September 16, 2017
“So we’re in Dick’s Sporting Goods, all the way up in the steel scaffolding in the ceiling. You know how it’s all open up there? Like you’re right there in the warehouse, where the big savings are.”
I chuckled at that and so did Shake. It was Reggie speaking, as it often is with those two, and the man can spin a yarn.
“We’re there to optimize the Wi-Fi coverage overnight, while the store’s closed, and that took about twenty minutes.”
“Ten,” Shake drawled.
Reggie grinned. “He’s so proud. Anyway, we’re done in no time, and the store is all ours, for the whole night. We brought a steel cable, and we strung a zipline up there up in the rafters. We shot a ton of video, any dumb stunt you could imagine.”
Shake made like a TV announcer: “‘The sport to redefine sporting: Extreme Zipline Kayaking!’”
Rubbing tears of laughter from his eyes, Reggie said, “So I’m hanging way out from a rafter with the video camera and Shake is poised and ready to launch through the air wearing a kayak like a ballet tutu when we hear a slam-slam-slamming from the shipping dock.”
I said, “Security guard?”
Reggie nodded. “We had our own lighting, but just the security lights were on in the store. We’re trying to see this guy and then snap, snap, snap – he’s throwing the breakers for the store lights. They’re big halogen globes, so they take forever to come up.”
“Like after the fireworks at the ballpark.” Shake said that.
“So finally we can see, and there’s the guard. Black guy, kind of slumpy, pot-belly, not much hair and what’s left of it is gray.”
I smiled at that description. I knew who he was talking about.
“So he looks this way and he looks that way. He doesn’t seem to be looking up at us, but we don’t dare move, anyway. Boys will be boys, but trespassers will be prosecuted.”
Shake nodded. “And hackers will be persecuted. Even when we’re supposed to be someplace, we try not to attract too much attention.”
I just smiled at that, picturing these two young goofballs hanging in mid-air trying to hide in plain sight. “So what happened?”
“So he turns around and goes back and throws the breakers one by one, and the lights go out like candles. Then he pushes on the door to the loading dock, and we can hear him push on the lever and we’re both holding our breath waiting for him to be gone when he turns around and says, ‘You can come down now, boys.’”
Shake said, “Busted!”
“Oh, man, he got us and he knew it! He was doubled over giggling, and he has the sweetest giggle.”
“His name is Chet. He’s a good guy. Used to be a prison guard, if you can believe that.”
Shake smiled. “We know that now. We thought we were screwed. Instead, we made a new friend.”
I totally got that. The Yellow Jackets, the security guards at the Arrowhead Towne Center Mall in the northwest suburbs of Phoenix – where we were talking, and where all this stuff takes place – run from stiff martinets to lazy slugs. The few who can relate to other people as people are highly to be prized.
Accordingly, I prize them highly. Chet is in my top five that way, and he might be the best of the bunch, except he spends too much of his work week at the Desert Sky Mall, ten miles to the south.
“He wouldn’t try the zipline,” Reggie said, “but he shot a bunch of video of the two of us zipping back and forth. He even made a Taco Bell run for us.”
“Does that mean what I think it means?”
Reggie smirked. “There is only one reason to eat Taco Bell, at four in the morning or any other hour.”
“Naw,” Shake said, shaking his head, “Chet will eat any Mexican food, anywhere, anytime.”
I know that’s true. It’s why he likes to work at Desert Sky, the Valley of the Sun’s maximal Meximall. I said, “And I’m sure you disclosed to him what you were really doing with Dick’s Wi-Fi hardware?”
To this they responded nothing – deer-in-the-headlights silence. I won’t say I live for moments like this, but I definitely live all the way through them. If you’re looking for infinity instantiated – where time seems to stop and the world can be anything at all – it’s right there, on the cusp of a lie.
“Gentlemen,” I said. “Your secrets are safe with me. But you don’t go from hacking Sony to humping routers. What gives?”
And now we need some back-story. I’m a mission-critical narrator – which means I’m lax about the boring stuff – but you gotta know what you gotta know.
So: I met these two slacker hackers almost three years ago, at Christmas. They were engaged in a charitable act of phreelance pharmacy in the midst of hacking Sony, NORAD and who knows what else.
I hadn’t thought about them much since, to the extent that Shake was poking around in the ceiling near my Choo-Choo Train kiosk for a couple of hours before I recognized him.
