Thursday, June 08, 2006

As Usual, No Cups.

My guess is that he was actually brought in for this exact purpose by the investors. They knew this time would come. And they knew they wouldn’t be interested in first-handing such things. They would need a vehicle. A vessel. A wretched harbinger of truth: that no man is above any known reckoning. They needed him to utilize his methods. His “cures”. To find a way to usher us into oblivion. We needed to be out of their way.

In his most previous life, they called him “The Hatchet Man” due to his disturbingly amoral ability to dissolve entities into sellable splinters with deft and swift swings of hardened greed. The fucker was good at it. He liked it. It made him feel useful and important. Fed his rampant vanity like nothing else. Such the vulture.

Some enjoy soaking their hands in pools of warm blood like that.

So there we were, the three of us, sitting in the open-air atrium of the Renaissance Hotel in the Arboretum. A dozen or so floors of vacuous space above our heads. At a predetermined, toy-ish and absolutely empty cafĂ© table. Public place. Folded arms. Negotiating our way out of each other’s lives.

It was two against one, and he was visibly drunk from the nearby happy hour that I was unwittingly footing the $1,000+ bill for. It was also, not so coincidentally, a premature celebration of our ousting. The others, drinking themselves silly but blocks away, were wholly unaware of our collective decrepit state of composure. Oblivious to the face-punching reality that we were no longer the combined force that they had been soothed into taking checks from. That we were all, in fact, getting a big-ass divorce from each other. That in all honesty, we were never really a cohesive group to begin with. The deathbed-truth of it was that none of us really liked each other much to begin with.

Knifing each other over the imaginary deck chairs of a ship that we supposedly manned, but only existed in the minds of those who simply wished it to exist in the minds of everyone else, except bigger and more valuable.

So he was drunk. His hair gave it all away. Shocks of separated bang-chunks falling down to sharply-yet-lightly touch his grainy-orange forehead like spider legs cradling the hollowed remains of a bronzed fly. His eyes wouldn’t stay trained. They wandered when he spoke. And he kept readjusting himself in his little tube-steel bistro chair as he threw out ultimatum after ultimatum, trying to cross his legs in different respect-demanding patterns, but never quite able to get comfortable. Never a full threat, but always the promise of producing one if pushed. A solid summary of our entire relationship, this interaction.

We two, his paying-problem/reason-to-be, had no idea what to expect from this man. Nothing beyond his typical inebriation. We also knew that he was quite the clever negotiator, even when hunched-swearing drunk. He often played the part just to seem vulnerable. Begging the unwary to assume him in Achilles position, taunting them to try and make a move on him. Quick stricken. The wounded rarely figured out how stuck they were until far too late. Until they were incapable of escape.

The slow bleed seemed to please him.

Lots of cash talk. Who would owe who and under what circumstances it would be most advantageous for all involved. Scenarios on top of scenarios. As if he were but a mere mediator in a process which was beyond his control, yet left to his discretion. “The wheels are already in motion. I’m just trying to help you help yourselves off the ride before you’re thrown off. I’m not your enemy here, this is just how things are. If I were you, I’d cut a deal and avoid any nasty business.”

Bag-man tactics, with the cookie-tossing of every first round. Motherfucker.

We weren’t prepared to play this kind of ball and he knew it. No cups. He’d had us sized-up the first day we’d met, over a year prior. He had been testing us for the entire period between, knowing that this moment was inevitable. He didn’t even need to be sober for it. To him, this was like spreading warm butter over a toasted muffin. A mindless tableside activity which he was capable of executing without the aide of a clear mind or legal support. Try as we might, he had our balls firmly gripped in his wine-stained palm.

And as usual, we had no cups.