Mallory: It turns out that all hope is not lost. Except maybe for us. Ben and I are coming to you from outside the Queens County courthouse and, no, grandma, we’re not getting married. We would have invited you so you could say you already agreed to go to a neighbor’s wedding. Just like for my first communion. It was the same ceremony. You were just sitting in a different pew, cheering for another girl. The priest asked you to quiet down four times. You didn’t need the maracas and confetti when she ate the wafer.
Ben: I hope she’s enjoying her new trailer in Florida.
Mallory: Mom said an alligator ate two of the wheels off and stole a frozen Di Giorno pizza.
Ben: I didn’t know alligators could open a chest freezer.
Mallory: I didn’t know they fled on bicycles either.
Anyway, the vote happened. We voted. Ben and I used the same booth and someone got mad at us, and apparently election booths aren’t also a bathroom, as for some reason we both previously thought.
It turns out, everyone got the murders out of their systems and they don’t really care about the assasination industry. I always knew it was us against the world.
The legislation still leaves the door open to put legal murder on the ballot every 3 years, which is going to be very bad for business and worse for serious but short-term grudges.
Apparently the phrasing, “should we have state-regulated assasination?” was very clear this time. This was very different from November’s Prop 379-B: Should New York State Entity not not not allow for state-regulated control of human liquidation subsidiaries not maybe?
Ben: Last time, I saw ads telling me to vote a bunch of different ways: Some said vote yes to stop legal murders, another said vote no to stop legal murder, and others said vote and we’ll murder you. Some of them just told me to put the dot in the middle.
Linguists and grammarians are still having arguments about that sentence. Someone’s writing their dissertation on it
Mallory: I just wrote in “Yes, murder.” with an exclamation point. At the time I was really sure one of my roommates was using my razor.
But, this is all just distraction, focusing on the very recent past.
Ben: Tell them about the very recent present.
Mallory: Here’s the problem: Ben never got us the LLC . I guess there weren’t any at the dollar store for your mom to steal.
Ben: The line was really long at the courthouse and there were no voting booths to pee in.
Mallory: We were never incorporated either. Grandma said “maybe for Christmas.” She said that about frozen pizza, and apparently she had one all along.
Maybe you’ve seen us in the news. Murderopolis--and basically every other company---are kind of using us as a sacrifice. What did we expect from a bunch of soulless murderers? Just to be clear, we still think we were the soulful kind.
Ben: We have soul. We even see souls. Right, Cordelia?
Mallory: She’s here to watch my downfall. What did I tell you?
Ben: Why can’t she be here to support me?
Mallory: We were the flaw in the legislation. They were good murderers, the big-box companies. They did it right. They checked the boxes. They didn’t shred their files with a pizza cutter. They didn’t try to murder people with telepathy in the knife section at JC Penny.
Ben: I eventually gave up and threw a few knives.
Mallory: He clipped a few people, but not the one he was supposed to kill.
Ben: Not bad for a guy who has only ever had knives thrown AT him.
Mallory: Apparently the big murder companies saw this vote coming, and that’s why they let us participate in the murder games and also pay the entry fee with cheez-its. Which we still owe them and our ability to pay this debt will factor into this hearing.
After Kill Witch’s viral video, our other records got out, and people started listening to these recordings I made on my phone. Apparently they don’t make us look great. A bunch of them are just me and Ben arguing over what kind of cheese to put on toast.
Ben: Hashtag team Lumburger
Mallory: Because your basement doesn’t smell bad enough
Actually, 6 of the recordings are just butt dials. No one told us this because they thought we were making fun of the killing industry and its regulations. They thought Ben’s marketing emails were a joke.
Ben: I should have known when people were like, “good one,” and, “what a great lampoon of the killing industry and its regulations.”
Mallory: Apparently, based on our records it’s extremely obvious that we did not fully read the legislation, safety protocol, or really anything past the title of a pamphlet, which is called So, Murder Is Legal, Now What? Half the people we took commissions from were overseas shell corporations, a third were dogs with instagram accounts, and one was an international supervillain, which is apparently a no-no.
Kill Witch and Crystal Murderer both tried to flee to Canada, and then realized they were going the wrong way. They ended up in Florida, a state which has weird protections for people who maybe legally murdered someone?
So, here we are. About to face supposed justice. About to listen to all the things I did wrong, just like every time I tried to play Lite Brite when I was four.
Maybe it’s my conscience, or maybe it’s the massive paper trail that’s going to reveal the truth no matter what, or maybe it’s the possibility of a shorter sentence. Should I own it? Is it feminist to own your mistakes?
