"How much do you charge?" asked Bowe, recalling Holyfield's advice.
For a moment the two men negotiated in whispers. "My hand hurts," said Bowe suddenly, while trying on a pinky ring. Fried was unflappable. "Put your hand in a towel full of chopped onion," he said. "In four hours you don't feel a thing. It's the onion juice."
Bowe bought a watch and wrote Fried a check, telling him not to cash it for a week. "I haven't been paid yet, and I want the check to clear the bank," he explained. "I don't want you to think I am doing a job on you."
With Fried gone, Bowe ordered from room service: three eggs, corned-beef hash, a ham steak and a large order of watermelon. As he hung up, Judy came into the room. "Uh-oh," Riddick said, reaching for the phone. He grinned sheepishly as he spoke to room service: "This is Riddick Bowe again in room 26002. I forgot to order for my wife." He asked for fried shrimp.
Time drifted on. Riddick flipped through the TV channels with a remote control. He paused at a nature program about beavers, one of which was shown creeping toward an outstretched hand offering food.
"Look," said Bowe, "he's afraid." He waited until the beaver had taken the food and sailed safely downstream. Flip. A Ricardo Montalban movie. Flip. A Chinese-cooking show. Flip. A program in Spanish. Flip. The Streets of Sun Francisco. Flip. College football. Bowe went back to the Chinese-cooking program and learned how to make a hot pepper sauce.
This nice big kid from Mike Tyson's old neighborhood was beginning to wear the championship like a pair of old slippers. A few hours earlier, as Bowe returned from a press conference, the elevator in which he was riding had briefly become stuck on a lower floor. Bowe waited out the crisis seated on a bench. After a moment he lifted his head and said, "This whole thing is a big deal, isn't it?"
He knew he had the money. He was just looking for assurance that there was more than wealth at the top of the mountain. He liked the neighborhood, but he wasn't about to buy a house until he was sure it was really where he wanted to live.