Pluribus 12

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September 15, 2031, 11:45 PM.

Still unconscious, Gordo Loco fell forward in the booth at Yoshi’s Sushi Bar, his face landing in his bento box. The waitress brought more napkins.

Tap pulled Loco back into an upright position, then cleaned his own wraparound sunglasses and put them back on Loco’s head. He turned to Don standing in front of their booth. “Smile for the camera, General. Luisa, sit close to him and give him a big kiss on the cheek.”

Luisa seemed hesitant. “Alright, but you are picking up my doctor bills.”

Don clicked the picture and sat back down. “Tap, I told you how I got involved in this case. How did you get roped in?”

“I followed the rope. Corporate owned life insurance, sometimes known as COLI or janitor’s insurance. A company buys a life insurance policy on an employee in case they die. These policies pay out even after the employee leaves the company. No matter how they died, suicide, murder, acts of war, it did not matter. Some Pakistani widows said that Netrosonics had policies on their husbands over thirty years ago.”

Luisa was incredulous. “No matter how they died? Is that legal?”

Tap put his chopsticks aside. “Not only legal but common and tax deductible. Netrosonics was one of the first companies to apply it during the outsourcing bubble. As I looked through the records, I thought it was unusual that they set up offices in Pakistan, India, Egypt, Israel, Bosnia, Serbia and just about every potential flashpoint around the world. The war started and as it spread, their employees got killed, Netrosonics got rich, and the widows got nothing.

But that is not all. The company laid off their American employees. During that time, unemployment meant no health insurance. It was essentially a death sentence. More people died, more money was made. Antzen was part of this strategy. After Netrosonics bit the dust, he managed to get a hold of those insurance policies. When I got wind of your meeting with Antzen, I figured he was going to kill two birds with several explosive devices. I hope you did not mind, but I simply had to step in.”

Don had seen a lot of sordid situations, but this was over the top. “Thanks. So is this what Pluribus is all about? Is Antzen Pluribus?”

“No. As the name implies and as we have both seen, there is always more to Pluribus than meets the eye.” At that, Tap turned to his dinner.

Copyright 2006 DJ Cline. All rights reserved.