Marcus was very excited about his interview with Gal Thomas, one of the industry’s top showrunners. Gal’s previous shows included Luck’s Fortune (about an upstart detective named Luck trying to solve criminal cases with a plucky female investigator) and Luck’s Fortune: New Orleans (about Luck’s son who solves increasingly outrageous cases in NOLA). He also did a show simply called Physical Therapy about PTs who fucked each other. He had won tons of awards in the 90s and early 2000s and then he’d fallen off the grid. Still Gal Thomas was legendary and Marcus needed, really needed this interview. He’d been in a few writer’s rooms but hadn’t made much of a mark; he was currently jobless and deep in student loan debt after going to UCLA for screenwriting. He’d been kicked out of his apartment in LA and now he lived with his sister in Salinas, his sister who his parents insisted had made all the “right choices.” Her massive home glistened ivory and glowed, her perfect big-cheeked toddler gleamed bright. She was married to a Kenyan guy who owned a hospital chain back in Nairobi and everybody in Marcus’s family was rich, including his father, who was a wealthy real estate agent in San Francisco, and his mother, who was an established actress. Everybody told Marcus he needed to get his shit together, so anyway, Marcus needed this. When he received the call from Gal, he was out at Safeway buying his sister’s groceries. He thought the number was his friend Ronald in LA, ready to complain to him about some shit. But it wasn’t. It was Gal. Excited about the possibility of collaboration, Gal wanted to talk to Marcus in person. The most glamorous, ego-doused sentence in Hollywood was, “Oh, yes, I know you,” and Gal hit Marcus, a nobody, with the sentence: “Marcus Warrington, I’ve definitely heard of you around town.”

So Marcus was sold.

Two weeks after the call, Marcus was sitting across the table from the lanky, small-eyed Gal. His office was stripped and sheet-white, save for the Emmy’s he’d gotten for Luck. He had a bottle of scotch on the table and he poured himself a glass. He asked Marcus if he wanted some and Marcus definitely didn’t, but he accepted a shot anyway. He carefully put the glass on the table in front of him and gulped. “Malcolm?” Gal said, looking at his name on the paper. “I’m so happy to see you. I love that name. Malcolm X is my hero. ‘You show me a capitalist, and I’ll show you a bloodsucker.’ I really felt that in my gut, you know?” He raised his fist in solidarity.

Marcus didn’t really know what to do, but his Mom would say it was bad manners to turn down a high five, so it was probably impolite to just leave a potential employer hanging, even if he wasn’t Black. Whatever. Marcus lifted his fist too. “It’s Marcus, actually,” Marcus said and winced. Should he have corrected him? But what if Gal needed his name for a follow up. Hadn’t he said he’d already heard of him? Marcus added, shakily, “But I’m named after Marcus Garvey. Also hero material …” He had no idea what he was talking about, but Gal was more preoccupied with forgetting Marcus’s name.

“Shittttt. I’m sorry about the name mix-up. The assistant must have written it down wrong. That’s embarrassing. My bad. I know who you are.”

At first Marcus was turned off by this entire situation, but Gal had successfully pulled Marcus back in after using that magical sentence plus Marcus needed this job. Really, really needed it. So who cared? Marcus shook his hands. “No way, man, it happens.” He sat a little higher in the chair, hoped Byron hadn’t fucked up his fade. It looked fine when he left the barber chair yesterday but when he woke up, there was something off, or maybe he’d just stared at his bulbous head too long. He was sitting with his legs open, but maybe he should cross one over the other; he’d read somewhere that you shouldn’t open your legs in the chair during an interview in front of another guy because it showed you were trying to out-man the dude in front of you and all that. Then he’d also read somewhere that open legs showed signs of confidence. He started raising his leg to cross over his left, when Galvin turned to take the biggest swig of scotch he’d ever seen. It was loud and distracting.

“I know, man,” Galvin said, unironically parroting Marcus and absorbing his cadences. Marcus flashed him a huge white smile, hoping that did something to settle the situation, but it didn’t. Galvin still looked dramatically bothered. “That assistant, man. That assistant. Well, anyway, thanks, man, for coming to see me,” Galvin said. He clapped his hands together. “And on short notice. A lot of guys I’m looking for are Skyping in because they’re working on other projects or couldn’t commit at all, but you just showed right up today, so that’s definitely cool, so cool.”

Marcus was realizing he probably looked like he didn’t have anything going on in his life, so he lied, “Yeah, I mean, I was in town to talk about some projects with some of my colleagues too, so you know. Had to pop over because I admire you so much.”

