Power Grid Failure Chapter Ten

Good afternoon. It is I Gigi the parti poodle here once again to introduce chapter ten of my story Power Grid Failure. This week my novelist has taken a break from our walkies. At first, I reveled in the rest. And then I became restless. I have learned the horrible meaning of the words housebound and stir-crazy. I must get out soon or I shall lose my mind. I am climbing the walls. I have even been engaging in peaceful conversations with the Maltese and such shenanigans cannot be tolerated. I must go for walkies again. I must breathe the air and smell the rain, the wind, the universe. I have heard dogs need to go on walks to keep their brain sharp. Mine is dulling by the hour. Soon I will be relegated to watching soap operas and game shows. A horrid fate. I will rouse my novelist tomorrow and make her walk me. I will demand she give me attention. I will let her know resting time is over. It is time to conquer the world! But for now, here is chapter ten of Power Grid Failure. Disfrutar!

Power Grid Failure

by

Gigi the parti poodle

Chapter Ten

Dragontail and Reynolds went back a long way to their college days. Reynolds dreamed of working in the corporate world, while Dragontail envisioned himself a stage actor living the bohemian lifestyle. His parents, however, had a different plan in mind. Their son had spent his childhood in and out of schools mostly due to expulsion. The breaking point came when one of his high school teachers told him not to focus on David Mamet plays and history at the same time. Dragontail replied, “Why don’t you talk to me like I’m an adult?” The teacher swiftly escorted Dragontail out of the classroom and down the hall. This left the rest of the students to ruminate on the building of The Great Wall of China until the last five minutes of class when a now meek and sullen Dragontail reentered the classroom. He was followed inside by the teacher who sported a contented look that would have turned Nurse Rached’s face a whiter shade of pale.

Dragontail, however, was not deterred from his thespian pursuit and continued to read plays in class albeit more covertly. It deeply upset him when he was cast in the lead role of Chad in his high school’s production of In the Company of Men by Neil Labute and his parents refused to attend. Especially after he dedicated his performance to them, a note which by his request was printed in the program.

When he went off to college, Dragontail attended prerequisites for business school but also enrolled in acting classes and auditioned for plays. His first break was in a student film playing a human sized ant who found solace in gardening. The director/writer received a 3.0 grade for his efforts, but Dragontail’s performance caught the eye of several other student directors, and he started getting cast in more and more roles.

Unfortunately, one of his parts was so popular even his parents, who had no interest whatsoever in the internet nor online video sharing social media platforms, happened to see it. They were stunned to find out their son had shaved his head bald to play Derek in the stage play version of American History X. Dragontail found himself inundated with texts, phone calls and written letters from his parent’s lawyer promising to cut him off from both his inheritance and the family at large if he so much as stepped foot in front of a camera or on a theater stage again. It was at this dark point in his young life that he by chance met Reynolds.

Reynolds, at that time, was every financially motivated parent’s dream. He had always envisioned himself becoming a real-life Gordon Gecko. From the time he entered fourth grade he wore a suit and tie and slicked his hair back with pomade to look like a grade school version of his favorite corporate shark.  His parents struggled to keep up with his demand for silk ties and gold tone cufflinks. When other kids came to school on Business Day to sell their handmade wares such as friendship bracelets, origami animals and Shrinky Dinks in the cafeteria, Reynolds showed up with a full color layout explaining how to purchase timeshares of certain areas of the playground. This was, of course, a complete scam. But his pitch was so compelling he was able to sell the principal springtime usage of the monkey bars.

Reynolds used his earnings to pay for a brand-new dirt bike. He was excellent at charming his teachers out of punishments that came his way for activities such as copying off tests, being late for class and talking his buddies into nabbing hair accessories from female classmates and selling them back to them at a profit.

Dragontail and Reynolds met in a microeconomics class shortly after Dragontail’s American History X fallout with his parents. Reynolds talked Dragontail into pledging his fraternity. This gave Dragontail newfound hope for his future and the fraternity in turn got bragging rights for having one of their brothers be the guy who played that skinhead in that American History X video. The boys became the best of friends and decided after college they would start a business together. Dragontail wanted to own a production company, but Reynolds was interested in more lucrative ventures. Reynolds talked his friend into founding a wearable technology company as he always envisioned crating a better smart watch than the ones that were on the market.

