Chapter 20 – Kaisapaisa

The big problem with morals is, even the most obvious moral positions are in the eye of the beholder, require nuance, and are often clouded by rationalization.

Thou shalt not kill another person. That seems reasonably moral.

What about a mercy killing in order to prevent months of excruciating and unbearable pain? Is that immoral? Or how about the State killing a convicted serial killer caught red-handed in the act? There’s no chance it wasn’t him. Is that immoral? What about killing someone in self-defense? What about in war? Regardless of how you might answer any of those questions, I think it’s clear that killing another person is not a purely binary question of morality.

Thou shalt not steal. Also reasonable, until we start to define “steal.”

When Barclays, Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase, and the Royal Bank of Scotland colluded to fix currency markets in the early 2010s—was that stealing? They were Manifesting an advantage that would help them to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else, so I would say yes. All four banks pled guilty to felony collusion—a rarity for Corporations. They also paid out $5 billion in fines between them—a stunning number until you realize JPMorgan Chase alone hauled in well over $25 billion in pretax income last year. And the year before that. And before that. And you get the picture. Oh, and despite the felony conviction, not one person went to jail for it.

When Duke Energy was caught on video dumping millions of gallons of their toxic coal ash waste into North Carolina waterways used to supply drinking water to several communities, was that stealing? Toxic coal ash waste brings with it negative health issues for humans and fish alike. Hence the term toxic. Is that not stealing sustenance from the millions who rely on clean waterways? Some among us seem to forget that we live in the environment.

What about fracking companies that ruin the water supply? Is that stealing? Fracking negatively affects local home prices. It adversely affects people’s health and destroys their way of life. Then, of course, there are the the earthquakes that happen with mysterious regularity near fracking sites. Fracking companies argue there is no proof that the alarming wave of frequent earthquakes in Oklahoma and Texas have anything to do with their fracking. Same with the new and improved flammable water coming out of local spigots. Coincidence! There’s no scientific proof! Whatever, who listens to the Scientists, anyway? Certainly not the climate deniers.

When British Petroleum devastated the gulf by discharging millions of gallons of toxic crude oil into our most important US fisheries, was that stealing? They deprived an entire industry of its livelihood. They robbed the whole region of tourism dollars for years. They robbed us all of safe shrimp. That’s not stealing?

To make matters worse, oil companies have developed technologies that allow them to drill in impossible places, yet they’re still using outdated and ineffectual technology for when things go wrong. Of course, not only do we allow it, our policies absolutely encourage it! Sure, Shell! Go drill in the treacherous waters of the Arctic. What could possibly go wrong on your third failed attempt?

Consider this hypothetical for a moment. Suppose a representative of El Destructo Inc. offered you a million dollars to dig up your backyard with the understanding that this would essentially ruin the way of life for the ten thousand others in your town? Not enough money? What about $10 million? Maybe that’s still not enough money. How about a billion? Is there a price that would make you say, “Fuck it,” as you take the money and run? And if you’re thinking you’d take the billion and buy out the town, even at a billion you don’t have enough money to make the entire town whole as you make the decision to uproot them. A billion dollars is a staggering amount of money for one person. It’s shit the moment we start dealing in even modestly large numbers of persons.

Now, what if there was some question as to the level of destruction? What if El Destructo Inc. could show you all sorts of studies and provide numerous, seemingly credible testimonials demonstrating limited environmental impact? Keeping in mind that people live in that environment, would you take the billion then? What if the CEO of El Destructo confided in you that the studies and the testimonials were all lies? Could you sell the town out for a billion then? I know I couldn’t.

When a Corporation is caught stealing the way of life from millions of us, through an intentional act of malfeasance that has been proven to negatively impact vast swaths of people—they get fined. Yet when a young inner-city kid is caught peddling marijuana on the streets, a drug that has been proven safer than alcohol—he goes to jail, is labeled a felon, and will have to personally deal with the consequences of that for the rest of his life.

When a Westerner frustrated with the organ-donation system visits Bangladesh to purchase a kidney for pennies on the dollar from a person even more desperate, is that stealing? The waiting list for a kidney here in the US is around five years. So what kind of sucker would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and endure five years of dialysis twice a day when you could get a kidney in just a few weeks for well under $6,000?

If you flinched at my use of the word sucker there, good. I find it equally as morally reprehensible as you do. But then, I don’t need a kidney. Hopefully, neither do you.

