The Congener Interludes, Op. 1: Sonatina of Intrigue, No.2

You’ve never had a sensei. You seek philosophy and enlightenment.

Having also mastered efficiency, I will ask your stupid questions for you.

You wonder: Where does one start on the road to success? Does a beginning marker appear at the crossroads of conflict? Should I expect proper signage and illuminated cautions, blaring at every turn and twist comprising the challenge I’m seeking to overcome?

The answer is: Success is not a road but a tree, branching through time and space, seeded by the moment you learn your very first death-punch and vow only to unleash it in the interest of justice.

Now, if you fuckers are committed to wasting my time, try to pay attention.

Lesson one: Prepare to be resourceful.

You don’t need to get ready for anything if you stay ready for everything. And everything — every experience, every “thing” — is waiting to be ascribed its purpose. Ambiguity is a weapon. Meditate on duality. Find the frequency that allows you to bring a life old to a close with a life new. Purpose the baby properly and it will do the work of the nunchuk for you.

Excuse me.

“Alexa, call Brenda.”

“Calling Brenda.”

Voicemail.

Lesson two: Be aware.

Let me be perfectly clear: As a structured metabolic system capable of molecular reproduction, your very state of being has been simplified and repurposed by versions of existence relative to that which your experience is derived from.

Favorable outcomes aren’t achieved with learned behaviors and lucky guesses. Success happens by eliminating non-value combinations of actions, methods and resource allocations. Recognizing something as “no value” is worth, at minimum, the expenditure of resources used to identify its worthlessness. This comes in handy when you least expect it.

“Alexa, call Brenda.”

“Calling Brenda.”

Voicemail.

Lesson three: Be humble.

Casually mentioning that the amount of resource consumption used to characterize a zero value probably exists somewhere as an entropic expansion of negative space is unnecessary. And betting random nerds wedgies that dark energy is consistent with the ones and zeroes being processed when the spatial dimensions we exist in solidify themselves via dynamic forms of measurement and transference doesn’t make any friends. Nobody likes a show off, and it pisses me off having to explain to a bunch of pussies why zero values don’t exist in terms of graphing isomorphism.

“Alexa, call Brenda.”

“Calling Brenda.”

Voicemail.

“But, Sifu,” you say, “Isn’t that of great importance? Shouldn’t this wisdom be shared for the benefit of all humankind?”

The answer is: Yes. But like the hipster gentrification of my beloved trailer park, there are forces at work you may never be able to understand.

No more questions.

“Alexa! Call Brenda!”

“Calling Brenda.”

Success.

“What do you want, Glenn? I’m at work.”

“Brenda. Oh, Brenda. Easy now. I need you to make a guess on today’s gas prices.”

“Is that all?”

“No. I’m getting low on foil. Call Bezos and have him do the thing.”

“You’re such a boner, Glenn.”

“Be a dear and schedule me a ride. No small-talk, please.”

“Schedule you with who?”

“Text Snake, ‘Lining up a gig.’ ”

“You are not.”

“Set an alarm an hour from now.”

“Can’t you do this yourself?”

“Well, Jesus and Hell, Brenda. And let the money you spent buying my Alexa go to waste like some kind of an asshole?”

Lesson four: Simplify.

Simple creatures, simple lives.

Five. Six. Seven rings.

“Here’s your stupid alarm, dick-turkey.”

“Alexa, notify Brenda I’m taking her up on her offer to give me a ride.”

Twenty minutes pass.

“I need gas, asshole,” says a woman attempting to explain the combustible engine powering her Datsun pickup.

“I know how it works, Brenda! Here’s the deal: you wear the wrap, I’ll handle the petro.”

Monetary systems are bullshit. Cash, credit and taxes all fall under the category “Regime Machinations.” There is no emotional value in a dollar. I prefer making exchanges on a more personal level.

“Arrgh! I hate you. You are such a communist, Glenn. I’m not doing this today.”

“How many times, Brenda? How many times must I tell you: I don’t subscribe to politics. A tribal interchange system is the only way to we’ll get back to our roots.”

I’m forced to listen to her incessant whining while I purpose the foil into a burka.

We achieve forward motion.

My hyper-awareness is triggered during a stoplight as the soccer mom idling behind us begins to slowly creep along our side. Soccer moms will do anything for affirmation. I give her a wink and mouth the words “I would,” saving a call to her therapist.

It feels good, doing my part.

“Oh. My. God. Glenn! Do you think you could have picked a dog with stinkier farts?”

“Oh, hang a prophet on a cross, Brenda! You’ve offended our guest. Must I fill the other half of your glass, too?” she is driving me crazy.

“Please. Please give me the Hightop ish on dog farts.”

“Brenda, Monte’s aroma is that of a fully-matured diet. This magnificent beast has entered adulthood under the love and care of a family willing to do whatever it takes to ensure his experience consists of only the best. Have you ever known a Great Dane who never took a shit that wasn’t personally composed by Rachael Ray? His releasing subsidiary buildups with no trace of fear or reprisal is majestic. He’s been nurtured to a state that allows nature to course through his being with minimal resistance. You don’t just find his breed wandering around indoctrinated by the spirit of Lao Tzu, Brenda!”

