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"Alright, but don't forget poor old Horus. He is going to want his cut as well."
"Don't worry about Horus. I have something in mind for him. He's a very simple man, you see."
"Please, take the books. I trust we will come to an arrangement." I slide them towards him on the desk. I'm finding it easier and easier to give this guy what he wants. I just hope it pays off.
"Excellent!" They smile. I head out of the room and they lock it behind them. "Horus! Make us a couple of those Purple Pup-pups!" they shout as head back to the living room. When we arrive, the fluffy person has vanished and Horus is sitting on the edge of the sofa, holding an empty glass.
"Sure!" he exclaims, leaping back for the bar. "Can I assume you two worked it out?"
"Not quite," I say. "Payment is going to be a bit complicated. You see, this is why we have CASH. I don't understand why you folks don't see the value of keeping it. I mean if you want to have fun in Los Angeles, you gotta have the CASH."
Horus blushes a bit.
Why is it so easy to gain the trust of these old weirdos? Are they just desperate to get their hands dirty? I wonder how many people are like this, down here in the Valley. Maybe that's why the place has such a bad reputation. Deals like this, without a currency, could turn bad quick. The drink tastes like a thinner, more carbonated version of what we drank in Horus' office. We follow Renault around his home as they point out all their shiniest new electronics, most of which would only fetch a couple days worth of courier work in CASH. I keep trying to explain to him that the value of those books is a lot higher than a few days labor, which is what they would be exchanging for with most of these items. And I repeatedly remind them that I can't take anything that they have insured. I wish I could take their water treatment system. I wish I could take their air, or even just rent it. As we circle around back to the living room, I see a photograph displayed of a small white house surrounded by a rainbow of rocks sparkling in the sun. The windows seem to radiate like they have spirits attached to them. I've never seen an image look and feel like this before. It feels like I'm seeing a new kind of spirit but it is clinging to the walls inside the house. But it is merely an image of a house.
"That's our house in Palmprings," Renault slurs at me. "Innit cool? Real retro." They make a weird hand gesture and laugh. "We dongo very much but its real nice. Invite a couplafolks, hava drink, swiminnuhpool..."
"There is a pool?" I ask.
"Oh yeah! You wanna see?"
"I'll take it!" I say, as Renault starts tromping off to the Monitor. I don't think they hear me. They show us photos, only some of them feel like the first one did. I try to tell them that they can give me the house in exchange for the books. They laugh. I insist. I might as well try for it. Maybe he will let me rent it for free. Maybe Lime could stay there for a bit to get away from J until she figures something else out. Maybe I could stay with her too. They show Horus and me the security monitors. There is a roaming security robot that is bumping into a wall. Horus and I laugh, and Renault fiddles with their handheld to fix it. I continue to repeat myself. They look exasperated and suddenly more sober.
"I'm serious. I could use a vacation from the city."
"I mean, how long were you thinking?"
I realize that I have no idea whatsoever how much people pay to go on vacation. But it is worth next to nothing to them right now if they aren't even living there. It would be foolish of me to ask for a modest length of time. And if I really want it to be a place for Lime to go, she will need to be there for a while.
"2 years," I say as seriously as I can.
They laugh. "Well why don't I just give the thing to you!"
I hold my expression and stare at them.
"Are these books really worth that much?" Horus asks, trying to take a sip out of his already empty glass.
"You don’t seem to understand. We are not talking about US dollars, here. In CASH, one of these books would sell for more CASH than I make in a year. And there are three of them. I see no reason to settle for less than what they are worth to me. And, it seems to me, a home that you are not living in must be worth very little to you."
"I still pay taxes on it!" they cry.
"Well then consider these books to cost you your taxes for 2 years."
"You know, that seems reasonable to me, Renault," Horus adds before he is shushed. He wanders back over to the bar.
"How do I know that you won't destroy it?" Renault says.
"Why should I?"
"I don't know what you folk get up to."
You folk. "You have cameras on the place..." I remind them. "I won't take any other offer." They look like they are in pain. That's a good sign that they are going to say yes. I relax and ask Horus to bring me a water, please. The water tastes delicious. I sit down on the sofa and pull up my socks. They don't quite hide under the sweater. I really like this sweater. "Hey Horus, can I keep this sweater?" I whisper to him.
"I don't know, is this a 'good deal?' he asks, sliding down in the sofa next to me.
"Horus, this is a great deal. If I can pull this off, I'll give you a 300CASH bonus, my dude."
His eyes widen. He opens his handheld and a small fan unfolds from the top and starts fanning his reddened face.
I don't completely believe that this guy is going to agree to let me rent is place but seeing the strange spirit lurking inside that house made me feel like my luck is with me tonight. "I also didn't get hit by that train," I hear myself whisper outloud.
"What did you say?" Horus asks, rolling his eyes over to me.
"I can robly swing it," Renault interrupts. "Bunnot for 2 years. I can do 1 year. My daughter... The house is for her you see, she goes to the festival in the summer but... she can finother place for a year. 2 is just impossible."
"Great!" I say, holding up my glass. "1 year! To a great bargain for you! And a nice long vacation for me!"
"And for me?" Horus asks the air.
"What we in the underground refer to as a Wadof CASH," I laugh. Horus is squirming with glee.
"I was trying to get ahold of Dr. Bollinger before you, Renault," Horus says. "Because I knew she would have more interest in the books and be able to make a higher offer but in a way, it is more of a pleasure to have helped you, my friend," he says to Renault before turning to me and leaning in, his breath getting more foul by the minute. "Some things can't be bought with CASH."
"Suppose I should give you passcodes ndall that?" he spits at me. I have him write them down in my notepad. I ask for as much information about the security system as I can think might be helpful in case he changes the password. I might as well ask now that he's drunk.
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