The compliment did nothing to Gal. Galvin reached around and looked over at Marcus’s resume which was front and center on his desk, “So it looks like you’ve been up to some cool shit. Working for The Squishies and all that. Kid’s shit, but it makes money. And your sample is so…powerful, cat.”

Marcus hadn’t been called cat in his entire life, and it sounded weird and clangy in Gal’s mouth. “You read it?” Marcus’s eyebrows flew to the top of his forehead. He tried to look calm but he was blushing; a big name like Galvin Thomas read his spec. The showrunners he usually talked to barely skimmed his work. He could call him cat in the 2020s all he wanted for that.

“I did….” Galvin said, in a way that Marcus was near one hundred percent certain meant he hadn’t read anything. But he must have read enough to invite him in. Or an intern did? That was good, right? First two pages were stunners, right?

There was a long pause and Galvin looked like he felt like he should say something, so he went on, “The voice. The voice is just…on point…And I really liked the grittiness of Chicago…”

The story was actually about living in downtown Pittsburgh, which was made more clear after the second page, but who cared. He was always too esoteric anyway, his mom said she never understood his scripts until they were over. Marcus was in this seat, that’s what mattered. Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X had fought to be here so he could be there. Something like that.

“So listen Malcom. Marcus, geez. My assistant! That bird. Anyway, my assistant was scouring the internet for the Right People for this show and she told me that you were…” He reached around and looked at it on a Post it-note. “Black and Puerto Rican. And that you grew up on the Southside of Chicago—”

“I mean I was born there. I moved when I was young…I feel closer to Pittsburgh.”

“—So you know what this show is about right? I’ve had this idea since I was a kid. It’s about these Black Latino martial artists from Chicago who all have the power of those Latino gods, what do you call them…?” He clapped his hands. “Only problem is, I know plenty of regular Black screenwriters, but I don’t really know any martial artists who are also Black and Latino and know a lick about Santeria. I normally wouldn’t worry about that but I got all this shit from Twitter because my last movie about Polynesians in Hawaii wasn’t fucking culturally sensitive enough and had too many whites on staff and the main character was a white guy, etc, etc. Which is bullshit. But now I need that authenticity. I think this thing, if it goes right, could be like prestige television and scoop up all of the awards. I mean think about it…” he pulled out his hands as if to count down, “Black. Latinos. I mean Latinxes. Santeria people, and martial arts, that shit is always going to be popular. It’s just sellable, nowadays.”

“Right, right,” Marcus said. Everything he was saying was offensive, but Marcus just ignored it. He barely remembered growing up in Chicago. His mother knew plenty about Santeria, but he didn’t practice it, and she called it deeply sacred. But he knew how to write. And he could research the shit out of anything for this job; if anything, he was good at researching. The other jobs he’d been hired for he had to write from the perspectives of Black people from some ambiguous Streets, from the perspective of a Black sex worker from the ambiguous Streets, from a rapper from the ambiguous Streets, and one time he had to write from the perspective of two aliens coded as Black from the ambiguous alien Streets, so it wasn’t like it was the first time he had to inhabit someone new. Plus, if he were on the staff, he could write a character like him. Marcus knew he could write that, he could create a genuine Black Latine experience on film. In an ensemble cast, there would be lots of different perspectives kids could connect to. Sure, the way Galvin talked rubbed Marcus the wrong way, but fuck it. He had the chair.

“I mean, so here’s the deal,” Galvin was still talking, while Marcus was preparing his pitch.

Just thinking about a character like Marcus was making him emotional. How happy he’d feel if he saw that character as a young boy on the screen. He had plenty of ideas for his young character that he was ready to show Galvin. “All this shit about being who you are, and you who aren’t. It’s not always about what you see. You think I’m white right?”

Marcus stared at him. Was this a trick question? Galvin was blonde haired, green eyed, he looked a lot like an older Jonathan Taylor Thomas. “Ummm—”

“Now, it’s cool. Lots of people don’t know this, but I’m Black. And Indigenous.”

Marcus’s eyes bugged out and he tried to put them in his head. “For real?” Stupid. Should have just said, “Wow.” So he said, “That’s. Cool.”

Galvin wasn’t fazed by Marcus’s obvious reaction. “Yeah. For real. Hold up.” Galvin ran around his desk like a little kid and tapped something on the computer. His eyes were darting all over the computer while Marcus tried to think about something to say that would make him sound “authentic” enough to get this job.

