A pleasant summer evening at Snark Is The Night. It’s livelier tonight than it’s been in a while; a new karaoke machine is at the back of the bar, and JASON has monopolized it since arriving.
TERRY, RENEE, and VIC sit at a table sharing a large plate of nachos. VIC meticulously picks off all the toppings from every chip he takes, leaving only cheese.
VIC: I think I’ve changed my mind about a few things since we got here tonight.
RENEE: Does any of it have anything to do with what Jason’s been doing to hip-hop up there? Because I feel like it’d be hard not to change your mind about a lot of things in life after hearing his…interpretation of – I think it was supposed to be Feds Watching.
TERRY: His heart’s in the right place. 2Chainz isn’t, though. He should be here, right now, witnessing this. It’d be the surest way to tell if one could die of laughter.
VIC: Are you plebs going to let me finish? I’m at that perfect level of drunk where I can adequately dumb myself down to you peoples’ level. How else could you fully appreciate my wit?
TERRY: You have until the end of…good lord, is that supposed to be Holy Grail?
JASON (Offscreen, singing): Thanks for warning me, thanks for warning me-
TERRY: Yep. You have until he’s done with that to amuse me before I throttle you for your insolence.
VIC: Scary. I’ve realized over the last couple weeks that my startup would probably take less time to build momentum if I started divvying up the labor. It’s not that I can’t do it all myself, but the busywork gets boring after a while. So, I’ve decided to expand.
RENEE: You never told us about any startup. Wait. I bet you launched a website that tricks women into filling out an application for your penis. You did, didn’t you?
VIC: No, I couldn’t figure out a way to make it legally binding. This is a website, though.
JASON (Still singing offscreen): But soon as all that money goes, all the pigeons take flight-
TERRY (Heckling): ‘All that money blows,’ you idiot! The lyrics are right there on the fucking screen!
RENEE: What, like that one you made in lieu of a Facebook page?
VIC: Why would I be a page in a book when I deserve to be on the front cover? I wasn’t about to be a tiny piece of some network. Fuck networks and fuck being a piece.
RENEE: That makes an unsettling amount of sense.
VIC: Of course it does. Remember, I’m drunk enough to be understood by lesser minds. Anyway, this website will change the way we break the law. For a small monthly fee, you can browse a list of upstanding individuals from your area who might be looking for help with their extracurricular projects or post a project of your own that you may need help with. I even wrote a simple little program once the project starts coming together that helps you assign jobs, decide on cut size, and automatically calculates each cut based on the size of the take.
TERRY: Okay, let’s say I didn’t think this idea was completely fucking stupid. How is this not all just implication in a URL box?
VIC: It’ll be anonymous. I’ll email passwords to all the members and weekly-updated codewords they can use in place of what they’re actually talking about.
RENEE: Like “home renovation” instead of “breaking and entering?”
VIC: If I were as stupid as you two, sure; I bet I’d use something that obvious.
RENEE looks over to TERRY, who calmly shakes his head ‘no.’
RENEE: The Bureau isn’t that stupid either.
VIC: My family owns property in Scandinavia. We’ll put the servers there. Does anyone besides me know how to code?
JASON returns to the table.
JASON: You guys didn’t applaud.
TERRY: The things you did today weren’t worthy of applause, Jason. I don’t even think jeering would have been appropriate. Maybe a murder charge or two.
JASON: That’s what a hater like you would say. What did you two think?
VIC: Karaoke is a lower form of art, right below drawing pictures of dicks in public bathroom stalls but right above web serial fiction. I wouldn’t have applauded for anyone no matter how well or poorly they did up there, if that consoles you at all. For the record, though, you were just terrible.
RENEE: Before you ask, I think it was brilliant satire. Unfortunately, satire is a pretty thankless business to be in, so you get nothing from me. Now sit down and start drinking. We’re talking about money and how more might be acquired.
JASON: Right, yeah, the social networking site for goons. What was it called again? Crimeweb? Heistmonkey? Is there something about the word ‘monkey’ that guarantees more hits?
VIC: Nothing so clunky; it’s ‘X-Concierge.’ To keep it below the radar, it’s disguised as an anonymous dating website for ex-cons – hence the name – looking to reconnect with their bitch or stud of choice on the outside or perhaps find a new one. The language on the site is all full of double entendres that could be about either fucking or stealing shit. And yes, apparently.
JASON: Go figure. Need a coder?
TERRY: There’s no fucking way you know how to do that. You can barely even dress yourself.
JASON: Listen, that belt was from my trip to Indonesia. They have backwards-ass belt technology there; I had to reverse engineer the damn thing before I could get it to work.
VIC: That’s fucking stupid and so are you. I don’t believe for a second that you’re capable of anything with a computer more complicated than Vining.
JASON: Coding is just one of my many surprise talents, like fucking and shooting.
TERRY: Craps. We cleaned up one night in November; he’s convinced himself that it’s a game of skill.
JASON: Because it is. There’s a wrist technique you need to master.
TERRY: No there isn’t.
JASON: What do you know? It wasn’t my fingers those Albanians were about to sew together.
RENEE: Oh, I remember now. That was that night when I called and you said something about your life being a parody of a De Niro movie.
VIC: See, that whole bit right there was a really good demonstration of why I’m skeptical about your capabilities.
JASON: Gimme a pen and a napkin, fucker.
JASON, realizing that there are no fresh napkins at the table, darts off.
TERRY: If he’s actually as good as he says he is, then you two can do all the ones and zeros. Renee and I can handle the business and legal ends, respectively.
VIC: You back the fuck up.
TERRY: Listen, we could do that played-out bit where you assert your authority and then give me the exact same business plan I just gave you. Or I could go fucking kill that Sting impression I’ve been working on.
