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Thursday, June 30, 2016

My Illest Verse Of All Time

I crack a little sneer at your common cocktail banter
Two steps to the left, cuz I'm deft as Eddie Cantor
I bring a compendium obscure straight from Loompanics
Epiphanic revelations shed light among the frantic
You can flip a few words, but that don't make you famous
I'll rip a full strip and trip, you'll get raped like Tori Amos
You're the weakest link, in this mind meld
Hand you a red shirt, and you get cancelled like Seinfeld
From the mixed up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
I'm a wind in the door, inspired divine styler
This is the crucible, it's irreducible
You think you're better, but the feeling is mutual
Can't stop for death so you're along for the ride
I heard a fly buzz when you died
I throw aside the seventh veil, your artifice of superficiality
This carriage holds but just ourselves and immortality
From my stately pleasure dome decree
You fall flat in the face of educated MC
Iron man on a thing called horse
I'll carve my name into your fly-blow corpse
No sleep 'til Hammersmith
I'll spit mad shit straight from Zoogz Rift
So go decipher - I'll play the sniper
Come again, but not so hyper
A homeopathic dose of my Vogonic poetry
And when I flow it B, the motherfuckers all know it's me
I gotta give a thumbs down to your third-rate horror
Bloodsucking freak, I'm a fucking skull borer
From beyond - I'll check out your pineal
And once again, the effort is minimal
Armchair critique? I'll do you one better
Here's a bill, go find you an editor
I got Nietzschean styles - you try but you Kant
My stanzas bonanza cause your Pavlovian pant
I electrify like Nikola, and you're a half-baked Edison
High-C pulls the plug on your fucking bad medicine...

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The I.D. of Daria Gray

After a point, Daria Gray didn't age.

Now, obviously, this means that she did age, up to a point. That point being her eighteenth birthday. Not coincidentally, that was the age at which she received her driver's license.

Her fateful driver's license.

She knew all about The Picture of Dorian Gray, of course. Her parents named her for it. How would she not know. She'd read it more than once in her youth. That didn't stop every teacher she'd ever had from telling her about it at the start of each school year. By sixth grade, it had lost all charm. By eighth grade, it was an annoyance.

She'd even considered changing her name. But by the time senior year rolled around, she had come to terms with the whole things. There were more important things on the horizon. College. Freedom. Driving.

The woman at the DMV didn't even bring it up. Either she was too polite, or, more likely, ignorant. Either way. Victory!

At age twenty-five, she looked the same. Normal, one supposes. At age thirty, hmmm, okay... She was blessed apparently. But by the time she was approaching forty, she was suspicious. It seemed far too crazy to be possible.

At age forty-two, she felt she was going insane. Now people were starting to notice. Especially the people at the DMV. She had already started going to other towns for her renewals. But that didn't really change things very much.

By age forty-six, she had come to terms with it. Okay, fine. She didn't age. Neither did her photo, for the record. But it was whateversies. Her new concern was the possibility that she was immortal. She didn't make friends, or marry, because she had already lost her parents. Who wants to go through that sort of thing forever?

She made her way to the DMV for yet another renewal. A federal driver's license, this time. Dutifully waited for her number to be called.

But there was no photo. The woman just eventually handed her a card, and said, "That'll be thirty-six dollars, please."

"But...there's no photo?"

"Nope. It's all chips now, you know. Mark of the beast and all that," the woman said with a grin.

Flustered, she had no choice but to accept it. She was pretty sure it had nothing to do with her license, anyway. Pure superstition on her part. The fact that her photo didn't age confirmed it.

On the way home, she looked in the mirror. Hanging down in the middle of her face was a single gray hair...

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Drugs, Mental Illness, and Simulation Theory

Did you know that mental illness is partially driven by technology? Schizophrenics a hundred years ago were talking about being controlled by 'aether', invisible wires, and things like that. We can only describe things using the language and tools of our time, for the most part.