Susan B Anthony isn’t apologizing for corsets or confusing dollar coins. Marilyn Monroe isn’t apologizing for subway grates blowing ladies’ dresses up and up, or for unrealistic face mole standards. Jane Austen isn’t out here denouncing the rom-com or the bro film. She didn’t even apologize for how long Mansfield Park is!
Ben: They say they’re sorry. For all of it.
Mallory: What? OK, Fine, we got a little out of hand. We took jobs no one else took because we were trying to do some good in the world. Do some good for ourselves, too. There was some self-interest.
Someone should have stopped us. I mean, we were right out there, on rideshare apps and stabbing people in broad daylight with crystals and drano. It’s not my fault that we only got 3 views on youtube and two of them were my brother trying to explain to mom that he wasn’t the most criminal sibling.
At least Ben and I will go to jail together
Ben: No. No we won’t.
Mallory: Fine. Ben was hired by the city as an in-between for ghosts wanting to sue to end legal murder. I think they’re going to give him amnesty since he’s suffered, and continues to suffer by being himself.
I said that I suffered, too. I still have Uncle Gerald. How is there justice for me but not for uncle Gerald?
[starting to break down] MIchelle Obama condemned us on national TV like we were obese elementary school kids.
I’m sorry. It's almost time for us to go in. I think I’m just going through guilt and bargaining, all those stages.
Ben: Ah, adolescence.
Mallory: [deep breath] Ben, will you walk in with me?
Ben: We’ll I’m not going to wait out here and then walk in after you.
Ben: Cordelia’s between us.
Mallory: Of course she is.
Kill Witch: In. NOW.
Crystal Murderer: Get IN.
Mallory: I, well
Kill Witch: This is Queens Boulevard. Hurry up!
Mallory: Fine, but if anyone asks, we were kidnapped.
[car door closing] [car screeching]
Mallory: [whispering] It’s Kill Witch and Crystal Murderer in a Hyundai Sonata. Crystals are taped everywhere to the inside and outside of the car, like it has a shiny bubonic plague. Ben has decided to take his chances with us.
Ben: I’ve never made my own decisions. If I don’t have a woman to tell me what to do, I just sit on the floor and cry.
Crystal: It wasn’t right what they were going to do to you. That trial was going to be a koala court.
Mallory: You mean a kangaroo court?
Crystal: No, they were pulling their jury from the zip code that contains only the Bronx Zoo.
Kill Witch: I’m so glad we got there in time.
Mallory: Thanks. You really brought out the cavalry. I’m touched. Crystal Murderer, what do these crystals do? I will listen to any and all of your explanations.
Crystal Murderer: You can call me Jamie.
Mallory: But your name is Rebecca.
Crystal: The crystals repel those speed radars and they block our license plate. The blue ones make cops fall off their motorcycles. If you hit them right. Kill Witch is operating the Crystal Catapult. I’m going to make millions off of it.
Mallory: OK, that is a crossbow with crystals taped to the arrows. We don’t do this anymore. We’re not allowed to do this anymore.
Ben: We never were.
Kill Witch: I always wanted to live in a world like Mad Max.
Ben: Is that the message you’re supposed to get out of those movies?
Kill Witch: I hate showering and I actually kind of love violence. It’s been a journey for me.
Mallory: Speaking of journeys, where are we heading?
Ben: Are we going to hole up on that part of the highway that’s technically Connecticut until they extradite us?
Kill Witch: We’re going to go stay with my Canadian coven. They said once that they’d never go out for poutine without me. Now I can enforce that.
Crystal Murderer: No way! We’re going back to Florida. We can have a life there.
Mallory: Well, this expressway goes to Long Island, and once you’re out there you’re kind of locked in. Just ask the Long Island Serial Killer.
Kill Witch:Aah!, turn around!
Mallory: You can’t just do that! [tires screeching, honking] OK, I guess you can.
Ben: Wait, we forgot Cordelia! We have to go back.
Mallory: She’ll catch up!
Crystal: Did you guys know you could smoke crystals? They have so much of it in Florida!
Kill Witch: Now that you’re not my employer anymore, I have to tell you something.
Mallory: Oh, boy. Getting flashbacks to every teacher I’ve ever had after. I should have had “You’re never going to make anything of yourself” embroidered on one of those round thingies.
Kill Witch: Mallory, I don’t care what all my spiritual advisors say, I have feelings for you. That time I bought all those lint rollers, that soup that was mostly sand and extra-strength rubbing vodka, that was just because I was nervous, and also my personality.
Mallory: Kill Witch, Kerry--
Kill Witch: Call me Sherry. We’re on the lamb. It’s my Thunderdome name.
