It was easy. I invented an app that tracked the use of the other apps on any device. For lots of people it’s no big deal. For others, app junkies who have so many gadgets on their device it clogs the arteries of the machine. Users can see on one page a summary of usage, can delete apps they never use, free up a bit of elbow room on their screens.
It’s free, if you include in free the fact that it collected volumes of data on usage, including usage unrelated to apps, like who you called, what you searched for, how often, even what time of day or day of the week. If they touched the screen or tapped a key, it was in the data. Naturally I didn’t include that in the blurb.
From the user’s point of view, they see only an app usage report, including the time of day and how long they spent. The money came when I sold the data to whoever wanted it. I was a popular guy with data miners.
Flush with cash, I hired coders to crank out more apps and games. We did simple things, even games for kids that were reasonably educational, work with numbers, spelling, that sort of thing. More money came in as our reputation for giving kids a fun way to learn bounced our ratings through the roof. Of course, I also had fresh kiddie data to peddle to toy and cereal manufacturers.
It was boring, I didn’t do anything but oversee, pat backs, deliver fat bonuses. The thing I resisted was going public or handing out shares to employees.
I sold the whole thing to one of the big four. I sold it for two hundred million dollars and fifty thousand shares of their stock, which I figured to be overpriced or they wouldn’t hand it out so freely. Any company that uses stock to buyout another company is telling you they think you’re a sucker for taking their richly valued shares.
I took it because I couldn’t get them to part with more than the two hundred in real money. At the time the stock was trading at two hundred and change, my newly acquired shares worth ten mil.
I was wrong, and so were they. I almost unloaded it immediately, but I figured, what the flip, I have a two hundred million to invest in exchange traded funds that track indexes, which I did with one hundred million. The rest went to municipal bond funds, also exchange traded. I use ETFs because the fees are minimal and nobody can consistently pick stocks that would ‘outperform’ other stocks, or the indexes themselves.
Five years later, now, the stock is worth six hundred a share. My fifty thousand shares are worth thirty million. I sold sixteen thousand shares, ten million worth and reinvested that. I’ll ride the remaining shares and see what happens. If they go to zero, I'm still rich. In fact, the market has taken my hundred mil in index ETFs to over two hundred twenty mill. In sum, my net worth is now over three hundred million and I live off dividends from the munis and the stock funds.
I’d begun training in martial arts when I still owned the company but had little actual work to do. When I unemployed myself, I added pistol and rifle training to the martial arts mix.
Still, there’s only so much enjoyment to be had doing essentially riskless activities. Martial arts is great, but nobody gets seriously hurt, lots of body pads and cushy mats to fall on. Around three years ago, I dropped taekwondo, kept aikido and krav maga. Both are forms of judo, krav is Israeli, aikido is Japanese, one art compliments the other.
The best thing about krav is it’s efficiency for actual street fighting where there are no rules, no pads, no referee, . You go aggressive immediately and keep moving until the opponent is finito. Any handy piece of anything that can be used as a weapon is fair, as is an eye gouge, throat strike, a swift three knee kicks to the groin, whatever it takes. Even though we don’t actually finish those strikes in practice, krav it is still the most painful to train. The instructors will either shove and toss you until you surrender and quit, or they will make you into a piece of sheet steel. I didn’t quit.
Now, I have a fair sized home facing the ocean, Pacific, just north of LA in Malibu. I’m thirty two.
I found a girl I met in aikido to take care of the house. Zoe C gets a salary, room and board, I pay for her training. She’s delighted. No, I don’t have an intimate relationship with her, she’s nineteen and hot, she’s also a lesbian, the lipstick kind, a girly girl who likes girls. If the house is orderly, I’m satisfied. I even do most of the cooking, she calls me Chef. There’s a room full of gym equipment and mats, we practice aikido there, I pass along krav moves.
Zoe C can have friends over, one or two at a time, no more. Her part of the house has a separate entrance, full bath, her own full kitchen, washer and dryer.