Plato and many others did well at describing these things using language and concepts understood by their peers, while avoiding things specific to our time: rendering, processing, displays, etc. As we get more technologically advanced, our views more closely coincide with 'reality'. Hence simulation theory.

Now I'm not saying that simulation theory is crazy talk. Hear me out.

If you wanted to hack into a website, say, you would most likely use an exploit. Generally, you would create an error condition using random numbers or events that would bring about a window of opportunity to break through security.

If *I* were a lazy programmer, attempting to simulate drugs or mental illness, I'd probably just use a lot of random values. I tend to think that this is what can create a temporary condition that can allow one to see the 'Sim'. It has a crazy sort of logic to it.

It's really distressing to think that our universe is created by lazy programmers, isn't it? Distressing, but not really surprising. Some poor other-dimensional contract worker is tasked with simulating mental illness, and uses a cheap random number generator to do his work for him, creating little exploits for the bold or unfortunate to use to break through and see the Sim.

Sounds about right. Then they probably over-taxed him, and shorted him four credits of overtime.

It gets worse, because who would believe anyone on drugs, or mentally ill? That's why I'm a writer. I can go on about this sort of dross for days, and I get a free pass.

(Editor's note: This is why I avoid drugs, now. I like normalcy.)


My fiancee and I had been up for several days. She couldn't sleep, because I was still awake, and each time she started to doze, she would get up again to check on me.

I told her to put her head in my lap and rest, and that way she wouldn't have to wake up. So she came over to where I was on the couch, and we were face to face.

Her hair started moving a bit, like antennae. My hair did the same thing. I say a point on her face emit dotted line rays, and then she started turning into triangles.

My hand was on her shoulder, under her hair. I felt my hand pass through her, exactly as things behave when you render in 3D.

So, hallucination, mental illness, a glimpse into the Sim...or all three?

Philip K. Dick knows. But he's no longer talking.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Penultimate Hustle L.A. - Chapter 20

