Antony brushed away his frustration and continued to play.
“God you’re such a…” Noal grunted and rustled in his chair. He clasped his hands together, obviously trying to think of another solution. “You called your uncle recently?” he asked.
Antony pretended like he couldn’t hear him, continuing to dance his fingers up and down the keys.
Noal stared out the window, seemingly dwelling on a solution to help ease his stress. The glow of the neon flashes from the Quarter below reflected off the snow and onto his face. “Duke’s right. You’ve grown spoiled.”
Antony squeaked a high note on his clarinet. He pulled the reed away from his lips and glared over at Noal in disgust. “Care to say that again?”
Noal grinned to himself looking out the window. “I said Duke is right. You’re spoiled. You’ve been sitting up here in your castle for so long, you practically eat with a silver fork, knife, and spoon. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you’re pretty miserable even.”
“Really? Well then, please share with me how you came to that brilliant conclusion,” Antony replied, waiting for Noal to back up his statement.
Noal turned around and began counting out the reasons on his fingers. “You’re miserable because you’ve got no friends— besides me because let’s face it, I’ve become your co-worker more than your friend, you live a daredevil lifestyle because you have a death wish, and your spending all your money on making money because you don’t know what else to do with it. That’s why you hide in here every night.”
Antony chuckled to himself working back the feeling of the sting of truth. “I’m not miserable. And I’m not spoiled. You know I grew up with nothing same as you. I haven’t forgotten my roots.”
“Are you sure about that?” Noal questioned. “Is that why you won’t call your uncle?”
Antony stood up from the bed and threw his clarinet down on the covers. “You’re fishing for a bet, aren’t you?”
“Hey, your words. Not mine,” Noal replied, biting his thumb nail.
“Alright. Fine, lay it on me. A serious bet this time. No jokes.”
Noal smiled and approached Antony with a mischievous look. “Three days. I bet you can’t spend three days living in the Quarter all by yourself. No money. No security. Nothing. Just the clothes on your back and all the poverty of the world surrounding you.”
Antony laughed, mocking Noal’s gesture. He sat back down on the bed and picked up his clarinet. “You’d lose, and you know it.”
“Would I? Prove it then. You said it yourself. No jokes this time. A serious bet. Twenty-five billion,” Noal replied with a serious face.
Antony lowered his clarinet and gazed up at him. He could see Noal was serious. “That’s all of your retirement.”
Noal shook his head in agreement. “Half of it. If you win, it’s all yours. Besides, I could use the three days to clean house and get organized around here without you piling on more dishes to clean.”
“And if I lose?” asked Antony.
“You pay me half of your retirement,” Noal replied. “And we switch offices, so I get the bigger window.”
Antony chuckled and turned his attention out the window. He stared out at the lower city. A pit of filth and misery, nestled below in a shadow of darkness cast by the city life built along the hillside above.
He looked back at Noal.
“Deal.” Antony reached out and shook his hand.
Noal grinned at him.
“On one condition. I get to bring a personal item with me.”
“Fair enough,” Noal replied.
The two gamblers released their handshake.
Antony sat back down on his bed. “This has to stay between you and me though. If word catches on or anyone notices I’m gone, we’ll have panic on Wall Street. Same with the trial.”
“You act out of impulse all the time. I’ll just tell them you went on vacation for a few days. No one will notice,” Noal replied feeling satisfied with himself.
Noal walked back over to the bedroom door and opened it, allowing the busy sounds of Antony’s social life to enter the room. “Now come on. Let’s get downstairs before someone notices.”
Antony walked over towards the door with a childish grin on his face. He patted Noal on the shoulder. “You’re about to regret putting your retirement up for grabs.”