"Am I disturbing you?"
"No, no. If you were, I'd hang up."
"Good," said Leavitt. "What's the last book you read?"
"Who is this?"
"Sir, I'd just like to satisfy my intellectual curiosity by knowing the last book you read. I'm not afraid to tell you my last book. It was Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins."
"The Eagle Has Landed."
"Thank you very much. Have a nice evening."
The man across the street could be seen interrupting his guests and obviously repeating the gist of the phone call. Leavitt was beside himself. "See, this was probably the first time that anybody ever suspected that fool could read, much less care what he read."
The incident reveals something of the way Leavitt operates. He very often likes to act as an unseen force in a situation; he is nervy and seizes opportunities; he is iconoclastic, unpredictable and moody. Stan Bergstein, executive vice-president of the Harness Tracks of America, counts himself among Leavitt's friends. "But when I call him a close friend." says Bergstein, "I don't expect to be treated like a book salesman. And I certainly expect him to call me back, which Alan sometimes doesn't." So bad is Leavitt about returning phone calls that when Jim Harrison agreed to take charge of the Lana Lobell farm in Hanover, Pa., he says there was only one condition. "I told Alan I wouldn't call him often," he said, "but when I did, he must call right back." Leavitt's attorney, David Blasband, says, "You can't be thin-skinned if you want to have a relationship with Alan."
Indeed. Leavitt insists on making plans to go across the Hudson and visit the Meadowlands racetrack; when the time comes, he moans, "I just can't face the world tonight." He is anxious to show off his Hanover farm; when the time comes for the flight, he backs out.