California, @ his parent’s house

Jax reads the latest National Review magazine as he sits on the toilet.  His phone rings.  He looks over and sees that it’s Bettina calling.  Hi, Bettina.  Hi! She says enthusiastically.  I need your new address real quick, she tells him. I’m at the post office.  He gives it to her.  What’s going on?  I’ve got some money for you.  Tim, Sam, and Senator Johns want in.  And Lana’s sitting on a check from Kostamo to give you.  I’m already full up, Bettina.  You can be oversubscribed, she tells him.  Dividing by 104 isn’t difficult.  Alright, I’ll do it for you.  Thank you, kind sir.  Is this a good time?  She asks him. Actually…let me call you right back. No problem.

So how was your trip?  I’m glad I went, Jax replies.  Did you get Lana her drink of water?  Simon will give it to her.  How’s the campaign trail?  We’re getting a lot of media attention for the wrong reasons.  Jax chuckles.  Sam’s a riot. What was Lana’s reprimand?  She told Sam to keep her mouth shut and her head on a swivel.  That PJ needs her more than he knows.  Then she told Sam that she loved her and hung up.  That sounds like Lana, Jax comments.

How’s the investing going?  Your money is earning a 2.2% return in a money market account, Bettina.  I could do that myself, she tells him.  What am I paying you for?  He chuckles. You’re starting to sound like Simon now, he tells her.  WELL? Bettina insists.

Remember when I said that I’m only going to run my thinking by Lana?  Yes. You’re not Lana.  Hmmmm.  I used to be a reporter.  I have ways of extracting information.  Yes, a brunette who sleeps all the time and mopes around depressed.  You couldn’t be more wrong, Bettina says.  Tim told me that Lana had Kostamo laughing so hard over coffee that he had to leave their booth.  Lana doesn’t just sit around at Rolf’s all day and read intersectional poetry. Are you sure about that?  Jax queries.  They both laugh.  Lana’s hired a strength and conditioning coach over at LSU as her personal trainer. She has someone over at Rolf’s? Of course not.  She put up a small metal sign, visitors by appt. only, last weekend - and when she does her errands, she parks her car at the narrows and calls in a ride.  I talked to her this morning while I was on the elliptical.  She and Kostamo were going to Sam’s Club today to get him a new mattress.  Why Sam’s Club?  One of her mother’s friends at church subscribes to Consumer Reports; she told them what to get.

Now give me something, Jax, Bettina pleads. Fine.  Lana told me once that she was going to be proactive and just sit still. I think that’s a superb investment philosophy.  So you think the market is expensive and overbought, and you’re waiting for a pullback. I didn’t say that, Jax replies tersely. Don’t put words in my mouth, Bettina. I do think the alpha pool is overfished right now though.

I can tell you how Rolf invests, Bettina says. Antiques aren’t liquid trading instruments, Bettina.  Nope. Ever heard of night trading?  You mean after hours trading?  Jax corrects her.  No, I mean as an investment thesis.  Jax chuckles.  Hey, it works for him.  How, Bettina? Simon told me that he has a Charles Schwab automated brokerage account.  The computer buys the market on the open, and then sells it on the close of each trading day.  Or maybe it was the other way around.  I don’t remember.  That’s crazy.  What kind of returns is he generating?  I don’t know.  Ask Simon, he’s the one who told me about it.  Hmmpfh.  Anyway, it’s really good hearing your voice again, Jax.  You too, Bettina.  Expect a campaign brochure in the mail.  I put the checks inside it for privacy.  Sounds good. I’ll give Lana your address so she can send you Kostamo’s check.  Sounds good, Jax repeats.  I love you, Jax.  Bettina says, and disconnects.

The Campaign Trail

Look at me, Sam orders.  I wear a suit because I’m here to do business. Now pull your pants up, Samantha tells a group of black hoods who ask if they can volunteer for security.  You look ridiculous.  They slouch away.  The clip makes all the news outlets, with talking heads opining that Samantha should be fired.  Are you racially insensitive?  A black reporter asks her at the next major rally.  Me, racially insensitive?  Uncle Tom, you did not just say that.  The reporter stares at her with his mouth open.  There is only one human race; we’re all of one blood, descended from Adam and Eve, she explains.  And race is such a loaded term; use ancestral populations next time.  Why did you just call me an Uncle Tom?  Because you had the effrontery to conjugate the verb be. You are not a product of the public fool system, admit it.  The reporter is silent and glances guiltily at the camera.

