Sten couldn’t imagine what Jars wanted to talk with him about. Given the time and place his friend had chosen it could have made for fertile speculation. But although Jars had complimented him more than once on his legal creativity he’d long ago found that trying to guess what the unpredictable CEO of Synapzius had in mind was an exercise in futility.
A glance at his watch confirmed what Sten already knew: Jars was late. Only eight minutes but, for anyone who knew him, Jars being late was tantamount to Warren Buffett being on the losing end of a stock trade. It may have happened. Once.
The view was magnificent! He had to admit that much. Suspended at two-hundred and twelve feet in the air and over a mile and a quarter long, the Walkway Over the Hudson is the longest elevated pedestrian walkway in the world. Formerly a railroad bridge, the Walkway had come to life in 2009 after three years construction at a cost of $3.6 million, of which a certain generous portion had come from an anonymous donor. Sten smiled at the memory of handing a check to the non-profit’s chairperson.
The gates at the western entrance to the Walkway bore the name of a similarly generous organization. If Jars hadn’t insisted on anonymity no doubt the eastern gates would have borne his name. Better that the opportunity remain open to someone with an appetite for such publicity, Jars had remarked. The Walkway could always use the kind of financial support a major donor with a yen to woo the masses could provide. With the prospect of Synapzius going public sometime over the next twelve months Sten mused, perhaps someone had convinced Jars of the marketing windfall to be had by being less secretive about his philanthropy and their meeting today was a prelude to another gift. Only this time, a contribution to be seen and admired by all. Sten doubted it. His friend might be unpredictable, but he was unpredictable in predictable ways.
The two had met years ago when Jars, a handsome young man who had just barely crossed the meridian of his twenties, approached him looking for an attorney to protect his fledgling firm’s intellectual property. At the time, although Synapzius amounted to little more than Jars and a handful of staff, it was an impressive enterprise and bore tell-tale signs of coming greatness. Sten had since received Jars’ promise that on the day the company ever did go public, Sten could stand by him as he rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange.
But the euphoria of the early years had given way to something else. Something Sten couldn’t put his finger on. A change had come over his friend. A change he couldn’t account for. Sure, two marriages down the tube in relatively short order would take a toll on anyone. Especially when there were kids involved. It was during the turmoil of domestic disintegration that Jars and Sten had cemented their friendship.
On the outside, the two were polar opposites. Whereas Jars was lean, fit and ran marathons, Sten would have counted himself fortunate to even walk a 5K. Ten years Jars’ senior, Sten had early in their relationship come to realize the younger man’s need for someone in his life who appreciated him and enjoyed his company regardless of what he could do for them. Friendship was something that couldn’t be bought and Sten had proven himself genuine. True, at this stage of their relationship Synapzius accounted for the lion’s share of Sten’s revenue. But that hadn’t stopped him from passionately opposing Jars on occasion with counsel the man didn’t want to hear but counted on Sten providing. Honest opposition, no matter how vigorous, didn’t offend Jars. On the contrary, he was part of the minority who knew how valuable a role it played, forcing him to consider alternatives he either hadn’t thought of or, as Sten suspected, occasionally preferred to ignore.
As his first marriage teetered under the weight of apathy on the part of both partners, Sten had implored Jars to ease up on his work and devote more time to his family, admonishing the younger man that no relationship could tread water indefinitely. “You either invest in a marriage relationship on an ongoing basis and watch it grow, or leave it alone and become half of the poisonous concoction killing it,” he’d warned.
The blunt words had had an effect and, for a time, Jars had eased the torrid pace he’d driven himself for so many years, only to find his wife questioning his dedication to success. Sten met the woman at a Christmas gala she chaired for a charity she promoted. It was plain to Sten that their marriage was the least common denominator between the two and was headed for collapse. It did. And so had Jars’ second attempt although, by that time, Jars could see the writing on the wall much sooner and, like a seasoned taxi driver in the thick of rush hour, shot through the first opening to freedom he’d spied.
As he gazed out over the Hudson River, Sten felt a strong hand clasp his shoulder.
“Hey there, Counselor. You look lost in thought. Hope you’re not considering jumping.”