Chapter 20  - The Event – Part 1

                  Spirits were at an all-time high with the members of Ultimate Hustle on the night of the event. Everyone was immaculately attired, and looking very sexy indeed. The twins wore matching, formfitting strapless numbers, but Mia was in white, and Gia in black. Their make-up followed the same scheme, and they had even practiced acting in parallel, mirroring each other’s movements.
In response, Lateesha cleverly wore a black and white checkered, long-sleeved dress that ended right below the curve of her ass. The overall effect was that of a constantly shifting optical illusion, hypnotic and difficult to look away from.
                  None of them wore panties.
                  Candy, for reasons of her own, was wearing an all-black, Zorro-style pants suit of silk, with a flowing cape, eyemask, and flamenco hat surrounded by dingleballs. On her right hip was a coiled leather whip. Despite her flamboyance, her most striking feature was her face, which was painted like a Mexican Dia De Los Muertos skull. Her shiny black pointed boots were equipped with flint-laced pads in the heels and toes that clacked and sparked when she walked. She would be a tough act to follow.
                  The men wore tasteful matching tuxedos for the most part, although Chris carried a gold-topped cane, wore a leather top hat, and had flared lace sleeves with a matching handkerchief. On the bridge of his nose, purely for effect, sat rectangular rose-colored lenses trimmed in gold. He made every woman in his presence wet with excitement.
                  Leo was dressed exactly like Mickey Mouse in ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’, down to the star-topped wand, because, well, he was Leo.
                  As an unintended counterpoint to Candy’s deathshead mask, Gangsta Rid’s outfit was that of an undertaker, designed to send a clear message to L.A.’s underworld that Ultimate Hustle was not to be played with.
                  As usual, Janique stole the show. Barefooted, with tiny white roses in her upswept hair, she wore a sheer and beige dress that ran from one shoulder to her ankles, adorned with glittering Swarkovsky crystals. She looked more like a map of the cosmos than an aspiring porn producer. A living art piece that no man could aspire to make love to, any more than one could imagine violating the Venus de Milo, or sticking their dick through the Mona Lisa. All the more amusing to Janique, as she was hot to fuck.
                  Only Brad, Kiki, and Janice stayed behind.
Janice out of demureness, and an agenda only she was privy to.
Brad and Kiki stayed to watch Dulce, and practice for the family they hoped to start soon. Kiki desperately wanted to be there, but couldn’t bear to hurt her fiancĂ©e, who was still rather reticent on the subject of sex. This despite working around some of the hottest and nastiest women in Los Angeles, which was really saying something. She found it endearing, like everything about him, which was why he was her sweetheart.
Still, tonight she was ravenous. When the baby fell asleep, she would take him into Chris and Janique’s bedroom and give him the fucking of a lifetime. Either he would learn to spank her, or she would spank him. Faced with that prospect, she felt it would be an easy decision.
“Is everyone ready?” Janique asked in the hallway. Everyone’s consciousness snapped to attention. There were various affirmations of assent, and the crew prepared to roll out.
In a touching display, the security team, already known as the Tribe, assembled and dropped to one knee, heads bowed. Not to Janique, but to Janice, to whom they were indebted for putting them on to what was obviously a lucrative new branch of their career path.
“Be good, boys,” she said with a smile.
“Yes, ma’am, Miss Janice,” Rid said, and then they rose and split up, half taking the elevator with him, and the rest leaving via the stairs.
                  True leaders, Chris and Janique stayed behind until everyone else was in the lobby. Then, a procession of six black Mercedes limosines made their way to the L.A. Coliseum.
                  When they got there, the skies were lit by two spotlights casting the UH logo onto the clouds.
                  “Oooh!”, Janique said, unable to contain her excitement.
                  “Brad’s idea,” Chris told her. “He wanted it to be a surprise.”
                  “So fucking sweet,” she said, kissing him.
                  Secondary members of the security team had already secured the parking lot entrances, but parted at the designated entry point to let the entourage through. A few astute reporters who had read the ad were there, shouting random questions at tinted windows. All they got in response was Mia, Lateesha, and Gia flashing their tits and making out through a sunroof.
