26 comments

Crime Romance

[TW: all 5 prompts + multiple douche bags + Toxic Positivity]


“So, what’s the catch of the day?” I ask the waiter, already knowing I’m going to reject it as I like to screw with people–be oppositional, as they say. I’m also desperately trying to impress Monique.


“Glad you asked. The catch of the day is line caught Hogfish Snapper,” the waiter says all in one breath, because he trying to take his share of orders from the 200+ attendees of Blockchain Overdrive's VIP dinner in Palm Beach.


“I think you can do better than Hogfish. Ask the kitchen to find us a pound of Atlantic bluefin tuna.” I turn around and look at Monique before the waiter can say anything to change my mind.


But Monique is now talking to the attendees of our table. In her tightly fitting party dress that hugs her curves–a garment featuring cutout gaps revealing patches of smooth skin –Monique looks stunning. A journalist, she’s interviewed me more than a dozen times for her Spotlight on Dark Money column.


(To people reading this on social media, I might sound like a complete douche, but bear with me.)


On stage, the oddly tall CEO of Chihuahua Coin is prancing back and forth like a standup comedian on too much cocaine. “They say money can’t buy happiness. But with Chihuahua Coin you can sink your teeth buying anything your heart desires!” He’s yodel-shouts boo-yah gibberish at regular intervals, and the audience joins in.


Beneath this racket, I hear my business partner Dax, moving in on Monique. “I think you are my catch of the day," he coos, flashing his knowing smile.


“Why thank you, you’re quite a catch yourself,” she chirps back. “I loved what you said about Crypto being the start of a modern day anti-government Renaissance. I'm going to use that in my column tomorrow.”


Her journalistic tone reassures me she's not buying what he's selling. TBH I was overjoyed when Monique accepted my invite as a +1 last week. She might be using me for a story, but I’m going to go with it and see what happens.


Dax keeps flirting with her.


Breathe slow. The $500 an hour life coach taught me that. Stress is an illusion. Live in the Now. Flow like water.


“Bro, your speech is next,” I say to Dax, pretending I’m thinking about his better interests.


“Oh, shit.” He pulls out a tablet to review his notes. “Y'all excuse me, I need to do my breathing exercises before my speech.”


After Dax is gone, I explain the delights of bluefin tuna to Monique, the largest predator in the Atlantic Ocean. 


"Most expensive Sushi in the world," I let her know, hoping my order shows up soon.


She’s probably heard it before from the other Crypto bros, but as I explain the magic of bluefin, she smiles as if it's the first time.


“Fascinating.” Her deep brown eyes study mine. “So, why did you invite me here? To set me up with Dax?”


“Dax? There’s no way I’d do that.”


“So, how about you, do you think Crypto is going to rebuild human society?” she asks, setting up my answer for a home run.


“Brooklyn Coin might.” I keep an eye on Dax as he walks up on stage. He’s now wearing a clown hat emblazoned with the logos of every major cryptocurrency, including Brooklyn Coin. I'm so distracted I forget what I was going to say.


She points toward him, “To be honest, I went on a few dates with him, but…”


I nod hearing this deeply unpleasant information. On stage, I see Dax, about do the thing I told him, never to do again.


“But he wasn’t mature enough to be taken seriously," Monique says.


Dax pulls out a handful of money. He shouts, “$100 dollar bills, y'all, worthless! Down with the Fed!” takes out a lighter and sets them on fire. As orange flames reach his fingers, he tosses the money into the air, and roars, “This is the greatest time to be alive!” 


Thousands of dollars now smoldering on the floor, a cloud of smoke rises as if Dax just performed a magic trick. Attendees at the tables around us stand up and cheer.


Monique moves closer and whispers in my ear, “The trolls say you are a scammer. Are you a scammer?” She touches my shoulder, running her fingers up and down my arm.


My lips part to begin to answer, when an ear-piercing sound cuts through the conference hall. It's the fire alarm. Soon, we realize we need to get out of here to escape from the insisent squeal.


Blockchain Overdrive 2023 attendees curse like teen online gamers at having to leave their expensive meals behind. There are not many Hogfish Snappers left in the sea.


Dax mimes sorry from the stage. I do an exploding head gesture back at him. All attention is always good attention in the crypto space, right? Maybe Dax setting the place on fire is a genius marketing campaign.


