Beep, Beep. She’s Dead.

I run to clear my mind. That makes me one of millions who do it for the very same reason. Just how much crazy can actually be removed during a run of three or four miles is debatable. Most days, if I’m blaring my music loud enough and mimicking the structure of what the guitar player in each track is doing with his hands, with my own left and right hand, I can put a good deal of my lunacy off for the duration of the run itself. But, somedays–like yesterday morning–no amount of music, pounding, increase in speed, or anything else will remove the thoughts I’d rather not have. And, again like yesterday, too often the impetus of something disturbing only occurs to me because I am out there running in the first place.

I’ll admit, yesterday morning I had the music down pretty low. I was already feeling a bit skittish about the possibilites of either vehicular manslaughter or early morning muggery. So, let’s call the volume of my iPod Shuffle a four out of ten. My wife was out running as well, which is also the norm, but had left sometime after my own start–so I had no visual on her, and due to our recent return from vacation (cat burglars, you missed your chance. our cat is still here by the way) Ariele’s house keys were still at the sitter’s. Girl is always on my mind, but knowing I’d have to keep a keen ear out for her return to our abode was the thought leading the majority of the crazy parade marching within my skull. Would I be showering? Would I be on the roof? Is the buzzer broken, and how long would she be locked out? Basic stuff.

As I crossed an intersection, with the light, a lone black SUV with tinted windows sat awaiting the green indication that would allow its driver to proceed to their destination. For no particular reason that I can figure, the driver honked his horn–beep, beep. There wasn’t anyone else around at that ungodly hour, this is Williamsburg, Brooklyn after all and hipsters–even the ones who jog, and many do–don’t usually patrol the street prior to seven AM. After a quick scan for the intended recipient of those devilish toots, I made a quick spin to see if the driver was trying to flag me down for directions, or if it was even someone I knew using their horn to say, “good morning.”

Couldn’t make anyone out, there were no additional honks, and so I continued on my way. So did the SUV, making a right turn at that intersection and fading off into the distance behind me. Panic set in, and in less than two seconds my brain decided it knew exactly why the SUV’s driver had made those honks. Clearly the driver had Ariele bound and gagged in the back, and either she had managed to scream my name or, and far more likely, her abductor had been tailing us for sometime and already knew that I was her husband. Being the sick twist that is an entry level requirement for purveyors of such misdeeds, he had decided to take the game up a notch–in his head, his own thinking was, “I’ll give this guy a sporting chance. I’ll honk the horn, if he has either the courtesy or balls to come over to the SUV to see if I need something, I’ll release his wife and never bug them again. And if he doesn’t, well, then what happens to his wife is meant to be–I gave him a chance, one last chance to save his bonnie lass (he’s a Depp fan apparently) and he blew it.”

I didn’t bother spinning around to chase the SUV to at least get a plate number, something I might have done a decade ago. Nor did I spin around and attempt to immediately find my wife out there, to verify her safety–zig zagging up and down every block at double speed in the hopes of catching at least a glimpse of her to reassure myself that my brain simply hates me and gets a kick out of making the rest of my body perform ridiculous tasks. Ohhhh… if I didn’t need that brain for other things, I’d give it a good punching for certain (shake of head to self).

Ariele made it home of course, which was a real relief to our cat, because in the time between my safe arrival home and hers, I had informed our cat that it was possible her mother wasn’t coming home that day. Laying the ground work for the kitty version of the seven stages of grief–after all, they are like twenty stages in human stages.

90 Days in the Amazon

It’s pretty common for people to write blog posts about their failures and successes using Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and CreateSpace services. I figure, without having ever interviewed a single other blogger about it, that a big part of their decisions to write about the experience is nothing more than a ploy to get more eyeballs on the book or books they, like me, are so desperately trying to get people to read. The results of such bloggings I do not know–and originally I had planned on never writing such a post, out of some sort of misguided desire to keep the goings-on of my own publication a mystery.

Shameless self-promotion that this type of post can be, I’ll try to do something I believe a few might haven’t–and that’s be totally honest about what exactly has happened with my own publication thus far because of Amazon’s services. Clarity is not always my speciality, so let me expand a bit on that last inference: I truly believe that in the interest of propelling their book(s) even further, that some people have drastically inflated their sales numbers in the hopes of making it seem like the book is a smashing success to that post’s readers, believing that very misdirect will spur an immediate sale by the unsuspecting dupe taking that misinformation in. I’ll admit, it is also possible a few of the existing blogs that have covered this same subject were dated in that they used KDP in its earlier stages, before Amazon tweaked it, and as a result did, in fact, garner larger volumes of sales despite also being a first time unknown author.

