one before."

"No, this time I mean it."

"Are you prepared to put in the work? To go it alone? Without him? All by yourself?"

"Yes."

"Okay. I've got something I'm working on, maybe you'd be right for it. Be there tomorrow at 1:30 sharp and we'll see."

*****************************************************************************************

17 hours earlier

Wilbur hadn't meant to get drunk. But out on 67th Street, her bag slung over her shoulder, she heard a familiar voice call out her name.

"Wilbur, you-hoo!" It was the unmistakable drawl of John Mack. They'd met several years before when she was trying on shoes at Bergdorf's and he, out of nowhere, offered that "You know those Dior pumps aren't doing you any favors; but they've got some Manolo strappy sandals in the back that I'm telling you are di-vine."

"Hey John," she said wearily.

"What's wrong puddin' pop," Mack asked. "You look like you've got the weight of the world on your shoulders."

"It's Phil," she told him.

"So what's new there? Phil screwin' something up is just about a certainty these days. You know it breaks my heart to say it but the boy is just dumb. As for subprime, heck, like my grandmother used to say, 'Even a blind hog gathers a few acorns every now and then.'"

"No, John, this time it's really bad."

"Well, honey, you know what my cure for the real bad days is: couple glasses of my family's moonshine."

"John, I don't think I should be drinking now."

"Sugar pie, I won't hear another word of it. Now c'mon, I happened to have a fresh batch waiting for a moment like this."

**************************************************************************************

12 hours earlier

"I'm going to ask wants to get a drink," Wilbur said, slurring her words.

"Wilbur, honey, no," Mack pleaded. "First of all you're drunk. Second of all, a lady does not approach a man. Third of all, honey, it look like he just started his shift."

"Here I go," Wilbur said, narrating her attempt to stand up from the table.

"Okay, fine, I just, I can't watch."

Wilbur approached the counter.

"Welcome to Taco Bell, can I take your order."

"Oh, that's okay, I already had a Gordita. But I was looking for something a little extra."

"What can we interest you in? We have a wide variety of tacos, nachos and--"

"I was more looking for dessert."

[From the back of the restaurant a scream of "Wilbur, honey no, please!" could be heard]

"I'm not sure I'm following."

"When do you get off work?"

"Um, next ten minutes actually."

"You want to do some crazy after that?"

"If you're talking about taking merchandise we get in troub--"

"You want to go to Philly...with this [drapes herself across the counter]?"

************************************************************************************

10 hours earlier

[A karaoke bar in Bryn Mawr]

"So you're saying you don't have any Chaka Khan? You just straight up don't have her?"

***************************************************************************

9 hours earlier

"Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again, Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock...something something ghanistan...Wheel of Fortune, Sally Ride, heavy metal suicide"

("Sing it with me, Billy!" "It's Bobby" "Sing it with me, Benji!")

"Foreign debts, homeless vets AIDS, crack...something mets...hypodermics on the shore...something something martial law...ROCK 'N ROLL, COLOR WARS, I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!"

**************************************************************************

5 hours earlier

"Are you looking for a queen or a king?"

"Whatever you have, just get me a bed, need to sleep."

"Okay, ma'am, it looks like we have a room for $189, will you need one key or two?"

"Um, one's fine but just listen, I need a wake-up call."

"Certainly, what time would you like?"

"12:37 on the dot."

"Okay, 12:37 it is."

"I absolutely must be up by 12:37, no earlier, not later, I have business to tend to, okay? Do not fuck me on this Bobert. Are you writing this down Bobert? Make sure you're writing this down."

"Yes, ma'am I have it right here in the notes for morning shift people."

************************************************************

12:38PM
Wilbur hung up the phone. She picked up her purse and dumped the contents out on the bed looking for something, anything to give her a clue as to why she'd been so insistent on the wake up call time. More Taco Bell wrappers, some chewed pen caps, and a coaster she appeared to have stolen from a bar that read "The Hangovers Are On Us" revealed nothing. She thought about waking the still-passed-out guy next to her for questioning but really didn't want to have to deal with that. That's when she saw it. On the small of his back, underneath the the stick-figures she'd drawn of Phil in compromising positions with a walkie-talkie, written in lipstick.