He’s a scrawny Adonis, easy to overlook but impossible to forget: A beautiful child-like face surrounded by dirty-blonde curls down to the collar, a slender, languid body and a soft, gentle manner people find easy to like.
He was camouflaged – and I mean perfectly hidden in plain sight. He was dressed as a workman: Khaki long-sleeved double-pocketed work shirt, matching work slacks, clunky shoes – not construction boots, but definitely certified waffle-stompers.
He had put a lid on his disguise with a ball cap adorned with his putative-employer’s logo – worn straight ahead, like a regular guy, not a scruffy bum or a mall rat. Everything was clean, crisp, creased, with all of that offset by the worn leather toolbelt hung gunslinger-style around his hips. He presented himself to the world as a man you could look at all day and never, ever see.
That’s social engineering, and it was so well done that it fooled me, too, for a while. Reggie was done up in his own guise – over-matched middle-manager in short-sleeved business casual attire with a clip-on necktie – and I missed his bustling comings and goings, too.
He’s a little broader than Shake, and maybe an inch or two taller. Dark hair, caliper-clipped, but that was part of the disguise. Where Shake smiles, Reggie is more likely to smirk. When they are together, he is typically first to speak, first to object, first to quarrel, first to boil over – first because Shake is none of those things.
And now I’m front-storying my back-story a little, because I got to know these guys better over this summer: Without Reggie, Shake might drowse all day, interrupting his naps occasionally for video games and masturbation. Without Shake, Reggie might be in prison by now.
Meanwhile, are their secrets safe with me? Absolutely – in two uniquely perfect ways: They are just as safe as I want them to be, and just as safe as anyone else’s – just as safe as yours. In Willie’s world, nobody gets prosecuted, but everybody gets persecuted. That just seems fair to me.
So when I had finally made out who I was seeing in Shake, I called him over to where I was standing, by the train. He texted Reggie to join us, and we all got reacquainted. That’s when they regaled me with their Dick’s adventure, and that’s where we left off, with me putting the screws to them:
“Seriously – what gives?”
“It’s nothing really,” Reggie said. “We’re just mining Bitcoin.”
“Technically,” Shake corrected, “we’re cloud-mining Bitcoin.”
“Well, technically,” Reggie amended, “we’re reselling Bitcoin cloud-mining.”
To all of this I said: “…?!”
Reggie smirked. “C’mon. It’s easy. You get Bitcoin, right?”
“No. It sounds like a con-game to me.”
Shake’s turn to smirk: “It totally is.”
I looked to Reggie, but he just shrugged. He said, “Ducats are not dollars.”
“Dollars get you dinner,” Shake agreed. “Ducats get you dick.”
Reggie said, “We’re careful to distinguish real from hypothetical money. Well, all money is hypothetical, but what we want is the immediately-spendable kind.”
I smiled. “Who doesn’t? But ‘all money is hypothetical?’”
“A payment in currency is not a payment,” he said. “It’s a check, a promise to be redeemed later in goods or services. A currency can be backed by something – by gold or tulip bulbs or the sweat of the taxpayer’s brow – but ultimately people believe in money because they believe in it. In that sense, all currency is a con-game, with greater or lesser underlying fraud.”
“What about an old-fashioned gold-standard bank?”
Reggie shrugged. “Call all the notes at once. See if there’s gold enough in the vault to cover them. When there’s a ‘run on the bank’ – why do people actually run to get there? Bitcoin gets away from all that risk of fraud.”
“By being nothing but ducats!” That was Shake. If Golden Retrievers could talk, they’d all want to talk to Shake.
“Bitcoin isn’t backed by anything!” Reggie exulted. “It’s 100% pure imaginary money, conjured up out of nothing by an imaginary person named Satoshi Nakamoto. An individual Bitcoin has been valued anywhere from one dollar to five grand, but it’s never been anything but a made-up idea that a lot of people have agreed to pretend is real.”
“You know the difference between Bitcoin and tulip bulbs?” Shake asked. “You can eat tulip bulbs, if it comes to that.”
“Amen to that, brother,” Reggie confirmed. “That’s why we’re more interested in dollars than ducats. They’re counterfeit, too, or mostly counterfeit, but more people take them in trade – and the price of dinner doesn’t swing by twenty percent a day.”
“We’re theoretically rich—” Shake began.
“We’re ‘big in Japan’ – a big deal around the small-timers we deal with.”