Mallory: Kerry, um, Sherry. I’m so flattered, but I don’t feel the same way.
Kill Witch: I thought you were a lesbian.
Mallory: No, you were right about that.
Kill Witch I see [fingers drumming]
Mallory: Well. This is going to be an awkward 15 hours, if we make it. If I make it. And I’m not looking forward to seeing Grandma. Is it possible to go to Florida and not see your grandma? As always, It’s been an honor and a pleasure! Until next time, whenever that is!
Ben: [shouting] Cordeliaaaaaaa
Assassinly - because, oh I don’t know. Does it matter anymore?
Friends, there is no easy way to say this, so let’s get it over with. Assassin.ly ink, and that’s “ink” like squid, because no lawyer would agree to incorporate us, is now a subsidiary of Murderopolis. I come to you from the mostly deserted basement of Murderopolis’s midtown office. Which is where I work now.
They’ve liquidated most of our assets and fired most of our liabilities--Crystal and Kill Witch--but I can’t say they’ve been unkind to us. They gave us murderopolis t-shirts in the sizes they had left and custom glass water bottles--who buys a glass water bottle? People who don’t fly into rages and throw water bottles at random cars on the street, I guess. They even sent an intern to the grocery store to buy Ben flowers after his mom, well, you know.
Someone’s been auditing Assassin.ly's files, including our voice logs. I don’t know the whole story, but they didn’t like the fact that we kept all the paperwork in a Trader Joe’s shopping bag. Apparently that wasn’t secure enough, even after we put everything under Ben’s bed. I tried to explain that no one would ever go there. I promise your files were protected. I risked my life every time I reached under the rusty, barnacled metal frame. It was like the 12 plagues. Every time my arm came out coated in something different: roaches, moldy chocolate cake, blood or maybe liquid rust, we don’t know, baby gerbils with razor-sharp claws. They all have good homes now. In soup. One time I thought I was fine afterward but it turned out I had syphilis.
Ben: That might have been a preexisting condition. Cordelia says it’s more common than you’d think, not that she had it. She just spent some time at our local library.
Mallory: I think we can get Murderopolis to accept legal liability for all these teeny tiny technical violations.
Ben: Unlike your parents, when you brought asbestos installation to school and threw it up in the air like confetti.
Mallory: I wanted someone to acknowledge my 8th birthday.
How did the Muder Games end? If you were part of the 93% of people who turned their TVs off after part 1, you might be wondering this. We kept going. Remember, the games’ tagline is the only televised event that isn’t canceled when someone dies.
Ben’s mom wasn’t the only person who was murdered. Other notable casualties included the office smelly person, and various kiosk owners at the local mall. The world is better off without mall kiosks. No one has ever not regretted their custom candy cane and $75 hair straightener.
We pushed through, but Ben and I were understandably a little distracted. The Second Half was called Unsung Heros: Administrative Professionals and People Managers of Murder. Viewership dropped by 93%. The events involved scheduling, matching skills to jobs, making coffee, a quiz show about one specific legal document, and a mini crossword puzzle. They chose to televise each of our crossword struggles individually. If you’re wondering, that’s like watching an episode of jeopardy where all the contestants get everything wrong for the 4th time in a row. Someone was screaming Ben’s name so hard at her kitchen TV that she was taken to the hospital with a throat rupture. That’s the only time anyone has ever screamed Ben’s name.
Ben: Are you really mocking the bereft?
Mallory: Yup. The video of Kill Witch dumping Drano all over a senior center for basically no reason has gone viral. In the words of the event’s judges, while we do award points for creativity, we do not condone the wanton disregard for the safety of our elders. They also said we were “staining the profession.” And we are murderers, so…
Ben: The second oldest profession
Mallory: The Eastern serial killer alliance will not add me to their union. They turned my application down months ago and it’s unrelated, but, still.
The video of Crystal ignoring her phone and swerving across 4 lanes to mow down Ben’s mom has gone even more viral. News stations are saying that assassins are out of control on all fronts. I think we’re all still coping with the fact that accidents can happen when you ignore your phone, too. Also, though Crystal’s murder was technically legal and received a 7.5 rating out of 10, the street in Astoria was, through a highway-related technicality, legally in Long Island and one lane is actually part of Connecticut. She broke 14 laws and is wanted for questioning. Her whereabouts are probably unknown and she definitely won’t pick up her phone. I think she’s gone to do what she’s always wanted--live amongst the crystals.
Murderopolis let Crystal and Kill Witch go. They probably wanted to get rid of anyone who was loyal to me, but I think Crystal and Kill were only loyal to the occult and wasting people’s time. And maybe Grey's anatomy, which was an interest they both shared that made me feel excluded.