“Let’s get out of here and go for a walk,” I propose to Monique. She agrees and follows me out. Soon we're out of the conference's restaurant and walking beyond the garden terrace, we reach the quiet of the beach. A steady early evening breeze pushes in the damp heavy air of the ocean, carrying with it the aroma of driftwood and seaweed, the adult lullaby of the sound of breaking waves, and an intoxicating dream of transporting ourselves to a far away exotic location.


We both look at the distant horizon.


“Dax. He’s…” She sighs. “Like I said before, he’s immature.”


“Do you really want to know what I think?” 


"About him?" She looks at me with inquisitive eyes.


“No, about your question before about Brooklyn Coin.”


She blinks, tilts her head a tiny bit to one side, and says, “I would like to hear what you have to say.”


“I started Brooklyn Coin because I wanted to disrupt inefficient transactions in the–”


“Stop. Not a business speech. What's the real reason?” She moves in closer. Standing on the beach, with my feet sinking into the sand, I'm receiving an intense look into my soul. Journalists, are they all like this? It's thrilling to know someone is really listening.


“Honest reason?” I say, organizing my thoughts.


Monique nods.


I want to hug her, but I think need to tell my story first.


“Back In 2017, after losing my job in medical sales, and winding up in and out of rehab, I didn't know where I was going in life. I was at a real dead end. I was pondering ending it all, and then I found Bitcoin, or Bitcoin found me. It gave me a new purpose. Some say it's a bubble. A scam. But to me, it's much more. It's the reason to keep living.”


“That’s deep.” Monique's expression has softened, the hardened journalist now replaced with someone else. It reminds me of when Christina let me take her to a beach in Far Rockaway and have my first kiss I was 15. “I thought you might have brought me out here to talk about something else.” Monique tosses her hair back flirtatiously, and waiting for an answer.


Just as I'm about to tell her how beautiful I think she is, her gaze sees something behind me. “People are starting to go back in," she states with a factual tone.


"Duty calls," I say, seeing the journalist within her turning back on.


We go back in and sit down. The smoke has cleared. Soon, the emcee introduces the next guest: “Celebrity psychologist Dr Sharani is going to talk to us about the scourge of Toxic Positivity in Cryptocurrency. I’ve heard this talk before, and it's AMAZING, so let’s give a huge round of applause for Dr Sharani.”


An academic looking woman with a streak of gray hair takes the stage. “Thank you Blockchain Overdrive!" Dr Sharani shouts, and then waits for us to quieten down.


"Toxic Positivity. I know it’s a new concept. But imagine this: You are having a bad day, a really crappy day-your dog died, your car broke down, and your boss rejected your request for a raise. And when you mention this to your partner, your friend, your coworker, their response is, you should BE POSITIVE and just CHEER UP. How does that make you feel?“


Dr Sharani continues to drone on about how we shouldn’t be too positive with negative people while I keep an eye on Monique’s reactions. Maybe I can use this topic later to find an opening.


I’m lost in thoughts about Monique and positivity and negativity, when I hear the emcee introduce the next guest.


“And I would like to introduce our keynote speaker tonight. The one we’re all waiting to hear from, Brooklyn Coin CEO–”


My intro song, Latto’s Big Energy, begins thumping over the speakers. 


I stand up and slowly weave my way to the stage, fist bumping attendees, as if I’m no rush and everyone has plenty of time to watch me stroll across the room.


On stage, taking the mic, I announce my arrival. “Blockchain Overdrive, my name is Chaos, CEO of Brooklyn Coin.”


Still feeling the music, euphoria makes me go off script and speak from the heart. 


“I was inspired by what Dr Shamami talked about. I was moved. Let’s cut out this toxic positivity bullshit! A few honest facts about myself: I work 20 hours a day, to avoid having a job. I say I love sushi, but I hate eating fish. I say I love being a CEO, but I hate being responsible for people.


“In my life, the sum total of what I’ve learned to do, is to manipulate perceptions, prices, and people. 


“If you hate sports, I hate sports. If you like football, I like football. If you like crypto, I tell you to buy Brooklyn Coin. If you don’t like Crypto, I’m going to tell you Brooklyn Coin is worthless.


“Blockchain Overdrive, it was so refreshing to be this honest. Thank you!” I pump my arms at the crowd as the other speakers did. There’s scattered applause.