Writing about Amazon has me feeling a touch of the willies, because while I am extraordinarily grateful for their services and what it has allowed this guy to do, I also find them to be a tad frightening in regards to how much information they compile on each and everyone of us–not to mention, what the company’s contributions to the publishing world might ultimately spell out for various others in the profession. The topic of Amazon Publishing Services itself can lead to some very heated conversations, and for some it is an exceptionally polarizing institution. But, like my politics, I find myself agreeing and disagreeing with bits and pieces presented by both sides of that conversation. Doesn’t mean I’m not a little paranoid that some nut-bag who truly hates Amazon isn’t going to use the other big brother of the world, Google, to hunt me down and put my head on a stake in front of Amazon’s offices as a warning to any future writers thinking of travelling the same path I have thus far–and yet, I press forward with some details for the casual reader of long-winded drivel. Lucky you.

Today will be my 90th day with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. And in order to take full advantage of a few key services they provide during that time, I had to agree to only sell the ebook version of my novel exclusively through Amazon. I wasn’t even able to sell it on my own website, by which I mean, I wasn’t able to make an actual transaction, money for book, using my various blogs. Linking to the book’s page on Amazon was totally fine, and that’s precisely what I did. Now, bare with me, as I deliver some numbers and a bit of the everything that I did to achieve what I am confidently deeming a successful first 90 Days in the Amazon.

Total copies of My Dead Friend Sarah OBTAINED by readers via Amazon only, ebook and paperback, as of today and at various price points set by yours truly: 13,136

I think this is incredible by the way, but before we get our collective panties in a wad completely, let’s take a look at that number in more detail shall we?

Total copies of My Dead Friend Sarah PAID FOR or CHECKED OUT using Kindle’s Lending Library by readers via Amazon only, ebook and paperback, as of today and at various price points set by yours truly: 688

If this number impresses you, as it sorta does me, then you are in the right. Why? The average traditionally published book, in all forms, sells about 500 copies in a year–or so I’ve read. I won’t be linking to facts, but you are certainly welcome to fact check my facts yourself. On top of that, the average book self-published in paperback using CreateSpace sells a scant 25 copies in a year. So, I welcome any kudos you might want to throw my way, because, as you might have surmised, just putting my book onto Amazon is NOT what led to 688 actual sales, nor is it even solely responsible for the success I had giving away 12,448 copies using exactly two of the five Free Days that Amazon KDP allowed me to use. On that second day of the promotion, for most of the day, My Dead Friend Sarah was the number one most downloaded book in suspense/thrillers by the way, and it felt awesome. It should be noted though that ereadernewstoday.com was kind enough to include my title in their morning post of 5 freebies, and without that having happened, I believe the total of books obtained for free that weekend would have been far less–somewhere around 3,000 to 3,500 I think.

I was quite hesitant to use any of the Free Days at all, people should be paying for the creative output of others and all that, but I do believe that because of whatever algorithm Amazon uses to feed Free Books into the display system titled “Customers who bought X also bought Y and Z,” that it most definitely boosted exposure to My Dead Friend Sarah. No question about it really, but while that certainly put my title in front of new eyes, I can honestly say that I don’t believe it was primarily responsible for my books sustained momentum of roughly an average of 7.6 sales/day. Not completely, and maybe not at all.

I’m run various self-administered tests using different combinations of Facebook ads, Google Adwords, blog posts, my own participation among other blogs, boards, etc. And, during the times that I have had absolutely no time to perform those mixtures of hocking my wares, there was a markedly drastic decline in daily sales. Many days, as few as zero. On the days that I have found the time to institute one, two, three or more of those efforts towards promoting my book, the sales have always been better. Even as I work in advertising, I was surprised to see what a difference it tended to make with regards to selling books, when i shouted about the book from digital rooftops.

Total books sold via all methods of selling, including the original paperback run-turned-failure with LuLu, paperback sales made by hand to co-workers and friends, and one or two via Amazon’s expanded distribution offer that put my book onto an infinite number of other online retailers: 720 books I believe.

Given the disappointing figures of other self-published and traditionally published works, and I’m talking the numbers that are far lower than that earlier mention of the industry average of 500/year and the self-published 25/year, I’d have to call the early stages of my self-publishing career a success. In my mind, 1000 units PAID for was a realistic goal for the end of 2012, and I’m not that far off from there. I’ve got a few other promotional tricks up my sleeves that I’ll be unleashing into the world during July and August, and I have a tremendous amount of positive energy going forward, as so many of the reviews for the book have been overwhelmingly positive.

