Stephen King got up before the count of ten. Looking at Lance he said, “Well, if I had a knife, I’d cut off a piece of your ear.”

Lance laughed, and replied, “And if I had a chair, I’d bust it across your teeth.”

“Then we’d crash through the wall…”

“And into the street…”

“Kickin’ and a gougin’ in the mud and the blood, and the beer…”

Lance paused a couple seconds, and then said, “But you never named me Sue, anyhow, so I guess we can skip all that, yeah?”

“I think that would be wise. We’ve got work to do, if this is all through.”

Lance shrugged, and said, “Let’s get to work, then.”

“You and I will talk later,” said his father.

“Yes. Yes, we will.”

The four of them made their way to the executive suite, and seated themselves in a circle. The King of Horror started the session. “Sun Tzu said that victory comes from finding opportunities in problems. Twenty five hundred years later, it’s still true. The world is now faced with the greatest problem humanity has had to deal with in written history, and with it the greatest opportunity for change.”

Stephen paused. He expected no argument, and got none, so he continued. He looked at Lance, and said, “Daffy Donald is rigt, it’s all about the money, money, money.”

“You read my book?”

“It’s brilliant,” said Lance’s father.

“It’s hilarious,” Madonna added.

“You need to send me a copy,” Kitty said to Lance. Then, thinking quickly, she said, “Never mind. It’s all about the money, money, money. I’ll buy it.”

The boy who would be King was very much enjoying this brief, very flattering interlude, but snapped back to the matter at hand. “Yes, it’s all about the money, money, money. But, as Daffy points out, until some sci-fi geek figures out how to get us from where we are, into the future where there is no need for money, money is a big problem in general, and a big part of the big problem we face with this virus.”

Madonna was laughing, and begged the indulgence of all to go off on a quick tangent. Permission was granted. “Kitty,” said the Queen of Pop, “in one of Daffy Donald’s routines he says that only the sci-fi geeks are clever enough to find a way out of money. You never see money in any futuristic sci-fi. So, we have to start a contest in which sci-fi geeks try to come up with a way to move us beyond money. Tough task, so the reward has to be big. And it can’t be money, because money will be worthless shortly after the contest. So…” Madonna interrupted herself with a burst of laughter, than composed herself, and continued, “so, the winner gets a date… with a real, live pretty girl.” And the executive suite exploded in laughter.

Stephen raised his voice over the laughter, so he could make more of it, “Not a fuckbot. A real, live, flesh and blood pretty girl.”

Another explosion of laughter filled the room. Madonna picked it up, “But, because we all know how that’s gonna work out, we better throw in a fuckbot, too!”

And another explosion of laughter filled the executive suite of the Valhalla Inn, just outside the Thunder Bay city limits.

Kitty couldn’t contain herself. She just had to throw her own curveball into it, “Me!” she said. “I’m pretty. I’ll do the brainiac geek! No fuckbots necessary. This is a job for Kitty Kabboodle, or my name isn’t Kitty Kaboodle.”

Stephen, King of Horror, Madonna, Queen of Pop, and Kitty, Mistress of Mmmmeeeeoooowww, roared laughter. Lance didn’t think it was funny. At all. But knowing the joke would be on him, if the others discovered his opposition to the plan, he faked it well enough to not be found out.

Madonna threw her hands up in the air, and sang,

Super Kitty!
Super Kitty!
Rah rah rah

Super Kitty!
Super Kitty!

When the merry died down, Stephen got back to business. “I saw the video you made about the economic paradigm shift that is already underway,” he said, looking at Lance. “As profound as was the shift from feudalism to capitalism.”

“I can’t take any credit for the transformation that’s happening, obviously. Or even the observational theory that it is happening. I just stumbled across it, and realized it applies to my Commonwealth idea.”

“But you’re dead certain that Commonwealth can be a big part of the transformation away from crony capitalism, and into a new era of capitalism with a human face, as you so eloquently put it?” asked the boy’s father.

“Just as certain as Dubcek was when he said his Prague Spring was all about creating communism with a human face.”

Madonna looked at Lance, and asked, “And you are equally certain that Commonwealth can challenge Amazon, Apple, Spotify, Netflix, Ticketmaster etc.?”

Lance smiled, “No.” Three pairs of eyebrows rose. Lance grinned maniacally as he said, “I am dead certain that Commonwealth can wipe them all off the face of the Earth.”




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