“Look,” he said and whipped the computer around proudly. It read 5% Mali, 5% Cameroon and Congo, 10% Nigeria, and 8% South Central Native American. “Scientific proof. Twenty perfect Sub-Saharan African. But I’ve always known it. My grandmother was mulatto, I mean biracial; she married this white guy and then their kid looked white and then my parents were both white looking too. So I grew up not knowing who I really was. I don’t know about the Native.”

“Shit,” Marcus said, “That’s a great idea for a story though.” To Marcus, Galvin’s genetic story seemed far more interesting than the Black Santeria martial artists thing helmed by Galvin, best known for that shitty crime show. But who was Marcus to talk, he was in his thirties and unemployed and living in his younger sister’s mansion. Once he got through the door, he’d share more ideas with Galvin. But maybe he should share them now? Or just let Galvin talk.

“I bet you’re wondering, hey this guy who did all these hits, why don’t we know he’s Black? I mean Ebony did a feature on me a long time ago when I dated Vivica Fox—did you know that? It was called White Stars Who Love Black Women. Now this was back before you saw that every day, where it was just Robert DeNiro, Bowie, and me, and there was a tiny bit about me saying that I had a grandmother who was black, but they totally just pretended that shit didn’t exist. But I mean it was the 80s. Since nobody asked, I didn’t tell, you know. And maybe that was wrong of me. But like, whatever. It was like that Mariah Carey shit, when she came out. She never said she was Black until they found out—Black Latina!—and then she was like, ‘Well, fuck yeah, I am,’ you know? So like I get that.”

Marcus just wanted to get back to the original conversation about the job but he thought interrupting him might be seen as rude.

“So tell me about your life in Chicago,” Galvin said. He leaned forward, his eyes on fire. He spread his legs open. “Tell me about how much Santeria you know. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen?”

So Marcus wasn’t there to really write, but that wasn’t surprising. He was used to being asked about his ideas and narratives from his life, so this wasn’t new, but he felt particularly strange about the whole thing. When he was a kid, he had developed an eye twitch when he felt frustrated, and his eyes started twitching then. He tried to give Galvin what he wanted. He dug into his memories with his mother’s family and talked about the Santeria, he talked about being Black in Pittsburgh (not Chicago), and other things that he thought would be enough material for his Marcus-like character; hell, plot lines for the rest of the show. He tried to suck every drop out of the most interesting parts of his life. For the culture, he promised himself, after finishing. If I get in that chair, I can do a lot of good shit. While he was talking, Galvin was writing, and there was a point when Marcus was especially getting excited and into the weeds of possible narratives, that Galvin set down the pen and just watched him, with one eyebrow raised.

“So it seems like you don’t practice Santeria or martial arts.”

“No,” he said. “But I can research. Plus, if we have an ensemble cast of characters, not everyone is going to be at the same level of proficiency with Santeria. Or martial arts. Whatever you want it to be. You can have characters who both discover themselves and their affinity with the practice.”

“Right, right,” Galvin said.

Marcus suddenly felt ill at ease. What had he said wrong? He’d given that guy more than enough to work with.

Gal leaned forward, “So what do you think…our obligation is to portray Blackness on television?”

Marcus stopped his face from saying, what the fuck, and he said instead, “That it expresses that we aren’t a fucking monolith, that we fucking code-switch, we’re fucking everything, and all over the fucking world, and we’re great and bad and real.” He shouldn’t have said fucking all those times, at all. His mother told him, no matter what, don’t say fucking and be presentable, don’t let them think you’re some nigger. He wasn’t even acting like the right nigga now. He probably shouldn’t have said monolith either. He tried again, in a way that might be more Hollywood-sellable, “It’s important that we see faces more like us in the media and make television more diverse, for the younger generation. When I grew up, I never saw faces like mine.” All of this was true, but when it limped out of his mouth, it sounded like bullshit.

Neither answer pleased Galvin. He kept looking at Marcus up and down, up and down. He came around the table and leaned against the desk. “What kind of bothers me,” he said. “Man. Is that you just remind me a lot of myself. But all the parts I hate the most. And that’s obviously not a good thing.”

“I’m sorry?” Marcus couldn’t see anything they shared in common. He’d been Black his whole life. He never had to hide it from anyone. This guy walked around like a white guy. That wasn’t Marcus’s problem: Galvin’s issues. He just wanted the job.

