WHOLE LIFE - gary v. powell

In 1987, we sold life insurance. After selling family and friends and the few easy marks they referred us to, we cold-called, my partner Mahoney and me. We stalked the chiseled streets of Chicago, coked-up predators in wool-blend suits.

We overcame objections: You don’t mind your wife whoring herself out after you’re gone? We closed with: No one plans to die, but you can plan for death. We carved the hearts of guys with mahogany desks and suburban aspirations.

Once, between pitches, I heaved in a gutter; vomit freezing on contact, pizza chunks glittering like rhinestones. We summoned guilt, conjured insecurity. It’s okay if your kids shop at Goodwill? We created dreams and painted nightmares. Pay me a little today or the tax man a lot tomorrow.

The Great Lake lay gray and flat as a policy binder. We cut lines with razor blades on its indelible surface, inhaling them in the marbled Men’s Rooms of venerable law firms. We saved the souls thrown from the Sears Tower, catching them in our financial safety net.

We explained the difference between term and whole life. You can rent or own. Landlord or tenant; what kind of man are you?

Gary V. Powell



Andre Dubus III