What if I go to a garage sale in an Upper-Class neighborhood, and find an ELA M 251 microphone worth approximately $24,000 tagged for $5, and then negotiate the price to $1, is that wrong? Hard to say. But it’s certainly not as wrong as the thousands of people who go to Bangladesh every year to negotiate a better price for a kidney. I mean, how rich is that? The people with working kidneys are so destitute, the guy who is going to die without one of them is somehow in the better negotiating position.

Which brings us to my own moral dilemma. Was C@taclysmic’s decision to generate Views, and thereby the appearance of widespread interest in our video, unethical? I’ve already demonstrated just how debatable ethics can be. And since C@taclysmic is a Corporation, the only pertinent question becomes—is it legal? That’s why we have lawyers.

Since the monetization was turned off on our C@taclysmic YouTube channel, you couldn’t rightly say we were stealing from Google. Stealing what? And what advantage are we Manifesting, exactly? All we’re doing is generating the appearance of popularity. What the fuck do SEO companies do? They help you appear more popular than you actually are so that you can become even more popular. That’s the whole online game right there. To optimize the numbers to your advantage all so you can get a higher ranking on Google.

All we’re really doing is hiring real people to generate real Views, and spoofing the IP locations of those Views to avoid Google penalizing us for our efforts. I mean, why should we have to reveal the exact location of our listeners to Google? By law, we have a duty to our C@taclysmic stockholders to protect our Corporate secrets. It just seems to me, the precise nature and location of our customers would be a rather important secret to keep.

Frankly, we had more to fear from Google than from the Department of Justice. Google could erase us from existence. They could also sue the bejesus out of us, and so we gave our new attorney a retainer of $20K to put all the necessary protections into place. He assured us that we would be “squeaky clean,” and he used that precise terminology, like we were in the mob or something. That made me feel more than a little icky. But then, the Music Business is the ickiest business around.

To date, I haven’t had to deal with this rather gross side of the business—the side where a Corporation will skirt laws, if not outright break them, in order to Manifest an advantage. Like in the late ’50s, when DJs were getting paid “listening fees” by record Label Promoters, ostensibly to evaluate the commercial viability of their records. Which was total crap. The promoters were paying DJs to play their record, which translated directly into Spins. It’s called Payola, and Congress outlawed the practice in 1960. That didn’t stop it from happening again. Repeatedly.

Over the years, record companies have used various loopholes in the law to come up with technically legal ways of delivering bribes for Spins. Eventually, Congress would catch up, figure out what was going on, and close the loopholes. Then the process would start again. Collusion and kickbacks have been a staple of this business since the invention of the piano roll in the late 1800s.

Icky or not, if our competitors are willing to take every advantage they can, then certainly C@taclysmic must be as well. If we don’t, we won’t survive. After all, we are currently going head-to-head against six other Heirs, and we’re expecting more. Yes, two Russian and two Chinese Billionheirs have arrived in LA to team up with four more Produsahs. This brought the total number of Billionheirs in town to eleven. The Music Business was downright infested with Billionheirs.

I’m happy to report that by morning, our Kitten Video had been Viewed just over a million times. Furthermore, the Views generated from the eight Code Shacks were now showing up on search engines, and this was translating into a relatively small volume of Sharing—nothing viral in nature. The fact of the matter is, if we shut off the Code Shacks, we cut off the Views, and that just wouldn’t do. We were in grave need of Shares.

Aardy and I were seated in the back of the Bentley, Kanish in the front, buried in his phone. We were on our way to Culver City dressed in costumes delivered early that morning by the Pimps & Ho’s Wardrobe Company.

“I didn’t realize pimps wore mouth guards,” Aardy said facetiously as he pulled out his diamond-encrusted clip-on teeth.

“You don’t have to wear it all day, dude. Put it in your pocket,” I replied. “And take off your skullcap. You look more like a gypsy than a pimp.”

“What’s this Halloween shit show called, anyway?” Aardy whined.

“You lost me,” I replied.

“The song! What’s the name of the song?”

“I believe it is called ‘Cash Money’,” Kanish interjected as he dropped his phone to address us. “In other news, I have just received word from Lakshmi. We are set to meet with her this afternoon to work out our Sharing issue.”

“Which one is Lakshmi?” I asked.

“Lakshmi is the Limey,” Kanish replied. “She is with the Empress.”

“Great. What’s the plan?”

“Lakshmi owns a vehdy large Telemarketing firm with locations all around the US. She has devised a way to generate Shares.”

