I rented a room at the Vista Hotel in DC on January 18th to celebrate Marion Barry’s crack cocaine arrest with her, found an old black and white camcorder to hide in the wall, and bought enough narcotics to keep Peru in the black for months. Some fake FBI agents from the local casting agency would break in, and I’d yell “bitch set me up!” scores of times, like when people spent a solid year yelling “I’m Rick James, bitch!”, driving Dave Chappelle out of show business and his eventual career change to civil engineering.
Maybe it was too soon – not second date material. I couldn’t get her to return my calls after that, and owed something like $900 on my corporate Amex card for essentially a hearty handshake at the door and not much more. Luckily I shit on American Express and never pay my bill. Let them hire Boba Fett, IG-88, Bossk, and all the rest of those Empire Strikes Back bounty hunters to get their money out of me.
“Why the hell are so many serial killers into clowns?” said Tito. We sat in the parking lot of a South Jersey Shop Rite, staking out Cleveland Hopkins, this guy we knew from high school that supposedly had one of the prototypes of the new Commodore Amiga, something we could probably flip on Craigslist for at least a grand or two.
“Coulrophobia,” I said. “Fear of clowns. Little kids hate clowns, especially now that nobody even knows what the fuck a circus is. That kind of power trip is probably useful for pedophiles.”
Tito rocked back and forth in the driver’s seat of the Crown Vic, and ate a large canned ham from the Shop Rite. (They cook them in the factory; it’s not like you’ll get sick, although the cold fat congeals in the inside of your mouth and makes it feel like you haven’t brushed your teeth in a month.) We passed time during the stakeout by writing a Japanese conspiracy novel about Bobby Fischer planning the 9/11 attacks, 140 characters at a time, dumping the results to twitter. Neither of us spoke any Japanese, and spent most of the night writing a sentence at a time and then pasting it into google translator, which probably doesn’t turn out the greatest prose.
We knew about the Commodore from a police report my lawyer lifted from the county courthouse. The cops found a shipping container at Long Beach filled with antique rocket parts, computer gear and illegally imported jars of cheap mushrooms, the kind you get in the oriental section of the grocery store that taste like slimy cardboard. They thought maybe Hopkins used them to hide the smell of drugs or corpses, but it turns out he wanted to open a low-end pizza joint called “Fistful of Pizza” using mostly ingredients produced by Chinese slave labor. As for the rocket parts, Cleveland’s dad was obsessed with stories of German forced labor camps during World War 2, and he spent a year of his childhood going to all of these hollowed-out tunnels in the Polish mountains that were used to assemble V-2 rockets. Most of them were now gentrified, turned into condos named after Roman Polanski films. This attracted a small cult following, which included a few rampant pedophiles that drove down property values. Maybe this gave him some kind of PTSD that made him obsess over his own crappy pizzeria. All we know is that only six copies of that Amiga prototype existed, and we had to have one.
“What the fuck is a Power architecture anyway? Does that have anything to do with Powerade?”
“Are you high? It has nothing to do with Powerade,” I said. “It’s a family of RISC instruction set processors, like the PowerPC or Cell processor they used in the PlayStation 3. This is supposed to have some reprogrammable quad-core system-on-a-chip that implements enough buzzwordable technology with confusing acronyms that will make a hardware geek pay far more money than its worth, even though it will be utterly obsolete in fifteen minutes.”
“Haven’t they had like a dozen re-launches of the Amiga?”
“At least. The only one that was close to profitable was when Crispin Glover licensed the Kickstart ROMs and built A500 clones for that performance art movie thing, the all-CGI version of The Day the Clown Cried. I think they sold like a thousand licensed copies before getting sued to death. I don’t give a shit about the Amiga, but there are plenty of freaky European hackers stuck in the 80s who will pay top dollar for that crap.”
“Here he is.” A guy walked out of the store, carrying two Barry Bonds reusable grocery bags that were emblazoned with an image of the giant-headed outfielder holding a 50-pound jug of HGH, a cartoon balloon next to him saying ‘stay in school and shit!’. The guy was one of those short, bald, portly Tasmanian Devil looking guys that always wore long shorts and lots of Ed Hardy stuff with whatever tough-guy slogan was hot that moment in combat sports, like “tap out” or “never surrender” or “fuck shit” or whatever. “Zap the bastard,” said Tito.
I pulled out the Taser X12 Less-Lethal Shotgun, which was really a Mossberg 500 12-gauge, but with a stupid bright yellow stock and enough re-engineering to fire XREP rounds. The XREP cartridge is basically the same neuro-muscular incapacitator as a handheld Taser X26, but you can shoot it up to 100 feet away. I leaned out of the Crown Vic and got a clean shot at his torso, and watched the finned round explode from the barrel. The needles dug into the guy’s fat belly, and pulsed 50,000 pant-shitting volts through the troll’s nervous system. He hit the deck, dropping packages of funions and ring-dings in the parking lot, seizing and writhing in pain.
We jumped out of the car, ran up to the guy. “Fuck, this isn’t him,” Tito said. “Hopkins has a ‘Three’s Company’ tattoo on the back of his left leg.”
“Jesus Christ, I just shot $180 of Taser at this bastard,” I said. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”
Tito grabbed a twelve-pack of Little Debbie and a 40 of Fucked Up malt liquor from the pile of dumped groceries, and we dove back in the car, Dukes of Hazard style. We weaved out of the strip mall and hauled ass on Route 55 toward Philly, the police scanner on full tilt. Tito swerved through traffic, taking hits from the bottle while trying to find a playlist on his iPod. “Bitch set me up!” he mumbled.
“Yeah, heard that before,” I said.