Chapter Two

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. T.S. Eliot


Gwen walks over to a red Jeep Wrangler, throws her Hello Kitty overnight bag in the back, and climbs in the open passenger door. “Konnichi wa, Gwen! Good turn out this time I see!” said Puzzle Wunkin, who had been waiting to pick her up at the gate. “Yes, best one yet! I passed the break-even point for the year already so I actually cleared a little bit this time,” Gwen gushed.

“I am still trying to understand this business model, Gwen.”

“What is so hard to understand? Everyone wants to be famous, don’t they?” asked Gwen.

“I don’t.”

“But many people do, otherwise there would never have been a Hannah Montana, or a So You Think You Can Sing show on television, right?”

“It’s Dance, not Sing, but what kind of industry makes one percent of its participants millionaires while the other ninety-nine percent work in restaurants so they do not starve?” protested Puzzle.

The Jeep pulls out into traffic, as the conversation continues. Gwen Abernathy is a twenty-first century entrepreneur. Unlike the old robber-barons of the twentieth century, Gwen makes her money by taking advantage of logically valid but unlikely business schemes. She knows that Puzzle understands her businesses as well as she does, but this conversation has become a kind of tradition and neither of them would hear of skipping this step.

“…but it is worse than sales!” said Puzzle, “it’s like, what do you do for a living? I buy lottery tickets, and then I buy lottery tickets with the winnings! See? N.G.H. ! Not Going to Happen!”

“Somebody wins the lottery once in a while or nobody would buy the tickets, right?” asked Gwen.

“The lottery is a tax for people who are bad at mathematics. What they are really selling is hope.” Puzzle explained, knowing that being right was not going to matter.

“You unplug your computer when there is a storm, right?” asked Gwen.

Puzzle smells a trap, but he goes anyway, “Of course!”

“And what would you say the chances are that lightning will strike your computer?” Gwen asks, innocently.

“About the same as winning the big prize on a lottery give or take. A bit more likely than finding life on Mars, asking it for change for a Susan B Anthony dollar, and getting four nickels, three dimes, and two quarters back. It does not mean it could not happen, but the same dollar in a 401k would be better spent.”

“Invested,” Gwen corrected, “Hey, pull in to this 7-11, they might have a moon pie.”

“Sure, Gwen. I am ready for a root beer stop.”

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