I don’t want parties, I don’t want to watch them have sex. I don’t need to check out her panty collection, no hassles, no cop-a-feel, no suggestive innuendo. After a few weeks, she figured out I was as good as my word. She does have a tendency to walk around in a t-shirt and knee socks, swims and suns by the pool nude.
No, I don’t join her, no, I don’t gawk, not much anyway.
I see her guests only occasionally, the ones who don’t mind nude swimming even when I’m in my kitchen, which looks out over the pool onto the Pacific. The eye candy is nice, I don’t fix lunch with a hard on. Most days we have breakfast, lunch and dinner together.
When I occasionally ‘date’, once or twice a month, I call a service. They send over a professional, I take them to dinner, sometimes to bed. For five thousand a throw, I get an intelligent sylph, no stripper tits or basketball ass. The girls are college undergrads and grad students, smart enough not to get bogged down in student loans. I use condoms.
They get breakfasted and returned in more or less the same condition they arrived. I’m not into weird sex, fine if that’s what you like, I don’t. No fantasy bullshit, just plug and play.
We’re at the range blasting away. I have a series of Glocks, from the nine millimeters, the Gs 17-19-26 and 43. They get smaller as the number gets bigger.
For more power, kind of overkill, a nine can take you out easily enough, I use the G-21sf, which carries thirteen rounds of 45 caliber ammunition and the G-39, smaller and more concealable. For the heck of it I got a nine round G-33 gen 4, which shoots the .357 caliber. I take one at a time to the range a couple times a month, empty a box, go home. Zoe C bugged me to take her along, now we empty two boxes and we, like millions of others, are major Glock fans.
My level of practice is enough, I’m not trying for marksman. I can punch the paper at twenty five and fifty, good enough. I also know that shooting at paper isn’t shooting people, particularly if they’re shooting back. I have no experience with that, lucky so far.
We pack it in, drive home, I keep all the guns in a fat safe that’s lodged behind the back wall of my clothes closet. The wall is mirrored, click a near invisible button top left, behind shirts hanging on the rack. Door eases open, enter the code, the safe opens, the two guns returned to their places. The bottom shelf is stacked with the ammunition, cleaning supplies to the right. Glocks are user friendly, cleaning every few hundred rounds is more than adequate unless you’ve been swimming in a Louisiana swamp. I bet the thing would fire anyway.
Tonight, I’m grilling prime filets, Zoe C has baked potatoes warming in the oven, she’s just finishing up creamed spinach when I come in with the steaks.
I opened a bottle of cabernet earlier, let it suck some air, pour two glasses as she puts out the plates and utensils. Soon enough we’re enjoying nicely charred tender beef just shy of medium rare, we like it a bit bloodier.
Zoe C, “Good job Chef, the steak is gorgeous, and the size of a bowling ball. I’ll never get it all down.”
“I won’t get through all of mine either, we’ll take what’s left and I’ll crank out fajitas for lunch or dinner tomorrow. Can you get to the store? I have the seasonings, just need peppers, a red and a yellow or orange. Check and see if we have onion.”
“Yeah, good catch, the big ones. You want me to make nachos as a warm up?”
She blinks at me, “Who turns down nachos? Don’t make it for lunch, let’s have them for dinner, I’ll fix margaritas. I’ll deal with something for lunch.”
“Are you going back to UCLA?”
“Slowly, business courses, finance, coding. Since you gave me this gig, I have no reason to get on a four year matriculation path. Actually, I know what courses I want, I may not graduate at all. I don’t want to take the mandatory crap. Maybe I’ll do a language.”
“I don’t know, we do aikido, maybe Japanese.”
She doesn’t know I’m conversational in Japanese, it never came up. Since it’s come up now, I tell her.
“Get out! You speak Japanese?”
