Here is episode 0 of NA Florida, inspired by the No Agenda podcast to deconstruct news stories and legislation related to Florida. This includes talking about major immigrant communities from Brazil, Haiti, Jamaica, and the Philippines.
In the morning to all the No Agenda fans out there. This is a no-profit endeavor, of course. Enjoy, and tell JCD the DailySkew sent you.
1. Angel Jimenez was right: the MEDIA is talking economic recovery while GM lays off thousands of employees. 2. I don't care if Obama takes his wife on a date to Broadway with taxpayer dollars. I'm happy for him. I'm happy for Mrs. Obama. Good for them. We're living vicariously through them. 3. I'm going to write songs about hyperinflation in Brazil and other historical references that no one cares about. 4. I'd like to do a cover of "305 'till I die." Ratatatatatatatat!
Well, last night on NPR, I heard that the Fed would be buying Treasury Bills with money printed by said Treasury. This news made me think of Ouroboros — the mythical creature at the end of Ragnorak that eats itself for eternity.
Today, Ms. Beck (self-declared girly man) stated that this move by the Fed and Treasury was the "Last round of antibiotics" in their arsenal. If it fails, we're in for a global depression. If it works, the Fed has to stop printing money before inflation spirals out of control. "The timing has to be perfect."
That last line makes me laugh. The Fed is notorious for over-correcting. If egghead (Rush reads the Skew and borrows when necessary) Bernanke plans on timing this, he will fail.
Look, can you imagine buying your own debt? Does that even make any sense?
I'm an accountant, and this would not be allowed in the private sector. It's a lie. It's not real. It's Enron-esque. Only the government could do this and make us live with the consequences.
The Fed, by printing money, is devaluing our currency. That's a fact — I don't care who repeats it. If Becky Beck says it, that doesn't make it wrong automatically. The message outweighs the idiot messenger.
As I've stated before in previous posts, Brazil tried this in the 1980's and they had to change their currency FIVE TIMES before they finally got inflation under control. Rent doubled every two months. Good luck trying to budget under those circumstances!
In other news, Chris Dodd admits that he allowed the bonuses for AIG to remain in the bill that passed Congress. I wish he would have the decency to resign and turn himself in to the FBI as an expert witness to the financial fraud that's been going on the past few years.
I heard this article being read on a replay of the Laura Ingraham show:
“Even before Obama walked through the White House door, there were plans for $1 trillion of new debt,” said Niall Ferguson, a Harvard historian who has studied borrowing and its impact on national power. He now estimates that some $2.2 trillion in new government debt will be issued this year, assuming the stimulus plan is approved.
“You either crowd out other borrowers or you print money,” Mr. Ferguson added. “There is no way you can have $2.2 trillion in borrowing without influencing interest rates or inflation in the long-term.”
Mr. Ferguson was particularly struck by the new borrowing because the roots of the current crisis lay in an excess of American debt at all levels, from homeowners to Wall Street banks.
“This is a crisis of excessive debt, which reached 355 percent of American gross domestic product,” he said. “It cannot be solved with more debt.”
The Mortgage bubble is becoming the Government debt bubble.
When Government debt bubbles burst, THE PEOPLE SUFFER.
I remember the 1980′s, talking to family from Brazil about hyperinflation in that country, and how their government had to keep moving the decimal point over and creating new currencies constantly.
Inflation was through the roof in Brazil because they were up to their ears in debt! When a debtor called asking for 100 Cruzieros, the Brazilian government would start printing. The debtor would look at that freshly minted currency and say, “But … these 100 Cruzieros are no longer worth 100 Cruzieros. They’re only worth 80 Cruzieros.”
Brazil would print another 20 Cruzieros … and the debtor would say, “But … these 20 Cruzieros are no longer worth 20 Cruzieros. They’re only worth 12 Cruzieros.”
Imagine that with numerous debts and debtors … wash, rinse, repeat.
America is not invulnerable to this fate. Excessive debt is our KRYPTONITE.
The Stimulus bill that the big O and Pelosi are pushng is DELIBERATELY POLITICAL and STUPID.
The Harvard Professor inspired me. Now I’ve had my say.