Sevaka announced us at the studio gate as DJ Produsah Mixerman and Knish Knosh Too, secured our three ALL-ACCESS guest badges and drove us to the last building on the lot. There were fifty punters forming a line along the side of the soundstage, all of them wearing badges labeled extra. Sevaka pulled the Bentley into the adjacent lot and parked it right next to a Lamborghini with a personalized plate: MAHVLUS.

“Whoa! Marv Ellis is here,” I said.

“This is fantastic!” Kanish yelled.

“You mean ‘Marvelous,’ I said.”

“Yes, yes, yes! I mean Mahvelous! Mahvelous! Just like in your first book.”

The fact that Marv Ellis was here to personally oversee GQ’s video shoot was a good indication of just how important this project was to him. While it’s not unheard of for a Label President to be personally involved with his Artists, I seriously doubt Marv ever attends video shoots. I mean, Marv Ellis is the biggest Mogul around.

Kanish, Aardy, and I made our way past the extras waiting in line, and upon revealing our badges to security were granted access to the soundstage. The massive room was painted all black and was large enough to house a basketball court. There were lights hanging from scaffolding, cameras on tracks, and all the people that run those sorts of things. Even with all the markings of a film shoot, the place looked more like a party, what with waiters running through the crowd of onlookers carrying trays of champagne and appetizers.

At the end of the room was the brightly lit set of an ultra-posh bathroom, featuring an oversized golden claw-foot bathtub. The walls and the floor of the set were covered in mosaic tiles of gold and silver leaf, interspersed with color for contrast. Directly behind the tub was a green-and-gold-tiled inlay spelling out the words cash money in block letters. The entire scene looked like a Klimt painting gone bad.

There were three camera stations in front of the stage, and a plush red velvet throne, which I had to assume was the director’s chair. Despite the party atmosphere, gaffers and crew continued their preparations, as makeup Artists put the finishing touches on Indian Princess ho’s in six-inch stiletto heels and wrapped in American flag sarongs.

Marv Ellis was fully dapper-sleazy, what with his bright-white suit over a deep-purple shirt. He kept it half unbuttoned so as to expose the thick gold chains nestled in the mat of hair on his chest. This was a costume, of course. He was playing the part of an old mack daddy. He fit the role perfectly.

“Mixerman!” Marv yelled from across the room as he approached.

I don’t know what it is about this guy, but anytime Marv Ellis calls out my name, I swear it feels as though he’s hitting on me. It doesn’t help that he’s so touchy-feely, either. Dude likes to grab my shoulders like he’s going to carry me home with him. Not that he could. He’s a full foot shorter than me.

“Mahvelous! Mahvelous to see you!” Marv gushed. “Willy tells me your video is starting to catch a spark!”

The fact that Willy was even aware of our video was news to me. And I wasn’t sure that Views without Shares counted as a spark, but I certainly wasn’t going to argue the point. This was precisely the perception we were seeking to proliferate.

“Quiet on the set!” the Haired Director announced over his bullhorn. “Can I please have some quiet? Thank you. The girl in the red dress. Yes, you. Shhhh. Okay. Extras are not needed for this scene, so we need everyone to stay behind the yellow tape, please. You, sir. If you could move back. A little farther. Behind the tape. Thank you. Let’s have the talent in their positions, please. Girls?”

The eight Indian Princess ho’s in American flag Sarongs clip-clopped their way onto the bathroom set. Kanish and Aardy made their way over to my location near the throne.

“Paging GQ. Paging GQ,” Haired Director squelched.

A young Asian man sporting a bright-yellow Sherwani jacket over white muslin pajamas pushed his way through the crowd straight toward the Haired Director, who immediately relinquished his bullhorn.

“Who is that?” I whispered to Kanish.

“That is GQ’s Billionheir, of course.”

“But I thought GQ’s Heir was from India.”

“You do realize we have other ethnicities in India, do you not?”

“Good point.”

“His name is Kaisapaisa,” Kanish continued. “It roughly means Cash Money, wouldn’t you know?”

“I’d like to meet the Billionaire who named his kid Cash Money,” I replied.

“I do not believe that you would.”

“I suppose I wouldn’t.”

Kaisapaisa looked a bit awkward as he called out to a closed door across the room.

“Gee Cuehooooooo!” Kaisapaisa sang over the bullhorn. “It’s time to come out and show us why you’re going to be a star! Your fans await you!”

Kaisa spoke in a perfect West Hollywood effeminate accent and brandished his flamboyance like a weapon, which he was now pointing toward the Green Room door.

“Where’s his accent?” I asked Kanish.

“He pretty much grew up in Los Angeles.”

