Bash Banks’ POV
I met up with Rico downtown the night before about the “progress” I made on getting Cypher’s technology for him. Tim and I had grown “closer”, and he was very forthcoming with information on what management discussed regarding the issues and bugs with the application and what they were doing to address the problems.
“Do you have what I need?” Rico asked me.
“No, but I’m getting close,” I tried to reassure him.
“Maybe I was wrong about you, Bash. Maybe it’s best if you were to stay on at Jupiter and the let the chips fall where they may,” said Rico. Behind his dark tinted shades, I could see his eyes; it felt as if they were piercing through me.
“No, you weren’t wrong; I need more time.”
“You have seventy-two hours,” replied Rico and walked off.
After my conversation with Rico, I could think of nothing else. I was invited to Tim’s house this weekend; I’d never been there before. If I were going to get a look at Cypher’s full software, I would need access to Tim’s personal computer, which I knew he worked on.
The best-guaranteed means I would get that access was to write sophisticated code for a kernel-mode rootkit. I won’t get into the intricate details, basically, the rootkit I create, I can save to a USB and upload it to Tim’s computer. I would be able to see all his internal files, every system, application, correspondence; in other words everything.
The code I’m writing isn’t the easiest thing in the world, and if I want my kit to go undetected, it had to be darn near perfect. Tim doesn’t have the skills and know-how to find such a sophisticated program within his internal system. It won’t destroy his files, just give me the information I needed.
I had worked around the clock in my home office to make this all happen. I even called out from work to make sure I had the program completed in time. I’d shed too much blood, sweat, and tears over the years to just throw away opportunity after opportunity for people who were less qualified than I was, people who didn’t have my talents. This is where it ends.
Tim had invited GG and me over for a backyard BBQ this weekend. I’m told Kaden and Charles from work were also going to be there as well. While I wasn’t looking forward to breaking bread with them after spending five days a week together, I had to get access to Tim’s home computer to upload the rootkit I created. It was the only way I would be able to get full access to Cypher’s files undetected. I had written some pretty complicated code; even Tim would know nothing about. It’s not anything that would necessarily hurt him, but I had to what I had to do, Rico made no secret of that.
I told GG not to worry; that we would not have to stay too long, but she said she looked forward to meeting more of my coworkers and she liked Cheyanne and Tim. I still don’t understand how or why.
Tim and Cheyanne lived in Jones Landing, a small city halfway between San Myshuno and Willow Creek. Their house sat on a quiet street lined by single-story homes with nicely kept yards and green cut grass. It was a little warmer than usual for this time of year. The neighborhoods kids were running around shooting each other with Bazooka blasters. It was rare you even saw kids outside the home; usually, they were glued to some video game or computer, much different than how I grew up.
Cheyanne swung the front door open only seconds after I rung the bell. “Hey Bash and GG! Thank you for coming!” she exclaimed and leaned over to embrace us in a tight hug.
“It’s so nice to see you too. I brought some dessert, it’s from a Brazilian bakery,” said GG. Cheyanne gasped. “Oh thank you! This was lovely of you. Please come out back; everyone’s outside.”
We walked through the living room which drew on Cheyanne’s artsy aesthetic. The best I can describe it is as bohemium meets shabby chic meets contemporary.
When Tim first told me where he lived, I was surprised it was in Jones Landing. I knew he didn’t live in San Myshuno, but I assumed he had a condo in some high rise in downtown New Crest. What I’ve found out about Tim over the course of the last couple of weeks during our new found “friendship” is that he doesn’t have expensive taste. He’s preppy, and he comes from money, but he’s rather simple, basic, and not very cultured.
We were greeted by Charles and his wife, Jessica, and Kaden and his girlfriend June. I had seen them at a company picnic in the past but never bothered to greet them formally.
“Bash! It’s super of you to come! Did you find the place okay?” asked Tim, turning around from the grill.
“Yes, my GPS found it easily. Uh, nice house. I thought for some reason you lived in the city.” Tim was carefully flipping burgers and what looked like some tofu vegetable kabobs over the coals.
“Nope, I’m afraid not. Maybe you’re thinking of when I first moved out here. I used to live in New Crest, but once I met Cheyanne, we found a nice little place and decided to mover here. I already work in the biggest and busiest city in the region. I don’t like to deal with the hustle and bustle when I’m away from the office,” he laughed.
Personally, I preferred the city life. There was nothing better than living in Art of The City. Uptown, where Rico lived, was the most expensive borough, but my area had the best attractions, and a lot of young professionals lived there. I could do my shopping, visit my tailor, catch a show, grab dinner, all within a five-block radius.