I realize in retrospect--and probably knew at the moment, because I need to learn to trust my Boss Gal intuition--that they were terrible hires and massive liabilities. They weren’t even good company. Crystal would just talk about how she used crystals to cook her eggs, and she didn’t even need a gas hookup to her stove. And how she made crystal-infused soy eggs. Some of the eggs had jagged crystals at the center.
Anyway, due to circumstances, but maybe probably mostly due to a somewhat rude company culture, very different from the warm welcoming culture at Assassin.ly, Murderopolis is making me undergo what they call extensive common sense re-training. I’m the only person in the classroom for hours and hours, but I’m sure everyone had to do it. They’re actually making me listen to my own recordings and explaining exactly what I did wrong. I’m going to be honest, it feels a little condescending at times. Though they assure me they just want to be clear and give me the best foundation possible.
Ben: That’s what your mom says when she describes what’s wrong with your life and body.
Mallory: They’re also providing we with extensive notes on my character, opinions, and appearance. They call it a “performance improvement plan.” I guess it’s nice that they want me to improve.
Legally, they’re allowed to require whatever they want for me to stay employed. Sometimes people come by and ask me rhetorical questions and I just answer because I think they’re testing me. No, I’m not really that stupid; yes I know how to close the fridge; yes, I had part of a gallon bucket of butterscotch pudding for breakfast it was delicious; No I was not raised by an alcoholic Irish Setter, I was raised by an alcoholic pair of heterosexual humans.
Ben is dealing with his mom’s affairs and it turns out she was not using that cupcake cash to pay the mortgage. She wasn’t even buying him capers, and she definitely wasn’t paying for anything at Astoria Dollar.
Ben: I always knew mom didn’t like paying for things. She quit her job as CFO of Trader Joe’s payphone division so she wouldn’t have to pay dad alimony.
She stole so much brillo.
She used so much brillo. [voice breaking] She used it to clean the carpet.
Mallory: You’re going to have a really tough time selling that house..
Ben: [voice still breaking] She’d just soap up the carpet. Just sud it up until the soap dripped through the floor and onto my bed. The floorboards are so rotted now.
Anything that I do inherit after paying all the bills is going straight to Astoria Dollar 2. I can’t imagine that will amount to more than $50, but it’s the thought that counts.
Mallory: Yeah, that’s what your bankruptcy attorney said.
So, how did we fare in this merger? I do have a corner office, by which I mean a slightly smaller cubicle in the back by the men’s room. Easy access to a basement window--just like Ben’s basement--and shade from a plant that looks like it died years ago. Strange, because the company has only been operating for a few months. The roots grew through the pot and into the floor where, ideally, my chair would go, so I’m stretching and twisting my back around it to reach my computer, like a garden snake doing data entry. This is better than yoga, and I hear people pay upwards of twenty bucks for that.
They’re back. I can hear them through the basement window. People with no jobs come to Murderopolis almost every day to protest legal murder. They scream at us when we enter the building in the morning, all the things my mom used to say to me, and when we leave. They have signs like Meat is Murder and Murder is Murder, too and What is to prevent another Assassinly from happening? We’re sort of famous, I guess. Some of them bought the merch that Ben and I put together. Apparently it was so aggressive it’s ironic. But they can’t get too close or hurt us.
Ben: Someone dumped paint on me this morning.
Mallory: I think that was because you were wearing fur.
Ben: I wasn’t even wearing a shirt! I didn’t want to sweat into my mom’s best coat. Look, the paint dried and now it’s my shirt.
Mallory; Oh, wow. That’s...maybe you should go to a car wash or something.
I think we’ve mostly learned to deal with them. I wonder how other people feel when they say stuff their mom used to say to them, like I love you but I don’t like you, You’re making the world a worse place, or Leave the bathroom I’m doing coke / snorting candy / I’m about to use cocaine.
I didn’t actually get any money in the merger. Murderopolis was nice and got grandma some of her wizard of oz props back. Not the condo money or the timeshare money, but mom and dad are taking her down to a trailer in Florida on a land that’s legally swamp, so she doesn’t have to pay that much in taxes. They also gave us a coupon for a free assasination.
What DID I get? A job scheduling and responding to customer complaints. Ben and I can get a studio together, and maybe a cat will finally stick around because I’m living with Ben.
I know what you’re wondering. What kind of customer complaints does murderopolis get?