It was enough. The papers would eat it up the next day. In fact, the secrecy and mystery fueled interest and speculation far more than a dry press release could ever hope to accomplish.
At the arena proper, the staffers fell into their roles. Rid worked the door. Mia and Gia processed entrants via the database that Brad had written. Lateesha was ahead of them, verifying that their medical records and proof of age were in order. Candy did general security, diplomatically ejecting anyone with false credentials. Leo led a small army of videographers and photographers, including a documentary team hired to immortalize the event in a cable-safe fashion.
But before anyone could enter, they had to be personally approved by Chris or Janique.
                  When everyone was in place, Janique gave the nod to Riddler, who radioed his people to begin letting vehicles into the lot. It soon became populated with cars, and the flesh parade began. Statuesque blondes, the L.A. standard. Glossy raven-haired lovelies. Redheads of every conceivable variety. Asians, Latinas, even several exotic Indians, and women of indeterminate, but gorgeous, origins.
                  The Tribe were under strict orders to only let in one male for every fifty females, and Janique left it entirely to their discretion. Although judging men wasn’t really their thing, they didn’t disappoint her. The psychology was simple. If regular men found them suitable, they would be a good fit.
                  To say that Chris and Janique were selective doesn’t even begin to tell the tale. Women that could be described as archtypical were grouped together by hair color and body type. When they reached twenty in number, they would debate their relative merits, select the two prime candidates, and let the rest go. Neither were interested in generic performers.
                  The first wave, sixteen in all, were let into the building for age and health verifications. But L.A. held a number of surprises, as well.
                  One particularly intense looking brunette found herself in front of Janique.
                  “You’re cute,” she told her. “What special talents do you possess that might qualify you to work for us?”
                  The girl rolled her eyes at her, pulled out one of her breasts, and bit it. Hard.There was blood on her lips when she stopped and smiled.
                  Janique wrote ‘Crazy’ on a nametag, and slapped it over her bitemark.
                  “Get in there,” she told her.
                  Chris was face to face with one of the few men that made the cut. He was a tall, bald black man with a serene face, dressed in a tasteful pin-striped zoot suit.
                  “Your qualifications?” he asked him.
                  The man pulled his loose pants leg back and revealed the outline of a cock that was bigger than his, even though it wasn’t erect.
                  Chris let out a low whistle, write ‘Tripod’ on a name tag, and let him through.
                  Janique’s next choice was a hardbody with a particularly beautiful face, a rare combination.
                  “You’re pretty,” she said. “What can you do?”
                  “Well,” the girl said. “I can take your fist anywhere you choose to put it, but I’d like to think that my master’s degree in clinical psychology and skydiving instructor’s permit are worth something, too.”
                  “No way.”
                  “Way,” the girl told her.
                  “Open your mouth.”
                  Smiling, she did as instructed. Janique put her balled up hand in the girl’s mouth with relative eash. She was impressed.
                  “Honesty is a trait we highly prize at Ultimate Hustle. We’d love to have you.”
                  They both smiled at each other, and shared a very hot kiss that was unfortunately not caught by any camera. The girl entered the building with the name Paradise.
                  At some point during the proceedings, a woman resembling an Amazonian Janique appeared in front of Rid, who was taken aback, feeling he had let his guard down.
                  “I didn’t mean to scare you,” she said. “I’m Angel. Janique’s big sister.”
                  He fumbled with the door.
                  “Yes, ma’am, he said, letting her through.
                  Once inside, she slipped past the screeners and took a seat in the bleachers, where she could watch the action unobserved.
                  Meanwhile, Chris had his hands full with a very chesty woman who was primly attired.
                  “I like your look,” he admitted. “Quite a change of pace.”
                  “I’m not a whore,” she spat at him. “I want you to stop exploiting women.”
                  “You what?”
                  “I think you heard me the first time. What you’re doing is reprehensible.”
                  “Lady…” Chris began.
                  “Uh, Holly. I appreciate your concern, but we don’t ‘exploit’ anyone, in the negative sense of the term.”
