Rick Eddy on the Temple of Doom (Part Three)
Rick Eddy on the Temple of Doom (Part One) and Rick Eddy on the Temple of Doom (Part Two)
Yeah. So there I was. In a room with some of the biggest power players on the planet. I don't know how I missed it, but Murdoch must 'a given a signal, 'cause all of a sudden conversation amongst these guys went back to normal - normal for these guys and gals, anyway. I was truly outclassed
Ya sorta' gotta understand when these people talk down 'bout the masses, they got a pretty good reason. I mean 30, 40 or more generations of reasons. The ol' line 'bout how you are only here 'cause your parents survived to breed, holds especially true in this group. Your parents may have survived the plagues and wars of history; these people's forebears inbred and survived each other.
Think about it. All of these people could trace their roots back to the same bloodlines - hell, they made the people of Americus, Georgia look like a beacon of genetic diversity. Just look at Prince Charles. Couple that with generations of progeny that knew letting a sibling survive would mean competition for the family's hereditary powers. These people's forebears had survived by killin' off the family competition - fratricide, patricide, matricide and 'cides I ain't even heard of, which left their family trees looking like so many stumps in a burnt out forest. These were truly natural born killers.
That's what separates them from average folk - birth and a predisposition to the ruthless quest for power at all costs. So whereas I might not be opposed to killin', these people were good at it, and the masses were just so many poker chips, and what mattered was who wound up controlling the biggest pile - always had been. Yeah, I was armed with a plastic fuckin' paint stirrer/stiletto but these people were armed with power.
Murdoch led me over to a small table at the corner of the suite's wet bar and ordered drinks for us, and no, he didn't ask. The waitron unit poured brown liquid from a decanter into two glasses and set down in front of us. I waited 'til Murdoch took a sip before I started on mine. Like I said, 'cides I ain't heard of - poison probably flowed in his veins, but still I felt better letting him go first.
Setting down his half empty glass, "What do you think of it?"
"Smooth, real smooth," was all I offered. It was smooth, but so what? Personally, I like the burn of cheap of whiskey. This smooth stuff pretty much all tasted like they'd took the kick out of the bottle and didn't replace it with anything. Not as bad as non-alcholic beer to be sure, but it also sure wasn't worth payin' more for it.
"So, R.E., why'd you quit? You were makin' good money, good connections...," he let the question trail off?
"Mostly ' cause it got borin'," knowin' he'd never get it. There is never enough to satisfy his ilk.
"R.E.! Ten percent of what you were transporting was certainly reasonable pay for the risks involved."
"I didn't say it was too risky; I said it got boring. And I mean the money got borin' too."
That one bothered him. I could tell. "What did you do with all the money, R.E.? I know how much I paid for your services, and that was no small sum."
"It's around," was as much as I figured Murdoch needed to know.
"Hmmmm...", Murdoch looked a little puzzled. "You never spent any of it, did you?"
"Murdoch, the best things in life are free."
"R.E., your idea of 'free' is little more than serial petty larceny," he said dryly, still somehow managing to emphasize 'petty'. "And what does it get you? You don't OWN anything."
"Murdoch, you guys already own EVERYTHING. Anything I might buy, is just givin' you guys back your money, and I just wouldn't feel right about lettin' ya'll have your money back."
Murdoch smiled at that one. He knew that was a pretty accurate assessment of how it worked, though I think it bothered him a little to know I was taking money out of the 'market' and stashing it where him and his couldn't make more on it.
'Bout that time some flunky in an expensive, "see how important I am" suit, came over and whispered somethin' in Murdoch's ear. I took the time to do a little head count of who was in the room. All the major businesses and industries were represented. I don't mean to suggest that there were a bunch of CEOs in the room - far from it These were OWNERS. They ran money from their homes and clubs; they didn't even bother to go to board meetings. Hell, they knew THEIR will would be done, and god had no place at the table.
There was one that stood out for me at least, the heir to the biggest global swindle of all times - the De Beers
' family rep. Damn, they were brilliant, getting a huge percentage of the population to buy rocks and to spend dearly on them. The rappers of today would hate to have to admit how much they owe to these masters of the bling. Hell, these guys invented bling - bling, the utterly useless stuff people wear, so that other people will measure the stuff, and not see how worthless the wearer truly is. Sorta' like, "I may be a true piece of shit on a personal level, but see, I have cool stuff". Sorta' the opposite of self-worth, I'm guessin'.
I caught DeBeers' eye and gave him a nod of respect. The only way they could have improved on the family scam, is if they'd figured out how to make people think gravel was rare. And hell, they still might.
Then Murdoch started talkin' to me again. He had a pained expression that I recognized could only be due to the interruption of the flow of money. He proved me right.
"R.E., I need to convince you to come out of retirement for the day, and handle a little matter for me."
"Murdoch, I'm here to cover the convention, not to pick up money. Hell, I'm here on a zero budget, what makes you think I want to go back to work?"
"Well, one of your replacements [as if he could replace me] got stupid, and there is a pick-up that must be made in LA in the morning."
"Shit, Murdoch, that gives you plenty of time. You don't need me for this one."
"No, R.E., actually, I do need you for this one, and you are going to like doing it."
Well, I knew Rupie enough to know he wasn't strong armin' me, so there had to be somethin' else. And if he said I'd find it interestin', he was probably right, so I bit, "What've you got goin' now?"
"Actually, R.E., this has been going on for sometime, though knowing your proclivities, I doubt you are aware of the change, except at the periphery," which he knew would get to my curiosity. "Have you heard people complaining about weekend television?"