And now … back to your regularly scheduled programming. Here is a replay of Damian Hospital’s thoughts from April 7th, 2008, which applies to the above blog post:
Orwell in 1984 said there will always be 3 classes of people: the prols (Lower class, relatively uneducated), the Outer Party (Middle Class), and Inner Party (Upper Class ruling elite).
Throughout history, the Middle Class wants to become the Upper Class, while the prols want everyone to be equal. The Upper Class wants to remain in power by any means necessary. When the Middle Class overthrows the Upper Class, they become just as elitist.
In 1984, Winston Smith knew that the proles were the key to revolution, since they outnumber both classes. But it was a displaced hope because the proles have no interest in running a government, or any desire for the responsibility.
As long as you can remember this lesson, you’ll know why social justice does not apply when it comes to Bear Stearns.
Or, to paraphrase from the book 1984: “He who controls the present controls the past.”
Here’s a quote from a CNN Money news article I read this morning on my cellphone (a.k.a. my modern morning newspaper):
In September 2007, the most recent month for which data is available, more than 20% of subprime mortgage borrowers with scores of between 840 and 900 were 60 days or more delinquent, according to First American LoanPerformance. That default rate was roughly equal to that of borrowers with much lower scores, in the 540 to 599 range.
Oh, you didn’t know? Que Road Dogg and Mr. Ass:
Anyway … did I miss something? All I’ve heard these past few months are that subprime borrowers are people with BAD CREDIT who received mortgages they couldn’t afford from incompetent lenders. Since when did people with excellent credit scores become considered subprime borrowers?
I love how this article jumps straight into the notion of “20% of subprime borrowers with scores between 840 and 900″ WITHOUT EXPLAINING THE NOTION.
Sorry. I’m not buying that people with scores between 840 and 900 are subprime. Excuse me if I don’t pull out my wallet and believe that the office manager of a Fort Lauderdale radio station is a subprime borrower. I refuse to invest in doublespeak.
By labeling someone with excellent credit as a subprime borrower, this potentially sets us all up for higher interest rates and costs associated with credit cards and loans in the future … as well as ever-insidious bank fees, charges, and penalties. I can see it now:
“Why has my interest gone up ten points?”
“Well, sir, you are a subprime borrower.”
“Excuse me? I have an excellent credit rating!”
“AND you own a home that you may not be able to afford. So, of course you are subprime.”
I’m sorry, but to paraphrase 1984 again, We were not at war with Eurasia last week, no matter how many times you tell me otherwise. I remember, Gosh darn it!
Sigh. Since half the population is doped up on pot or prescription psychotropic medication, I know these words are a complete waste of time. Since the other half of the population is watching pornhub or whatever, I should just give up. After all, I’m no better. I, too, am “Only human.”
Label me subprime, even if my score is 900. I’ll take 20% interest on my next car loan, Alex. Really, I don’t mind. I know paying my bills on time is not enough. I need to earn more money, and since my company only has enough profit to build a golden parachute, I won’t be getting any raise this year.
Meanwhile, people are dying in Darfur. Who cares about fat Americans who over-leveraged themselves? Well, after they come after the people with good credit, they’ll come after whoever is left. There will be fewer people able to assist the poorer parts of the world financially, and the few with money may not care to do so.
I’m just sayin’. Think about that when you wire money to loved ones somewhere in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Brazil, Nigeria, Haiti, and other far-flung places. Your family is counting on your help. The people who are benefiting from this crisis want your money, too … and THEY don’t care who starves in order to get it.
Write your congressman. Encourage them to pass a bill that forces banks to refinance these loans so that value of the home represents today’s prices, not the bubble prices of three years ago.
Oh, wait. I forgot. You’re all overmedicating and watching porn. Never mind.
Who will be…the NEW member of T h eS O U LP A T R O L ?
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Mohammed’s brother Omar was grabbed in the middle of the night.He never had a chance — the house had been filled with knockout gas while he and his family slept.As Sean Brown carried his slight frame to the awaiting van, he grumbled, “He better live up to the hype.”
Omar was one of three chosen to replace his slain brother.
South London, England
Richard Wright watched his distant cousin Rose walk up to her flat.She was a petite stockbroker at the London Exchange — but soon she would become something else … “If she can pass the exam,” Richard mumbled under his breath.