"DON'T FORGET THE AUDITION."

Of course.

***********************************************************

1:47PM

Wilbur threw her keys at the valet and sprinted through the Revel lobby. Running through the labyrinth of a casino, she searched for signs for "Ovation Hall." She pushed open a side door and found herself backstage and located an official-looking woman with a clipboard and earpiece.

"Wilbur Falcone. Am I too late?" She'd sped as fast as she could down the Atlantic City Expressway, riding in the shoulder at times, doing her makeup in the rear view mirror at others. She'd made good time for having woken up with no idea where she was less than an hour ago, but had still blown her audition by 30 minutes.

"They're about ready to leave but I think I can get them to say for just one more," PA said, with kind eyes.

*****************************************************************

1:55PM

Wilbur stepped out from behind the thick velvet curtain and approached the mic. Like the sun that'd shown through the window earlier that morning, the spotlights nearly blinded her. She couldn't make out the faces in the audience-- the house lights were dark-- but she knew that while there were probably only 4 or 5 people out there, tops, they held the cards and could make or break what she hoped would be her next act. She took a deep breath.

"Hi, I'm Wilbur. I'll be auditioning today with "Luck Be A Lady."

[Fade to black]

Earlier: The Yet-To-Be Finished Memoir Of Wilbur P. Falcone

Related

The Yet-To-Be Finished Memoir Of Wilbur P. Falcone

Wilbur glanced down at her watch. 12:13. Usually, she hated when people were late and, under normal circumstances, this would have gone beyond the point of what she'd tolerate. Hell, make her wait more than 5 or 6 minutes and you were ensuring you'd be receiving a series of irate texts inquiring sharply as to "WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU??????!!???" and threatening "If you're not here in 30 seconds I'm leaving." But today she was practically willing Tom to continue making her wait under the bodega awning. Just another minute. Just one more minute.

Phil Falcone Is Turning His Life Around

To put it lightly, the last couple years have been a rather dark time for Phil Falcone. Though his woes are too numerous to mention in full, they include: the adversity he's faced in getting people to believe in LightSquared; his unbelievably pissy investors, who still aren't over the time he borrowed $113 million from a gated fund to pay personal taxes, or offered to pay out redemptions in illiquid LightSquared equity; the Securities and Exchange Commission, which wants him banned from the industry for life; the woman who once offered a respite from it all, who now won't even come out of her room when she knows he's home; and, of course, the plunging returns in his once highly profitable hedge fund. It would be enough to make a grown man say 'Fuck, it. I'm done.' Put a few things in a sack, tie it to the blade of a hockey stick, and hitchhike back to Minnesota. But Phil didn't do that and now? After a merciless storm of shit that felt like it would never ease up? After long days of investors and regulators breathing down his neck and nights of having to pound on the front door because he was accidentally purposely locked out of the house? The tide feels like it's turning for Philip Falcone. Beleaguered hedge fund honcho Phil Falcone’s big bet on his own publicly traded entity, Harbinger Group, is helping to lift his troubled hedge fund, Harbinger Capital Management, out of the deep end. Falcone’s flagship fund posted returns of 10.6 percent in July and a whopping 28 percent gain in June. Of course, he's still down 5.8 percent year-to-date, and the the director of the SEC's division of enforcement wants hedge fund graduate schools to use Harbinger as a case study during the unit on "how to operate a hedge fund unlawfully," but tonight? Tonight he tells Lisa to treat herself to something nice. Tonight he tells Wilbur to pull the baby grand out of the closet, where it's sat untouched for months. Tonight his key works in the lock. Tonight we dance. Phil Helps Himself [NYP]