Ghost of Mary, Spirit of Jew.

“Huh. And explain why I’m wrapped in foil again?”

“We’re a pack, Brenda. We can’t have Monte flying solo. We move together, as one organism.”

“You could have at least given me eyeholes. And why aren’t you wrapped up, too?”

“Because he needs to be able to identify the alpha. It’s hard to explain to a woman. You just need to trust me on this.”

“And why wouldn’t I offer you my blind trust. After all you’ve done for me…”

“Exactamundo, Brenda. I spent fifteen Ghillie-suited hours of surveillance filling up your gas tank. I’m hurt by your accusations. I would never ask you to participate in any aspect of a mission not conducive to its success.”

“Will you please just make the call? We’re running on fumes.”

“Alexa, have Brenda dial the Roberts.”

“That’s not how it works, Glenn!”

But it does. It works just fine.

The second hand reaches business-casual-thirty, “Mrs. Roberts? Is this Mrs. Roberts? …I’m so sorry, ma’am. Ma’am? …I’m having a hard time understanding you. Perhaps you can put the decision maker on the line. Is Mr. Roberts available? …Oh, this is Mr. Roberts?”

Bingo.

“Yeah, hey there, champ. Now, I can’t be certain, but I believe I’ve found your dog. …Oh, jeez no. He’s okay, thank Jehovah. Just a little lost. …Hmm. You don’t say? Couldn’t get a signal on him, huh? Well, I’ll be… You know, that’s not the first time I’ve heard that. Boy, when you can’t trust the pet locator service industry… Tell you what: I know a guy — super honest. He doesn’t use the chips or anything. Beyond reliable,” snapping for Brenda to get a card ready.

“…Well, he was quick runner, that’s for sure. Took a while to tire him out. A little too carefree, if you ask me. Weaving through traffic like that, he almost got clipped. …Oh, isn’t that the truth. You don’t know what’ch’ya got until it’s gone. Jinx! Ha! Say, I’d love to bring him to you. Uh, the thing is: I used all my gas running him down and I still gotta get my lady to the hospital. …Explosive diarrhea. Yeah, never seen anything like it. Any chance you could pick him up and give us a lift? She won’t stop shitting all over the place…”

He arrives and we make the drop. One good Samaritan recognizes another and we are freshly fueled — ready for takeoff.

File this satisfied customer under “Repeat Business.”

“See, Brenda? See how the universe treats you when you show a little reverence to your planetary experience? I’m not going to be here forever. You need to figure this shit out.”

“Why, Glenn? Why does it still smell like farts?”

The alarms have been long sounding by the time we reach an entrance to the lot.

Facial recognition must have picked me up me a mile back.

Noticeably shaking from nerves is a youthful booth attendant, right now wondering if a job in Designated Parking is worth it. His fear is understandable, considering my history.

A dozen suits with cookie-cutter haircuts rush from the center building in a weak attempt to secure the complex. I watch the lead raise a cuff to his face and mouths the words I hear crackling from a radio mounted in the booth. “That’s a no-approach, son. Repeat, no-approach. Let it through and report for debrief.”

“Been here before?” Brenda knows the routine.

Memories of a time long past slide into my DM’s .

Life was easier as a simple accordion lead for cartel-mariachi in Sinaloa.

I failed to reacclimate to the suburbs following my years abroad committing unspeakable acts.

War-torn countries don’t just rebuild themselves. As one-of-six left behind to engage in the high-pressure confrontations that come with establishing reliable information networks, I was a necessity.

You’ve heard stories from soldiers who made it home, and you thought they had it tough. Well, after three tours of door-to-door magazine sales in the bush, my description of Hell is a little more accurate.

I came home to open-arms missing, and, instead, found a crooked and bitter man of the law. He failed to understand that removing a man from the wild jungle means nothing to the wild jungle living in a man.

Things went bad.

The same day that Hollywood picked up the story and took some liberties, I woke up drugged and concussed, knowing only two things for certain: The potato sack I was hogtied up in had been doubling as my pajamas, and the speed of a still-moving train multiplied by the degree of shift in my cerebral star chart equals me stranded deep in southern territory.

Months were spent drinking from mud-puddles and fighting for back-alley scraps in a city better left unpronounced.

By the time he found me, I was desanimado and farmacodependiente — peeling like a banano in the desert sun. Like an angel of redemption, he pulled me up from the filth I was drowning in. I’ll never know what he saw in me, but it was certainly something I couldn’t see for myself.

In taking me under his wing and curing my cursera, he saved my life. And then he made me his brother.

“Pastelito,” I remember him saying, “You are the only person con deficiencia en el desarrollo I have ever known. I am safe with you. I must insist, you will stay and play for me accordion.”

I served Jefe for what seemed like ages — hunted by the contraterrorismo for every minute of that time.

Our days were spent staying two moves ahead of multi-national taskforce operations. Their armies may have lucked into finding and burning the occasional villa of coca, but they could never find a way to prevent us from harvesting the people’s admiration.

We were untouchable. We were loved. And these bastards took him from me.