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Maria-Antonia de Jesus stood in the back of the bar, as Phillippe approached.She had found him on a local listing website offering certain special services … she couldn’t believe this pudgy distant cousin of hers had sunk to online deviance as a side career.
They talked on the flight back, after the sleeping gas had warn off.Phillippe couldn’t believe he was related to her.She gave him the heads up — that he was one of the nominees for the vacancy in the Soul Patrol.She explained that he was related to the original “Fabulous Five” that had been recruited by Antonio de Machado, a.k.a. The Portuguese Man O’ War … they took direct orders from him until they revolted against their financier and were killed.Antonio de Machado cursed their bloodlines for their “disgrace.”
“I can’t believe it.Do you mean my brothers, sisters, parents … they could’ve been chosen, too?”
“Of course.There are thousands that are part of the bloodline … the computers and ancient runes chose you.”
“It’s like we’re a dime-a-dozen,” remarked Phillippe.
“In some ways … the mission of the Soul Patrol is more important than the individuals that make up the team.”
Psshh! went the rush of wind as the stamp came down on a sheet of paper containing a summary of a person — name, address, phone number, hobbies — it looked like a MySpace profile.Pop! went that final flat thud, as the stamp impressed itself on the sheet.For eight hours, Emily had worked.She brushed away strands of her brunette hair, which had fallen behind the lenses of her glasses, looked up at the clock and groaned — three more hours.It was overtime, but wished she hadn’t agreed to it.
The internship (Gain valuable knowledge and experience!Build your resume!Blah, blah, blah….) had not lived up to her expectations.She could’ve gone back home to Texas and shuffled papers at her dad’s office — there they had a decent candy and soda machine!Instead, on the suggestion of a former preacher, she had traveled to the Canyon of the Ancients in Colorado.
Everyday, she’d hit the gym to lift weights or do aerobics on the elliptical machine (at least they had that, she mused, to help her burn that College freshman fifteen pounds she’d gained on her lean-looking 6 foot frame), eat breakfast at the commissary (no cook in sight, just trays of self-serve food.Scary), shower, get dressed, and head to her now-dreaded job.
There was no orientation class … no learning a new skill … no explanation of how her job fit into the big picture of the organization — only orders from a weirdo named Wright.“Stamp these,” he’d say, plopping a stack of folders on her desk.“Scan these … copy these … staple these … key these.”Nothing but simplistic, monosyllabic commands.Couldn’t they have trained a Chimpanzee to do this?
The Auctioneer had told her he was the world’s smartest man — “I’d hate to meet the dumbest,” shaking her head.
Then again, maybe she had.Sean Brown — talk about a roughneck Jamaican!The worst of gangsta rap and island chill, the only thing that had surprised her was that he didn’t toke … yet another thing she’d given up while in this Colorado wasteland.The thought made her fidget.
What was the “Done!” stamp for … what did it signify?Why were these people’s profiles stamped in such a manner?Sheet after sheet, with vital statistics and a photo paperclipped to the corner.Were they delinquent on debt?
That had to have been it.This must be some super collection agency — maybe they were the FINAL collection agency, when all others had failed.
Maria Antonio walked into Richard Wright’s Laboratory. “How go the recruits?” he asked without turning.
“They’re fine,” she answered, accustomed to his rudeness.
“Good.We’ll be going operational next week.”
“That’s too soon.”
At last, Richard turned, and said, “Have you seen the Done! stack lately?At this rate, the entire world will have lost ‘It,’ and we will have failed in our mission to stem the tide.”
Phillippe sat in the chair.Opposite him, seated behind his desk, was Richard.He was conducting an interview.
“Did you ever have to do something that wasn’t covered by the rules where you worked?”
“Nao.Tem hegras pra todo.Livros de hegras.”
Richard had asked Phillippe to answer in English — the standard language of the world.Instead, Portuguese poured out, a language that fell behind Chinese, French, Spanish, Italian, German (off the top of Richard’s head) in relevance.Phillippe blushed.
“Discupa … sorry.English is hard.”
“Which means you need to practice, Phillippe.”