                  “Using these innocent girls for sexual gratification and monetary gain is entirely immoral.”
                  “Innocent girls? Applying to be in adult films?”
                  “They don’t know what they’re doing.”
                  “They’re eighteen or older, Ms. Holly. I’m afraid, subjective morality aside, that’s not for you to decide.”
                  “And that is why I am appealing to you, sir.”
                  Chris was flummoxed. Simultaniously aroused, confused, and angry at being challenged. She brought out his inner hustler, to her detriment.
                  “Look, Holly. What do you do for a living?”
                  “I run a faith-based shelter for exploited girls. Prostitutes, drug-addicts, the abused, abducted.”
                  “That’s very noble. But these women don’t fall under that criteria. They’re actresses.”
                  She laughed in his face. Big mistake. He became much more charming.
                  “What does that pay?”
                  “Pay? I do it for free. I mean, the church houses me, feeds me. I get a little stipend.”
                  “Sweetheart, you sound like the exploited one, to me. Do you know what we pay our employees?”
                  “Not much, I’d expect.”
                  “Two hundred thousand a year, guaranteed.”
                  Holly’s mouth fell open.
                  “Not to mention the benefits, which probably amount to another fifty thousand. And they have the option of making more. Plus we help them with savings and investment, retirement planning. Family services, even. What do you offer the girls you save?”
                  “Uh. Well, usually I get them a job of some sort. Welfare, food stamps.”
                  “Sounds like a deal with the devil. Consigning them to a lifetime of servitude and misery.”
                  “I hardly think that’s the case.”
                  “I’d like to donate a hundred thousand to your cause…”
                  “I…I couldn’t accept.”
                  “Then come work for me. Think of the good you could do with two hundred thousand a year.”
                  “Why not? You’re quite lovely.”
                  She blushed a deep crimson, which only brought attention to the curly brown ringlets that framed her face.
                  “I don’t agree with sex outside of marriage.”
                  “You’re married?”
                  “No. I hope to be, someday.”
                  “So you’re…”
                  “Pure. Yes, sir.”
                  Chris glanced at Janique, who was otherwise engaged, and then lightly took Holly by the shoulders and put her back to Janique.
                  “Then marry me.”
                  Stunned silence.
                  “We’d be legally wed, before God and country. You could fulfill your contract with us, and be free to spend your earnings as you see fit.”
                  “Surely there’s no biblical prohibition against a man and wife making love on camera. Is there?”
                  Her eyes were taking on a hazy, dreaming quality.
                  “All I’m asking is that you consider it. For the greater good.”
                  Chris slipped his business card into her hand.
                  “I can honestly say that I love you, Holly. Could God fault me for that?”
                  “No,” she admitted. What’s more, she could feel the truth of it.
                  He leaned forward and kissed her. Firmly, but gently.
                  She was hooked.
                  He wrote ‘Holly Bibble’ on a nametag, and squeezed it onto her gingham dress over her left breast.
                  “Now go. This is no place for a woman such as yourself. Call me tomorrow. I’ll give you a tour of the offices, and prove every word I said to you.”
                  “Maybe…” she said. But her eyes indicated that she would rather stay with him. Follow him anywhere.
                  Chris spun her around and lightly swatted her ample bottom.
                  “Go. Daddy has work to do.”
                  “Yes, sir,” she said breathily as she walked away.
                  When she got a moment, Janique said, “What was that about?”
                  “My hot new Christian wife.”
                  “Chris! Be nice and stop hustling!”
                  But she was grinning broadly.
                  When she finally turned away from him, Janique nearly screamed. Inches from her face was a beautiful black girl who looked exactly like a young Hazel.
                  “Chris,” she said in alarm.
Then he turned pale, as well. They exchanged glances, and she wrote ‘Hazel Minx’ on a nametag and sent her through without another word.
                  The next viable candidate in front of him was almost rejected out of hand. Head down, she was wrapped in a shawl, and looked more like a homeless woman than anything else. But when she got closer, she looked him sharply in the eyes, and threw back her cloak. Beneath it, she wore a shimmering red silk robe adorned with a white embroidered dragon. A Chinese contortionist.
