Steve Storm’s company had changed the world but in Medina Washington, right across the water from Seattle, the nation's richest man couldn’t alter his own backyard.
It all started with the goats. Looking out the windows he scanned the wide lawn still pockmarked by their tiny hooves.
“Lime, do you want to come down to the water with me today?” Steve asked his girlfriend as they drank their post awakening Kombucha.
“I think I’ll stay inside.”
“But watching the sunrise might facilitate your energy flow?”
“The goats are gone Steve.” And she slunk back upstairs.
In February they had indulged themselves with time off at a yoga retreat in New Zealand. While they did downward dog pose, pygmy goats ascended their cantilevered bodies up to mountain pose. For a fleeting moment the tiny caprines melted the distance between them. After returning to Seattle Steve instructed his staff to “procure two of them, for the two of us” as a surprise.
Lime loved the goats but the surprise and the goats were now long gone and replaced with something else. Steve filled in Lime on his stock price on the way out the door.
“Amaze stock price up 3% pre-open!”
“Sure Steve. Stay away from Keller”
Feeling the grass between his toes on each step, he walked down to the water. The world was still silent. His morning ritual of predawn Asanas normally quieted his mind but today was different, he couldn’t stop thinking of the goats and his feelings about Medina.
Medina is home to many of the nation’s richest people. Bill Gates lived down the road. The other large estates that looked out toward Seattle across Lake Washington, housed last century’s timber and paper billionaires and this century’s tech and bitcoin billionaires.
But the chief persecutor of his goats was not a powerful and influential man. The man who had ejected them was a high school teacher named Keller who lived next door on a street that was a remnant of the past. Rambling Lane, preserved by the Historical Preservation Regulations, held a handful of modest two bedroom ranch houses that preceded Medina city’s incorporation.
On the walk back up to his house, Steve looked over the garden fence up at Keller’s second floor. Steve felt annoyed that fence heights were limited to six feet in Medina. On Keller's house a balcony door slammed shut and someone went back inside.
Returning home he picked up his mobile. In the early mornings he left it put away to enhance his focus, but today he anxiously tapped on Instagram. Keller’s most thuggish enforcers were his children.
A picture of Steve doing downward dog on the waterfront deck three minutes ago appeared with the caption:
@twixi343 “perv steve showing us his ass again !”
He felt his stomach tighten. It had 374 likes. Refresh. 392 likes. Keller’s teen daughter was an instagram influencer on the back of her second floor balcony.
“It never ends, Lime!” Steve shouted.
In March when he bought the goats and installed them in his yoga garden, one week later (twixi343’s dad) Keller filed a case in Medina’s Municipal Court.
The Medina Municipal Court is a very humble affair which hears its cases in a library meeting room in the townhall building on Thursday nights from 6pm. The nation’s richest man needed to appear in this court or else forfeit his rights to goat ownership.
On the night of the trial, a tired looking man with a mustache and the aspect of a bored government bureaucrat sat in an office chair behind a folding table. The only hint of formality was the black robe he wore.
“Mr Storm, Municipal Ordinance 6.04.005 prohibits farm animals within city limits. Do you understand that?”
“I’m not running a farm. My goats are pets,” he replied to the judge.
“The Ordinance is clear, farm animals include cows, horses, hogs, sheep, and goats”
“But they’re mine. America is a free country.”
“Then you need to live in the country, not in Medina”
Steve looked at his lawyer.
“I demand an appeal!”
“This is not a TV show Mr. Storm. Get rid of the goats,” the judge said raising his voice, ”in the future I suggest you check with your neighbor Mr Keller before you do anything that impacts the neighborhood.”
Keller smiled beaming with vindictiveness. He had spent a week smelling billionaire’s goat poop from his living room.
Lime cried as volunteers from Puget Sound Goat Rescue led the goats away. Steve was furious that an owner of a $40million estate with 20,000 square feet of land, wasn’t even entitled to own two small animals. What was land for? A larger question, what was money for? If he couldn’t fill his land with animals, he would fill it with people.
He told Lime of his plan and asked her to contact friends in the art community to propose artwork. Artwork for a party. Three weeks later, the first installation was installed, a 24 foot high sculpture of an upright bright yellow penis. His lawyers had checked the city height limit ordinances. His workmen installed it 15 feet from the lotline in a location sure to be seen from Keller’s second floor terrace.
Next week Steve Storm, CEO, again received a Municipal Court summons to appear at 6pm in the library meeting room.
“The ordinance clearly states a 25 foot clearance for structures,” Steve declared confidently to the court.