Galvin shrugged. “I don’t know. Anyway!” He looked over his notes and then looked at Marcus and Marcus realized that he’d probably lost the job for a variety of reasons, but one of them was that he wasn’t the kind of Black person Galvin looked for. Not like Marcus was some pantheon of wokeness. Every time he tried to be “woke” or go to the fire, there was always someone to say he wasn’t woke enough. Marcus wanted to snatch all of Galvin’s notes away, so Marcus could keep all his life stories to himself, just in case he wanted to make a movie and Galvin didn’t write a show about his life he had no control over.

“Yo, man, it’s tight that we’re the same, you know, same skin on skin,” Marcus tried again, near desperately. He didn’t want this guy to run off with all the stuff he’d talked about.

Galvin said, “Yeah.”

This was, again, not working and embarrassing. The opportunity to get out of his sister’s house and actually write something new, was slipping away.

“I think your cultural background is pretty interesting,” Marcus offered, honestly. “I think you have a story to tell.”

Galvin lit up, then his sun dimmed down. “But not as good as the show you’re interviewing for?” Bad answer. “No way, no way. When I was a kid, I loved anime…I’m wondering if we could add those influences….” he went on. More ideas were coming. “So what I’m thinking for this show is—”

“It’s not like anime,” Galvin said curtly. “It’s not a cartoon.” Still irritated, he looked at Marcus. “The idea is plainly you take the Latino gods…”

“The Orishas—”

“—And give them samurai swords.”

“Oh, word, that’s fire,” Marcus gave up. It wasn’t fire, but maybe someone would like it.

Galvin smiled tightly and wrote some more

things down. Galvin went back to his desk and finally sat in his chair. He looked over his notes and wrote something at the top.

Marcus glimpsed “ORISHAS. Fire.” Marcus sighed.

Galvin transitioned back into his most pleasing self. “Do you have anything else you’d like to ask me? I mean, look, I’ll be honest. For real. I don’t really need you to write anything. I just need ideas and for you to kind of, just. Be there. And if we come under fire, I can say we have a Black Latino staff. So you don’t really have to do any writing, you’re just there with me to shoot the shot. Like any writer’s room.”

And be in the photoshoot. But that wasn’t always the practice of any writers’ room. Marcus had degrees in this shit, he’d written for projects before depression hit him and he knew how to write. He knew he could. Marcus would just be a Black Latino face with the requisite Blackness for his project. Marcus looked around Gal’s office and saw the African statues and the picture of him awkwardly flexing with Ice Cube in a photo. Then he became angry. Marcus suddenly thought about the full staff of Black faces Galvin would hire and have them happily giving up their stories so Galvin would be called a genius, this guy who said all this bullshit behind the scenes would get credit as he scoured their lives for interesting stories, so this guy could get a new house. Marcus felt used, regardless of whether or not this guy was technically Black or not. He’d made himself into a coon for a fucking short-lived job.

“I got an idea for a movie,” Marcus said. “I’ve never told anyone. It’s real top-secret. It’s called Black Planet.”

“I have ten minutes left,” Galvin said. “So it was…what?” He took the notebook back out.

Marcus watched him fall into his trap.

He peered up, “Black what?”

“It’s called Black Planet,” Marcus riffed, keeping his fury contained. “It’s nothing special. It’s about a fucking Black Planet.”


“What’s your pitch?”

“There isn’t one. It’s just a fucking Black Planet. All the Black people live there and everyone’s happy, because they’re themselves in all of their variegated glory and shittiness, and nobody is fucking with them. Everyone Black is invited no matter how little or how Black you are. The whole idea is nobody is doing stupid shit and nobody is shucking and jiving. There is no plot; it’s just Black people living their lives with other Black people on their own planet.”

“Kind of tribally-focused, though. Sometimes I think we’re all too…tribal…nowadays. It’s what I can’t stand about Black Twitter. That you have to separate one part of Twitter from the next. You know this op-ed by David Brooks had me thinking—”

“That’s the point of my movie. That there is no point. Stop thinking about it. Don’t insert social commentary.”

“About what?”

“Just stop thinking. Think about that, man,” Marcus said, just making up shit at this point. “You know, fuck it. Everyone’s invited. As long as they don’t try to colonize or gentrify this made-up planet. Maybe it should be called Planet Where Everyone’s Not a Fucking Dickbag.”

“Hm,” Galvin kept writing, his mouth wide.

Is this nigga for real? Marcus thought.