“The Tokyo version, and I'm not fluent. There are different dialects for Kyoto, and the more complicated exchanges have nuances I am not familiar with at all. I can make my way through the airport, get a taxi, hotel, order food. I couldn’t do much in any intensive business negotiation.”
“Still, that’s it then, I’ll start Japanese, we can stumble around together.”
“You still hang with Lu…what was it, Lucinda?”
“She took a job in Tennessee, it was never a thing, I don’t want a thing, a ree-lay-shun-ship. I want a night with a little intimate fun, no different than you calling a service. There are lots of lesbians at school, most of them not my style, but enough are. Then there are the college-curious, that’s fine with me too.”
“Anyone ask you to got threesome with the boyfriend?”
“A couple of times, I laugh and tell them I’m a girl girl, no dicks, not even to watch. They don’t press, in fact it’s like they’re embarrassed, obviously the boyfriend put them up to it. One girl was visibly relieved when I turned her down. She had no more interest in girls than I do in farm animals.”
I chew a hunk of, I admit, very fine steak, swallow, sip of red.
“I had two girls over once, not to do lesbian. It was more trouble than fun, I wind up trying to service two, and two girls licking my part wasn’t any more stimulating than one. Maybe I’m just an old thirty two.”
Zoe C, “Nope, a sensible thirty two. I tried a girl threesome once, I had the same thought, it’s too busy. For me anyway, if other girls want to pile on in their sex life, I got no opinion.”
“You’re nineteen, grown up, do your parents have an opinion, not about lesbian, about your role here?”
“No reservations if that’s what you mean. I tell them straight up, they know I’m a lez, they know I’m working here and they know they aren’t writing any checks for me to live in a dorm or pay my tuition.”
“And our agreement?”
“I don’t tell them jack, or I should say I lie. They think it’s more of a house sitting arrangement. They think you travel extensively, want someone responsible to look after the houseplants and dog while you’re gone. When I have a girl over, they ask about you, I tell them I have a strict confidentiality agreement and if I blow it, I blow my comfortable life. You never made it to any social media sites, nobody knows who you are. I don’t know that much about you, not where you got your money, not how you spend it other than what I see here. Chef, I’m not a nosy person, for all I know you’re anything from a trust fund baby to an international assassin. Probably not, in the time I’ve been with you, you haven’t traveled anywhere.”
“I sold a company for a lot of money. It was blind luck like most instant fortunes. I’m no business genius, I noodled along and stuff fell into place. No, I’m not being humble, it’s the truth. I look around here and can hardly believe I own it, that it’s all paid for. The sexiest thing I’ve bought is the NSX and I don’t get close to topping out at a hundred fifty. I made it to one twenty once, for a few hundred yards.”
“The car you have for me is great, Hyundai Santa Fe, nicely tricked out, roomy, easy to drive.”
“I’m going down to the Bondurant Racing School in Phoenix. They have executive protection courses, grand prix and oval track. You interested?”
Eyes widen, “Flip yeah! When?”
“I don’t know, just noodling on it. Tell you what, go to the website tomorrow, figure out when you can go, pick a course and sign us up. Get us hotel rooms, something nice. We’ll scoot down in the NSX and see what they can teach us.”
Zoe C, “Oh man, wow, that is so cool, thank you for including me.”
“Might have a little fun, I have no idea what’s it’s good for, but that’s a reason to go. Everything doesn’t need a purpose, frankly, it sounds a bit scary, which is another reason to do it.”
“Cut the crap Chef, you’re trying to reassure me. I’ve seen you in aikido, I’ve practiced with you here at home. You’re sensibly cautious, but you aren’t afraid.”
Okay, so she’s on to me.
Bondurant was a blast. Zoe C signed us up for Tactical Executive Protection. For that, they use Tahoes. We learned how to one eighty and three sixty to evade. How to nudge a rear quarter panel to drive the bad guy’s car in a spin. How to push through a roadblock, which was exactly opposite of what I’d have guessed. No speed up and bash. You go slow, make contact with the rear of the blocking vehicle, gas it enough to push the car enough to open a space, then shoot through.
