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Dirty Daddy(10)

By:Alexis Angel



And normally, even for something like that I'd fucking begrudge her. But not today.

"Ladies and gentlemen," I say into the microphone. "Most of you won't know this, but I'm really wealthy."

There's a smattering of laughter from around the crowd. Actually a fair bit of laughter.

It's not that everyone around me at this dinner today is super fucking wealthy. Some people don't even have a net worth past 1,000,000 dollars.

But that's not what I meant before you start to roll your eyes.

"I'm not talking about money," I say to clarify. That's right. I'm clarifying for everyone. "I'm talking about opportunity."

Now there's silence. Could it be that people loved my hook?

"I was born in New York City," I state. "Actually in this hospital itself. Then I lived with my parents on the Upper East Side. My parents aren't around now, but it's not hard to imagine my father and mother coming through the doors to this great hospital to schedule my birth. Hospital stays were expensive back then, and my parent's were modest. They didn't have much money. But my father was friends with the doctors. My mother went shopping with the secretary pool. So when they came into this hospital, they were treated like royalty."

People are quiet. They're listening to me speak. They must think I have something prepared for them to hear.

But the truth of the matter is that my brain is too jumbled now to recite or remember any of the talking points that I had. I'm just speaking from the heart now.

"Treating people like royalty is something that at Davion Development, we strive to do day in and day out," I say to them. I notice a few raised eyebrows.

What? You don't believe me?

"We make sure that any new construction for condominiums or residential towers includes at least 20% of the units allocated for low-income subsidized housing. Then we offer this housing to the people we're displacing," I say. Silence.

They're listening.

"Do you realize how incredibly destructive a development corporation like mine is to the social fabric of a neighborhood?" I ask into the audience. Silence.

"Does anyone realize what happens when the corner butcher, or baker, or liquor store can't pay their rent when it comes time to renew?" I ask again. And again silence. "When they have to make a choice between paying rent and paying their workers?

People are listening to my words with a sense of interest now.

"New York City isn't just about the big buildings that reach toward the heavens," I say quietly. Flatly. "It's about the people. The people in the neighborhoods who make up the foundation for those buildings."

People are now nodding.

"Did you know that if the first floor tenants aren't good tenants and decide to vacate their spaces, then the maintenance fund of a skyscraper drops dramatically?" I ask. Bet you didn't know that either. "That's because anchor tenants are nice, but the people who are on the ground floor are the ones holding up the building."

I see people start to smile and nod. They can tell where I'm going with this.

"It's those people who form the community," I say. "It's those people who've seen you since you were born. Who know that you want the newspaper from the bottom and not the top when you're buying it for your old man. Who know when your parents have passed away. Who ask you if you've been holding up okay."

I'm thinking back to my neighborhood. Sure, the Upper East Side may not seem like a neighborhood to grow up in if you want the classic New York thing with games of stickball and fire hydrants.

"People who know you. People who care about you. It's all thanks to the neighborhoods in this city. Without neighbors, and without neighborhoods, we're just a collection of tall buildings on an island. Tall buildings that would go empty as people move out," I say feeling myself get to some sort of point. "That's why Davion Development is committed to building a larger, stronger, more active NYU. Because we realize that so many neighborhoods rely on this hospital to stay strong. And without this institution that we're here for tonight—without NYU—too many of our neighborhoods would stop thriving. And start dying."

"And so, we will never stop in our quest to make New York great. We will donate $1 million this year. We will donate $1 million next year. Until we turn our neighborhoods around. We will never give up.“ I say and get ready to finish. "And I hope, ladies and gentlemen, neither will you. Thank you."

I stop and get off the stage.

I swear for a moment I didn't hear anything.

But then the crescendo of applause as people stand up to give me a rousing ovation hits me.

I'm a bit taken aback.

Between walking back to where I know Penny is standing and people applauding me for something good like giving a speech, I'm a bit out of my fucking element.

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