“She’s too busy trying out the iLove. This was the plus one she said she was bringing,” Caroline referred to me.
“How do you know Sally Winthrop?” Cliff asked me. I noticed he was slightly sweaty and out of breath, as if the unveiling had been some sort of cardio workout.
“Weird story, I met a friend of hers who showed me SSL. I got onto the live site, noticed the Perfect People board, started following it. I wanted to know more so I got pointed in Sally’s direction. I was told she knew someone who could get her any drug in the world.”
“Well that’s certainly not true,” Cliff laughed with Caroline, “we only sell iLove products now. So you met with Sally and, what, she invites you here?”
“Sort of. I wanted to know what the Perfect People Party was.”
“We just call it P-3.”
“Right,” I said, watching Cliff take a small bottle of water out a mini fridge in the corner of the tent and open it as he fell into an old sunken-in couch not far from the fridge.
He took a sip of water, “did you take any of our products?”
“I made him try the green ones, the LoP.” Caroline replied.
“I have a few questions to ask you, I’m actually a journalist. I write for the Edge.”
“I’m not super pumped about that.” Cliff looked at Caroline with a slightly cross expression.
“I know it’s probably not the right setting,” I said, “but there are just a few things I want to understand.”
“How about this?” Cliff got up from the couch and walked towards me, “let’s just hang out for the rest of the night. Just shoot the shit. Talk about anything. After tonight, if you still want to ask me a million boring questions we’ll meet up again and I’ll do it with you.”
“Shoot the shit?”
“Yeah, plus, when you take LoP’s you always ending up talking a mile a minute, so it’s not like trying to get answers out of me will do you any good. Caroline, how long ago did you make him drop a LoP?”
“Something like five or ten minutes ago.”
“OK so we have, like, three minutes to find somewhere comfortable to sit and talk. Let’s get back out on the floor and find a nice place to settle, yeah?” Cliff stood a good five inches taller than me, placing his height somewhere around 6’7’’. He patted me on the back and guided me out of the tent.
Cliff and Caroline walked me past the dance floor and to the other side of the warehouse. As we walked passed crowds, the people who noticed him immediately began screaming and trying to stop us to speak with him. Cliff smiled and waved at the hysterical crowds and kept pushing me through their thickening congregation. We stopped at a small field of rather expensive looking loveseats. Each leather recliner faced at least two other recliners in groups of circular configurations. Cliff walked us all the way to the last group in the very back, and then waved down a couple of bouncers not far from us to instruct them to keep people away from our private section. When they left, he and Caroline took a seat across from me. I sat in the leather chair and sunk into the barely broken-in cushions.
“You said you work at the Edge.” Cliff asked me.
“I’m one of the founders.”
“So you’re a writer. How long have you been covering stories on the deep web?”
“Do you like writing about that?”
“I love it. I was raised on the internet.” I stopped for a moment when I heard the answer I’d just vocalized. Caroline and Cliff looked at each other and smiled. “It’s an interesting market.” I say, trying to smooth out my shirt that was sticking to me from the collecting sweat.
“I started doing these a couple years ago. I wanted to bring developers and testers together. We started at Peter Theil’s mansion in San Francisco. That was a total shit show. So then I decided to fragment it, decentralize the planning; bring people in from all over. We did it all with tor. I’d say the market’s a little more than interesting.”
“Who develops the products?” I asked.
“’Raised on the internet’, that’s an interesting way to put it,” Caroline commented. “You’re definitely a writer.”
“Do you do drugs Jeb?” Cliff asked me.
“I drink and smoke a few cigarette’s here and there,” I replied, “but I haven’t done anything real since college.”
“Do you drink coffee with sugar?” Cliff asked.
I nodded with a skeptical expression.
“Then you’re doing real shit.” Cliff responded. “It’s just the tolerance that fools you. Since you don’t take drugs like these with breakfast every morning you assume it’s something different. Did you know Caroline is an award winning chemist?”
“Really?” I looked to Caroline, who pretended to be embarrassed.
“Stop, you know it’s not that big of a deal.” Caroline said.
“She was top of her class at, where did you say you went to graduate school, Berkley?” Cliff smirked.
“That’s right.” Caroline smirked back.
“And you work for Cliff?” I asked.
“Well he certainly doesn’t pay me.”
I noticed both of them glance at each other and share a smile. If I had to have guessed I would make the inference that they were romantically involved. Cliff told me about her expertise in finding chemists who could develop Cliff’s products. They had met in San Francisco two years ago and had been working together to build the Perfect People brand. From Cliff’s explanation, it seemed like it was actually Caroline who had the connections to bring together the room full of celebrities and stars we were sitting in.
Editor’s Note: If you enjoy Adam’s writing, be sure to check out his previously featured works with Big Easy Magazine here! Also, be sure to read some of our other short fiction. This includes works from Nolan Storey, Margaret Marley, Camille Goering, and Fritz Westenberger!