“—but they don’t take Bitcoin at Safeway—”
“Not yet, they don’t.”
“—so, you know, we set up a side-hustle to pay the day-to-day.”
Shake was proud of himself, and so was Reggie. He said, “Hearth and home. Hearth and home.”
“That reminds me,” I said. “What’s up with Kief?”
Kief is Shake’s sister’s son – maybe six years old when I met him with Reggie and Shake. He would have been eight or nine by then.
Shake’s eyes got worried, wary, while Reggie projected a confidence that might have been a little amplified. He said, “Kief’s mom found a need to fulfill her destiny elsewhere.”
I smiled at that. “Delicately put.”
He shrugged. “The world’s only as ugly as you need it to be. But that’s why we’re snagging onto every cash dollar we can get. We don’t dare tell anyone what’s happened until we can qualify as Kief’s guardians, and the legal fees are outrageous.”
“And lawyers don’t take Bitcoin, either,” Shake said.
“Well, some do, but not the kind we need.”
“So you’re telling me you didn’t hack Dick’s Wi-Fi routers?” I said that.
“Well…” You could dig a well in the time Reggie can take to say the word ‘well.’ He’s buying time to lie, but I don’t care. Any check could bounce, any promise can be broken, but every lie is all the way true anyway – a photograph flipped, flopped, filtered and cropped, but still a reliable image of reality. “Their routers are four times faster than they were, and the coverage is flawless. No stops, no drops, floor to ceiling—”
“We oughta know!”
“—corner to corner. And they’ll never use even a tenth of the capacity they have.”
“Who,” I pondered, “will be making use of the rest?”
Shake just smiled, but Reggie was ready for me: “Every Wi-Fi router in this building is a monster, eight core processors – you get that? – like eight computers per computer. And that’s what they are, fully-programmable Unix boxes, minus the peripherals.”
“They bought the best,” Shake said, “the whole mall plus all the big-box stores.”
“Great hardware and crappy software. Buggy and slow, and it only ran on one of the cores – so the routers were almost-entirely wasted.”
I smiled again. “And now they’re only half wasted.” I wasn’t being confrontational, not quite.
Reggie shrugged. “Since we showed up – the third-party maintenance guys nobody remembers hiring – the routers have quadrupled in efficiency. We install our own quad-core software, then we optimize the signal strength. We got the gig at Dick’s – actual cash money, not just social engineering – because the kids at Wetzel’s Pretzels were bragging about us.”
“Are we taking something for our trouble?” Shake asked. “You bet. But we deliver a lot of value, too.”
“That nobody even had to ask for!”
“Or pay for!”
“Or know anything about.” I said that. Feeling queasy? I was. Don’t worry. It gets worse. “So you guys are hi-jacking the other four processors in each router? To do what? You said you’re reselling something?”
Reggie shot a silent question to Shake, who shrugged. He said, “We organize them into 16, 32 or 64-core pseudo-machines, and use those to mine Bitcoin.”
To this I said simply, “…?!”
“Where to start?” Reggie asked himself. “You mentioned gold money. Where does new gold money come from?”
“Oh, duh. Miners.”
“Bingo! Bitcoin introduces new money into the economy by distributing it, slowly, to miners.”
I asked: “How do you mine abstractions?”
“With blasts of hyperbole, of course,” said Shake.
To me, Reggie said, “You think this is all a scam, right?”
“We do, too. How do you mine for an imaginary metal?”
“By doing homework!” Shake said that.
“You solve entirely redundant, massively useless encryption problems.”
“Nothing but homework!”
“And you get paid for proving your work.”
“Just like doing your math homework!”
“He’s not kidding,” Reggie said. “Bitcoin mining is as useful, economically, as a million kids doing the same geometry homework. And that is the valuable prize undergirding the value of all of Bitcoin: Massively-redundant homework.”
“You must prove your work!” Shake insisted.
“Do you know the idea of the Cargo Cult?” Reggie asked. “If I mimic your behavior, I’ll achieve your results – even if I have no idea what you’re actually doing? Okay, so how about the Nigerian Prince Scam? All you need to do to cash in is believe in Nigerian Princes. You see why it works, right?”
“Documenting impromptu Cargo Cults has been my life’s work. I’ve never understood why anyone would believe a Nigerian Prince.”
“And that’s the only people they’re targeting,” Reggie said, “people too dumb to know it’s a scam. We think Bitcoin is the Nigerian Prince Cargo Cult of the math geeks.”