I glanced over at GG conversing with June, Jessica, and Cheyanne. They were just as enamored with her as Cheyanne was on their first meeting. They were all pretty casually dressed in their backyard hipster fashions or tanks and cut off shorts, a vast difference to GG’s designer short length halter dress. It was worthy of a more upscale terrace wine tasting, but that’s how she is. One of the things I loved about GG was her impeccable style.
Cheyanne wasn’t kidding when she said she grew her own food. Their yard was mainly a garden with rows of carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, herbs, wild strawberries, and apple and lemon trees.
I looked around, everyone was engrossed in conversation about the warmer weather, what we’d all be doing on next vacations, and about a thousand other mundane topics.
Now was a good as time as any for me to put my play into action. When I asked Cheyanne where the bathroom was, she directed me down the hall to the first door on the right.
I reentered the house, carefully shutting the glass door behind me. I peered over my shoulder, Tim was occupied on the grill, and Cheyanne was tending to everyone, making sure they had enough lemonade and cucumber water.
I headed down the main toward the backrooms. I stopped at the first room on my right. The door was slightly ajar.
I peeked inside and could see Tim’s backpack he brought with him to work every day, a guitar, and an old camera I knew Tim liked to use for his photography.
I took a deep breath and pulled out the USB flash drive with the rootkit. I quickly walked over to Tim’s computer, which to my benefit was on. There was no screensaver needing a passcode that I could easily crack, just a view of the desktop. I scoffed. Tim sat on multi-million dollar software like Cypher but didn’t take the proper precautions to secure it.
I inserted the drive and waiting for the kit to upload. I wouldn’t be able to see all of Cypher and all of Tim’s files until I went home. I wasn’t interested in any personal files he had on there, but my mission was clear: if I wanted Rico to bring me along, I would have to get Cypher for him. Technically no one was “stealing” the information, for whoever Rico was consulting with on a takeover, everything that belonged to Jupiter would belong to the company who took over. I didn’t know all the details of it, but I’m familiar enough with how takeovers work.
I only had about five minutes for the kernel to install and flush out any trace that it was there in the first place. Waiting for the time to pass, seemed like the longest five minutes of my life.
Finally, the kit installed and I ran another clandestine program to remove any signs that it was on the pc. I designed a program so crafty, that if the kernel was detected, you could not tell where the source generated. There are all kinds of ways one could get a rootkit on their pc, and most people don’t even know about it.
Fucking Rutgers, number 45 on the top schools for computer science. UPenn, number 15, you see the difference? Tim if you can’t even be smart enough to secure your shit, you need to pack it up because you’re not capable of playing this game. Leave it to us grown men, and not little boys.
Mission accomplished. I slipped out of Tim’s office and easily as I slipped in and headed back outside. I could let Tanner know I had what his boss needed. Now, all I had to do was wait on Rico.
There wasn’t a lot I could do once my mom invited GG over a Sunday cookout. She had answered my cell the other day when my mom called. She then struck up a ten-minute conversation with GG and insisted that the family would love to meet her.
I wasn’t quite ready to take GG around my parents and siblings. I hadn’t brought a girl home in quite a few years. GG had asked if my family would have an issue with her not being black. I told her they wouldn’t. My immediate family doesn’t really care about interracial relationships one way or another. The only thing my mom has said to me was never to think women who aren’t black were better for merely being non-black. Yes, I have individual preferences, I like what I like, but I don’t agree with degrading women who looked like my mother, sisters, aunts, and cousins.
GG is from a wealthy family in Brazil; her father was a prominent man in Rio. Her family is well-to-do and educated. A part of me is dreading her seeing where my family lives and the simple lives they have. I don’t believe GG is the type to look down her nose at anyone, even still I’d rather waited to take her to Oasis.
I unlocked the front door to my parent’s house and led GG to the backyard. I could smell greens and hammocks cooking on the stove, the smoke from the coals, and about twenty other aromas simultaneously coming from the kitchen and yard.
“Bash, why were you saying you didn’t like your family’s house? It’s nice. The way you described your neighborhood, you made it seem like a favela, which it is far from,” said GG, looking around the living room and dining area.
I opened the glass doors leading to the backyard. My nephew Drayvari and my niece Daisha were running around and played on the jungle gym my parents had set up for them.
Lorenzo and my dad were over on the grill; my mother was arranging the food on two outdoor foldout tables and bringing dishes over to the picnic tables.
Michelle and Usher were having a dance face-off to the music blasting from the stereo, while Cassie laughed and filmed them on her phone. “I don’t know Usher; I think Chelley got you beat!”
“Uncle Bash!” yelled Daisha as she ran over to and gave me a tight hug. She looked up at GG and blushed.
“Hey short-stuff. GG, this is my niece, Daisha.”
GG smiled, bending down. “Hi, it’s nice to meet you! You’re just as pretty as your uncle told me you were!”