“An artwork is not a structure in the definition of Ordinance 16.23.030.” The Judge rambled on with dull details of how structures are defined.
Steve interrupted. He thought he needed to appeal to the court’s higher ideals.
“We here in the courtroom are the animals that have become the gods of this planet. Why are we limiting our destiny with trivial Municipal Ordinances?!”
He held his arms out wide as if giving the climatic speech in an Oscar winning drama. Steve received the long cold stare of a bureaucrat whose authority was threatened.
“I am God in this courtroom Mr. Storm. By the power invested in me by the City of Medina, I find the fence and sign ordinances relevant, and set a maximum height of 6 feet,” the judge banged down his gavel and said solemnly, “you must cut your yellow penis down to size, Mr Storm”.
Lime was in tears having to disappoint the art community. The ground breaking artwork wouldn’t be showcased as one of the highlights of Amaze’s cryptocurrency opening party. The next day without consulting her Steve had the phallic statue cut down to five feet eleven inches and labeled it Life Hack.
The day of the party arrived. Chef Masa was flown in from New York. Adanna had cut short her Mediterranean holiday to perform. Many A-listers on the West coast were encouraged to attend by agents in Steve’s many businesses. Celebrity is a tenacious draw for most people. To bury the hatchet over past differences he sent an invitation to Keller and his influencer daughter twixi383.
As darkness fell, neither Keller not twixi383 had yet arrived. Steve rested his shoulder against Life Hack and watched the sky. 50 drones whined and rose into the sky and formed the stylised A that was the logo of his new cryptocurrency AmazeCoin. The lightshow could be seen from as far as Seattle.
His mobile vibrated, an Instagram notification:
@twixi343 “noob steve using drones like its 2017 lmfao”
The LED drone lights flickered in the sky as Steve took the stage.
“I would like to announce tonight the release of Amaze’s own Crypto Currency, AmazeCoin! All of you today…”
Someone pointed at the sky. Steve saw one of the drones had gone dark. And then another. Helplessly a drone tumbled over and over falling to the ground. More drones fell out of position in the cryptocurrency at random and also fluttered to the ground. Steve heard a faint yet sharp crack from a pellet gun in the darkness of Keller’s house.
A grin came to Steve’s face. Delighted, he called the police with a report of shooting coming from the Keller residence. In minutes there were flashing police lights out front and they raced out to the back yard. When the police saw the handful of broken drones, and looked back at Steve’s 15,000 square foot residence they put things into proportion. The police told Steve without evidence of wrongdoing, they didn’t see it as a criminal issue. If a few drones were important to a man like Steve, he should file civil charges in municipal court.
His mobile vibrated again:
@twixi343 “creeper steve being questioned by the police v sus”
He tried to hide his rising anger, and after the police left to reignite the party atmosphere at midnight his team brought out the burning man replica. He and Lime were yearly attendees of the party in the desert.
Steve threw the lit torch at the ½ scale replica. Having been stored inside; it swiftly ignited, shooting flames high into the sky. The scene was glorious.
@twixi343 “perv steve is trying to set our house on fire HELP!”
Bellevue County fire engines arrived in 5 minutes. Undeterred by neither Steve or his security staff, the men in yellow jackets with oxygen tanks, seeing a very sizeable fire were much more eager than the previous visitors, and extended their hoses and doused the bonfire soaking the backyard, the food, the furniture and all the party supplies along with it. Any guests that hadn’t already left during the police encounter made quick exits and mostly went home disappointed, except for those who tried Chef Masa’s appetisers.
Steve checked his socials in the morning. Overnight, trixi343’s posts had gone viral to 22 millions views. The morning TV news shows showed the picture of Steve and the police and made bad puns about a billionaires party having water thrown over it.
Things slid further downhill two hours later when the media obtained a video of drones falling out of the sky. An MSNBC financial analyst said it was a harbinger for the future trajectory of AmazeCoin.
Recognising he could neither control his own backyard, the municipal court nor Keller's teenage daughter, Steve would begin spending more time at a place he could control, the headquarters of Amaze. And the more time he spent at work on his new project, the Octopus Game, the more time Lime would spend in New York attending art exhibitions. But today in Medina Washington she was here with Steve drinking their second Kombucha of the morning.
Keller looked at his watch. 6:15am. They were starting to make noise right on time. It had been a busy night transporting them all in yesterday. He might not be a billionaire but he had studied Medina’s Animal Control Ordinances very closely. In regulation sized cages ten feet from Steve Storm’s property line the twenty roosters began to crow.