Shake chuckled at that, and I said, “That’s a mouthful.”
Reggie said, “Abstractions about abstractions and whisperings about cryptology – there is a certain kind of cat whose favorite catnip is Bitcoin.”
“We help those kitties shed unwanted dollars.”
“Dollars,” Reggie agreed. “Not ducats.”
“So you guys don’t have any Bitcoin yourselves?”
Reggie scoffed. “We’ve got plenty, and we got it early, when the mining was easy.”
“But ducats are not dollars,” said Shake. “I’ve got four billion ducats that I got for free at a casino app I have on my phone.”
“Wait?” I said. “What? How do you get a casino to give you four billion free dollars?”
“They’re not dollars,” Reggie reminded me, “they’re ducats. They’re not even close to being real.”
Shake said, “As for how you get ’em – that’s easy.”
Reggie said, “Bad-boyfriend game.”
So of course I said, “…?!”
Shake smiled shyly. “You treat the casino like dirt, just walk all over it. You show up once a day, take whatever is free, then vamoose immediately. Every seven or eight days, you sit down to play, but you only stay as long as the house is favoring you – deliberately juicing the wins to get you all excited.”
“You see what they’re doing, right?” Reggie asked. “It’s gamification.”
“Addictification,” Shake said.
“Absolutely. It’s not like a fixed percentage return on an old-style slot machine – not even like a variable hold. The software plays you to find out how to tease out your addiction, how to get you to spend and lose actual money.”
Shake smirked. “Never game a gamer. I game them right back: They don’t pay, I don’t play. When they want to show me how much they love me, I bet tens of millions of ducats at a time. And when Lady Luck thinks it’s safe to frown on me, I’m back to being a bad boyfriend.”
I was beaming. I’m an easy sell on clever. I said, “Do you know what I love about this job, about driving the occasional three-year-old on a choo-choo train trip around the mall? It’s because of this, the indefatigable creativity of youth. Tell me what you’re doing with your pilfered networked Bitcoin mines.”
Reggie smiled at that. “You make it sound like it’s a bad thing. So we’re mining, obviously, and technically we’re cloud-mining, since we’re running lots of hardware… that we can make available… for rent.”
“For rent!” Shake echoed, and it sounded almost like a battle cry.
“We don’t mine,” Reggie said.
“Not anymore,” Shake agreed.
“We rent mining capacity to other Bitcoin miners.”
“For dollars, not ducats.”
There is something within me that likes dogs and men who seem to say, “You never can tell…” I don’t know if it’s the Irish or the carney or just the Willie in me, but I can find a way to admire the most horrifying of scams, if only for the sheer effrontery of it all.
These boys were committing hundreds of federal felonies a day, the way the feds bring charges these days, but in some ways I think they saw what they were doing as an elaborate video game involving hand-tools and step-ladders – Super Mario Brothers made flesh. I could picture them in a low-speed chase through the mall, pursued by an enraged Bowser unsteadily navigating an indoor cherry-picker.
And you can see the moral dilemma I was having, yes? I didn’t care about the felonies, and I didn’t care much about the pilferage: For my money, Reggie and Shake were the world’s most considerate trash-pickers. But I cared about those boys – about what they’re doing with their lives. And I cared about Kief.
But I didn’t do anything about that then, I just delighted in their exploits as we caught up with each other.
Later that day Bonnie and Clyde – my elderly Coin Miner friends – sauntered by, and they were a nice reminder about the trivial nuisance that is inconsequential rent-seeking: When you were ‘robbed’ of something you didn’t even know was yours to defend, my guess is that your outrage is the most significant value in play.
To Bonnie, I said, “I’m going to say two words, and you tell me what you think about them. Ready? ‘Cloud-mining.’”
“Oud-nining?” Clyde asked. He’s as sharp as anyone, but his speech impediment makes him sound like a tongue-tied two-year-old. He can hear and process just fine, but I lose three out of four of his words on the way back, so I end up directing things through Bonnie.
She said, “It’s good poetry – whimsical, fantastical, comical and impossible all at once: How do you mine a cloud? Our trash hauler is called Paradise Waste. That’s a good joke, too.”
I grinned at that. “There’s a towing company named Fiesta Wrecking. I hear it like Two Guys and a Truck: ‘Fiesta Wrecking: Two ex-wives and a sledge-hammer.’”