RENEE: Please don’t dedicate a Police song to me.
TERRY: I’m not that drunk.
TERRY leaves for the stage after a misguided hipster finishes his assault on a Neil Young song. KENT, having just finished his shift, sits down in an empty seat at the table.
RENEE: How’s the novel coming?
KENT: Fuck you.
RENEE: You sat down with us just to say that?
KENT: If you’d like, I could think of something more creative.
RENEE: Because you’re a successful writer.
KENT: Fuck you.
Vic clears his throat.
RENEE: Terry and I are on board, Vic. Be an asshole about something else. Look, here comes Jason. Dick off to him.
JASON: Here. If you plug all of these in, you’ll get a pretty user-friendly search engine. The algorithm is on the seventh napkin.
VIC: But…you’re a sociology major.
JASON: No, I’m a psychology/sociology double major.
VIC: That really only advances my point.
JASON: You don’t have a point. You have a search engine.
RENEE: Oh, I get it. You’re one of those savants. But you’re not even autistic. Well, not very autistic. Not enough to qualify.
JASON: I wonder. Why are we so obsessed with prodigies and savants? Is the fantasy of the lazy genius so compelling? Is practice such a boring concept that we never even consider it as a factor whenever some unlikely fellow like me proves to be good at something?
RENEE: You’re…you’re not as stupid as you look, are you?
JASON: I’m exactly as stupid as anyone can look.
VIC: I’m not sure that makes sense.
JASON (Perhaps coyly): Man, join the club.
The next round of drinks arrives.
JASON: Ooh! Cider! Who knew apples were alcoholic? I never feel any different after pie.
KENT: Interesting. This isn’t just Asshole Theater anymore.
VIC: I’m not here for your amusement.
KENT: You’re not here because I want you here, either; that’s for damn sure. But since you all insist on coming here so often, I might as well find some amusement in your presence.
JASON: That’s deep, man.
RENEE: It really isn’t.
TERRY returns from the karaoke machine amongst a middling level of applause.
TERRY: So? Did I not sound exactly like our man Mr. Sumner?
KENT: Eh. More like Ian Gillan, but from Boston, singing about a prostitute.
RENEE: Thank you for not giving me a shout-out on that one, by the way.
TERRY: Well I wasn’t about to go up there and do some Nine Inch Nails song.
KENT: That’s the kind of song you’d dedicate to her?
RENEE: Our love is special.
TERRY rewards RENEE with a fresh glass of cider.
VIC: Oh, speaking of which, the auditions process has been interesting.
RENEE: You know, it makes me feel dirty to be even tangentially related to your sex prison escapades. I’ve seen more than one piece of really dark fetish porn with a similar setup.
VIC: Oh, I’m sorry I made you feel uncomfortable. You and your fellow members of the rapist community really do deserve a lot more consideration than you’ve received in the past. On behalf of every non-rapist out there, I’d like to apologize for treating you so unfairly. It must be so hard when people like me so trivialize your lifestyle choice.
RENEE: You only bring that up when it suits you.
JASON: Weren’t we talking about other crimes?
KENT gets up to leave but thinks it over for a second and sits back down.
TERRY: Yeah, you’re already an accomplice to something.
KENT: I was gonna say.
VIC: X-Concierge will really start taking care of itself once we build up a user base. Acquiring one in the first place is the biggest problem I can think of.
RENEE: For 20% of the company, it won’t be a problem at all.
TERRY: It’s cute how you think you’d be better suited to this task than me. 15%.
TERRY: Done. You’ll have your users the day the site goes live.
RENEE: God fucking dammit, Terry. You can’t just undercut me like that.
TERRY: I do a lot of thing’s I can’t do. Vic, give her 15%. She knows money and she can handle it for you, but I wouldn’t trust her not to embezzle any if she isn’t getting at least five percent more than I am.
VIC: You pitch worse than 50 Cent.
RENEE: Did you ever take a look at his personal finances before we started dating? He was in so deep with so many different people that the Yakuza and PETA almost went to war over who got to collect from his castrated carcass.
VIC: That’s a scene I’d love to see.
TERRY: Laugh it up, bitch; I’m still here. Where does that put you?
VIC: We’re doing this, are we? God, I’m so above this shit.
KENT: I think this is where you diffuse things, Jason.
RENEE: No, you’re not up to date on how things go. We let these things resolve themselves now. It tends to be pretty good for a laugh.
JASON: It’s fun to be a bystander. I can see why you enjoy it so much, Kent. All this funny shit happens and you don’t have to be responsible for any of it no matter how unpleasant or illegal it gets. Like when the police came to my house that one day and had it out with my stepdad. He was so angry, he went and got the ‘cabinet box.’ It was pretty gangsta. I just kept on with my apple sauce. Only downside was that everyone was so loud. Then I had to start going to appointments with Dr. Strauss. He had a lot of cool stories about his childhood in Brazil. Apparently his dad was, like, the smartest guy ever.
TERRY takes a break from VIC and joins the conversation as KENT digests what he’s just been told.
TERRY: That story changes every time I hear it.
JASON: Yeah, I’ve gotten really good at telling it. Every time I tell my mom, she gets all misty. I guess I’m just a natural storyteller.
RENEE: You’re something.
VIC: If you were like me, you could probably think of a better descriptor.
RENEE: “Smug beyond your warrant.”
TERRY: “Full of more shit than an FCC press release.”
KENT: “Evil, but the Team Rocket kind of evil.”
JASON: “Fruity, dry, and with something of a cinnamon-y aftertaste.”
The other four turn to see JASON swishing cider around in his mouth, a contemplative look about his face.
KENT: I need some actual friends.
TERRY: Want me to introduce you to my cousins? One’s pretentious and the other’s pathetic. You’d look good by comparison.
KENT: Please leave.