This concerned Dragontail as his background in computer science was novice at best. After going back and forth about it, they came up with a concept called Desperate Director, a watch designed for actors and singers that could alert a performer every time a new part came up, even before agents received the breakdown. In addition, the performer would receive data on the production and/or theatre company that was not easily searchable online.

At first, Reynolds and Dragontail were successful in both their ventures. Reynolds convinced Dragontail the profits from the smartwatches would more than finance a production company. They added additional functions to the watch including easy and organized ways to track your auditions, callbacks, and covert filming of the casting directors’ reactions to your monologues and songs. It helped actors know which auditions worked and which didn’t, and it provided a tailor-made list of monologues and songs that best suited them. Dragontail and Reynolds got interested investors quickly and the forecast for their future was bright. That was until they hit a small snag.   

The watch, though well designed and gorgeous to look at worked great…until you used it past ninety days. That’s when he started to burn customers’ wrists. There was no apparent reason for the bizarre flaw and when the two entrepreneurs tried to do more research and development on it nothing could be definitively detected. The two boys went flat broke. This was devastating especially for Dragontail whose parents had spent years saving money for him to attend graduate school. Dragontail had withdrawn every penny from his account with large penalties.

This left Reynolds and Dragontail with two choices. Either they could accept that they were young and still had plenty of time to pick up the pieces and move on with their lives or find a way to make their money back by engaging in a life of crime. They chose the latter. As neither Reynolds nor Dragontail wanted to end up in a maximum-security prison they decided white collar crime was the way to go.

The plan was Reynolds would interview and land a job in a bank as an accountant. Accounting wasn’t his cup of tea, but he was a natural at it. He’d studied it enough to sound charming and knowledgeable in interviews. They would continue to own Dragontail’s production company and use it as a front to launder the money Reynolds would embezzle from the bank. Reynolds had been the treasurer for his high school, fraternity and university and thus had an extensive background in embezzlement.

Reynolds went to several grueling interviews. On the last interview the three suits who sat across the meeting room table scrutinized everything about him from his clothes to the font he used for his resume. But he kept his cool and talked about why he was such an asset for their company and how no one else who walked in that door would have as spectacular a skill set as he.

Reynolds knew he’d convinced the guy in the middle and the hot looking brunette on the right. But the guy on the left seemed like he was on to him. When the interview was over Reynolds shook everyone’s hand even though the guy on the left had a limp handshake, he was certain he’d charmed the other two interviewers enough that their optimism would override this guy’s pessimism.

Reynolds was right. They offered him the position and after his training he let a month go by. That’s when he started cooking the books. His diligence paid off and soon he was funneling money into Dragontail’s production company. Dragontail finally got to greenlight a couple of projects he was certain would be profitable and was able to swiftly launder the money Reynolds funneled in. And to a certain degree their gamble paid off. Dragontail put out a feature that did well in festivals and got picked up for distribution.

And then things started getting ugly. Dragontail’s first film only made a modest profit. While it was in theatres, he tried making his dream film and everything went wrong: unexpected weather issues, the co-star quitting and the caterer getting into a boating accident.

Reynolds started getting sloppy at work. The guy who was on to him in the interview was on to him at work. Everyday Reynolds was certain someone was going to haul him off in handcuffs. And one day they finally did. No one embezzles three million dollars without making a few mistakes. Dragontail’s production company collapsed and clips from his disastrous would-be cinematic masterpiece became horrible memes.

Reynolds and Dragontail were each sentenced to ten years in white collar prison. Reynolds served five years of his sentence and was released for good behavior. Dragontail served six years. He was always bitter about having served one more year than his business partner and spent a long time planning his revenge. Dragontail could have built himself a great resume over those six lost years. He was disgraced and although not washed up, he was not able to get parts like he got in his college days or when he ran Fire Breathing Basilisk Productions. He did manage to get a local commercial and then another and then a string of frozen yogurt commercials. He became “that frozen yogurt guy”. Although it was nowhere near as challenging as playing Derek in his university’s stage version of American History X it paid the bills. And then more than paid the bills. And finally, it brought him in enough cash to start his own business again. Legitimately this time.

