Guide to Moral Living in Examples: Shower Scum

Someone ripped the bag from Cassandra's head with a deafening rustle. After it was off of her head, she could see that it had actually been a shower curtain.

And speaking of showers, a large, naked man was in front of her, taking one. He stood in a fancy tub with clawfeet that appeared to yanked off of the world's largest dragon. A series of chrome fixtures arched overhead, releasing a rainstorm onto his balding head. Rivulets of water described erosion patterns across his girth. He scrubbed his back with a long brush. In his other hand he held a stereotypical rubber duck.

"My people tell me that you ain't any good for your debt," the naked man said.

Cassandra recognized him.

"Wet Larry," she said.

"Watch out, we have a detective on our hands," Wet Larry said.

"I'm not, but my brother is," Cassandra said.

"You know, I like detectives. I do a lot of business with them. Like you brother's boss. He owes me some money and some favors."

Cassandra fidgeted.

"I needed the money for my sick kid. I don't have any insurance."

"Neither did I, on that money that you stole." Wet Larry opened his mouth and gargled some water.

"I didn't steal anything!"

"You did yesterday. Yesterday was the deadline to pay me back. Now you're a good-for-nothing thief. A lowlife. A criminal. Scum."

"And what're you?" Cassandra asked.

"A legitimate businessman who wishes to remain in legitimate business. Now you owe me double. By tomorrow."

"Where am I going to get fifty thousand dollars by tomorrow? If I could have done that, I never would have taken your blood money!"

"You are an unstoppable force of brains, you really should sell your talent and then maybe you could avoid doing business with people like me. Unfortunately, we only learn lessons when they're pounded into us. Boys," Wet Larry said.

Two of Wet Larry's goons cracked their knuckles and stared at Cassandra.

"Look, I'll try. I can't make any promises. But I will try to pay you back by tomorrow."

"Tomorrow by five o'clock."

"No, tomorrow at midnight."

"I leave the office," Wet Larry said, gesturing at his fancy bathroom, "by five oh five."

"I'll bring it to your house." Everybody knew where Wet Larry lived: it was the biggest house with the swampiest lawn in town. Rumor had it that Wet Larry himself accounted for fifty percent of the water department's operating budget. Cassandra had often passed the house, as her rich cousin lived down the street.

"Fine. But only because you're a desperate mother. I have a waterproof watch." Wet Larry waved it at Cassandra. "And when that big hand strikes twelve, you better have paid me back."

"I will."

"Or else it is lights out."

The lights in the bathroom and warehouse went out. Cassandra felt the two goons grab her and drag her across the concrete. When the door flew open, and shoved her out, she could see that they wore nightvision goggles. The door shut behind them.

By seven o'clock the next night, two banks had turned her down for loans. Her rich cousin had just finished laughing her out of his living room. She walked down the street, lost in thought, until she realized that she stood right outside Wet Larry's: the runoff from his lawn had soaked her shoes.

"He ruins my life and now he ruins my shoes? This is ridiculous."

Cassandra marched up to the door of Wet Larry's house, and the goons admitted her into his home office. It was slightly smaller than his warehouse bathroom, but if anything more luxurious. The gilded faucets shone of gold, and tastefully disguised overhead grow lights nourished the live grass that grew on the floor.

And there was Wet Larry, naked and scrubbing himself in the shower.

"I don't see an envelope stuffed with cash," he said.

"I couldn't do it," Cassandra said. "Nobody would front me the money."

"That's a problem."

Cassandra nodded.

"At least you're honest. So I'll be honest. I'm going to shoot you in the face. But I like you, so it won't be one of these goons, and I'll do it myself. We'll have to go for a little drive first."

"I don't know what to say."

"You can only say yes. If you reach into that cupboard next to you and fetch me a towel, I'll do it fast."

Cassandra reached into the cupboard. Fluffy towels were stacked next to a chemistry lab full of cleaning products to keep the bathroom looking spotless. She grabbed a towel, and on impulse, snagged a bottle of shower cleaner. She hid it in the folds.

"It's a shame. I like dealing with honest people, they remind me of myself," Wet Larry said, as he took the towel.

"Enjoy the towel, shower scum," Cassandra said, and sprayed the shower cleaner into Wet Larry's eyes.

"Nnnnnnoooooo!" he said. He flaked off into a pile of mildew and soap crud, and his remains jammed the drain in the floor.

"Sweet, that means we don't owe him money anymore, neither!" said one of the goons, and they ran out of the room.

The Moral: what you take with scum must be kept with scum.

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