The Money Masquerade

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Chapter 19


Sausalito and El Cerrito Hills, California

“It’s the ongoing ’War on Terror, I said. “They changed only the headline.”

“We’ve created the next enemy to chase after, the global Cloud Virus.” Caryssa sounded like she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

“A battle of narratives between the powers-that-shouldn’t-be: Who to blame; who can battle the beast?” My voice echoed back over the video call like an alien.

“Your voice sounds as robotic as the beetles we’ve been discussing,” Caryssa said. “Play with your mic or speaker volume.” We were a one-on-one chat using Google Duo.

“Maybe it’s the digital dictators you’re always talking about taking control of my voice, developing a compassionless virtual society,” I laughed.

“Hey, is that your artwork in the background? I saw your reproductions of Picasso and Delacroix when you moved to adjust your setup,” Caryssa’s curious voice ricocheted back.

Anna was in her home art studio at her Sausalito loft, while I sat in my living room looking out at the picturesque San Francisco Bay.

“Oui. I’ve finished the final touches of my version of Picasso’s Guernica and I have them all framed and ready to go…” Go where. I thought. Will we be able to get our small businesses up and running again soon?

“Oh, that’s right, you’re planning on reopening your art gallery, Exotic Exposure,” Carryssa responded. “Exciting!”

“I’m hoping to, that’s the plan.” I wondered what the post-Cloud Virus art world will look like.

The pandemic motivated me to surge ahead with my art—which, looking at it now, reminded me how both artist’s work depicts the same theme Caryssa and I are so passionate about; The social realities of the world such as war and the need for social change.

“It’ll all work out. I can’t wait to walk into your new art gallery soon.” Carrysa’s tone of voice sounded as skeptical as her expression on the camera. “Where’s my favorite painting?”

Caryssa’s favorite has always been Picasso’s La Paloma. I pulled it from the corner of my art studio and held it to the screen. “Here it is… which reminds me to tell you something. I got an email from Ava Ramírez.”

Ava Ramírez; The Tiburon girl; the daughter of a rogue CIA agent who manipulated her to rob my art gallery. She fled America to escape the wrath of her dad and his war-business cronies.

“I assumed that girl fell off the face of the Earth.”

“She used her undercover name, Jamie García. Let me read what she wrote:

‘Thanks again for everything you and Pierre did for me Anna. I will be forever grateful. I’m far away from the states and loving life to the fullest. Say hi to Caryssa and tell her to never give up trying to get the bald eagle to stop killing the doves.’

“She mentioned my name. I must have made an impression on her,” Caryssa said in a cautious tone. “Now we know why she had a dove drop that note in my backyard. I’m the chosen peacemaker. Yahoo!”

“Wait… there’s more. She attached a photo. Look.” I held Ava’s photo to my screen.

“Holy crap, did she kill another dove?” Caryssa screeched.

“There’s no way this could be another dove. Look closer. What do you see?”

“The same symbolic bloody drops under the dead dove’s eyes and on its chest. The same olive branch stuffed into the dove’s right claw, and thirteen sticks in its left claw to resemble the U.S. Seal,” mentioned Caryssa.

“Right… but what’s leaning against the building in the background—”

“Your Picasso painting… phew! The bird killer is off the hook.”

“Seems it’s her message of peace over war again.” I referred to the Picasso quote Ava had written on the back of my painting: “I stand for life against death. I stand for peace against war.”

We chatted for another ten minutes about how our kids’ schedule for college prep got messed up and the trips and skiing we had planned and can’t take soon.

Caryssa ended the video call by saying, “I love the quote by the Roman philosopher, Seneca.: ’We are waves from the same sea, leaves from the same tree, and flowers from the same garden.’

“I love the message of unity also—but there’s another thing ‘internet wisdom’ got wrong, it originates through Bahá’ífaith, then inspired through Seneca,” I corrected.

“Whatever, my discerning artist friend. It resonates with my philosophy of ‘humanity over hegemony.’”

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