“So, he’s an Asian from India who grew up in America. That’s not difficult to follow. Has he told his father that he’s gay?” I asked.

“He would never,” Kanish replied.

The Green Room door whipped open with a crash to reveal GQ wearing a leopard-skin sarong the size of a parachute—a requirement, if he was to be fully covered. To make matters worse, it was wrapped around his body like a toga, and I wasn’t the only one to notice. Inexplicably, Kaisapaisa reverted to an Indian accent.

“Agh! Your sarong ees sarong!” Kaisapaisa screeched as he marched toward GQ.

The entire crowd began to percolate in murmur.

“Sarong, Sarong?                Sarong is Sarong?            Sarong ees Sarong?        Sarong.Sarong, Sarong         Sarong?     Sarong is sarong?                       Sarong Sarong?           Sarong is Sarong?             Sarong Sarong                 Sarong            Sarong?             Sarong, Sarong?     Sarong Sarong,  Sarong       Sarong     Sarong      Sarong Sarong Sarong              Sarong                 Sarong? Sarong?                     Sarong               Sarong ees sarong?”

There was seemingly no end to the whispers of Sarongs.

“Did he just say, ‘Sarong is Sarong’?” I asked Kanish. “That makes no sense.”

Whereas the crowd was murmuring, I’d somehow managed to blurt it out at full volume, perhaps even a bit louder than that. And although I’m pretty sure he was going to address the crowd anyway, he now had a fall guy—me. Kaisapaisa stopped dead in his tracks and turned to face me, bullhorn at the ready.

“I said! Your Sarong is so wrong!

“Oh!” I exclaimed. “Your Sarong is so wrong!”

The murmurs turned to mutterings.

“Sarong, is so wrong!      Sarong is so wrong?      Sarong. Sarong        so wrong!    Sarong Sarong?  Sarong , So, wrong!        So wrong.          So wrong Sarong             Sarong?          Sarong is  so wrong!     Sarong, Sarong, So wrong!      Sarong?     Sarong so wrong        Sarong     Sarong                Sarong ees So wrong        Sarong   Sarong  wrong       Sarong?        So wrong!               Sarong is so wrong!”

Everyone was in agreement. GQ’s Sarong was indeed so wrong.

Kaisapaisa disappeared into the dressing room with GQ, and returned to the set a few minutes later. This time the Sarong was wrapped around GQ’s waist, which unfortunately left his rotund belly fully exposed. The whole Sarong thing was not a good look for GQ.

GQ scanned the crowd with trepidation and then carefully stepped into the gargantuan tub. Kaisapaisa snapped his fingers and two Sikhs, similar to our own, scurried out of the Green Room with oversized army-style duffles, which they carried directly to the stage. The Sikhs unzipped the large bags and dumped out what had to be thousands of crisp new $20 bills into the tub, and all over GQ’s mostly naked body.

“Slate, please,” Kaisapaisa called out.

“Cash Money, the American Dream scene. Take one,” the Haired Director announced with a thwack.

“Cue up the music,” Kaisa announced over the bullhorn. “And . . . action.”

The track had all the markings of dubstep, with its heavy syncopated Gangstah beat and pulsing low end. It was dirty and deep, and few in the audience could resist the urge to nod their heads in affirmation to the infectious beat. I liked it.

The eight Indian girls in American flag Sarongs were arranged symmetrically around the tub as they fawned over GQ and massaged handfuls of money over his red-haired chest like it was suds.

“That’s it!” Kaisa announced. “Rub it all over him, girls. Rub him like the sexy beast that he is!”

Sexy beast would not be the term that I would use to describe GQ, or just about any of my Produsah brethren. You can’t swing an oversized burrito without hitting a portly white Producer in this business. But then, Producers work behind the scenes and don’t need to be beautiful. MC Produsahs, on the other hand, are supposed to be front and center. Not to be too distasteful about it, but I’d much rather have been watching the beautifully cut, camera-loving queen in a yellow Sherwani jacket than a schlub in a tub, if you know what I mean. What the fuck were they thinking?

The girls continued to scour GQ with the $20 bills and it looked painful even before his eyes began to well with tears. Of course, it’s possible he was just moved by the raw emotion of the music. It most certainly wasn’t coming from the lyrics. There weren’t any.

“Okay, we’re coming up to the Sitars!” Kaisapaisa called from his throne.

Motherfucking Sitars. They would have been better off pinching our Kitten Video concept rather than stealing our Sitars. The whole thing was difficult to watch.

“Get ready . . .” Kaisa announced. “And . . . on my mark . . .”