Now, as long as Amazon doesn’t get cranky because of this post, and decide to yank me from their service entirely–I’m off to work on my next book, that, unless I ink a deal with a traditional publisher, I will most definitely be putting out using KDP and CreateSpace again. For me, the 90 day exclusivity clause didn’t really hinder sales. Most of my friends, family and other immediate buyers were cool to take a chance on downloading The Kindle App for their iPads and computers, if they didn’t already have it, or in fact have a Kindle. And for their continued support and purchases I am forever grateful to all of the people helping push my book out there.

Will I do another 90 days with Amazon KDP? I’ve got a little bit more time to hem and haw over it, but as of right now, I can’t honestly say that being able to put My Dead Friend Sarah out on Nook or iBookstore would make a noticeable difference. Not yet anyway.

Hope this answers some questions for some folks, and if you hear in tomorrow’s papers about a suspicious accident involving your favorite paranoid writer, please do be a dear friend and if you haven’t read My Dead Friend Sarah, give it a shot, tell a friend, or in lieu of that, mount up and concoct some charges against the beast that is Amazon–after all, my cat will need some diapers, and kitty diapers aren’t cheap.

Gas Powered Cement Saw: WINNER!

I’m a big fan of horror flicks. I’m not a gore-porn-aficionado, no sir. Frankly I don’t need the blood, guts, squirts, and pulsing organs to be afraid. One would think that given my very real problem of having a brain that constantly conjures the worst case scenarios possible for any situation, that I’d steer clear of anything that puts new ideas into my head. Quite the contrary friends. In my mind, feeding my brain with as many of the demented possibilities dreamed up by others is a methodology of preparedness that moves me up the Darwinian chain. I’m pretty confident that my exposure to the likes of American Psycho, Se7en, Hostel, Motel Hell, and the what-must-be thousands of others of films I’ve allowed these peepers to ‘enjoy’ have kept me alive from time to time. Very possibly they have kept me from doing things I might have loved to do too, like long solo backpacking adventures in third world countries, or following some hot-mess home for the night back in my bachelor daze–thanks a bunch Fatal Attraction.

There is a film, not seen by many, that was titled High Tension here in the states. It was a French horror flick that until the end had seemed like a total rip-off of the story Dean Koontz presented in his book Intensity. I’ll spare you most of the details, but let’s just say the twist that the writers, producers, and directors attempted to pull-off wasn’t disimilar from the character Donald’s film, The 3, in the Nicholas Cage picture, Adaptation. In High Tension there is a grandiose climax featuring a gas powered cement saw, and until I’d viewed the film, I’d not once given thought to what a device like that might be capable of in the wrong hands. It gives me shivers just thinking about it.

This morning, not unlike many times since my return from the jungles of Costa Rica, I found myself walking down a street only to be confronted with construction workers performing miracles on the streets of Manhattan with their mechanical wizardry. The buzz made by a saw hell-bent on carving up the manmade ground beneath cars and feet here makes a wickedly sick and recognizable scream. Crossing the street is always an option, but who is to say the guys wielding those mini-monsters aren’t quite a bit faster than me and on the backend of a bender that’s left them disoriented, angry and confused? So, like each time before it, this morning I reversed direction, marched back up the street I’d just come down, to shift my path one block over where at least I might stand a chance of making it to work without missing appendages. A minor inconvenience to be sure, but I couldn’t help thinking that in the game of Rosch vs. Gas Powered Cement Saw, the match tally is currently 0-7, possibly more–I don’t keep count of my crazy, I just live with it.