He tried starting up a production company again and called it Hydra Harridan Productions since Fire Breathing Basilisk productions carried with it a cloud of shame. He made one feature picture about a mountain man who lived in a national park and scared campers at night until the mountain man discovered his true calling selling handmade sunglasses crafted out of scraps of wood and working part time for the CIA.

The movie was picked up at a movie festival and enjoyed a modest distribution with decent critical acclaim. But the film nearly broke Dragontail and he got out of the production business and founded a hamburger food truck called Mountain Man, home of the famous Mountain Man Meal.

After establishing his business, Dragontail searched long and hard for Reynolds. He’d heard his former partner had gone home to live with his parents after serving time. But Reynolds was no longer there, which came as no surprise. Since Reynolds had started out his parents’ dream child and wound up their worst nightmare, all his parents’ friends spurned them because their kids had gone off to start successful businesses or landed jobs at Fortune 500 companies. This was more than Reynold’s parents could bear and within a month their son left their home and lived out of his car which he stole from his younger sibling.

Dragontail spent every spare minute of his time searching for Reynold’s driver’s license, phone number, and fishing license. Reynold’s had always been a fan of trout. This information helped lead him to Reynold’s address. The first time he spotted Reynolds was on a foggy evening in early October. Dragontail had gotten a tip he worked in a high-rise. After finding out the skyscraper was not all that far from where he usually parked his Mountain Man truck, he moved his location to the corner across from Reynold’s building. He parked it and flipped burgers in the back so the customers couldn’t see his face. He installed a surveillance camera so he could see who was coming and going and he noted Reynolds showed up just after nine a couple of times each week. Usually Mondays and Fridays. He always ordered the Mountain Man Meal. Occasionally he ordered the pie.

After a couple weeks, Dragontail followed Reynolds back to the high-rise. One night, Dragontail slipped inside the door behind Reynolds which was a rather dangerous thing to do considering there were cameras watching. Dragontail followed him up the stairs and watched him work. There was a profound satisfaction Dragontail got from Reynolds working as a janitor. And an even greater satisfaction knowing that his former partner worked a job which required him to clean up after others.

But it wasn’t enough to satiate Dragontail. He needed Reynolds to suffer and so he hatched a plan, hired muscle, and proceeded with his idea to pin a major crime on Reynolds.  

MY BOOKS

You can check out my books Chicane and the five installments in my Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby!Musicology: Volume Two, Kid!Musicology: Volume Three, Twist!Musicology: Volume Four, Sweetie! and Musicology: The Epiquad on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will win Musicology!

STREAM OF THE WEEK: WHITE NOISE (2022)-NETFLIX

This week’s film is based on the famous 1985 off-beat satirical novel by Don DeLillo. This story about death, American consumerism and shallow fixations is not for all tastes, but it is engrossing and fascinating to watch just the same. The movie was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor-Motion Picture-Musical/Comedy for Adam Driver’s whimsical performance.

Set in the early mid 80’s the film tells the story of Jack Gladney (Adam Driver), a professor of Nazi Studies at the College-on-the-Hill. Jack’s fellow professor Murray Siskind (Don Cheadle) teaches American Culture and longs to develop the niche field of Elvis studies. Siskind is obsessed with the beauty of car crashes in American film. Jack, on the other hand, is obsessed with death.

He is ironically focused on learning German for an upcoming conference. His fourth wife Babette (Greta Gerwig) is a likeable but ditsy woman who shares her husband’s fear of death. The two of them spend a lot of time trying to figure out who will die first. They have both been married multiple times and this is each one’s fourth marriage. They have four children between them, one they share and the other three which come from previous marriages.

While going about their normal lives there is an industrial accident where a truck runs into a train and an “Airborne Toxic Event” occurs. This forces the Gladney family and their neighbors to evacuate their homes with very little warning. On their way to an evacuation camp, what would normally be a mundane incident happens which changes the course of Jack’s life. Paralleling this, Babett’s daughter Denise (Raffey Cassidy) catches her mother sneaking pills, finds her mother’s stash, and gives the bottle to Jack to have them analyzed. They discover the medicine goes by the name Dylar, a mysterious drug that no one, including medical professionals seems to know anything about.   

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