The main thing we learned is how much an SUV can tolerate before it rolls, I was surprised again, more than I’d expected. For me, the hardest maneuver was the reverse one eighty, get up to speed, hit the brake and twist the steering wheel sharply, but turn it back before the move is complete. Zoe C is better at it than I am.
“Next time, we’ll do Formula One.”
Zoe C, “Whenever you decide, I’m good to go. Don’t mean to overspend your money, probably good to refresh tactical once in a while.”
“Yeah, I can see that, annually at least. Want to swap the Hyundai for a Tahoe?”
“I like the Hyundai, if I had to, I could do the same tricks with it.”
Our lives chug along peacefully, then…
Zoe C comes home from classes one afternoon, she’s upset.
“What is it?”
“One of the girls I know, raped by a fraternity prick. The usual story, she agreed to go to a party, got buzzed, took a drink from a cup somebody handed her. Next thing she knows, she’s on a bed, dizzy and disoriented, clothes off. The guy asleep next to her.”
“She know he did it, like was there semen…?”
“A used condom on the floor. She didn’t have the presence of mind to take it, just got dressed. As she was about to leave, the guy woke up, giant smirk on his face. Told her to come around again sometime.”
“She know him?”
“Yeah, she knows who he is, rich kid from the East.”
“She report the rape?”
“Yes, the security people at the school treated her like she brought it on herself and it would only be a he said, she said, blah, blah.”
“What about the LAPD?”
“Didn’t pursue it. From her point of view, she becomes a helpless victim, or too stupid to care about. Her parents find out, or her friends, they’re going to look at her differently. Being raped is bad enough, being ostracized is more bad on bad.”
“Guy have a history?”
“I don’t know.”
I sigh, “Shame. I mean it’s a college campus loaded with available women, do they really have to drop Rohypnol in a drink to get laid?”
“He put the make on her, she declined. He’s not used to declines, when she said she’s a lesbian it made it worse, she remembers him saying she just needed a dick.”
“Name? His name, not the girl’s.”
“Chad…something….Cantor, that’s it, Chad Cantor. Plays tennis for the school, girls all over him, why he had to do that to her…it seems so pointless.”
“How are you?”
“Can you ask around, anyone know this guy, I mean know him as a predator, even as a rumor?”
She perks up, “Yeah, I can do that.”
“What is he, junior, senior?”
“Senior as I recall, not really sure.”
“While you dig, I’ll see what I can find. Oh, ask discreetly, don’t suggest rape. Say something off the cuff, a friend of yours got asked out by him but she said he wasn’t her type. Nothing else, don’t leave a trail of breadcrumbs back to you.”
“Why’s that matter?”
“He’s violent, rape is violence. I know you can protect yourself, but don’t make yourself a target, play it casual and easy.”
We leave it there. She finds the Roomba and fires it up. The robot vacuum roams the floors, she goes off to study. I get on the laptop and search.
Okay, he’s on Facebook, who isn’t…me for one, I have no itch to stick my stuff out there, and the friends I have are mostly former business associates, more acquaintances than pals.
I page down his stuff, it’s about his tennis achievements, he’s thinking of going pro. I figure if he hasn’t made it by now, he’s not going to. I don’t know, maybe wallow around the lower rankings, get to play the top players in the early rounds once in a while. I already don’t like him, he’s one of the curly hair boys, Jewish, vaguely resembles a young McEnroe whose mother was Jewish. I have no beef with Jews, it’s just an observation.
Then a Google search, reports of matches, I dig down. He’s never going pro, he plays like an A level club player. Big serve, no follow through, rattles easily, like McEnroe.
Now for the hack. I could call a former colleague, kid has the fastest keyboard I’ve ever seen, but I don’t want to be connected to Cantor so I do it myself.