Colin Hay Wants to Know

Above this text you will see a quick screen shot of some of the most recent searches that have led fine folks like yourself to my blog. I don’t pay much attention to this little blurb, and when I do, most days I find phrases along the lines of, “new fiction, paranoid thoughts, sober this or that” and the occasional long string of words that clearly indicates someone has Level 9 Paranoia way worse than this guy. Yesterday though, I was initially amused to see, “peter rosch dui.” I’m an open book, and while I sincerely regret having ever put myself in the position to get a DUI, I have no issues with people knowing about it–in fact, I should probably regale everyone with the fine tale of my night’s stay in a Bronx jail cell at some point. That was a real treat, let me tell you. After a quick trip down my own memory lane though, I started to wonder, “Who could it be digitally knocking at my door?” Why would anyone be on the hunt for that information? Who is trying to dig up dirt on this lowly private citizen, and what exactly do they intend on doing with that information when they find it? The little sliver of my brain that produces happy thoughts suggested, “Hey, maybe someone is doing an article/review on My Dead Friend Sarah.” Of course, this was a short lived notion, and it wasn’t even seconds before my brain started to fabricate as many other possible scenarios in which someone out there was doing a slow and methodical hunt for dirt on yours truly. It was a situation that I carried with me quietly, and shared with some friends, throughout the day. In retelling the story to my family last night–and only then–did I remember to myself, “Douchebag. You are not the only Peter Rosch on the planet. There are in fact a couple more famous than you, not to mention the man who co-created you, you egotistical sack of baloney.”

So, Dad, is there something I should know?

Agents of Sloth

My paranoia never leaves me completely, but it’s seemed relatively quiet upstairs the last few days–if I didn’t know better I’d say the curse had been lifted. I hadn’t give much thought to my current state of bliss, at least what bliss is for this guy, until I started formulating ideas for this very post. It wasn’t the first time my mind put wondering against the notion that some day I’d not be able to write for this blog anymore, and that perhaps I’d have to change the title to Level 9 Happy Goodness Times. In and of itself, that thought proves things are still cranking up there. The battle between my brain and me rages on, but at times it plays a quieter game–moves to destroy my sanity with the more subtle themes of self-doubt and dread. I think my psyche knows that if it positioned every evil twist, potential fate, and the doings of others as over-the-top Hollywood blockbusters, that in time those fabrications wouldn’t impact me with the same ferocity. And so, this past weekend, it decided to play me a quieter head-film, in the vein of an Indie feature that dwells in subject matter one might describe as more probable in the real world, and only seemingly less heinous due to the lack of guts, blood, and booming soundtrack.

I spent a great deal of time working on my next novel on both Saturday and Sunday. It was equal parts rewarding and frustrating, not too disimilar from the efforts I put against My Dead Friend Sarah, but perhaps with the additional creative-crushing notion kicking around that the table of my life has now been set with some lovely place settings, at least according to some, and this second book will serve as the metaphorical meal for those waiting patiently at this table to consume it. Yeah, there might be a little more pressure this time around–no one even knew I was writing the last time, and even I had no expectations going in to that one, other than to complete a rough draft of a full story in a timely fashion, rather than give up just twenty-two or thirty pages in, like had been the case in previous attempts made by a younger, and often pig-stink drunk or hungover from having been pig-stink drunk, version of myself.

If you care to know, I can tell you that in spite of the laundry list of thoughts that worked feverishly to prevent me from putting pen to paper on the next book, I was still able to get quite a bit done by committing to the doing of it as though the results of my labor meant nothing to me or anyone else–even though they eventually will. Only by committing to writing was I able to ignore the following gems of delusion that seek to keep me lethargic and in a permanent state of sloth: This story had been told before, You can’t write in 3rd Person, People were just being nice about the first one, Did you read what you wrote in the last chapter–laughable Rosch, The title is taken, The title is taken because someone is writing the exact same plot as you at this very minute and will publish their story long before you are finished, You are missing out on a great day out there that could be your last, You aren’t getting paid squat to write this book–mind telling me what the point is friend, Wouldn’t our time be better spent coming up with a gadget people really need, Being a writer isn’t a real job Peter, stop wasting time on this and let’s butter-up that resume with actual accomplishments.

It’s going to be a long, slightly different journey than the last. Here’s to hoping the part of my brain that likes me continues to do just enough to beat back the parts that most definitely don’t.

dRead All About It!

I’ve got plenty to go on when I make my own morning summations of what the world has in store for me day to day. Most of my worst fears are based on the evil that bakes quietly inside of humankind. It is rare that I give much thought to the micro-critters that would have us serve as their vehicles of choice. And yes, I’ve seen all the very best and worst contagion films. But I am reading The Thin White Line right now, and I have to say–my ability to process the very real implications of something invisible but far more probable than a cracked-out junkie looking to swipe my iShuffle on my way to living an extraordinary existence isn’t very honed. I’ll be working on that to my own detriment and your personal enjoyment, as it pertains to humoring the masses with my anecdotes.