They both laughed at that. “Who are your two buddies?” Bonnie asked. They’re around the mall all day, and they miss not one little thing.
“They’re working on the Wi-Fi routers.” Entirely true and entirely unresponsive. “Tell me what you know about Bitcoin.”
“Bitcoin…” Bonnie took her time with the word, listening to the sound of it. I like these two because they’re entirely disconnected from the wired world. You can’t look up from your screen, so they see everything you’re missing. “Can a Bitcoin roll under the Coke machine?”
I smiled. “No.”
She said, “Not interested,” and that was that.
The boys were around all summer, especially Shake, and they came to be a part of the normal tableaux, two more Regulars. They got to know Bonnie and Clyde and a bunch of my other favorites, including the best of the Yellow Jackets.
That’s funny just by itself: The great American shopping mall is getting clobbered by ecommerce, but malls are dying faster than they need to because they are managed by lazy, clueless slugs. Simply by showing up every day and looking the part, Reggie and Shake got themselves accepted as the Arrowhead Mall’s Wi-Fi maintenance specialists. They had the run of the joint – including after hours, when they wanted to stay and play – and nobody said ‘boo.’
I got to see Kief, when they brought him to the mall to shop. He’s really too old for the train, but I comped him a ride, anyway. He and Shake sat right behind me, in the coal tender, and he chattered the whole time. The first time I met him, he never said a word.
And I got to to talk to Reggie and Shake, together and separately, about their future – and Kief’s.
“I’m not even going to quarrel about the theft,” I said to them one lazy afternoon. “When you ‘steal’ something nobody knows or cares about, that might be silly and unproductive, but it’s not inflicting an injury. But the risks you’re taking are huge. Even if you don’t get prosecuted, if you get thrown out of the mall, your income stops. And if the cops tell the court what’s what, you lose Kief.”
That stunned them both, as I knew it would. Shake’s eyes were suddenly moist.
“Besides, what kind of example are you setting for him? When I met you guys, you were essentially uncompensated drug dealers. You’ve graduated to being uncompensated tech support – with a side job as sucker-baiters. Is this something Kief should look up to? Is this the future you want for him?”
Shake was trying to hide the tears he was dabbing away, but Reggie said, “Sucker-baiters?”
I shrugged. “You sell what you see as a hoax to dreamers who value theoretical ducats more than they do real dollars. In what way is that different from the gamifying casino programmers?”
That really got to Shake, but it set Reggie back on his heels, too. That’s my job – making people squirm.
I said, “Wealth is stuff people want and the means to obtain more of it – physical and intellectual capital. Being unproductive – toiling without producing new wealth, like Bitcoin mining – is wasteful. But encouraging people to be wasteful is far worse.”
“Why?” Reggie asked. “Who’s getting hurt? If they’re going to blow their dough anyway…”
“It’s you who is hurt, you and everyone you love. How can it be wise to induce foolishness? Who can thrive in a world sundered by fools?”
Ride the train or don’t, the loco engineering is free.
One day I was chatting with Shake when Crazy Linda came over to join us. “Oh, Willie,” she said, “I see you’ve met Lawrence.”
I shot a question to Shake and he shook his head ‘no’ – not his real name. Crazy Linda isn’t crazy, that’s just what she calls herself. What she is is lonely and lost in the slowly darkening gloom of senile dementia.
“Lawrence makes sure my cell phone is always working right, just in case my daughter calls.”
I don’t know if there is a daughter. I’ve never seen her, if there is. But Linda comes to the mall every day to have lunch with her – just in case she comes.
Shake said, “Linda brings me pretzels.”
I smiled at that. “Me, too.”
“You fellows work so hard. Somebody’s got to make sure you’re getting something to eat.” Crazy Linda looked from me to Shake then back to me. “Well, time to go see the puppies. There’s a little pug up there that I like to hold.”
When she had gone, I said to Shake, “Do you want to hear a secret? I judge people by how they take to Linda. I don’t like people who are unkind to dogs or to kids or to Special people. But I like to see what people see in Linda, because she’s like all three in an old lady’s disguise. Can they see who she really is? Can they see how kind she is? How gentle? How thoughtful? Can they stop rejecting her for just long enough to see how rewarding it is to accept her instead?”
He was teary, and so was I, a little bit. I said, “You’re a good man, Shake. I’m honored to know you.”
“Say what?” He was truly taken aback. “Nobody ever said anything like that to me before!”
