northman ventures

I WAS BEING FOLLOWED, and by an American. I knew he was an American because his eyes were somehow livelier and more naïve than a European’s, yet also infused with a hint of skepticism, distrust, even a slight confusion, as if he truly did not believe in Europe, and that I also must be up to no good if I had moved to such a place and started such a life here. He was dressed casually and his dark curly hair was much longer in the back, leading me to refer to him as the “Man with the Mullet.” I would notice him milling about the corridors of the office building where I work in the Old Town, which also happens to house the offices of Northman Ventures, a major client. I assumed he represented another firm. This is in an old European city made of solid pre-war buildings and, indeed, ours used to be a Swedish textile factory. Sometimes I would see the Man with the Mullet there and he would look at me in passing as if he knew what I was doing. Unfortunately, for both of us, I had no idea what that was. This went on for several weeks, the run-ins with the Man with the Mullet. One day, when I was certain he was not around, I went by the office building to retrieve a few things. I parked in front and went up the white stone steps. A large van roared up in front and several men jumped out, led by the strange mulleted man. They charged into the building and began removing all the paperwork they could from the offices of Northman Ventures where I had a desk. “What’s this all about? Do you guys even have a warrant?” I said. They ignored me and continued to load the van with boxes. The Man with the Mullet then addressed me. “Did you illegally download music on Napster in the year 2000?” “Sure, I did. But everybody was using Napster in those days.” “Our records show that you downloaded all of De La Soul’s album Stakes Is High. And also, A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory. Do you deny this to be the case?” “I think I copied those from a friend.” “You’re in violation of US copyright law,” said the Man with the Mullet. “But so is everybody! We all did it. Everyone had Napster back in 2000.” “You will soon receive a summons and court date,” he said before getting in the van. “But this isn’t even the US! I don’t live in the US anymore!” “You can tell that to the judge,” he said. After the federal agents left, I noticed they had also taken my pants. So I was left standing there in my long gray coat holding my briefcase which, interestingly, they had not confiscated. I went to take the elevator up. I felt troubled inside, wondering if I would really be jailed for using Napster while I was in college. I got into the old-fashioned, creaking elevator and Liv came in and sat beside me. She was the little sister of one of the owners. She had just had her blonde hair cut in a fringe, and was happy to see me. “But what’s the matter with you?” she said. “You seem really worried. Why are you so melancholic?” “We were just raided by US federal copyright agents for something I did in college,” I said. “And also, I’m not wearing any pants.” “Aha,” said Liv. “Now, I see.” Liv put her warm hands under my coat and gave my thigh a squeeze.

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