It takes me an hour, but I’m in the UCLA records site. Cantor’s grades are acceptable, he won’t be Valedictorian, or even honorable mention, but he’ll matriculate with a BS in kinesiology. Anatomy, physiology and the mechanics of human movement. I have no clue how rigorous the requirements are.
Drill down, an altercation on the courts, no, two. Reported to have harassed and made lewd suggestions to a female freshmen, nothing more than a casual investigation. Another he-said-she-said. Ticket for parking his Porsche in a faculty spot, definitely a hanging offense.
All in all, the behavior of an entitled rich kid.
The university has his high school records, nothing remarkable there either. It appears he got in because the tennis team needed bodies, somebody with decent talent to play the top guys. I try for records from Connecticut.
If he set fires or tortured small animals as a child, it isn’t evident. I figure I’m dealing with a kid who has never been told no. Or when he has, he doesn’t swallow it well. Not a serial killer, not a killer at all, a pretty boy who doesn’t grasp rejection.
The first question is, does he deserve to die? I withhold judgment until I hear more from Zoe C. The second question is, if he’s worse than I’ve uncovered so far, can I pull the trigger? It’s only a thought experiment, for now.
A few days pass, if she’s found out anything she doesn’t mention it. She goes to class, comes home, takes care of the place and studies. I make the meals, make her eat something nutritious in the morning, if she eats lunch at school she doesn’t say. I work on dishes for dinner she won’t be able to turn down, a tad heavy on protein, bit of starch, as little sugar as I can manage. Because we work each other to death in my gym, or she does laps in the pool, there’s no need to worry about calories as such.
Tonight is meatloaf and mashed with brown gravy and creamed corn.
Zoe C, “Man, you make seemingly simple stuff, but it’s so good.”
“Thank you. Sometimes I do turkey meatloaf, tonight is the real deal, ground chuck. To me, once I add spices and rich brown gravy, the meat is immaterial. Burgers are different, I want beef. Meatloaf and tacos, turkey is fine. We had ground chuck in the freezer so I went with that.”
“Mashed with the skin on is awesome, it gives texture to the mushy potato. You added red pepper to the corn.”
“Color it up.”
“You haven’t asked about Cantor.”
“When you find something, you’ll tell me. It isn’t a quest, you have things on your plate besides investigating that prick.”
“I got something today, finally. Most girls don’t know he exists, UCLA is a big school, forty four thousand students. A fair number don’t even know there’s a tennis team. I talked to two girls who swear he’s done it before, he thinks it’s funny. Doped up girl, fuck her and forget her. They said the same thing you did, guys has girls chasing him around, athlete, good looking, rich family. He’s the dreamboat, except he isn’t, more of a superficially pretty garbage scow.””
“Why do girls get caught up in chasing a guy everyone else is chasing? Do they think that will stop when he’s married?”
“Yes, women frequently believe only they can show their chosen one the bliss of monogamy. And there’s the competition of course, to get the guy so many others want. Bone dead stupid, but they do it anyway.”
“Any details, or rumor?”
“I got a name, meeting her tomorrow for coffee after Japanese class.”
“I’ll deal with the dishes. Come later if you want a nightcap, otherwise I’ll see you in the morning.”
I’m stirring soup when Zoe C shows up after class.
“Yes, tomato bisque with jalapeno chicken sausage, red and yellow peppers, added a can of diced tomato with green chilies. Fat boule bread to accompany.”
“Smells luscious, want tea? I’ll make green I think.”
While she microwaves cups of water, “I met the girl this morning. We talked for an hour. She’s a little spigot of information about Cantor, the guys in his fraternity call him ‘Roofie’ behind his back.”
“The street name for Rohypnol.”
She grins, “You’re pretty connected for an old guy.”
“I read a lot, still move my lips though.”