                  She arched her back and placed her foot on the crown of her head, fitting it to the contour of her skull, then slowly rotated a full three-sixty on her other foot, mimicking a ballerina on a music box, a feat Chris would have thought impossible. Just as he was going to wave her through, the girl executed a standing front flip, and landed with both feet on his shoulders.
                  People began to applaud, and she dropped down. Chris was greeted with a face full of her neatly trimmed snatch, of a most intoxicating odor. What else could he do? He turned his head slightly sideways and squeezed her pussy with his teeth, then he gave her a few swipes from top to bottom with his tongue.
                  She dismounted with another flip, backwards, this time, and was again before him, eyes facing the pavement.
                  His hand was shaking as he wrote ‘Ming Dynasty’ on a name tag and sent her through.
                  Janique was being distracted by a small circus, led by a white guy dressed as an utter parody of a black pimp. Purple fur-lined suit and hat, zebra trim. He was swinging a gold pocket watch on a chain.
                  She was instantly dismissive.
                  “Oh, please.”
                  He snapped his fingers, and three petite girls appeared from behind his cape, blonde, brunette, and redhead. They passed around him and reappeared with yellow, orange, and pink wigs. The real showstopper was when they did it a second time, and emerged bald, in gold lame’ Star Trek minidresses.
                  “Package deal,” he told Janique. “My ladies wish to legitimize their vocations.”
                  “But can you fuck?” she asked him.
                  “I didn’t acquire my stable via trust fund, madame. And there are others.”
                  She was convinced.
                  “Go,” she said, not bothering to name them. “But you look ridiculous!” she shouted over her shoulder, smiling.
                  The end of the line was now visible, and she and Chris were both ready to get inside. They decided to deal with the remaining applicants together. Next up was an overweight girl dressed in black, with a matching black pixie cut hairdo. Her face, quite cute, was topped by square framed glasses.
                  “No mopeds,” Chris said.
                  Janique kicked him in the ankle, harder than she needed to.
                  “I mean, ‘I’m sorry. You fail to meet Ultimate Hustle height and/or weight requirements.”
                  “I’m not applying for onscreen talent, Mr. Turner.”
                  “No. But there are a few continuity and translation errors in your Japanese films I’d like to discuss.”
                  “You saw those?” Janique asked. “Where?”
                  “Japan,” the girl said, and Janique felt somewhat foolish.
                  “Duh. Of course.”
                  “In a bigger sense, I’d like to ask why you haven’t released them in the U.S.”
                  “Honestly, we never considered it,” Chris said.
                  “You should. They’re considered underground classics there, of course.”
                  “How did you find out about them?” Janique asked her.
                  “Cinephiles have their own channels of information.”
                  “Otaku,” Janique said, and the girl nodded.
                  “Impressive,” Chris told her. “I take it you’d like to work for us on the other side of the camera?”
                  “Yes, sir. Very much so.”
                  “I don’t think we have the non-sex contract on hand, but you’re welcome to go inside anyway.”
                  “Of course we do, silly. What’s your name, dear?” Janique said.
                  “You can call me Detail.”
                  “Love it!”
She wrote it on a name tag, and said, “We’ll work out the specifics this week.”
“Thank you both. I’ll forgive the fat chick crack,” she said to Chris, and he was slightly embarrassed. Then she smiled, and all was forgiven.
“I like her,” he said when she was out of earshot.
“I bet you do, you little chubby chaser,” Janique said, smiling.
“Brat,” he said, kissing her.
“Daddy…” she said in reply.
The last to make it through was a girl in a devil costume, towing a statuesque angel on a chain.
                  Janique wrote ‘Ave Satanas’ on a tag, put it on her, and said, “Oh, get in there.”
                  To the rest, she said, “Sorry, folks. We’ve exceeded our quota. See security on the way out for your complimentary gift bags.”
While she did provide for five hundred such bags, stocked with high-end make-up and hair care products, she had also elected to back the Tribe in starting their own production company, using her second stringers.
                  Janique was going to own the L.A. porn scene, and was leaving nothing to chance.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Forever Daddy - Chapter 4

