18. Human Nature: Perverse

“You see Roscoe out there?” I asked Duke.

“Yeah, here he comes.”

He parked on my lawn, then sauntered to the back door.

“What’s the matter with parking on the street?” I asked him.

“That’s for civilians.” He looked around with his hands on his hips. “Jesus, what a mess,” he said. “Insurance fire. Think about it.”

“A couple days, we’ll have it turned around,” Duke said.

“You got a permit?”

“In Saint Paul?” Duke said. “You kidding me?”

“Good point. You get it cleaned up, then what?”

“Office space. We got a business.”

“Who?” said Roscoe. “You and the caballeros?”

“Me. Some of my associates.”

“Dead guys?”

“They got a lot of insight.”

Things happened on Roscoe’s face. Lips, twisted. Eyes, squinted. Suggesting that he was ready to add this to his folder of human failure.

“What business?” Roscoe asked.

“Life coaching. Business development geared toward the individual. Wealth creation, you could say.”

Roscoe rocked on his heels and gave Duke a tell-me-another-one look. “You need a catchy name. Living Dead Lifestyles. How’s that sound?”

“Thanks,” Duke said.

“Where the clients come from?”

“You’re looking at customer number one. Fatman.”

“I thought you were set. Big house. Wheelbarrows full of money. Doris.”

“Nobody’s happy, Roscoe,” Duke said. “You know that.”

“You’re not happy, Fatman, then he’s right,” Roscoe said.

“Long and short, none of it’s his,” Duke said. “It all belongs to Doris.”

“Joint property, right?”

“Wrong. Never married,” Duke said.

“Bad move. I assumed you two were legal.”

“It would still be her money.”

“I don’t see how you change that.”

“We don’t change,” Duke said. “We add.”

“Add what?”

“We get Fatman his own revenue stream.”

“You ask me, he’s avoided more work than he’s ever done.”

“Everybody changes,” Duke said.

“Not really. In my experience.” Roscoe gave me a once over. “You never been interested in money, Fatman.”

“Not true,” I said. “Everybody is. At some level.”

“You been interested in enough to pay the bills. Now you’ve got all the money in the world and you’re worrying about it.”

“Perversity of human nature,” Duke said. “Nothing you can do about it.”

“You got that right.”

Roscoe pulled back the blinds and looked out the window.

“What you doing about security?”

“People mess with the dead once, they don’t do it again,” Duke said.

“Still. Maybe you could use a presence.”

It was Roscoe’s turn to get the once over. Duke said to him, “How you want to get paid? Cash or coaching?”

“Let me think about that,” Roscoe said.

Tomorrow: You’ll be that guy.

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