“You must force yourself.No more Portuguese.”
“Tamben … I … yes.”
“You’re not going to make it.You lack discipline, exhibited by your inability to bridle your tongue.And … you lack creativity.This position requires out-of-the-box thinking.”
Phillippe had worked for the DMV in Sao Paolo — known for entangling innocent citizens and foreigners for days of painful bureaucracy.
“I can learn.I can learn.I speak truth for you.”
Richard laughed out loud, and then sneered. “Truth?I’ll show you truth.” He reached for his mouse and located an audio file on his desktop, which he double-clicked.Audio began to play — Metallica’s Master of Puppets blared … and then a voice-over.Richard reached into his desk and grabbed a notebook and pen, which he handed to Phillippe.
“Summarize the main points of this show.”
“It’s three hours … good luck.”
Phillippe began listening to the show.
“Helllloooooooooo Infidels across the fruited plain.Welcome….”
Richard stood in the corner of the room, cloaked in shadow, arms folded.Phillippe occasionally peeked at him, looking for a sign, his nervousness mounting.His hand hesitated, not sure of what he was hearing, of what to write … he heard rants about the war … when pasta was spaghetti … grim-faced garbage men tossing a dead dog in the back of a garbage truck … an Italian cook mixing chopped tuna and mayonnaise in a huge vat with his burly, hairy arm, ashes from his cigarette seasoning the mix … the Hitler from Iran … borders, language, culture… Liberalism is a mental disorder … Burkhas gone wild … and on, and on….
Over an hour later, the pen ran out of ink.Taking that as a sign from above, Phillippe slunk in his chair.Richard charged, snatching the pen and handing him another.The pen looked heavy to Phillippe, too heavy … dropping it, he shook his head.
“What’s wrong?Can’t handle it?”
“This is not truth.This is ugly.”
“You are a coddled child.You are incapable of understanding truth.”
“How can this be truth?It’s crazy talking.”
“Did you think truth was pleasant?”
“You are American.This is your truth.”
“Your truth.You do not care about my country, my people.”
“What?Why do you laugh?”
“This is insult.No … this is hoax.Not real.I wish to leave.”
Richard nodded, and waved him to the door.Still laughing.
Omar stood in the center of a wrestling ring.He’d been told to put on the black tights and boots by Sean Brown.
He smoldered inside.He wanted out.
This had something to do with his brother — he just knew it, but had yet to see him.
Mohammed — the man who had reappeared out of the dark Arabian night during a full moon.He came back, as if nothing had changed.What a fool, Omar thought.Everyone had moved on.Mohammed was a square peg that no longer belonged; the hole he’d left behind had been filled.
Mohammed’s wife Hannan and Omar had faked it for those few weeks that he had returned.She feigned love for her husband, acting for him they way she had been for Omar.In their hearts, they secretly believed that Mohammed would leave again.
And he did.
Suddenly, “Buffalo Soldier” by Bob Marley started playing.From the far end of the small arena, a spotlight fell on Sean Brown — he was wearing a black mask over his eyes, and full-body tights painted in the colors of the Jamaican flag.Black boots.
Eva entered the ring as Sean approached, wearing a referee outfit.Omar was disgusted.
Sean climbed in and walked towards his opponent.Eva stepped in-between and began reciting the rules for the match — no hitting below the belt, no foreign objects, etc.
Omar stood there.
Eva stepped back.
The bell rang.
Sean charged.Omar dodged.Charge.Dodge.
“You a man or a mouse?You needs to wrestle!”
Omar shook his head.
Charge.Dodge.Omar was too quick for the biggest member of the Soul Patrol.When he was cornered, he dropped and rolled out of the ring before Sean could grab him.Around the ring Sean chased, only to have Omar slide back into the ring.The third time this happened, Sean picked up a chair and threw it at his opponent … and missed.The fourth time, Sean decided to wait in the ring for Omar to return.
“The clock’s tickin’,” Sean said, smiling
“Four!Five!” counted Eva.When she got to twenty, the match would be over.
Omar folded his arms, no intention of climbing back into the ring.
Sean shook his head. “Mohammed would’ve fought, man.You sure you related to him?”