Chapter 4 –
            Well, that was an interesting encounter, Zach thought. He was suddenly a Starbucks convert. Plus, he had to admit, it was a damn good cup of coffee. But it was the girl who piqued his interest, of course.
            Wife material?
            Way too soon to tell. She had the little girl act down cold. Although he would probably never have children, he did have a certain paternal instinct under his his gruff exterior. He wanted to lavish love and praise on a deserving woman, and likewise reap the benefits such a close relationship could generate.
            To be one girl’s foundation for a lifelong romance.
            It was probably too much to ask. Hope for. Whatever. Zen had given him unrealistic expectations about the rest of the world. Thus far, he had refused to lower his standards. And, relatedly, he was, thus far, alone.
            So be it.
            Life was an all or nothing affair. Renee had taught him that, actually. He’d like to think that he’d taught her a few things, as well. Not many people could make that claim at this stage of her life. She really was an amazing woman. To an almost intimidating degree. Almost.
            In a bigger sense, dating Renee would change his work dynamic. And work was all he had.
            It was lamentable to him that men were the sum total of their careers and talents. He was no scholar. Not an artist. He did one thing, and he did it well. Zach tied things to cranes.
            Used to.
            He tried to remember the last time he had actually rigged something. Three years ago. It was his last job before joining Renee and company for the retirement leg of his career. Money was never an issue. Now it had almost become a burden.
            He did his best to conceal his wealth, but at the same time, he had very high standards. The best of the best was all he accepted. Seventy-five thousand dollar truck. Custom-tailored fire-resistant clothes. His home, although somewhat modest by the standards of his co-workers, was equipped for luxury and comfort. It was also exceedingly lonely, and only used for eating, sleeping, and sex. The majority of his time was spent at work.
            Zach needed something more, to be sure. A real relationship seemed to be in order. Someone to share it all with.
            At the gate, he rolled down his window and presented his badge to the guard, a vivacious fox trained in krav maga, Delta Force knife handling, and small arms. She rolled her eyes and waved him through. He did it every day. As did she.
            Stilkl cradling his now depleted cup of trademarked Starbucks coffee, he strolled, nay sauntered, to where the action was.
            As was his usual M.O., the chief workflow and efficiency officer sat in his director’s chair, observing, but not taking notes.
            “Morning, Asshole.”
            “Mornin’,” Asshole said, not looking up.
            “What’s the word?”
            “Stupid, lazy, time-wasting, useless pieces of skin.”
            “So, business as usual, then.”
            Asshole nodded.
            His entire job consisted of criticizing the work habits of others. He was well suited for the task.
            Leaving him to his work, which didn’t really seem like work at all, to the uninformed, Zach walked from crane to crane checking on the progress and safety of each ongoing task. Between cranes, he passed by the bullriggers working in the racks, maneuvering heavy, unusual-shaped pieces of pipe through the steel beams.
            Everything in his world seemed to be going well.
            He was later delighted to discover a beautiful new hire was on site. She started as a flagger/fire watch/hole watch, as everyone with Zen Construction was required to do, from the mechanical engineers on down. She was a slim, delicate redhead with a beautiful, serene face, set with determination. Possibly the most beautiful girl in the world.
            Unfortunately, her name was Johnnie.
            This was unfortunate, because the port-o-let company Zen subbed with was named “Johnnie On The Spot”. For most of the employees, this was a few minutes of amusement, then it became a stale joke, at best.
            Afterall, she was gorgeous, intelligent, diligent, hard-working, punctual, and dedicated. No one in their right mind would disrespect such a woman to her face. And, to their credit, the majority of Zen employees didn’t do so even in private.
            The real problem arose when the wrong person made a comment in the presence of Renee.
            It was, of course, a surly iron worker, the most irascible of the tradesmen. They generally didn’t give a fuck about anything but hanging steel, doing drugs, drinking, and fucking. Money was a mere corollary. They did the jobs most people weren’t crazy enough to do. Facing death on a daily basis tended to bring with it a certain loose, freewheeling attitude.
            But when Renee heard someone, Porkchop, an intermediate level hand, say, “I’d piss on her,” she lost it. He was about eight feet away. She spun around and charged him.
            Her gloves were off, and she hit him hard. She swung with her right hand, connecting squarely with is left jaw. His bones were brittle and weak from chronic methamphetamine abuse. Dirty, bathtub shake-n-bake, the really shitty red kind.
            His jaw broke at the hinger, and his right canine was dislodged along with his front incisors. They flew to his right more than fifteen feet. In fact, the relative distance was later measured, and the location of his teeth were later recorded for posterity.
            Things really went bad when he hit her back. As tough as she was, Renee went down. Almost before she hit the ground, the other hands in the area beat him to death.
            It wasn’t pretty. Steel-toed boots, fists hardened by hard labor, and, most of all, a lifetime of frustration with the general inadequacies of the world bubbled to the fore. Every aggravation they ever had was inflicted upon him. He was dead in under a minute.
            He was beaten for three.
            When the ambulance arrived, Renee was already at the hospital. Her injuries were similar to his, with the exception that she only lost a single canine. It could have been reinserted or replace, but she instead elected to leave it out. Subjectively, it was her ony physical flaw.
            Naturally, the paramedics were unable to revive him. They were barely able to find all of his body. After a lengthy investigation, it was ruled a justifiable homicide, and they were released from jail. Each testified that he had hit her first.
            Renee took a week off in memoriam, and returned to work.
            Before she did so, she took her accumulated savings, and using her remaining credit, bought Johnnie On The Spot. She destroyed all existing stock and rechristened the company ‘Fresher’. She improved the design. Patented. Profited.
            But to her dismay, Johnnie had fled in embarrassment. They never saw her again.
            It ruined Renee's year.