"Yeah, sometimes, I guess. So what?"
"R.E., do you think me and mine are incapable of putting out a product on weekend nights that people would watch?"
"Hell, no. Of course you can," I mean, that was one thing for sure, if these guys wanted to get eyeballs on a Friday or Saturday night, they were perfectly capable.
"So, why don't we," he asked? "I think you will have it figured out, ohhhh, by now..."
And he was right. Once the question was asked, the answer was obvious. If they weren't putting on popular shows on weekend nights, it was 'cause they didn't want to. And the only reason for that was they were makin' more money some other way.
"They're fuckin' pay you off??!!" Wow, this was good and Murdoch knew it. "How long has this been goin' on, and why ain't no one else caught on, Murdoch? I mean, it is kinda' obvious once you think about it."
"Of course it is, and it started back with "Twin Peaks"
. You remember, it had fantastic ratings back in the early 90s, and then all of sudden we started playing with its time slot?" I nodded.
"Did you wonder why?"
"Not really," I didn't, but then I didn't watch TV much, even back then.
"Well, much of America thought we were fools for screwing around with a successful program, but it served our purposes well. See, people were staying home Friday nights to watch it. Restaurants and bars were losing customers to the program, and they approached us. Moving Twin Peaks around and destroyin' its ratings proved to them, that if they wanted to max their weekend cash flow, they had to deal with us."
"So now, they pay you under the table to air shitty programs on weekend nights, eh?" It really was brilliant. I mean, think about it. Rather than pay for advertisin' to be made and aired to convince people, who were at home, to go out, it would be cheaper for the industry to pay cable and broadcasters to not air anything that would keep people at home in the first place - 'bore' the people into the restaurants and bars, and save on production costs at the same time. Truly, brilliant. Not quite 'DeBeers selling rocks brilliant', but brilliant.
"I knew you would understand, R.E. Your lack of personal greed might irritate me, but you have always demonstrated an innate sense of larceny," smilin' big, he was. "So, why don't you stay here with us and catch "Der Arnold" (really, Murdoch said "Der Arnold") and the Bimbo twins, and I'll arrange for your transportation to the left coast and back. I can assure you, you will be back in plenty of time for tomorrow's festivities."
So, alright, I bought, "Who do I see, and what's my take?"
"Well, due to the screw up, Phil Hickey
is out in LA, and that's who you will be meeting, and I think your usual 10%?"
"Fine. You wanna go ahead and wire it now?"
"Sure, R.E. I always trust you when I control your transportation."
"Whatever. Here the numbers," handing him a business card blank, except for 24 digits, "The last eleven are to the bank's phone." I really wasn't takin' any risk. This account was a one way account - money couldn't be takin' out. Money could only be deposited in, and then automatically transferred to a second receiver account, and from there, I had to send them a 'key' which would move the money, split up amongst several of my other accounts.
Well, I sat there and got bored watchin' Schwarzenegger, and then just plain disgusted by the airhead twins - geez, so much like their father - maybe they'd get elected to prez on some twisted dual ticket platform somewhere in the future - twice the ignorance for a single vote. Weirder things were goin' on already, so that sure wasn't out of the question.
Murdoch must have found the twins pretty worthless too. He asked me what I thought about the show.
"Murdoch, I can't believe you guys can pass off this level of banality on to the American people, but I guess it's so. Pretty fuckin' sad."
Then he smiled bigger than a fuckin' Cheshire Cat, "But what do you think of the SHOW?"
"Well, it ain't happenin' down their on that stage, that's for sure."
"Where do you think the show is happening?"
I looked Murdoch over - this had to be goin' somewhere...somewhere...Well, it wasn't up here in this suite, and I said as much, "Murdoch, the real shit ain't up here and it ain't down there on that stage."
Murdoch smiled bigger, if'n that was even possible, and asked, "R.E., where will the real process be?"
Well, like I told ya'll before, it's all about the prep, and I had done my prep. "It's either goin' to happen in the basement of this place, but that don't seem likely, or you guys paid $10 million dollars to raise the floor of the Garden for a reason - a reason like a sound proofed room for the real deal."
"See, R.E., that's why I miss you. Really. You’re the only one that doesn't want what I have, but is still devious enough to understand the game."
"Yeah, Murdoch, but it's the game I don't particularly like; especially the fact that you and your buddies control all the pieces and change the rules at your convenience. Not exactly a game I want to play," is what I told him. "Hell, I still can't figure out how a game this rigged can be any fun for you at all."
"R.E., the fun is in the rigging."
I let it slide. I had another drink, and when the vapid twins were done, Murdoch passed me a phone. I called a number that verified the money had been transferred. [You don't really think I'd tell you, do you? Here? I mean, the IRS could read this. I doubt it, but they could] We decided on the details of the transfers - from Hickey to me, and from me to Murdoch's man, and then agreed that I'd be Murdoch's guest in what he was referrin' to as "the Temple of Doom" for the Wednesday night festivities. Murdoch also assured me Wednesday night was THE night, and that most of the players would actually have left town by Baby Bush' Thursday night appearance. These guys were too big to stay around out of any pretend, bullshit politeness to their stooge. Hell, they got him there, and here he was tryin' to throw it all away.
No, the real stuff was going to happen the next night, Wednesday night. I was gonna be there to get the skinney. In the mean time, I caught the Vip elevator down, and Murdoch's limo took me to a waitin' private charter, and I didn't even have to wait for clearance before the plane was on it's way. The details ain’t worth your time.