Cash money
Cash, cash money
Gimme, gimme, gimme
Gimme, gimme, gimme

“Not yet, not yet,” Kaisapaisa warned.

Cash money
Cash, cash money
Gimme, gimme, gimme
So wrong, so wrong, so wrong

“Now!” Kaisa shrieked.

There must have been one big-ass fan underneath that monstrosity of a tub. The moment Kaisapaisa yelled “now,” it was literally raining twenties. Every last one of those fucking bills flew up at least twenty-five feet, and were now floating down among the crowd. As you might imagine, the crowd erupted, and several hundred extras began to hysterically chase and grab at $20 bills as if this was some sort of reality show.

GQ was out of the tub faster than he could say, “Holy shit, that’s my video budget right there,” and he even began wrestling over money with his guests. Kaisapaisa was screaming in Hindi to the Sikhs, who really couldn’t do much about any of it. The scene was chaotic. It was mayhem.

Kanish tapped me on the shoulder and motioned for Aardy and me to follow him. We were both more than happy to get the fuck out of there.

We escaped to the parking lot, where we were met by Lakshmi, the attractive Limey Heir. She, too, was of Indian descent, dressed in Western garb, but spoke in a perfect British accent. With seemingly nowhere else to go, the four of us climbed into the Bentley to have a meeting. Kanish introduced us all. Lakshmi got right down to business.

“I’ve made all the arrangements,” Lakshmi said. “My Telemarketing firms can provide you with Shares from our ten thousand American employees. We will stagger the Shares over the course of the day. That should be enough to properly produce a viral reaction. We have already implemented your IP spoofing, and I have forwarded the Shares algorithm to all of the call centers.”

“Fantastic!” Kanish exclaimed with delight.

“And what happens when people start squawking?” I asked.

“My employees don’t squawk,” Lakshmi scolded.

“Sure they do.”

“Do you wish to engage my Telemarketing Corporation in a contract, or do you not? This is not a favor, you realize.”

“How much are we paying for this, exactly?” I asked.

“The same rate that everyone else pays for our services!” Lakshmi scolded.

Lakshmi began cackling in Hindi to Kanish, who just sat there and took the lashing. Thankfully, a text came in.

Willy Show: Meet me in the dressing room.

“Bummer. We have a meeting with Willy,” I said.

Things had calmed down considerably since we left. The remaining crowd was being patted down by bouncers. Many of the visitors seemed to have escaped out the multiple emergency exits, and it was unlikely that they would be stopped at the gate.

Willy was calmly smoking a Fatty on the couch in the back of the dressing room.

“Did Marv leave?” Willy asked.

“I would imagine,” I replied.

“Your Kitten Video . . .” Willy said as he paused to take drag from a Fatty.

Usually, I have some idea of what to expect when walking into a meeting such as this. But in all honesty, I’ve been a bit off balance ever since Willy unilaterally changed the initial terms of our deal. Then, of course, there’s the fact that we accepted a $250,000 budget for a video that cost all of a buck-two-eighty to make, if that. I had no idea whether the next words out of Willy’s mouth were going to be “what the fuck,” or “good idea.” Then Willy exhaled.

“Your video has completely taken off. And the only reason I know that—clever boys that you are—is because someone Shared it with me on Facebook about an hour ago. The numbers are stupendous.”

Kanish, Aardy, and I instantly pulled out our phones to View the C@taclysmic YouTube page.

“Imagine my surprise when I saw a Kitten Video of the Douchebag Song,” Willy said as he passed the Fatty to Aardy. “Kittens. They’re so cute. You can’t help but watch them. Well done.”

“Over fifty thousand Shares and four million Views!” Kanish exclaimed.

But how? The Telemarketers hadn’t even begun to Share.

“So here’s the plan,” Willy continued. “Given these numbers, we’ll immediately push the Douchebag Song to radio and submit it to Spotify and Pandora. I’d be willing to bet terrestrial radio is already Spinning it. You’re trending. Of course, we should probably call the Guinness Book.”

“Did we break a record?” I asked.

“Why, yes. That had to be the most expensive homemade Kitten Video ever produced.”

Aardy began to Hammina Hammina as he waved the Fatty in dismay, but Willy stopped him short.

“I’m fucking with you. We’ll be moving forward with the full Label deal. I’m convinced.”

“This is fantastic news!” Kanish said.

“Hold on a second,” I said. “What does ‘I’m convinced’ mean exactly?”