Dropped off in front of the building, I’m surrounded by their emergency response team.

Brenda’s pickup backfires pulling away. Somewhere calls a referee: False start, tight end! My underwear accepts the penalty and we’re both down by a safety.

“What brings you in from the cold?” says the designated douchebag in charge.

“Just here to warm my mitts and enjoy my timeshare. You don’t see a problem with that… do you, Waymon?”

“You don’t get to walk away, Zamboni. That’s not how it works. You’re in too deep!”

“I’ll decide. And it’s best you don’t forget, Way-way: I’m the reason this program still exists.”

My visitor’s pass feels more like a badge of irony: this was my house before it ever was theirs.

The building once offered cover to a small, elite unit of abstract problem-solvers. A set of uniquely-talented individuals blended with civilian workers and utilized their respective skill-sets to accomplish high-priority, covert tasks. These operators were responsible for the rise and fall of my Jefe.

After six months of zeroing in on the city, four hours off the the train was all it took to locate the facility.

It goes like this: Black-ops require funding. Funding requires creativity. Creativity means nothing is on the up-and-up. To uncover an Operation Control Center such as this, set your headings to the scent of large-scale fraud. When you find the nickel and diming of your average American’s hard-earned tax dollars, it’s game-on.

I identified the target’s potential by their hiring policy: felons facing the threat of recidivism should management report to their parole officers an inadequate sales performance, only. Leave it to the government to shield themselves by “providing opportunities to the disenfranchised” one fraudulent phone call at a time.

A deeper inspection identified classical propaganda: the business name insisting it was completely American, the selling Mom and Pop businesses advertising space on high school sports posters to help the children, the sociopathic sing-song voice used by brainwashed civilian recruits to deliver their captor’s message while lulling you into a false sense of security…

Bullseye.

The things that bring you home…

The setup: basic and easy to infiltrate. I followed their protocol. I earned their trust. It took two months to reprogram half of their civilian workers. There was nothing I could do for the other half. The men would have to go it alone.

Quota was required, but I could do no harm to innocents. Hacking their call-monitoring system using my own proprietary algorithm allowed me to coast under-the-radar.

Assets’ behaviors, activities and success ratios were monitored by computer. A program tracked operators’ call averages with the duration of time spent live on the line — after a call has been answered.

I kept a list: lunch hours, business hours, vacations, etc. The computer was stupid and couldn’t detect high volumes of repeat-calls. Utilizing this blind-spot allowed me to surf automated directories for long transfer times. And by surfing switchboards all day, I honed the skills necessary for navigating sketchy waters.

There were no preventions in place to protect from my methods. The closest they came were sounding the alarms against workers trying to victimize corporations. “It’s easier to sucker money from hard-working, struggling middle-class proprietorships,” they would say.

A good operator knows certain liberties need taken when deep undercover, and ransoming precious moments of time from goliath, corporate bullies was a gift of mine. I wouldn’t call me hero, I tend to think of myself more as a victim of awesome mutations with an interest in justice. Either way: I didn’t find the high road, I built it.

This little side-gig was responsible for siphoning one-percent resources into the millions.

The ships I channeled were all the same: manned by a captain with a delegation assigned to prevent casual interference from scavengers. Strictly accustomed to barking protocols at deckhand clones, the chain-of-command operates blindly.

Using a patent-pending process dubbed “Climbing the Corporate Ladder,” I’d pass undetected through several levels of these biometric safeguards.

Requiring patience, this procedure could take an entire day. Sometimes weeks were submerged attempting to reach the first mate keeping gate. But, from there, a “Hey, Janet! Glenn, with publishing. Rough day, today. Need an executive decision real fast. Can you put Anne on? I’ll make it quick, lord knows she’s busy…” was all it took to summons the commander.

Unaware and unwilling, the commandant assists the heist: One part trying to understand how I made it past the buffers, one part trying to convince me the international chemical conglomerate being overseen can’t justify spending a buck-ten on my square-inch of advertising space. They would hold firm despite us “talking featured on a high school badminton poster with guaranteed window-optimization in over seven local-to-Parma, Idaho business locations.”

The amount of money corporations pay their CEO’s for thirty minutes of haggling bullshit is nothing short of sin.

A few weeks of dismantling these monsters from the inside and management spotted me as talent. They studied my techniques, adopted my methods and brought me in with full artistic control.

It was a working op before I walked in. By the time I left it was an Elron-a-don Hubbard magic show.

Watching Waymon call security to assist with the last set of doors leading to the lush cubicle acreage of my old stomping grounds, I know what to expect. They won’t respond to his request. The voice-confirmation code I designated him when I left is obviously still a hit.

He is sweating now.

He has no choice.

He leans into the speaker.

“You’re listening to DJ Way-way — from Way-Gay’s I-8-6.9 — serving you a hot one with the Liquid Turd’s, “Holy Spokes, I’m Deep in Your Love.”

The doors open.

I don’t normally displace time for my fans. Slow motion feels gratuitous when you share genetic ancestry with six species of panthers. Nonetheless, they’ll expect it.

Finger-pistols, ready: it’s time to tell the kids that Daddy’s home.

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