“I mean, you’re a professional screenwriter. You don’t have a narrative or characters or plot for the movie? I’m talking about Black Planet.”

Now he was a writer. “Nah. It’s just a Black Planet. Think about it.”

“Hm.” Galvin squeezed his chin and walked the length of the floor. “You know, yes. Right. You know, I love it. I’m thinking Black Panther, but in space. African costumes, Afro-Futurism. Lupita is overbooked but wouldn’t she be great? Or what’s the name of that Black woman from True Blood? I asked her out, but I was drunk and whatever, but she’d be good. The queen of the planet, that’s super fucking feminist. This movie would be like fuck the Man, but also, let’s examine OURSELVES…like maybe we ARE the Man…”

Galvin was actually trying to make a movie now. Marcus said, “Nah, nigga, it’s what I said. It’s just a Black fucking Planet. That’s the movie. Just film that shit for two hours, Black people on a planet, happily living their lives and now you’re done.” Marcus started to get up. He was entertaining himself, he felt like Richard Pryor on steroids. “Or you can try this one: the other one is called Nigga, You Black. It’s just about fucking KKK members finding out that they’re secretly Black people from DNA tests. They come out there all “nigger this and nigger that,” and then the host—I’m thinking Dave Chapelle—says ‘All right, whites, settle down. Let’s check the DNA.’ And then the screen lights up and it says 25% …Nigga, you black! Then the white guy is like noooooo. It’s like Maury but with Race. The whole show is really built around Dave Chapelle-Maury-guy saying, ‘Nigga, you black!’ White teenage kids will love saying, ‘nigga, you black!’”

Galvin took another swig of scotch, narrowed his eyes and he stared at Marcus. “The last one is crass unless it’s a satire or farce, which I’m not fond of. If I wrote Black Planet, though. Wow. Transgressive. Subversive. I guess I’d have to get a real Black writer so I wouldn’t look like the ‘white-passing colonizer’ or whatever.”

Marcus got up, disgusted. “I’m out?”

“Have a nice day, Malcolm.”

“You too, man.” Marcus left, feeling pretty proud of himself for handling that well and showing Galvin what was what.

Outside the studio, thinking about how to catch the bus, Marcus looked up. He felt gross selling all of his family stories for that job. He felt disgusted. He was half-happy he wouldn’t be in that picture on Instagram with all the smiling Black faces, talking about the show they were on and how they’d made it, and all of the Jet covers showing the Black writers in their regal Black glory, and he was jealous that he wouldn’t be a part of it too or have the mini-Marcus character he would have cried to see on television. When he was a kid, he’d read everything by Malcolm X and Garvey, he’d dreamed of being liberated. But he didn’t really know what any of that meant, and when his parents told him he needed to be successful, he tried to be. But here he was.

Marcus didn’t have to worry about all that because Gal’s show didn’t get picked up by the network, it was apparently too niche. But Black Planet, Marcus’s farcical in-the-moment idea to Galvin, was picked up by a major studio. The best and brightest stars were in it, and Marcus wanted to meet them and say he was the one who came up with Black Planet.

Marcus still had ideas about how he’d make Black Planet, even if he’d just made up the idea to spite Galvin, now he wanted it back.

Anyway. Marcus ended up getting a good job months later writing about a white family, and he wrote a Black character, who was the mailman, and even got to mark up a few lines, and stop him from saying, “Bling, bling” when he got a new watch, so there was some progress. He got out of his sister’s house and his mother was happy finally and he lived in an apartment in LA and found a Puerto Rican girlfriend named Thalia who was the only person who believed his Black Planet idea was really his, but then one day over dinner she was like, “Wait, isn’t that from Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet? It can’t be your idea. Plus, if you didn’t write the script yourself, is anything anyone’s idea? It’s all about who wrote it,” and he almost broke up with her, but then he realized he was still kind of poor and the show about the white family was ending soon and he didn’t want to be alone, so he was kind to her and everything between them smoothed out. After that conversation with Thalia though, he felt kind of crazy, like maybe he did get the idea from Public Enemy, but it was his at that time, kind of. He was still pissed about it all, but at least he had a great gig where he was doing the good work—saving that one Black mailman from looking stupid.

At an industry party, years later, after Marcus was a working screenwriter on Family Rules, American SongStar and GlitterGirl, an American bastardization of a Japanese senshi anime, he saw Galvin.