“Where’s my brother?” Omar asked.
“Why you think you here?Your brother dead!”
Omar climbed into the ring.Sean grabbed him by the trunks and arm before he could get up.He spun him a few times and then flung him into one of the corners.
Omar dragged himself up, wiping the blood from his mouth.He locked eyes with Sean briefly before being tackled into the ring buckles.Sean pulled Omar and flung him into the opposite corner.He tackled him again.
Omar lay motionless.
“Sean, you’re killing him.Just pin him already,” said Eva.
“Aw.One more move.”
“Not the leg drop.”
Sean smiled at her before running back towards the ropes, bouncing, charging full speed and jumping, right leg fully extended.Landing …
… on the mat!Sean’s hip exploded with pain.
Omar continued to move quick — raking Sean’s eyes with his nails … kicking him in the kidneys as Sean grabbed his face … a boot to the family jewels.
Omar took two steps back, reached down, grabbed Sean’s right boot and … began the figure four.
“No!” yelled Sean.
Wrapping the leg around.
Sean gave up before the figure four was completed.
Omar knelt down and whispered into Sean’s ear, “My brother and I used to wrestle when we children, infidel.And, unlike him, I have not been weakened by your western ways.”
“Mohammed … was tough….”
Omar grabbed Sean by the throat and squeezed. “It’s your fault he left.Your fault he turned his back on Allah.You….”
Eva snuck up and injected Omar with a sedative.
Rose hated taking exams.
“It’s a personality test — we need to make sure you have the right traits for the Soul Patrol,” said Maria-Antonia.
“This is rubbish.”
“Would you rather wrestle Sean?”
No.However, Rose realized she was under no obligation to be honest on this exam.
They didn’t know her.Not really.
And they wouldn’t get the chance.
Rose had been a big fan of the Animalgram personality types during the return of Joshua.While others had given up after the truth had come out, she had kept her books and kept studying.
Her type was the Wolf.Prone to romanticism and creative spouts, and somewhat reclusive … she had a touch of the Eagle as well — in the top 1% of her graduating class, with an MBA in tow, with an emphasis in finance.Eventually she became a funds manager, consistently outperforming the market with her investment picks.After five years, her name was spoken with reverence in the financial districts of Europe.From Frankfurt to Paris, traders paid close attention to what she bought and sold.
She had studied all nine types.She had learned to figure out what type a person was within a couple of sentences, or even based on their mannerisms and facial expressions.Sometimes it was that obvious.
Rose decided to fill out the personality exam as if she was an unhealthy bear … there was no way an organization that requires teamwork could accept a person like that.It would destroy the unit’s cohesiveness.
There were two things Rose hadn’t realized: one, was that the ability to lie was a very important quality for membership in the Soul Patrol.
The other thing was that her cousin Richard was also an expert in personalities — he had typed her when reading her file.
So, the exam was not about learning more about her real personality — it was to see how she would react to taking the test.
Given that, she passed with flying colors.
Much to her chagrin.
The lights came on in the studio.Game show music played.Canned applause filled the room.
Sean Brown played the off-screen announcer: “Welcome to the SOOOUUULL PAAATRROOOLLL FINAL AUUUUCTIOOOONN!Here’s your host, the AUUCTIOOONNEEERR!!”
The Auctioneer walked in, smiling.He shook hands with Rose and Omar and then turned to his podium.
“And his co-host, EEEVVVAAAA!!”
Eva walked in, wearing a flowing green sequined gown.She waved to where an audience would have sat.
“Hello everybody, and welcome,” said the Auctioneer. “We are down to our final two contestants: Omar and Rose.Both have passed the initial exams and interviews.They have shown mental and physical aptitude.Each has a unique set of skills that would be of use to the Soul Patrol.I wish we could have them both!”
Laughter from the speakers.
“Alas, there can only be one.Here are the rules — the spinning wheel of runes will choose the topic and contestant.I will ask the question — and you’ll have five seconds to answer.Whoever has the most points at the end of the round is the winner!”
The speakers ooh’ed and aah’ed.
“However, if there is … a TIE….”