I hear someone mumble, “Worthless?” Many are looking at their mobiles and leaning to gossip to the people next to them.


The only person smiling is Monique. I make a beeline to her to ask how I did.


“I loved your honesty,” she says. “A self-aware douche bag. This is intriguing. In my career, encountering real authenticity is rare."


"Thank you."


"And, I have never seen anyone handle losing 2 billion dollars so calmly.” She twirling her mobile phone in her fingers.


“The price is down?” I ask.


She doesn’t answer and instead puts a hand on top of mine. “How about we get out of here?”


My heart skips a beat. Priorities. “Let's go,” I say.


Even if the price is down, I'm still worth billions.


We shuffle out between the tables while the next speaker introduces himself. We near the door. The evening is headed in an exciting direction, and my Tesla is parked just outside.


Out of nowhere, the waiter jumps out and blocks the exit. “Good thing I caught you. Before you leave, we need to settle your bill, with the bluefin tuna it’s 279 dollars.”


I pull out my iPhone and open the digital wallet. “Bitcoin or Ethereum?” 


“Sorry, we only accept cash or credit.”


“Brooklyn Coin?”


“Cash or credit.” The waiter crosses his arms and now widens his stance like a cheap nightclub bouncer.


At the back of the conference, people begin to take notice. One points a mobile and starts recording.


I look at Monique.


She stares back blankly.


I raise my eyebrows, and make a tiny gesture toward the waiter.


Her previously soft brown compassionate eyes narrow into dark beads of disappointment. “You need me to pay for your dinner?” 


I explain, “I haven’t used government fiat dollars since 2019.” 


Monique’s eyes narrow even further. She turns to the waiter. “I'd like to pay my portion of the bill. Thank you.” 


“Certainly.” The waiter types an amount into the handheld credit card reader. Monique taps her card and walks out without saying a word.


“Wait!” I try to follow. The waiter holds me back. Because she paid, he’s now on her side.


Why didn’t I just lie and make up an excuse? If I did, we’d be walking out together. Now I'm stuck, blocked by an asshole waiter, and I need to talk someone else here into paying for a meal I didn’t touch. Think positive Chaos. I am going to get back up on stage and push up the price of Brooklyn Coin to win them over.


March 09, 2023 05:45

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26 comments

Rebecca Miles
20:46 Mar 13, 2023

Not fair Scott: you had me expecting a steamy romance number and then completely left me high and dry ,-) No seriously, the twist was great and I for one was completely taken in. Great take on the idea of washing up for your dinner; here, a blah blah speech to boost the value and thus pay for the grub- good one. Enjoyed this even though I know so little about crypto the dinosaurs probably knew more!

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06:58 Mar 15, 2023

Thanks so much for your comment. 'steamy romance' I don't think I could write that well haha, happy to hear the twist gave you a surprise. Most of what I know about crypto I picked up listening to crypto bros on youtube last week, they all start sounding the same after a while. Fun to research new things every week to write these stories;)

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Susan Catucci
19:52 Mar 13, 2023

Ah, somebody got bit by Bitcoin. This was so good, I feel like I'll need a shower to wash off the accumulated grease, slick and slime. Then again, just desserts were served at the end, so there's that. Yep, your money's no good here. Well done, Scott - I think you can tell I'm continuing to enjoy my manipulated perceptions, the price I paid to read your story - gladly spent moments of my time - and you, however much manipulated by the processes of your mind, imagination, and keyboard, did not disappoint - a most predictable outcome.

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07:00 Mar 15, 2023

Thanks Susan, I tried to roll out another self-serving sleazy character, happy to hear you enjoyed it. Yes, a lot of red herrings and misdirection in this one.

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Kendall Defoe
22:22 Mar 12, 2023

Oh, I like what you did with this prompt! Well done and well said! 😁

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03:41 Mar 16, 2023

Thanks Kendall

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Martin Ross
19:00 Mar 12, 2023

Wow — hit all the prompts, wittily subverted the one in the first paragraph, and gave me a socially and economically astute satire with the kind of con twist I love. I’m tech-friendly but kind of an OG skeptic toward crypto, so it was fun watching the protagonist hoisted on his own petard (if I got that wrong, it’s because I was never trained in petard usage), and then turning his self-inflicted misfortune into potential lemonade. I enjoy a bit of picaresque amorality in a story, and you scored admirably again!

