Big Kahuna

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Jasper Carrion sits perched in an Aeron Desk Chair, its form-fitting black, graphite frameadheres to the muscular contours of his body, supporting every inch inmass-produced, cold comfort, facing six wavering,flat screen CCTV monitors, strategically placed on the pristine white wall infront of him—a clean slate—providing a complete bird's-eye-view of thedeplorable conditions in the Village—a stark contrast—just beyond the perimeterof his lavish compound, sequestered in a Southwestern style buildingbursting with color. Crimson Spanish Tile makes the roof pop, rose stuccocovers the exterior and stained-glass windows featuring every color of therainbow make the place feel warm, welcoming, like a perfect sunny day. Sighing, he surveys crooked row after row of ramshackleshacks that have succumbed to the ravages of time, a makeshift Village slowlysinking into the muddy hills, like quicksand, that consumes everything in itspath, until eventually only disconnected satellite dishes jut out from themuck, useless relics of bygone days of conspicuous consumption. The bleak images shimmer, reflected on his smooth, baldhead; a holographic hodgepodge of famine, regret and sorrow, all morbidlyfascinating facts of life, not soon forgotten, best left unlived, but sometimesinevitable consequences of society gone astray, entangled in disarray.Outof sight, out of mind.

Grainy, black and white images on the half-dozen screens conjure happier days, reflected in the classic films of his childhood: Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Frankenstein, when Jasper considered himself lucky if he had enough spending money for a small bag of popcorn and a miniature soda, just enough syrupy sweetness to choke down day-old saltiness drowning in liquid butter. Simple, guilty pleasures that proved hard to come by but worthwhile on the rare occasions when they could be gotten. At least they quieted his rumbling stomach for a couple of hours.

His unremarkable childhood left an indelible mark, inspiring Jasper, AKA Big Kahuna, a moniker bestowed onto him to showcase his desire to rise above his humble beginnings at an early age and grab the coveted Brass Ring.

Now, he lives in the moment, virtuallyworry-free, surrounded by countless minions, formerly mere Villagers Big Kahuna hasselected to be at his beck and call, and his better half, Sabrina Pryce, whokeeps him grounded. Money is no object. His father Carl Carrion, an investment whiz,taught him how to play the stock market when he was 24 years old, back when thestock exchange was still the center of all commerce, and win big. The marketimploded a few years ago and hasn't rebounded since. Big Kahuna plots ingenious schemeswhile he feasts on a generous platter of delicate Blue Fin Tuna Sashimi thatmelts in his mouth, like exquisite sea butter, a testament to his full-fledgedstatus. It's a frequent indulgence. There are worse vices...

The Gathering evolved from a grand plan Jasper devised to alleviate boredom amongst the downtrodden Villagers, while giving them a reason for being, a little healthy competition, elevating their meager existence, if only for a little while, which quickly progressed from bad to worse since the Inevitable Financial Collapse that left most unemployed overnight with no future prospects, without proper homes, and scarcely enough to eat. The Gathering is Big Kahuna's way of rewarding the Villagers' steadfast devotion. They spend their time whittling away endless hours wallowing in misery, surrounded by the few meager possessions they have left, often broken beyond repair, mementos of happier times. Hope just out of reach for far too long, until it dwindles to a faint glimmer. Most families only manage one measly meal every few days that does little to quell their insatiable hunger, if they're lucky; consequently, their numbers are dwindling quickly. They're dropping faster than dominoes during an earthquake.

There aren't any doctors left, so the sick are left to their own devices. Most don't own guns and with the illusive passage of time, their once-sharp knives have become as dull and useless as cheese spreaders, not a practical means to their desired lethal end. Death hangs heavy in the air, like an invisible noose, cinching tighter ever so slowly. The only feasible alternative to departing to the hereafter is for ailing Villagers to hurl themselves onto Reaper's Mound, ending their suffering as they plunge into the 10-foot deep gaping hole bordering the Village, begrudgingly carved out by the Villager's themselves over the course of nine months, back-breaking work, borne out of necessity, carried out in secret, not unlike death.

Rumor has it that his minions lined the bottom of the cavernous pit with razor wire, to expedite their untimely demise. Tragically no one has lived to confirm or deny it. Speculation breeds compliance, making the Villagers pliable. Cruel compassion at its best. It's half empty now, or half full, depending on how the Villagers see things; they're pessimists and with good reason. Either way, there's no alternative, and the bodies don't have nearly as far to fall and when they take a final leap of faith; a heap of rotting corpses promises a bone-crushing landing, where they are sure to die an agonizing death, exposed to unforgiving elements, expiring within days; unless they land just right and snap their necks or break their backs on impact, perishing instantly. They've got a 50/50 chance. It's a crapshoot. Sometimes, Mother Nature can be a real bitch.

Big Kahuna's wheelhouse contains a dizzying array of subtle scare tactics orchestrated to placate the natives. For lack of a better word, that's what they like to call the mysterious event, the name, the Gathering makes the Villagers feel safer about the organized chaos that ensues whenever the siren suddenly shrieks, emitting a low moan: ga-ther, ga-ther, not a request but rather a demand best not be ignored. The name stuck. Big Kahuna thought it wise to let them have one small victory, in light of what's to come.

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