Galvin, who was walking around in cornrows, ran into Marcus, who now had cut off his Afro and was wearing a suit. Guilt flashed across Galvin’s face. Galvin saw Marcus and started to bolt, then he changed his mind and drifted over to him. “Hey, Malcolm! Malcolm, Malcolm. The wunderkind! Wow, man. Good to see you!”

“Yeah, man. Hi.”

“What. Is. Going on?” Galvin grinned with every tooth he had. “I remember. You.”

Black Planet is doing good,” Marcus said fiercely. “Subversive. Transgressive. The nominations, glad Bradley got that win. And not the designers, or Chuck who was a fabulous writer. Good thing you got Bradley.”

“Right. Bradley is always great no matter what. It was rigged for all of us,” Galvin said meaning Black people. Then he looked away from him, waving at a star. “White supremacy is a bitch. Well, good to see you. I remember you from years back, huh. So young and fresh to death. Looks like our show didn’t get picked up.”

“I mean, yeah, that was five years ago. But yeah, sad.”

“—So that’s why we didn’t call you.”

Marcus wasn’t stupid enough to know that wasn’t how it worked but so what. Marcus shrugged. “Okay.”

“So—” Galvin said, “You’re working?”

“Yeah. Some small stuff. Nothing too big.”

“Like what?”

Family Rules. Glittergirl. American Songstar. All that.”

“On what?”

“TLC. Spike.”

“Great,” He said, pityingly, “Big time! Well, good for you, Malcolm!” Galvin’s eyes were very wide like Marcus was somebody he wanted to disappear immediately.

“Yeah, man, you too. Now you’re all blockbuster movies now.”

“I wish! You’re too kind. But I always wanted to do movies that matter, man. Black Planet is based on—”


“Right. You’ve read the interviews. Twitter was a little unfair when it came out, to me in particular being the director, but I’m glad they came around.”

Marcus remembered when they “came around.” Galvin had started dating a Black woman and he put her up on Instagram, then he showed his online and wrote an op-ed called “How I Connected with My Roots and Found Black Love.” But who was Marcus to judge?

Galvin gripped his wine. “I’ve always wanted to write Black Planet,” Galvin said, his eyes red.

“Sure, sure.”

“Marcus loves Twitter,” Marcus’s girlfriend offered in response to Galvin. She pressed, “He’s on there all the time. Tweeting about social justice and the right thing to do.” That wasn’t really true, but after that interview, Marcus had developed a penchant for calling out shit, saying things like Burn Hollywood, Burn, and Let’s Make Our Own Movies, which he now realized were actually Public Enemy verses too. He was retweeted several times by Black Screenwriting unions at least. Unemployment did that for a man, made him more militant, or perhaps faux militant since Marcus still did everything behind a screen. But after he got his permanent job, that quick militancy died down and his old account was mostly defunct. Anyways, he appreciated his girlfriend’s efforts.

“Twitter! That shit. I still hate that. It’s bullshit. Fullll caca,” Galvin said. He fistbumped with Marcus and Marcus bumped him so hard Galvin fell back a step into the Black model behind him who was so hot she made Marcus exhausted inside.

“See you, wunderkind. Or should I say—full grown writer!” Galvin said and pranced off.

Ten days later, Marcus received 100,000 dollars in the mail from Gal, which he said was a pre-emptive wedding gift for him and his girlfriend, but Marcus knew better. Marcus thought about turning it down out of pride, but it was a lot of money and his wedding was going to be expensive because Thalia liked beautiful things, so he took it. It became a Thing cashing it because it was addressed to Malcolm and the check was taken care of by Galvin’s new assistant who had also gotten his name wrong (his last name was Warrington but the assistant wrote Washington). He thought about not taking the check at all, but then he thought maybe he’d give it back to the Culture. He thought about writing a fantastic op-ed about the inner workings of Hollywood and the patriarchy, but the whole draft turned out too angry and centered the white gaze. So instead he took all of Galvin’s money, and then he bought a boat and rode around it all week in Arizona with his girlfriend, who took off her top and suntanned on the roof and that was indeed fire.

As he sailed around Lake Havasu, he thought about all the slaves who’d jumped in the ocean and killed themselves to avoid being taken to America, and he realized he wasn’t in the ocean, he was in a fucking lake, so he thought about how he’d used Galvin’s money for the Culture, or rather just for himself and also fuck Gal and Black Planet. As he looked at his half-naked girlfriend, he thought about his new ideas and, someday, what he’d do with his huge, huge mind and he thought about all the progress he and Gal had made.