***

When is Lana coming back?  Senator Johns asks Bettina, as the powerful teacher’s union joins the chorus calling for Sam’s dismissal.  She’s still ensconced at Rolf’s, Bettina replies.  Tell her she doesn’t have to do security.  I’ll pay her the same just to be a greeter.  Lana and Rolf are tight, Bettina tells the Senator. He asked for her help, and she’s so loyal to her friends.  I thought I was her friend, the Senator says morosely.  Bettina gives him a reproving frown.  At least have her talk to Samantha.  Her job is to deter threats, not create them.  Let me talk to her, Bettina replies.

***

I work for Lana, not the Senator, Sam tells the cluster of reporters gathered around her outside a factory the next day. I’m just filling in for her until she gets her strength back.  My opinions are my own, not the campaigns.

What about the call to boycott your upcoming movie? It’ll backfire spectacularly. Jews like me run the world.  Don’t you know that?

***

Lana, we really need you back out here, Bettina tells her over the phone that evening. PJ says that he’ll pay Sam to guard the door for Rolf, if it’ll free you up.  Lana sighs.  I miss you. I miss you too.  What does your schedule look like, Lana?  I’m caddying with Simon this weekend.  Your dad challenged Rolf to a game of golf during the full moon.  That sounds like so much fun, Bettina exclaims.  The Senator motions for the phone.  Lana?  Yes, sir. When are you coming back?  I’ll be available for the next leg of the campaign, sir.  The Senator doesn’t say anything for awhile.  I need you back sooner than that.  Levi and Tim are professionals.  But Samantha.  He fumes. You need to rein her in.  I’ll take care of it, sir.  He hands the phone back to Bettina.

***

Are you firing me?  Sam asks, when she sees it’s Lana calling.  I will if you keep spouting off to the press.  That is completely unacceptable, Samantha.  Keep your mouth shut and your head on a swivel. The Senator needs you more than he knows.  I love you, Lana tells her, and disconnects.

The next day, the press gathers around Samantha as she watches the vehicle caravan.  You people got me reprimanded by my boss, she tells them angrily.  Go away and let me do my job in peace.  She adjusts her engagement ring, as she looks past the reporters, and scans the surroundings.  What did Lana say?  Take a wild guess.  Sam shoots back.  She threatened to fire you?  A reporter asks.  Wrong, Lana doesn’t threaten.  There is no “wait till your father gets home, you’re going to get a spanking” with her. She’ll throw you over her knee and administer it herself, and then tell you afterwards that she loves you.  What is she doing now?  Another reporter asks, after a shocked silence.  None of your business.  Leave Lana alone.  What’s going on with Jax?  Jax is my bud, Sam says.  Have you and Doc set a date?  My family is Jewish, his is Catholic.  So you see our dilemma as we work out the details.  She sighs dramatically.  It was so much simpler with Ja Raph.

Sam puts a hand up to her ear.  PJ is coming out, she tells the reporters.  Make him look good if you ever want to see White House press creds.  What does PJ stand for?  PEJ, Sam corrects.  President-elect Johns.  You heard it here first.

***

The rapper watches the clip on Youtube.  You need to get her back, his entourage tells him. He rubs his chin.  She wants you back, his entourage insists.

The Joe Rogan Experience

Samantha, you speak without a filter.  Lana Radley doesn’t speak at all.  How did you meet her and become friends?  Well, I was stalking a guy…. and Raphael didn’t want kids, and that was a deal breaker.  I knew him before he was Buck Neezy, which is such a ridiculous send-up.  Go back to Ja Raph already.

What’s your take on the upcoming Gomez/Levin fight in Vegas? I’m going with my fiance, Sam says grinning.  Who are you betting on?  The underdog, Sam replies.  Which one is that?  Mike. The bookies have Gomez at 4:1.