The Scent of Evil

If memory serves, and previous stories might suggest it doesn’t always, I haven’t worn cologne since I was a wee adult–let’s say seventeen or eighteen roughly. Back then a little Drakkar Noir was all the rage. I can’t say it did much for me. I don’t recall having washboard abs, an attractive woman on my arm at all times, and anything better than a twelve dollar haircut. I could tell you that I simply haven’t needed it as an adult, but am open to the idea that someone out there might vehemently disagree with that assessment. And, to be sure, I’ve dabbled in power scrubs, shower gels, and for a short period of time wasn’t a stranger to taking toothpaste and using it as soap on my hands in an effort to remove the sweet stank of cigarette smoke.

I’ve got friends that wear various scents–male friends I mean. And I suppose since I think I know them pretty well, I don’t tend to lump them in with the remaining male population that walks amongst us. Most of the time when I catch a whiff of an approaching male, the very first thought I have is, “What is this guy trying to hide?” You might think I am referring to simple body odor, but you’d be wrong. Logically, I can make all sorts of rationale as to why that is the most legitimate reason for bathing in the stuff–but, for some reason lately–and maybe it’s because quite a few of the most recent interactions I’ve had with these walking roses have also included awkwardly friendly salutations–I find myself surmising that the wearer has something far more sinister about him, something that he is trying to camouflage with microscopic atoms of smell-goodness.

In my book, some far more likely reasons for seemingly having drenched oneself in artificial flavorings are the following: The guy is most definitely an alcoholic, and without more than a little splash of Polo, he’d be caught vodka-tongued at his day job. (My own solution to this type of pollution had been AXE Snake Peel Scrub. That and a sick-sized wad of breath mints.) Or, maybe he wears it all the time so that should he cheat on his spouse or girlfriend, pick up a bit of a prostitute’s scent in the process, he can then douse himself in his brand to cover up any trace evidence his lovely back home might be able to detect with her sniffer. Finally, I could be mistaken, but I do seem to recall from some readings on serial killers and the disposal of bodies that many of the chemical substances used to breakdown human remains–bones, skin, organs, etc.–can leave a fella quite pungent with the stink of crimes most foul. If I was chopping and dicing bodies in my bathtub, I think I’d give some serious consideration to a quick spritz of CK One before leaving the house in search of my next victim. At least that’s how I’d go about it.

Thusly, if you are a gentleman, and you smell real, real good–don’t be surprised if you overhear my inner thoughts say, “I’m on to you buddy. You smell just a little too good.” And if you are hearing my inner dialog about you, then I probably have much bigger problems to resolve–but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised, as I’m told the various spawns of hell, the real flesh and blood demons that walk amongst us, smell absolutely grotesque.

One Man’s Lullaby

Why am I the way I am? No one thing could be to blame, but it is worth mentioning that my mother and/or aunt used to sing this song to me as a wee little lad. Found myself humming it this afternoon on an otherwise nice walk with the Mrs. Thanks ladies. xo

Gator Rosch

There are days that my life as a drunk can seem like another lifetime entirely. Days where the disease works hard to position that huge swath of so-called living-it-up as possibly a former life–the kind you pay a penny arcade prophet to tell you about on a sullen day in Coney Island. The more time I earn in recovery, the easier it is to forget that very real version of myself that was tearing through days and nights as he pleased. The world, and her mysterious ways, lend a hand from time to time with the remembering of things. And depending on what that forced recollection conjures, this can either be a real treat or a brutal slap to my non-bendering rosy cheeks.

Yesterday morning, on the Lower East Side, while I stood lost in my own thoughts of all the amazing things I’d been able to accomplish so far this year, and all the things I like to let myself speculate are forthcoming, a young woman ripped me from the safe confines of my own pro-Peter party with this seemingly misplaced question: “Is your name Gator?”

My name, as you may know, is not. And so it won’t surprise you to learn that I responded with a confused shrug and a grunt that sounded something like, “Huh?” This was followed by mutual shrugs and maybe even an apology delivered by her to my backside as I spun around to get back to the business of celebrating myself on the remainder of my walk to work. Iced-Coffee, check. Smokes, check. Half an hour or more to kill before the feeling of obligation compelled me to sit still at my desk, check. Just another lovely, somewhat silent by New York standards, morning gifted to me by sober living.

A couple of blocks removed from the incident, that aforementioned previous life–at least one of the many special nights from it–spilled from some dark corner in my skull into the forefront of my conscious. As it reconstructed the narrative, I was relieved to remember that the story wasn’t one of the more spectacularly disturbing happenings from those soggy salad days.

