Drago Stanic, my buddy from grade school, called me from his boat on the Adriatic. You must come, my friend. I have too many dollars – you cannot understand. I am shitting money. It is coming out from my backside, yes. You listen [a huddle of girls giggle in the background] you hear? You must come to Zagreb for party Lui. And you must bring your women, yes, [giggle] good women [giggle], and your wife [giggle]
Drago, how did you get my number?
What!? How’d you get her number?
No more questions, Lui.
Earlier that night I was on a ‘business date’ with Ietje van Velzen: medium length hair, brown nondescript; bowlegged but brisk; dentures and hairnet. She’s 75 years old. My first venture into free enterprise.
I ate Chinese and conversed for money. It was easy. I know the angles: Is that lavender Ietje?... Let me get that for you... and so on and so forth.
But let’s face it, at twenty euros an hour it was a miserable start. I made more xeroxing in servitude back in Amsterdam. I could raise my price, yes, but I’m investing. Gratitude pays greater dividends. And don’t let the hairnet and orthopedics fool you. She’s the Drago Stanic of her class. She used to own van Velzen Vliegpapier – you may know it – that’s flypaper, but not those scrolls of grim adhesive; think pastel, gauze, potpourri and scenes from Aix-en-Provence. Bowlegs never stopped her from getting places. Her factory in Slovenia employed two hundred men. She’s a killer.
Halfway through dinner Brendan called in distress. For two weeks now he’s been haunted, he says, by “poltergeists” from his little black book. Girls. What else.
They’re ganging up on me Lui. I’m telling you, it’s a fucking campaign. This one chick locked me out of my house. MY OWN HOUSE. I need a break, man. I’m coming to your place.
Yes, right now. You mind if I bring my bench.
A bench? I have a couch, Bren. Good couch.
My bench press, man!
Now Ietje was getting offended. She rapped her knuckles on the table and lanced tofu with her chopsticks. I hung up.
An hour later I put her on the bus and headed home. That’s when Drago called (...I am shitting money... it is coming from out my...) I took a detour west and watched some geese paddle in a pond for a bit. And that’s when it hit me – fuck-a-duck – That’s what I’m going to sell (why didn’t I think of it before): TIME. Plain and simple. Lui-Labas-time. By the second, by the minute, as you wish. It starts and stops at your command. It doesn’t weigh a thing. Comes in a JK-BOX, special design. Put it in your pocket. Twenty euros an hour; a hundred for six. Order while there’s stock!