TWO says, "Perfect isn't it?"
And we follow TWO sidling up to ONE, who is looking intently at a framed work of art that is facing away from us.
TWO says, "Thank you."
ONE says, "You're an artist, my friend."
TWO says, "I try."
ONE says, "And this is a regular fucking Picasso."
TWO says, "High praise."
ONE says, "If you didn't exist, it'd be necessary to invent you."
TWO laughs, "You did!"
ONE says, "I mean, sure, in the sense of, I started you off. But the way you turned out..."
ONE examines the 'regular fucking Picasso' more closely, looking it up and down.
ONE makes a gesture that encircles all of 'it'.
TWO says, "It never would have existed without you."
ONE says, "Thank you. You will never know how much that means to me."
TWO smiles, hard now, "And I really, really appreciate it."
ONE nods, "Think I could do it again?"
TWO says, "Do what again?"
ONE says, "You. Do you think I could invent another, y'know... you. If I had to."
TWO says, "Dunno, maybe? I wouldn't put it past you. But don't worry about me, pal. I'm sticking around. I owe you that much."
ONE says, "Oh I don't question your loyalty. Don't think that."
TWO says, "I don't."
ONE says, "I'd be disappointed if that turned out to be your final thought about me. It's just that, now that I have this... this priceless work of art..."
ONE blows a speck of dirt off the priceless work of art.
They lock eyes for just long enough to indicate that TWO actually considers believing it. Then both of them break out laughing.
ONE says, "Yeah?"
TWO says, "That was a fucking great one! Ha ha! Perfect 10!"
ONE says, "I thought it might have been a little over the top. 'No better choice'. Heh!"
TWO says, "No it was great. This is the, what, 100th time you've threatened to take my life? But still, you nearly had me. With all of that 'I doubt you will ever know' and 'final thought' stuff. Now THAT is priceless."
ONE says, "Knew you'd pick up on those. See, it's the little things."
TWO says, "Yes. It's the little things. Absolutely."
ONE says, "Where the joy is. And the art is in the way you put them all together into, like, one big thing. (looks at it again) And you've done that here, my friend. You have certainly done that here."
TWO says, "I thought maybe the nose was a little, well, on the nose, if you--."
ONE (squinting) says, "No, the nose is good. The nose is really good. I love the way the pores get slightly larger right around here."
ONE points to a spot on ONE's own face.
CUT TO the object ONE's been staring at.
It's a mirror.
In which, they've BOTH been examining ONE's face.
ONE says, "See that's what I'm talking about. Details. Observation. It's what makes you the master."
TWO says, "Thank you. Truly."
ONE says, "As only you, I, and my cold wallet know, as of this payment, I've now thanked you to the tune of over a billion."
TWO says, "Thank you for that as well."
ONE says, "Oh by the way, I had to route your payment through a Layer 2 this time. Bit of a liquidity problem right now. You understand."
TWO says, "Which L2?"
ONE says, "Regolithium."
TWO says, "Isn't that one pegged by a CEX?"
ONE mocks, "Oh, 'No CEX please!' You mean, Vince? He's a good egg. Don't worry. Vince and I go way back. I can vouch."
TWO swallows a reaction that nevertheless makes clear this isn't exactly reassuring.
ONE says, "Nobody. You won't be doing anybody else."
TWO says, "I won't?"
ONE says, "No."
TWO says, "Why not?"
ONE says, "Because you're fired."
TWO says, "I'm...'fired'? That's it?"
ONE says, "That's it."
TWO says, "Oh c'mon, you can do better. I'll give you an 'A' for fresh material. But 'C' for effort. Tell me I'll be sleepin' with the fishes, wearing concrete overshoes. Call me to say you're talking to an empty telephone because there is a dead man on the other end of this fucking line. But 'fired'? That's just low-quality bait."
ONE says, "This ain't fishin' bud. I can kid around with you about life and death, but this is business. And we've been in this business now, how long?"
TWO says, "More than ten years."
ONE says, "When did you ever know me to kid about business?"
TWO admits, "Never."
ONE says, "Lookitme."
ONE slips a hand inside a breast pocket.
TWO says, "Wait..."
FAREWELL, READERS! NOTHING FURTHER HAS YET BEEN WRITTEN BY THIS WRITER. THAT MIGHT BE BEST: YOU WOULDN'T WANT US TO CONTINUE EDIFYING YOU, WOULD YOU?
YOU CAN, HOWEVER, HELP CROWDFUND THE NEXT CHAPTER, IF YOU WISH. NOT THAT YOU'D EVER ENCOURAGE MANTHINKING. MAYBE IT'S ABOUT SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY. THAT'S THE TICKET.
REGARDLESS, WE ARE ON IT BUT WE NEED SOME EXPENSES COVERED OR WE'LL JUST BE FORCED TO GO BACK TO OUR FORMER JOBS AS FULL-TIME JACKANAPES. TOUGH BUSINESS! THE LEAD ON THIS CASE HAS ASKED FOR A CONTINUATION ANTE OF TWENTY BCH NICKELS (1.00 BCH), OR SIX LITE QUARTERS (1.50 LTC), OR 8 MEGANEX (8 MNEX), OR 375 CARDS (375 ADA), OR WHATEVER PERCENTAGES OF EACH ADD UP TO A HUNDRED.
AS OF LAST UPDATE, THE ANTE TO CONTINUE THIS CHAPTER IS 0% FILLED. IF THE REST HAS NOT BEEN SENT TO ONE OR MORE ADDRESSES BELOW, BY THE ANTE DEADLINE, MARCH 31, 2023, WE WILL PUT THIS PAGE 'ON ICE' FOR A TWELVE-WEEK EMBARGO PERIOD, MINUS ONE WEEK FOR EVERY 10% OF THE ANTE FILLED. SO IF THE ANTE DEADLINE WERE TO ARRIVE ONLY 59% FILLED, FOR EXAMPLE, THE RESULTING EMBARGO WOULD LAST SEVEN WEEKS, AFTER WHICH TIME, THE AUTHOR MAY RE-OFFER THE CHAPTER, WITH A POSSIBLE RE-EDIT (AND THE FUNDS ALREADY DONATED TOWARD IT, PRE-EMBARGO, WOULD STILL APPLY TOWARD THE NEW ANTE). IF, ON THE OTHER HAND, THE ANTE DEADLINE ARRIVES AND IT'S 100% FILLED OR MORE, THE AUTHOR WILL BE EXPECTED TO POST THE NEXT CHAPTER WITHIN TWO WEEKS AFTER THE COMPLETION OF THE SAME AUTHOR'S MOST RECENTLY PREVIOUSLY FULLY FUNDED GOAL AT bitcoinmars.org or cryptonoir.org, AND THEN WE'LL RESTART THE NEXT CONTINUATION ANTE (IF ANY) AT 0% FILLED, SO THAT EACH CHAPTER WILL BE CONTINUED (OR NOT) BASED ON ITS OWN MERITS. THESE ARE THE RULES OF cryptonoir.org