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03:44 Mar 16, 2023

THnaks Martin, i went for the scumbag narrator on this one. having to switch to normal guy this week, its not as fun as writing as digging into my worst instincts to write these self serving characters. "hoisted on his own petard" yeah i never knew exactly what that mean either! hung up by one's underpants? underpants must have been built stronger in the 1800s

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Martin Ross
07:56 Mar 16, 2023

🤣🤣🤣

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Rama Shaar
06:17 Mar 12, 2023

Very authentic and realistic sounding events and characters! Also an accurate depiction of these crazy times we live in. Well done!

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03:44 Mar 16, 2023

Thanks Rama, watched a few hours of those finance alpha bro videos last week, was fun writing this.

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Aeris Walker
18:53 Mar 10, 2023

“In my life, the sum total of what I’ve learned to do, is to manipulate perceptions, prices, and people.” Stellar way to start a speech lol. But hey, he had perfectly alliterated points, like any good corporate presentation ;) Well done.

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09:04 Mar 11, 2023

Thanks! I've listened to so many Youtube & TED talks from supposed experts while I'm working I could picture the way they speak, "alliteration", yes, that describes it perfectly, almost all of them have a certain rhythm like that where they say the same idea three different ways really confidently. Bitcoin is the future, Money is the Past, We need to move into the next era. etc.. thx again for checking out my story.

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Martin Ross
19:03 Mar 12, 2023

I used to cover policy and economics, albeit pre-Bitcoin, and you have a mastery over economic concepts and attitudes. If there were a forthcoming anthology on white collar skulduggery, I’d put this top of the contents…

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Michał Przywara
21:48 Mar 09, 2023

Very enjoyable :) The ending makes the story.

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02:11 Mar 10, 2023

Thanks so much for checking it out, Michal!

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Lily Finch
17:13 Mar 09, 2023

Scott, the world is transactional for Chaos, who in the end loses the girl and the business integrity right alongside the newspaper story. One speech ended it all. Nice work. My suggestions are below - but they are just spitjotts. Monique looks stunning in her tight party dress that hugs her athletic body–a dress that sports missing gaps in a random patchwork that reveals patches of her smooth skin. A journalist, she’s interviewed me for the Spotlight on Dark Money column multiple times. if I’m no rush and - I'm in ? LF6

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02:36 Mar 10, 2023

Thanks so much for reading, had an idea to end this with her newspaper story the next day, so happy you could imagine that would be coming. Thanks for the edits, somehow I look over and over and still miss so many of those.

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Lily Finch
03:00 Mar 10, 2023

So do I. Cool! LF6.

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Delbert Griffith
08:50 Mar 09, 2023

Very topical and on point, Scott. Chaos and his cohorts really are douchebags; you brought out that particular trait quite well. The night's events and Chaos' dwindling chances with Monique really highlights the rise and fall of crypto. That was a master stroke, my friend. I liked the dialogue. And the “I haven’t used government fiat dollars since 2019.” line was sterling! Talk about highlighting douchebaggery. Nice! Very nicely done, Scott. You have given this issue your usual deft touch. Cheers, my friend.

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09:08 Mar 09, 2023

Thanks for reading, Delbert! I wanted to have some fun writing a character with a very transactional view of the world, so transactional he can never really get what he wants, and he doesn't know why. It amazing what audiences will believe in industries like Bitcoin & Crypto if the salesperson is confident, without knowing anything about them or the motivations behind what they are saying.

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14:53 Mar 10, 2023

After 24 hours, noticed so many little grammar speed bumps I had to smooth out. Hopefully quickened the pace mid-section.

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Lina Lee
20:22 May 16, 2023

thanks!

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14:53 May 17, 2023

how many accounts do you have on this site?

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Amanda Lieser
14:40 Apr 15, 2023

Hey Scott, This was a wonderfully amusing story. I loved how well you addressed all the prompts in the piece. I was hoping for a happy ending, but the one you gave was much for satisfying. I really liked the way you tagged this piece, too. A part of me was hopeful that Monique could change his world for the better and maybe she has. Nice work!

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3i Writer
03:16 Mar 16, 2023

You can use bitcoin to pay for a meal? Considering one bitcoin is worth more than a meal, assuming bitcoin isn't worthless, i suppose the waiter had give out change in cash or credit.

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