I was caretaking the mansion of my friend Carlton while he accompanied his obscenely wealthy family on another jaunt around the world. The mansion was amazing– high on a mountaintop, with a view of the Pacific that stretched from the Whale’s tail in Uvita all the way north to Playa Herradura. There were enough bedrooms and bathrooms to house a soccer team and the kitchen looked like chef Gordon Ramsay’s wet dream.
Carlton and I had met over drinks– we were sitting next to each other in a Quepos bar, watching college basketball, and we bonded because we both had a bet going on the same game. One thing that for me set the international community of Costa Rica apart from, say, anywhere I had ever lived in the United States, was the absence of economic class distinctions. Working stiffs like myself rubbed elbows with rich kids like Carlton on a regular basis.
In the states the only way I would have met someone like him would have been serving him drinks while I was bartending at some exclusive catered function. Here I might hang out with Carlton over beers, and then pay a nighttime visit to one of my gringo friends here on the other end of the economic spectrum–for example Vinny, who was camping on the beach in a tent, living on coconut water,
bananas, and whatever he could pull in while shore fishing with his homemade line spooler.
And just as all economic classes of gringos are represented here, so are all mental and emotional classes, from the sanest and grounded, to the most frighteningly unhinged. Which brings me to Mr. Green. One morning, after 20 minutes in the lap pool Carlton never used, I
received an email.
“Mr Green is on the way to check out the house” it read. “Says he might want to buy. Humor him. He’s a little crazy. Something in it for you if he buys. Clean up any empties and throw away any roaches in the ashtray haha.” Carlton
‘He’s a little crazy’. ‘Something in it for you’. I wondered if I should just lock up and leave at that moment. I had helped Carlton from time to time with important and time-consuming issues, and my typical payment was something to smoke, an evening of drinks, and a seafood dinner. The ‘he’s a little crazy’ part didn’t worry me as much. Whenever I have an encounter with someone acting crazy I either walk away or act crazier, both work.
Mr. Green arrived in a new Range Rover. He stepped out, dressed in white, button-down shirt, long polo pants, a man of about my age, ruddy drinkers face topped with a mop of obviously dyed hair. He handed me a business card with 2 logos– one was for “Internal Tattooing”, the other said “Taze me, Bro!”
I accompanied him inside for a tour of the house. He seemed to like what he was seeing. “This is quality’’ he said. “So many million-dollar shitboxes out there, but this is the real thing.” We were on the terrace, taking in the view. I asked about the significance of the business card.
“Internal tattooing– I invented it,” he said. I had never heard of such a thing, but he assured me it existed. “That was my first fortune. Then I opened up the first Taze me, Bro! site.”
Taze me, bro! he explained, was a place where people could pay to be tazed. There were choices of voltage and amount of time and amount of shocks applied. And of course, many legal waivers to be signed before participating.
I asked him who in their right mind would pay to be tazed. “Are you kidding? Pain sells–always,” he insisted. “Think about it–piercings, body modifications, tattoos, movies and songs that make you cry, every day something or someone beautiful dies, leaving behind the pain of their passing.”
Taze me Bro! became a chain in major cities worldwide, he said– a Chain of Pain. “I sold out a couple years ago but the new owners didn’t know what they were doing. They didn’t know pain like I know it!”
After a couple of hours, I was wishing that Carlton might suddenly appear to bail me out of spending more time with Mr. Green. He talked nonstop about himself and his successes. He claimed to be making 10,000 dollars a day in Costa Rica in his various ventures. “You’ve heard the expression, ‘a fool and his money soon part’? My saying is, “Every plane that lands in Costa Rica has a sucker on it’. You’ve just got to find them.”
Mr Green finally left, but only after telling me that the price Carlton wanted for his estate was too much, and that only he, Mr Green, could find a buyer who would pay it. “Sooner or later, the sucker will turn up,” he said. “If I don’t decide to buy it first.”
I felt oddly tired after he left, though I had not strained myself at all during his visit. His presence alone had been exhausting. So I did the only thing I could do to make myself feel better. I went down the mountain to the beach and found my friend Vinny, chilling by his tent. We shared a short smoke and some long drinks, and watched the sun set into the sea.