Kanish seemed simultaneously alarmed and relieved at the bluntness of my question. The kid is shrewd and wise beyond his years, of this there is no doubt. But he’s still young and excitable and was not so skilled at hearing the fine print. The phrase “I’m convinced” left too much wiggle room. As it stood, I was still a bit miffed at Willy for his bait and switch on the original terms. Obviously, I’m not going to blow up the entire deal because he was a little less than scrupulous. That would just be stupid. I’d never work if I treated half-truths and exaggerations as blatant lies. That didn’t mean I was going to give him the opportunity to do it again.

Aardy, I could tell, wasn’t embarrassed by my pushback in the least. And while in most instances, I would much prefer for my manager to question the meaning of Willy’s caveat, I wanted to send a message of my own. It was partly personal in nature—I’m not happy with the way things went down.

“Yes, I suppose I deserve that. You have your bank account set up for C@taclysmic Group Inc.?”

“As it happens,” Aardy said, “we’re fully open for business.”

“Excellent. How about I put ten million in your account tomorrow as a good-faith payment on what will amount to a $90 million Label deal? Would that suffice?”

Convinced indeed!

There are rarely moments in life when someone says something so outrageous to you that you can only smile, as if you’re absolutely paralyzed. Other than perhaps your lips, which begin to quiver as if you’re trying form words, but for whatever reason no sound comes out. And then you look around at your friends and partners, who are equally as stunned. It’s like you’re bees who just got blasted with smoke. No. It’s like you’re Kittens picked up by the scruff of the neck, frozen in submission. This would be one of those times.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” Willy cajoled.

“Yes! Yes! Yes!” Kanish yelled as he began pogoing around the room.

I guess this is just what Kanish did when he was happy. He turned into a human pogo stick.

“Okay! Okay, excited one.” Willy chuckled. “I need a photo for promotional purposes. Hurry up, then.”

“But we’re wearing pimp outfits,” Kanish said.

“You’re in the Music Business now, son. Get used to it.”

Willy pulled out his selfie stick and snapped a shot. No need for a professional photographer when a selfie will do.

Our VIP badges were enough to get us off the soundstage with nothing more than a quick pat-down. We all had wads of cash in our pockets—as usual—but none of us ever carried anything but hundies, which cleared us outright. Twenties are for suckers.

Kanish, Aardy, and I made our way to the parking lot, where we found GQ leaning against the Bentley smoking a butt, which I accepted from him. What the hell, I could buy a new lung soon.

“Can you believe that shit, man?” GQ complained. “I didn’t even want to do that fucking scene. I mean, who wants to see my fat ass in a tub? Look at me!”

GQ lifted up his shirt to reveal his impressive belly covered with tiny little paper cuts, many of them bleeding.

“Why did you agree to be the front man in all of this?” I asked.

“I don’t fucking know. He’s a Billionheir, I figured he knew what he was doing, man.”

“But you’re the one with success in Music, not him.”

“I know, I know! But he’s overbearing, man. And he had it in his head that I should be the MC. It’s so fucked up. And now a huge portion of our budget has walked out the fucking door. And Marv walked out too. And he didn’t look happy. This is such a fucking fiasco.”

“So what are you going to do now?” I asked as I passed back the butt.

“I guess we’re going to have to figure out how much money we have left and come up with a new plan.”

A $20 bill came flitting toward us like a tumbleweed. GQ held his cigarette away from his body in his left hand as he awkwardly chased the twenty around the lot. He finally managed to pin it against a car with his right hand.

“Got it!”

“Thank goodness for that,” Kanish said sarcastically.

GQ put the twenty into his pocket, snuffed his cigarette on his shoe, and stuck the extinguished butt into his pack of smokes. He then walked right up to Kanish, looked him up and down, and announced in no uncertain terms: “I’m no fucking litterer!” Then he stormed off.

The three of us remained mostly silent for the drive home. We were all quite baked from Willy’s Fatty, and still in shock that C@taclysmic Group Inc. was going to be funded for 90 million motherfucking dollars. Ten million of which would be in our account tomorrow.

Are you shitting me?

I asked Sevaka to turn the radio to KIIS FM in hopes that we might hear the Douchebag Song. We didn’t.

At first, Beaver seemed the best distraction from our success, but we grew bored of it quickly. The three of us would just chill out with some Medicine until we were ready to retire—even if there would be little sleep. As usual, the moment I threatened to go upstairs, Kanish demanded his lesson. I was well prepared to deliver it.

“To walk straight on a crooked path is pure folly.”


Chapter 21 – The Laughing Kittens