I had no respect for what he did in the world, for how he made his money, but I needed a job and he was willing to hire me as a ghost writer. Specifically, to write business letters. More specifically, threatening collection letters to his clients. As in…
Pay me or the vividly poetic legal and social disaster that I’m about to describe—that I’m now planting in your mind like a nightmare with every bit of this syntax—that cinematic shit storm will happen to you, my friend. Pay me now! Sincerely Yours, Billy _______
My actual work was slightly less dramatic than that, but you get the idea. Billy, my boss, paid me $25 per letter, under the table. He gave me my own desk, my own computer, in his basement office.
I worked with Billy—a 50 year old man who preferred to wear tank tops, his wife, Pat—a 48 year old woman who just wanted me to accept the love of Jesus, and their 25 year old daughter, Jen.
But Jen preferred to be called Cheyenne, she said, “when the rents aren’t around.” That was her “spirit name,” representing her “true self,” as she told it. She had the name tattooed on the pelvic curve of her left hip—Cheyenne—with a jagged sketch of a tribal heart hovering in the footnote position.
But that’s skipping way ahead in the story. And it’s best to stick with a linear plot.
Chapter One: My new boss, Billy, he was in sales. He sold whatever you wanted to buy, for a small fee, of course. And I was his new ghost writer.