I shook my head. “Every day. All the time. Just not in words.” He looked doubtful, so I doubled-down: “Kief looks up to you like a god, and Reggie doesn’t spend his time with anyone else, does he?”
He shrugged, but he was proud of himself, anyway.
“You guys are like an old married couple: You just fit. You work together perfectly – always supporting each other, looking out for each other, taking care of each other. Real married couples should have it so good.”
He grinned. “I never thought about it that way. I didn’t have much of a family, growing up…”
“Yeah, I knew. But you have a great family now – better than a lot of ‘normal’ families. I don’t know if you guys will ever have women in your lives. It’s better for Kief, for now, if you don’t. But you’ll always have a great family as long as you and Reggie have each other.”
Shake smiled. “That sounds so gay.”
I shrugged. “You can never have too much family. I say that to the kids on the train all the time. Crazy Linda’s got nobody, nobody but an indifferent daughter and a cadre of strangers at the mall. You’ve got Reggie and Kief, and they’ve got you. Together, you’re a family. Cling to that, and you have everything that matters.”And then one day they were gone.
I was used to losing sight of them – it’s a big mall – but they always stopped by or at least waved at me on the train as they made their rounds, wrangling rustled routers and finagling their way into the big-box stores to get at still more of them.
But people just vanish at the mall – quit, fired, transferred – and that’s just the way it is. Bonnie and Clyde traffic in all the best gossip, but often there is none. And of course, my fear was that Reggie and Shake made their exit from the mall in an unmarked Crown Victoria from the Department of Homeland Security.
But then just yesterday Reggie stopped by the train kiosk. All dressed up, too, a decent middle-brow suit and a real necktie, not a clip on. Even his shoes were on point – dressed for success.
“I’m so glad to see you,” I said. “Are you guys okay? I thought maybe you had been…”
Reggie just smiled at that. “Nah. Shake made us get jobs, that’s all.”
“Shake made you…?”
His smile deepened. “You’re right. It’s your fault. You got us thinking about home and family, and we ended up buying a house together.”
I was stunned by that news. “You were able to get a mortgage?”
Reggie smirked. “No mortgage. All cash. Well, all Bitcoin.”
“You bought a house with Bitcoin?”
“Yeah, well, Bitcoin plus ten dollars cash for the deed, plus more cash for the closing costs. But the house we bought with Bitcoin we mined years ago.”
I laughed, just a little, through my nose. “Sometimes ducats are as good as dollars.”
Reggie grinned at that notion. He was proud of himself, and he was right to be.
“What’s up with Kief?”
“Temporary custody. The jobs and the house helped a lot. Now it’s ours to win: If we don’t screw up and nobody objects, we’ll be his legal guardians in a year.”
They grow up so fast. Not Kief – Reggie and Shake.
“Where are you working?”
“At The Biltmore, in town, at The Apple Store.”
I had to stop myself from laughing out loud. I could picture every computer in the store silently chugging away to unearth more and more precious homework.
“No, no, no!” Reggie said. “It’s not like that. Everything’s strictly on the up and up. Shake’s on the Genius Bar, I handle corporate accounts and not a Mac do we hack – Scout’s honor.”
Clearly I had my doubts, because he swept in to head them off: “I’m serious, brother. You got to us both. We want to be able to say we’re good men to the judge – good fathers for Kief. But more than that, we want to be good fathers for Kief – and better, more reliable friends to each other. So now we’re all grown up – and it’s your fault.”
“What about your little sheepfold here at the mall?”
“Oh, that’s still running. But we’re not reselling, just mining for our own account. Bitcoin might buy us a better house someday. And if not – it’s only ducats.”
“You don’t worry about getting caught?”
He shrugged. “No one even knows the software is there. If they ever figure it out, they won’t know what it is, what it does, where it came from or where it transmits to. No one here knows who we are, and I’ll bet almost no one even remembers we were ever here. Even if you gave some net-detective all the answers, it’s still crypto: Unfindable by design.”
Anything I might have said seemed unimportant. Some people say fishing with a net is cheating. Some people fish for a living. Back on dry land, are squatters trespassers? Or are they the better husbands of the land? Wherever you draw the line, at a certain point, fair is fair, even if it’s not always that much fun. Rubbing is racing, and if you can’t take the friction, get out of the fray.
“So everything else? Strictly on the up and up?”
Reggie grinned with a playful delight. He said, “Well…”