Daisha giggled. “Thank you. I like your outfit,” she replied, shyly.
My mom whirled around, a grin spreading across her face. She crossed the yard and warmly embraced GG. “I finally have a face to a name. Welcome, baby. You sure are a pretty thing!” exclaimed Mom. Now, it was GG’s turn to blush.
“Thank you, Mrs. Banks. Your home is beautiful. I’ve seen pictures of you, and I’ve told Bash his mom looks like she could pass for his sister. I brought dessert, I hope that’s okay. It’s a Brazilian cake called Bolo Frapê da Tia Dorian, or Coconut Frapê Cake,” said GG.
“Hmm, it smells delicious, honey. Thank you so much. Come and meet the rest of the family. Don’t worry; it’s not a big family cookout, just our family, no cousins, aunts, uncles. We didn’t want to scare you!” laughed Mom.
“Oh no, I’m used to having a big family. Brazilians have big family parties,” replied GG. “Good, you’ll fit right in in the future then. Everyone, come and meet, Giavanna, Bash’s new girlfriend. That’s Orvel, Bash’s daddy, Cassie my oldest, Usher my youngest boy, Michelle the baby and my grandkids Dray and Daisha. That’s their daddy Lorenzo,” said Mom. Everyone had stopped what they were doing and approached GG and me.
“Welcome to our home, GG. We’re glad you could come,” said Dad.
“Thank you, Mr. Banks, it’s a pleasure to be here.”
Cassie, Lorenzo, Usher, and Michelle exchanged pleasantries with GG. She asked Mom if she could help her with anything. “No, baby, we’re good. ‘Food’s almost done, just come and sit. Bash, get the girl something to drink,” replied Mom as she ushered us to the sitting area of more foldout lawn furniture.
I realized I had been holding my breath because I wasn’t sure how my family would respond to GG nor her to them. But GG was always gracious and had a way of making people feel welcome and at ease.
I don’t think anyone was more shocked than I was when she struck up a conversation with my father about his career in construction.
How Dad could drone on about the science behind dry-walling and carpentry was beyond me. GG was genuinely interested and kept asking more questions. My father was eating the attention right up.
“It fascinates me to learn how things are built. I’m a lover of architecture. Brazil is home to some of the most beautiful structures in the world like the Real Gabinete Português de Leitura or the Theatro Municipal located in Cinelândia. Many of our famous buildings were constructed during the colonial period,” said GG.
“I just follow the architects and planners designs,” replied Dad. He was trying to appear modest.
“But you’re the one who puts everything together, that’s incredible,” said GG, pointedly. Dad looked very pleased that GG could recognize his “importance” when it came to installing drywall or hammer a nail through a two by four.
A short while later, Mom called us over to eat. Michelle was fascinated by GG’s tales of living in Brazil. Even though she left Rio when she was a kid, she often went back at least two to three times a year.
“I’ve always wanted to visit Rio, especially after watching the Olympics. Once I graduate high school, I want to go all sorts of places before I start college,” said Michelle, excitedly.
“Oh, you would love Rio! It’s the most beautiful place on earth. We can go to Ipanema, Sugar Loaf mountain and a lot of cool non-tourist spots only us locals know about,” winked GG.
The rest of the afternoon went on pretty much the same. Cassie and Lorenzo didn’t have too much to say to GG, but they’re naturally standoffish with people they’ve recently met, but they were cordial. Usher made a point to tell me how fine GG was and he needed to get like me, so he could “bag” a baddie too.
Mom and Michelle were eager to know about South America and GG was interested in Mom’s work as a community outreach worker at the Southeast Springs Youth and Family Center. She detailed some of the plans those in our neighborhood were trying to implement to protect the youth from falling into the gangs that have seen a resurgence in recent years.
As much as GG seemed to like my family, there was a part of me that still felt embarrassed by their lot. When my mom insisted I bring her again, I couldn’t deflect before GG happily accepted the invitation.
Overall, the cookout didn’t go over as badly as I’d thought it would, but that didn’t change the fact that I wasn’t in a rush to bring GG back to my old neighborhood.
I let Rico know I had what he needed, he directed me to meet with this associate, Tanner the following night in Belltown, an upscale downtown neighborhood. I suppose Rico didn’t want to get his hands dirty by accepting any device or correspondence from me himself.
I donned a black hoodie, sweats and hopped in the subway to meet up with Tanner. He was standing on Bell street just as Rico told me he would. I had spoken with Tanner in the past, not never at great lengths. He was the tech whiz at Thomas Global Strategies and would know exactly what to do with the USB device with Cypher’s program on it.
“This is great, Bash. Our partners will be very pleased,” said Tanner.
“What happens next?” I asked.
Tanner looked down at the device in his hand for a moment before glancing back up. “Watch the markets.”