“In that event, we will have a final spin of the runes.No questions … the ancient runes will be the tiebreaker, selecting either Omar or Rose.The mystic energies which have guided the Soul Patrol all these years will aid us again, choosing the new member of the SOUL PATROL!”
The game began.The runes were very balanced, choosing both contestants equally.
Neither contestant missed a question.
The clock ticked.The contestants continued their perfect streak.
Omar was amazed … all the questions related to Islam, the Middle East … not one question about the West.
Rose was quizzed on stock exchanges, British history … she wondered what the game really was this time.What was the point?
The answer would come soon: “We have a tie!” exclaimed the Auctioneer.
Omar and Rose looked at each other.
“The questions were too easy,” she said.
“You deliberately planned on using the tiebreaker,” he said.
“Oh, no.No, no, no, no, no.You see, most of the missions are easy, just like the questions.However, the easiness makes you liable to become complacent.These questions were designed to test your concentration in the face of potential boredom — you both passed with flying colors!It would’ve been so easy for you to lose focus and misspeak, but neither of you did!Congratulations!”
The two contestants did not look happy: Rose frowned, and Omar furrowed his brow.
“I am a prisoner here,” said Omar.
“I want to go back to my life,” said Rose.
The Auctioneer nodded.“I understand.”
The lights dimmed.Eva walked towards the Wheel of Runes one more time, grabbing the handholds on the side.Sean Brown (limping), Maria-Antonia, and Richard Wright walked onto the set and joined her, forming four corners of a square around the wheel.Each bent over and grabbed a handhold.
“However,” continued the Auctioneer, “the choice is not yours to make!The bloodline is sealed!The Runes will decide!”
The four began spinning the wheel.Spin, spin, spin — they kept it going … accelerating.
The Auctioneer chanted in Portuguese (Phillippe would’ve found that ironic), reaching to the air above the wheel, waving his hands like a charismatic Christian caught in the Holy Spirit.
A cloud formed above the wheel … glowed … coalesced, into the shape of a man.
The Portuguese Man O’ War.
Antonio de Machado.
Tall, with long hair tied into a neat ponytail.Dressed for sailing the ethereal seas in clothes from the age of explorers and discovery of the New World.
There was no hesitation.The spirit looked at Rose and pointed.
A mist extended from his finger.Growing.Rose bolted for the stage door, but found it locked.She turned, and the mist enveloped her.
A surge of energy went through her body, like the sound of a large wave cresting at the beach, except inside.
The surge passed, and she collapsed.
Maria-Antonia and Phillippe drove in silence.Phillippe wanted to marvel at the majestic cliffs, but couldn’t; he sensed Maria’s disappointment.
He wanted to say something, but couldn’t.
They drove in silence, towards the nearby airport.
Twenty minutes into the drive, Maria stopped.Phillippe looked at her and said, “Tem um problema?”
“Vuse,” she replied. “Get out.”
Whipping out a pistol: “Get out.Now.”
Was she going to kill him out here? “Nao.Nao.”
“You’ll live if you get out of the car.”
Phillippe unbuckled, the choice dawning on him.He opened the door and got out.
Without waiting for him to shut it, Maria peeled out, the wheels of her Jeep Rubicon spraying dirt and rocks onto Phillippe’s pants and shirt.
There was no plane ticket home.Phillippe would have to walk.
No I.D.No passport.Nobody to help him.
It wasn’t the end of the world … but if felt like it for Phillippe.
He didn’t know anyone.He was in the middle of nowhere — he didn’t have his bearings, let alone any clue as to where he was.
He hadn’t slept much the past two days.He was in a foreign land.He was rejected.Filled with self-pity.
Frustration.Anger!Yes, he was angry.He kicked at the rocks … picked one up and flung it at the cliffside.
He would climb.Yes.
He had to find out where he was … by getting on top of one of these tall cliffs, he could get his bearings.
Energized, he began to climb.Up, up, up.
Do not try this at home, kids.Climbing without proper equipment can be dangerous.
For Phillippe, the fall proved to be fatal.
His was conscious all the way down.Conscious and flailing.
Authorities in Colorado and Brazil would never connect Phillippe’s disappearance with his dead body.
Omar sat in the chartered jet, heading back to his home in Saudi Arabia.Out of respect to Mohammed and the fact that Omar had done so well, the Auctioneer had arranged for him to be flown back.
