“Is there someone else you’re carrying here?”
“And with less than what appears to be a firm grip on the handles of the situation?”
The bros wanted an answer from me that I was reluctant to give. Neither party of either part intended to admit defeat. I was aware for feints and counters, as well as corrosive influences. Counter-intuitive industrial espionage was rampant. It often came out of a bunch of deep shit. Even though these were only standard bros.
Replete with unrequited desire, a bro said, “Bro.”
I said, “What.” It was not a question.
I smelled fresh tar, K-Y Jelly, Ben-Gay, and highly hydrogenated, salted popcorn. The popcorn had been extracted from a patented machine that first soaked irradiated kernels in the best selling brand of fake butter that kills red blood. The concentrated salt came from a known backwater. The Ben-Gay and K-Y Jelly came from opposing sides of the aisle in Rite-Aid. The rag tied around my head was damp and fuzzy, but not warm. None of it inspired in me a feeling that inhabited a high level of inward confidence. The tar was just ordinary, everyday. Unless that salt had been replaced by illicitly concentrated MSG.
Another one of the bros, and I don’t know which one, though more than likely Dick if not Robin or Jayne, said, with a theatrical intonation in the manner of Snidely Whiplash, “Har-de-har-har.”
I had been blindfolded after being bushwhacked. I was distracted while exiting Rite-Aid. I said, ” Not again.”
I said, “Not again.”
In Rite-Aid they refused to sell me inferior beer without a visible ID. I pointed out several gray hairs on my head as proof of age and I alluded convincingly to the many palpable conspiracies against me. Was it my fault I was not wearing different pants? I demonstrated memory loss from early onset Alzheimers. I said, “My dog ate it.”
Next, I heard, “Next.”
None of the bros wanted to be the first to submit to a measure of empathetic behavior ignited by less than the flame of basest meat eating masculinity, because that’s just not how it’s done, though each in his own way, for this one time only due to the level of potential public discomfort, would have settled gladly for second.
I said, “Would someone please untie me?”
Another snarky bro, likely not the same one, said, “Answer the question first. Name the President of the United States who fucked Marilyn Monroe.”
I said, “Everybody knows that.”
He said, “Say it.”
I said, “C’mon.”
He said, “All for all.”
I said, “What the fuck.” It was not a question.
He said, “United?”
I said, “Untied.”
Later, after all interested parties agreed it was all a big joke, all things considered, though no one believed that, and before continuing to jockey for position astride a drooping ass seated at a sushi bar, where the ascendant elite meets to eat alternative raw meat, the real business of extracting new and emerging cutting edge materials for profit began. I sat and ate with them anyway.
One of the three mightiest stooges, a patent attorney in consenting private practice, said, “Nyuk, yuk, yuk.”
I wracked my brain, repeatedly. What did I possess that represented any value to anyone? And who felt more entitled to have and to hold it than me? I came up empty. Like, duh. But, the sushi kept coming until I was sated. Hamachi, unagi, maduro, tobiko, odori. The sticky rice expanded in me like a gross national product. Before long, the scant room that remained was filling up with sake.
I heard, “It has come to our attention.”
“Did you know that trash is part of the public domain?”
“You hacked into my computer?” I was not asking a question. It only sounded that way.
“What do you take us for? This is strictly on the up and up. I said your trash.”
“Do you mean garbage?”
“You might be surprised what can be discovered in the public domain once the lid blows off.”
I declared, “Yuck.”
“You don’t have to take my word for it. That’s the pronouncement of a Supreme Court decision.”
I faked a modicum of aplomb like a whore I was unable to satisfy for an interminable hour one hot evening on a bar stool in Hong Kong while the world championship of rugby was illuminating the small screen tv. I was drinking two-for-one beers, with what I formerly believed to be contentment. How droll. The streaked walls of the bar were tinged dark magenta, like the beer. The whore claimed to work for Tommy Bahama in merchandising, spinning yarns. I said to myself, never again, but then again I had said and heard it all before. Unless that work was marketing. And the color was plain old bloody red.
I said, “Was it the cans that were not properly crushed? I can explain that. It’s probably the yang twin acting out again. You know how boys have such a tough time maturing.”
“We found some interesting drawings.”
My brain was getting pretty fucking worn out from all the wracking but I was still coming up empty. How much longer before the fucking pressure caused popping?
I ventured forward into no man’s land with a vague, tentative gesture. My fingers were crossed. I asked, “Crayon or Sharpie? That might narrow it down.”
“Sure, play coy. How droll.”
“I think this sake needs re-heating.”
“But explain this.”
He unfolded a paper towel that had been employed to first absorb fat from frying flesh and then a blown nose. The image was fading like a messianic religion from a vast receding desert. It was brown around the edges due to accelerated aging, and still crispy.
“Oh, that’s a doodle,” I lied. “They’re cluttered all over the house, always getting in the way. There’s lots of empty space in doodles to fill. The yang twin sees that one as an empty head, and the yin twin as an empty bowl. I think it looks like a thoughtless balloon before it pops with nothing to say. If you look a tad more loosely, you might see more doodles than just one. But, don’t push stress to excess. That’s a sure killer.”
He said, “Something smells fishy here.”
I began to understand just how close he intended to come to the turf of my Chinese overlord who owned exclusive commercial rights to all the property inside of my head. I realized I had to snip this interrogation off at the scrotum before there were displays of unsightly leaking.
I pointed out, “Well, yeah, like..duh.”
“Venture capital doesn’t want to read anymore.”
“Forget the boring business plans.”
“Numbers are nearly old school by now.”
“Ticking time bombs.”
“But, idealized picturesques in ultra high res and sonic sound, that’s cutting edge imagery coming right at you between the eyes and ears. Very compelling stuff there. Superior comfort and entertaining ease. Fits like another skin. That’s what we’re looking for. There’s a major plus right there. Another plus: lots of empty space to fill with floating. You have lots of floating going on. We’re dazzled.”
“Floating as I’ve known it to be has never been very highly valued.”
“This is now. Forget then. Now is the future. It’s a future filled with more comfort and ease than ever before imagined. Pure imagined symmetry in motion, that’s what floating can become. Decrease in friction, lighter baggage, a boost in self-esteem. That’s what we’re all chasing. A plus, plus, plus. Empty holes waiting to be filled, an epic plus.”
“It’s not that unusual in doodling.”
“Put a floating head on the end of a floating platform and see where it flies. The buzz among the vc’s on Sand Hill Rd. who wear the big boy pants is all about floating. There’s a high probability an algorithm will be there at just the right time. I’m ready to bet that floating will be the next beta. Now is no time to wait. You can’t escape it. Don’t try. Look at it diagonally.”
“I can only get to where there’s a there there.”
“It’s a good place for a start.”