It was the first thing I noticed as the beautiful Pamela his secretary led me in, the view from the many tall windows, the whole of Manhattan. The second thing was the massive desk, must have weighed a ton or more and looked like an altar. Then there were the paintings, Hockney, Smart, Dobell, Jasper Johns; I figured they had something in common but didn't know at the time what it was. Cabinets everywhere packed with African sculptures, mostly phallic.
Then the piece de resistance, a large painting of Bloom himself in full Masonic regalia, brandishing a sword. I took up a low seat in front of the desk as the big man continued scribbling on a notepad as if I wasn't there. He was obese, bald, big, fleshy face that had ne'er missed a meal and ne'er faced a bowl of thin soup, only thick caviar and champagne. I waited, listening to the monotony of a clock on the wall.
Finally he flung his pen down and gawked down at me from his leather, swivel chair. Christopher Bloom ran the biggest advertising firm in New York and in his spare time was director of a global publishing firm. He had photos all over his desk of himself with his publishing buddies at home and abroad: Bloom with presidents and politicians, Bloom with Hollywood moguls and starlets, Bloom receiving some award or other from Pope Ratzinger when he was Pope, Bloom in England with J.K. Rowling, Prime Minister Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
"I know what you're thinking," said he, puffing his cigar. "It is an altar, had it made into a desk, Belgian oak, hand carved, all angels and demons, from the 14th century, had it flown over... now what was the name of your magazine?"
"FOT," said I with as much pride as I get to.
"Eff, Zero, tee? Stand for something?"
"Freedom of thought."
That's when the mountain trembled, with laughter. A hankie the size of a parachute appeared from an inside pocket to dry his baggy eyes. When he had composed himself he went on, blowing plumes of blue smoke to the ceiling:
"Don't hear much about that myth around here, sonny. Can't wait to tell the boys. Now, what can I do you for?"
"This campaign you have launched on television and on billboards everywhere seems to be based on the premise that gender is a social construct, could you elaborate?"
'What's to elaborate? That's what they tell me?"
"Who tells you?"
"The people I pay to tell me, that's who!"
"For millions of years," I ventured. "Nature and biology have laboured to produce distinct genders for protecting and reproducing the race. We share these distinctions with all other species...There is also a spiritual dimension..."
"Spiritual? Listen dumbass, don't give me no nature bullshit and biology, this is the 21st century goddammit! Next thing you'll be dragging God into it. There is no God, gottit?"
"How do you know?"
"How?... How..." He was flustered; the square face suddenly become red. He reached for a phone. "Pamela, gettahell in here! Show this bastard to the lift." He resumed writing. "Now if you'll excuse me... I have work to do on Harry Potter Book Eight."
As I descended in the elevator where the unreality of what I had just witnessed gradually morphed in my mind to a yearning to hear my footsteps on the real pavement outside, I could not help wondering.... "what hope is there for this world with people like Bloom around who believe they have a right to control our minds, dictate what we should believe and when, especially to the impressionable young, whatever the consequences; and all for the sake of money? Who exactly gave them the right to perpetrate crimes against humanity with impunity?"