Gold, Chapter Thirteen

in by

Jordan bounced on his ball chair and hummed to himself as he checked the latest feeds on his iPhone.  Sennheiser headphones were clamped over his ears; three silent computer screens were open in front of him, displaying a YouTube video of John Oliver, an image from Minecraft, and a Top Chef episode. 

“I’m paying you to do what, exactly” grimaced Stan, as he walked into Jordan’s work space.

Jordan, seeing Stan’s image reflected in the Minecraft screen, held up his hand.  Uno momento, por favor, Senor El Jefa.” 

“What, so you can finish your e-binging?” retorted Stan. “You know, attention span isn’t the name of a bridge. You’re here to work, not…”

Jordan bounced hard, spun around clumsily to face Stan, and took off his headphones.  “What’d you say?  I was too busying keeping up on the latest in politics and cooking.  You know, there’s some pretty interesting similarities between the two:  cutting stuff down to size, mixing things up, turning on the heat, making fundamentally unpleasant things seem tasty, like taxes and intestines…”

“Whatever,” Stan sighed. “Have you found anything?”

“Well,” Jordan said, “I filtered the feed to try to strain out as much of the not useful bits as possible, focusing on picking up words like “property,” “land,” and “Potrero Hill.”  But, other than “Potrero Hill,” which never comes up, seems like every single meeting the mayor has is about property or land.  Or sometimes homelessness, but mostly related to people being on someone’s land or property.  Geez, that guy doesn’t know what to do about that mess.  You’d think it’d be pretty straightforward:  give the person shitting in the street a place to shit.  Any who, it’s not like listening to episodes of West Wing; more like Squidbillies mixed with the morning traffic report, which is why I need to rely on other entertainment to keep the ol’ mind in shape…”

“Uh huh,” said Stan.  “So, nothing.”

“Well, that what I thought.  Until I contacted Snappydog.”

“Snappydog?”

“Code word for the mayor’s, um, is “Butt boy” an official title?  Anyways, he knows who the mayor is meeting with; he gave me the time stamp, so to speak, which narrowed the times when I had to listen in.”

“Okay, so…” Stan said, exasperated. 

“It’s a rich guy.  He wants the land.” Jordan spun back to the screen that was streaming Top Chef and started rapidly tapping.  “The people in the meeting didn’t say who it was, but I put together the clues – a billionaire who wants to move from New York, high-maintenance, possibly Trophy Wife, maybe an interest in architecture – and came up with a few possibilities.”

An image of Donald Trump flashed on the screen, followed by Jay Z, then Michael Bloomberg.  “I think it’s this guy.” 

Stan leaned toward the computer, which showed a dark-haired, deeply tanned man in his 60s.  “Who is he?”

“Roman Perlman,” said Jordan, tapping at the keys.  “Married to this woman.”  A photograph of a slender woman in her 40s riding a horse came up, followed by one of the same woman in a complicated bikini. 

“How’d he make his money?”

“It was her money.  She started Body Beautiful, a natural cosmetics company – which I think means everything’s sourced from a rainforest directly to your face; tiny Amazon monkeys that come in a reusable package crawl around popping blackheads, that kind of thing – and sold it for a couple hundred million before she turned 30.  By the way, I’ll be 30 in four years, and expect to cash out of here in a big way before then…”

“So you’ve made clear,” Stan said.  “What else?”

“He took her money and multiplied it by starting a company that made laser-guided pistols and automatic weapons, initially for military purposes but then also geared toward the consumer market, which went crazy after 9/11.  There’s some great photos of what these weapons of messy destruction can do to a body.” 

A photo flashed on the screen of a corpse with a six-inch hole in the torso.  Stan winced.  “From body beautiful to whoa!” said Jordan.  “Don’t think any amount of organic makeup is going to make that right.  Now they’re investing in cannabis.”

“Medical marijuana?”

“Marijuana everything, medical, growing it, distributing it, distilling it.  They named their company “Bud Beautiful.”

“So we’re going up against a guns and drug company.  Awesome,” said Stan.

“Fellow drug company,” said Jordan.  “Maybe we have something in common.”

“Yeah, maybe,” said Stan.  “What’s the mayor think about them?”

“Pretty, pretty, pretty closed lipped,” Jordan replied.  “Need to know basis, or maybe he doesn’t know himself.  He’s not exactly a decider type.”

“Okay.  Send me the file on them.”

“Right-e-o,” replied Jordan, tapping at two different keyboards simultaneously.  Silicon Valley appeared on one screen; Bojack Horseman on another.  “Oh, by the way, the guy is maybe dangerous.”

“Dangerous?  What do you mean, dangerous.”

“His first wife, who was rich but not richy-rich, disappeared.  Drowned, while they were sailing in the Bahamas.  Nothing was ever proven, but she was a good swimmer; her family suspected foul play.  Some investigations ensued, nothing ever proven, yada, yada, yada…Foul play, is that a few chickens playing Cards Against Humanity?”

“What?  Okay, thanks.  Send me the info.”

“Already done,” bounced Jordan, who’d put back on his headphones.

Each month the View publishes a chapter from Gold, a serialized tale of politics, capitalism, and corruption in San Francisco.  Previous chapters can be found on the paper’s website, www.potreroview.net.