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Do you know how loud you have to bang on a thick maple door for it to be audible through the foyer, down the hall, past the entertaining room, and onto a patio flush with uptempo house beats? You have to hit it with a steel battering ram, swung by at least four strong people, for any sound at all to penetrate that deep into a soirée.

Which is exactly what the George Wilson Boys did, and had been doing for months, up and down the California coast, to announce the chaos they brought with them everywhere they went.

On this night, Gerard and Alexa Staunton, mid hobnob, thought they heard something but couldn’t decide if it was someone at the door, extra bass from the DJ set, or perhaps the waterfall feature in the pool was acting up again.

Gerard agreed to go check the door, heeding the warning from his wife, that it could be trouble.

“If I can’t handle it myself, I’ll have security send them on their way!” Gerard snapped back.

The Stauntons, like many of their neighbors, were well read on the increasing trend of burglaries and violence throughout the state, targeting the state’s burgeoning nouveau riche.

The George Wilson Boys were a network of satellite gangs of down-on-their-luck mainstreeters.

They were perpetually angry about being left behind by the New Roaring Twenties, who were taking a more hands-on approach to evening the playing field.

Behind the gates and heavy maple doors and the security and the Boys’ frustrations were The New Gatsby’s—as the media had dubbed them—who were the economic winners in the increasingly widening wealth gap after 2020’s tumultuous year. While unemployment hit decades-long highs and the coronavirus tested many folks’ financial limitations, The New Gatsbys preyed on Wall Street gains and tax cuts, fortifying their worth, and then their homes.

As he drew near to the reinforced double entry doors, a sockless Gerard—having ambled through the entertaining room, down the hall, through the foyer, in his couture house shoes—flicked a button.

Somewhere, an alert notified his on-duty security staff that their attention was needed.

Before peering out the peephole, a fleeting worry passed through Gerard’s head. He hoped the party could go on.

The Stauntons were throwing an early retirement celebration and their upcoming trip around the world, thanks to some well-placed bets in the medical fields and their Amazon bonuses and pensions. Having met at a corporate retreat in the early aughts, the couple’s Amazon coffers runneth over doubly. Seventy guests sipped and mingled along the terrazzo patio, and if even half of them ended up in the pool later in the night, Gerard knew the party would be a smash.

A SMASH on the door again interrupted the pool musings and brought Gerard back to the present, back to the tremendous double doors, and now backing slowly away as two capable guards hurried to take stock of what was on the other side.

“Hey Gatsby,” jeered a voice from the outside, “you know how this ends for you, right? If you can get into the pool now, that’ll save us a step.”

“Get out of here and we won’t call the police,” shot back one of the guards, hoping a simple de-escalation would be enough. He had seen the video monitors, and read about the recent ambushes, and knew that the behemoth doors were only a temporary defense.

“How about this?” the jeering voice replied. “You open the doors for us and we leave you and any of the other hired help unharmed. We don’t want you anyways. We’re here to collect what has been stolen off the backs of hardworking people like you and us. If we don’t have to break down these doors, we’ll have a lot more energy to be discerning, you know, once we get inside.”

Gerard listened to it all, knowing that even though he had all of the money in the situation, he now had very little of the power. Standing alone in a new terrifying silence, he ran for it, figuring he had a better chance grabbing Alexa and getting out onto the yacht, than he did bargaining with his security team. He had lots of insurance anyways.

Josh Bard

Josh Bard is a guy. A sports guy, an ideas guy, a wise guy, a funny guy, a Boston guy, and sometimes THAT guy. Never been a Guy Fieri guy, though.

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