Peering out the window, where ocean met sky and clouds met space, the sunlight sparkling on the waves, he was happy.He had not been chosen, as his brother had been.He vowed to live his life with a renewed sense of gratefulness for not having been pointed to by the tall apparition.
He couldn’t wait to see Hannan and the children.
Eva awoke Rose, and handed her a cup of tea.
“How do you feel?”
“Like I was run over by a pack of elephants.”
“You’ll feel better.It just takes some getting used to.”
“What takes getting used to?”
“The blood bound curse being activated.Sorry, I know how it sounds, but it’s better if you just hear it for what it is.We are all descendant from a group of five that worked for a Portuguese slave trader named Antonio de Machado.That spirit we called when you were selected?That was him.The group of five had betrayed Machado before getting themselves killed in an accident.After their deaths, Machado cursed their future generations.
“We are that current generation.We are blood bound by Machado to serve the Auctioneer.That is who Machado served five hundred years ago — he cursed our ancestors and us to repay the Auctioneer for the loss of the five.”
“What was so special about these five?”
“I don’t know.But I do know they were the first members of the Soul Patrol.”
Rose laughed. “They were fans of the grey-haired crooner who won on American Idol?”
“No.They were the first to be tasked with the responsibility of finding souls who had lost ‘it.’Souls who were done!Living human husks.The Auctioneer took these people and auctioned them off to the highest bidder … and still does today.”
“That’s disgusting.He’s a slave trader!I could never work for that.”
“No, Rose.These people were no longer human to begin with.They’d lost ‘it.’”
“No!I refuse to work for a man who auctions off humans to the highest bidder!It’s inhumane, unethical … you’re reasoning is ridiculous!You have no way of knowing how these people lost ‘it.’”
“What about the runes?They brought Machado back to select you … you saw that with your own two eyes.”
“A cheap parlor trick.This is some kind of … prison.Do you have a number for me?”
“We are not numbers.We are human beings … but we are blood bound to our task.We can never walk away from our task.”
“We’ll see about that.”
“You’ll die if you don’t perform your duty.”
Rose paused.The term “Blood bound” suddenly hit home. “So … this is how you keep your members.”
Eva looked down, suddenly ashamed.
“This is how perfectly intelligent people, like my cousin, continue living this lifestyle and justifying their actions, acquiring unsuspecting John and Jane Q. citizens for this Auctioneer’s slave trade.”
“You don’t understand.What we do is important.”
“Oh, I understand.You can keep your justifications to yourself.If I am to face this challenge, I’d rather face it understanding it for what it is.”
“There’s a balance to things, Rose.If too many people lost ‘it,’ society would collapse.Humanity as we know it would cease to exist.The Auctioneer may appear to be a slave trader to you, but that’s not true.He never discriminates, for one thing.”
“That’s a laugh.”
“Anyone who has lost ‘it,’ regardless of race, gender, religion … whatever … has been targeted and captured by the Soul Patrol.And the life they’ve been sold into is not what you think.”
“My thoughts are my own, thank you very much.You don’t know them.”
Eva stood. “I give up.If you choose to leave, you’ll be dead within a week.”
“I’m not leaving.”
“Oh, really?I thought you were too good for us.”
“I will stay … until I can find a way to end this madness.”
“So … you’re staying because you’re too good for us.Whatevuh.”
“You’re done,” said Richard.
Emily was confused. “What?The internship isn’t supposed to end yet.”
Emily boiled inside, but said nothing.She didn’t know where to start — the money she needed to pay for expenses during Fall semester, the lack of guidance, the mysterious nature of this place, the monotony, the lack of incentive to work hard, the long hours, the overtime, the cramp in her hand from stamping “Done!” all day … “Wait a minute.”
“Eva,” said Richard, “if you would.”
She injected the sedative.
Rose walked into the room, followed by Sean Brown.Richard turned and handed her a sheet, with a photo paperclipped to it.“Fax this.”
Rose looked at the girl that was knocked out — it was the same girl in the photo.
“What’s going on here?Why is she knocked out?And why does this sheet say ‘Done!’ on it?”