It was a familiar opening–me, friends, a bar, too much to drink, and a spontaneous introduction to some female inebriated souls. On more than one occasion, my father has told me that at times when I speak, it sounds like I have a mouth full of marbles. Drinking never made that delightful little defect any better, and when one of the young women asked me what my name was, even though my response had been Peter, she heard Gator. She repeated it to me and my cronies. “Gator?” She Said.

Our sauced minds met collectively without a word spoken and before she could ask a second time, a decision had been made by me and the group to roll with that moniker for the rest of the evening. And so I replied, “Yep. Gator.” What stories might have accompanied the origin of that name–stories I’m sure I told her in my failed attempts to parlay such a ridiculous name into an overnight visit–I can not recall. But, I do remember that all of my friends went well out of their way to use the name for a significant portion of that evening.

“Wanna another one, Gator?”

“Gator, it’s your rack.”

“Gator, we going down south again this year?”

I suspect, my dear reader, that you’d love to see this tale turn into something that it was not. A yarn about how Gator and that gal crawled from one bar to another, deep into the night, ending up in Vegas perhaps–awakening the following morning after an orgy that appeared to my crusty half-swollen afternoon-morning eyes to have included midgets, bearded women, and an attractive mute from some distant cobra-charming country in the East. I’ll regale you with such a tale some other time. But sadly, like so many others, this night ended when Gator went home, alone, and probably carrying enough alcohol in his system to nurse a brood of some fictional baby animals whose lives depend on booze from a stranger’s teet.

So, turns out–or, it is at least conceivable–that the young lady from yesterday morning had every reason to ask me such a seemingly ridiculous question. And, at least for the time being, I can have a good long laugh about a night that didn’t turn most foul, but still served as a charming reminder of the scofflaw that I used to allow out to play back in the day. I miss that dude, sometimes.

I can only hope, that the next time a stranger drags him out of my subconscious, that it is for as seemingly benign reasons as referring to oneself as Gator. After all, what possible harm could I have caused–and I’m privy to The Butterfly Effect–by simply leading someone to believe I had a ridiculous name? If you’ve been paying attention, you know damn well I’ve already mentally outlined a dozen that can be filed somewhere between, “I’ve a baby boy named Gator” and “A party tale gone awry in which a young woman recounts her having met a fellow named Gator, which reminds one of her newly minted acquaintances of how her own son had been torn in half by an actual gator, who becomes so distraught over the incident that she pulls out a bag of pills she keeps handy from her purse, and then chases it with a tumbler of vodka before retiring to the coat closet to see her way off this earth.”

End scene.

Coffee Shop Shakedown

This past Sunday morning, before the onset of a painful, no doubt secret lab accidental release style 48 hour virus that left me somewhat zombified most of Monday and yesterday, I was having an amazing morning. That morning included one of my favorite things of late: meeting my good friend, whose name I won’t use since I’ve no idea what level of paranoia he is rocking these days, for a cup of coffee and a nice chat.

My mood was so spectacular that I wasn’t even bothered by the fact that a stranger sitting across from us had skillfully injected himself into our preliminary conversations about the weather, recent films seen, and other surface level conversation had before getting down to the real nitty and gritty. As the dialog moved along, predominantly led by my friend and me, the three of us had somehow landed on what is and isn’t tax deductible in our various trades.

I took a moment to reflect on how we’d arrived there with this stranger, and came to realize he had used a piece of my own tale concerning an ancient and foolish charge I’d made for my tattoo that reads, “Question Everything. Trust No One.” The irony that this all stems from that is only evident to me as I write this.

Before my friend could say another word to the balding sly-fox seated across from us, I posited, “Wouldn’t it be something if you were actually some dude from the IRS who hit up coffee shops, to start up chats, move them towards tax returns, deductions, and the like–so that you could then flag folks for audits down the road?”

Our new friend was a little startled by the insinuation–and after a raucous bout of nervous giggles said, “Oh right, like I’m some sort of James Bond of the IRS? And this is what I do, go around and chat up people in posh neighborhoods to find out what they’ve been up to with their taxes.” This was followed by more nervous quips made in rapid succession that moved us quickly into another subject matter entirely.

Had we blown his cover? Maybe. Is Williamsburg really a ‘posh’ neighborhood? Maybe. Did I leave fearing that figurative ‘knock’ on the door we all dread might be coming despite our best efforts to play by the rules? Not really. You don’t live with Level 9 Paranoia, and get all willy nilly on the kind of stuff you know for certain Big Brother is keeping tabs on. I’d say I was most taken aback by his suggestion that he might be the James Bond of the IRS. Maybe the Roger Moore Bond. And that’s a big maybe.