“Uh huh, anyway, it’s a game with him. The problem is, there’s no way to tell what he does when the girl is passed out. Maybe he screws her and goes to sleep. I know the most recent didn’t have any marks or bruises, nothing to indicate physical abuse outside of the rape itself.”
“He’s got video and photos.”
“Come on Zoe C, think about it. He can get girls for the asking, hell, he doesn’t have to ask, they offer themselves up. He drugs the ones who turn him down, they make him feel small, inadequate. Still, just to see them stumble around before he does his thing? That would get old fast.”
“So he’s got a collection.”
“Has to. And one day soon, he’s going to share it.”
“Oh fuck, of course. He keeps the video for his amusement, posts the pictures anonymously, Drunk Bitches of UCLA or something.”
“How do we stop him?”
“How serious are you?”
“Killing him is not an option, he’s slime, but he hasn’t killed anyone…yet.”
“You think he might?”
“If his target is a small girl for instance, easy to overdose. He wouldn’t intentionally kill them, but the dead girl doesn’t care about his intentions.”
“So what then?”
Turn off the simmering soup, let it sit and mingle flavors. We take our tea poolside.
“What are you willing to do, to put a stop to it?”
“Whatever it takes.”
“Are you willing to catch his eye, chat him up then leave him hanging?”
She stares out over the pool to the Pacific, “Let’s find out.”
I outline a plan.
“Understand, a plan is a plan until the shit starts, then we have to improvise in the moment. That means you have to figure out how to drink without actually drinking. Not just from something he hands you, you can’t be buzzed at all.”
“Simple, I tell him I can’t drink alcohol, it makes me sick. I would like a diet coke.”
“Good, anything he can stick the drug in. Pretend to drink it, if he turns away or goes off, just spit it out. If you have to ingest any, any at all, tell him you have to pee and get in the restroom and throw up.”
Zoe C makes a face.
“Yeah, it’s not pretty, neither is rape. If any of that fails, I’ll get you a syringe with Flumazenil, it’s been developed as an benzodiazepine antidote, and it can be effective in cases of Rohypnol overdose. It is definitely a last resort. I’ll research it and check in with a doc I know. You’ll have enough to keep you functional.”
“How do you know this stuff?”
“After I started thinking over what to do with Cantor, I went online. If you want to proceed, I’ll double check with sources I have. But this isn’t life or death, we aren’t saving babies. Anything strikes you as hinky, not right, tell him you’re having a crappy period and leave. We can figure out plan B if we need to.”
I stand, “Now, let’s have a nice evening, glass of wine, I have shrimp cocktail appetizers, then soup. Let the idea sink in overnight without thinking about it, we’ll let our subconscious do the work it’s intended to do, spot problems or come up with a better plan.”
“I thought I was coming here to clean house and stay out of the way, you make most of my meals and supply good wine.”
“I’m rich, not billionaire rich, but wealthy enough to go anywhere and do pretty much anything for the rest of my life. The problem is, traveling to travel doesn’t interest me. Fine art, luxury cars, the enticements of wealth have no meaning. If it wasn’t for challenges, like Cantor, I would be content to stay here, read, practice our arts, cook, talk philosophy with you.”
She smiles, pulls a shrimp out of the sauce and bites, “Oooh, wow, what is it about fat shrimp and spicy cocktail sauce? Just delightful.”
We work out way through the appetizer, the soup is simmering on low. She fills our bowls, I cut slices of warm bread and paint them with clarified butter. We enjoy the textures and tastes in silence.
When we’re done, she collects bowls, utensils and glasses, stacks the two dishwashers.
I pour myself a Cognac, “Want to try it?”
Pour her a half shot, “It’s an acquired taste, if you don’t like it, leave it. If you do, the bottle is right here. It’s a sipping thing, not a shot thing.”
We pile up in the couch, Zoe C selects a Netflix, Stranger Things. I don’t care what we watch. The booze is top shelf, Zoe C is happy to get enmeshed in monsters, life is très bon.