So far today we have, The murder is done too well and I can’t tell if she disappeared. I said I’d get back to them. Do I still owe you money if grandma died of cancer. Do you put together IKEA shelves? We do. We are actually certified IKEA shelf assemblists, or [TOFTERYDS/ RAGRUND/SILVERAN] as they say in Sweden. Do you accept hits on pets? No, we do not. However, we may assassinate the next person who asks that question.
Ben is working in the mailroom. Ben, do you want to talk about it?
Ben: Well, I wasn’t able to take bereavement leave. There’s a state policy for assassinations that we just carry on and pretend it didn’t happen, which means no time off. So I’ve been working for the past 10 days straight because murder doesn’t take a vacation. That’s what my new boss Valerie says.
Mallory: So, he’s just been crying behind his desk in the office stockroom in between helping people find paperclips.
Ben: Why can’t Chrissy take more than one at a time?! And they’re in the same place every time. Also the FedEx schedule is posted--Sorry, sorry, Cordelia and I are trying to cope together.
I’m also doing inventory for guns and other miscellaneous weapons. Not grenades because those have too much potential for collateral, but stuff like crowbars, larger, rustier kitchen knives, natural poisons, uh, because we do all natural murder sometimes and other people really like Hamlet. Oh, we have those things that people put on either end of corn on the cob so their hands don’t get messy. Those are more popular than you’d think.
I’m basically helping people sign things out and figure out what they need for missions. This is the first job I’ve ever had to leave my house for and I would say it’s fulfilling but was also triggering when someone checked out a Honda Civic because she wanted to mow someone down on her way to the Hamptons for the weekend.
One of the accountants tried to sign out an assault weapon and a machete last night. I told him you only get one, pal!
It’s not BYO-weapons here, but some people do. There’s a mad scientist on the 4th floor. He’s incredible.
Mallory: he is developing weapons in his cubicle and he has caused a lot of people to go to the hospital, especially with the airborne ones. That’s why I'm a big fan of a work from home policy. That and the fact that my diabetes and depression makes it impossible for me to wake up before 10 AM.
And, you know, what if you live on the Lower East Side and you have an assasination 2 blocks away at 11 AM? They’re going to make you come up to midtown? Really? Anyway, I’m on probation indefinitely, so I can’t work from home. But, looking out for others. I’m a natural leader.
By the way, Ben, have you seen her today?
Ben: I haven’t seen her since she crossed over. Maybe she’s too embarrassed of all that stuff she stole that she could definitely afford. Cordelia has been looking for her. Well, I think she’s going to snort ghost cocaine, but maybe she’s also looking.
Mallory: What do you say to your critics who say you don’t have a right to be sad because you can theoretically see your mom as a ghost?
Ben: [angry] Who says that? Did you?
Mallory: Not out loud.
Ben: Grief is grief the way that love is love. Brene Brown said that. Just because someone is different doesn’t mean they have the right to be any less sad. Maybe they found out that their mom was dealing in cryptocurrency and had a brillo addiction. Maybe she was replacing their capers with stolen frozen peas. Maybe she’s not the person they thought she was. You don’t have a right to say what’s worthy of grief.
Mallory: You may wonder why I’m still talking to all of you? Other than the fact that I’ve grown accustomed to the attention. I’m legally obligated to close the loop on Assassinly. I also wanted to keep this line of communication open in c(whispering) in case something happens. If go missing, one of you might know. Because my mom will think I just want attention from the cops and for her to worry about me. Ben would just keep on living. He just lives in the basement, talking to ghosts, not knowing the difference between day and night.
Ben: I’m also subsumed by grief.
where’s everyone going?
Mallory: Let’s see [typing]
We got an email for an all-staff meeting with the Managing Director.
There are no seats. Let’s sit on a filing cabinet. How could they have this many files?
MD: You've all seen the news. We knew this day was coming. We just didn’t know it would be this soon.
You are all brave. You all decided to take a chance on legal murder and, perhaps more importantly, take a chance on Murderopolis as your employer.
Mallory: Whoo! We’re brave.
Ben: Shh. No one woos in meetings.
There is a special election on Tuesday to decide whether New York will go through another 6 months of legal murder or abolish the system permanently. You all have shares. Except for Ben and Mallory, who don’t deserve them. You all have jobs. We are giving everyone the day off on Tuesday to vote.
We are currently putting together some PR campaigns and compiling testimonies. We are releasing a documentary about assassinly and a statement about the murder games. In conjunction with other Murder Startups and Conglomerates, we are doing our best to handle this situation. You as voters have a voice in this as well. If you have any questions feel free to email me directly.
Mallory: I wonder what the unemployment situation is.
Ben: We’ve had jobs for like 10 days. No one here has had a job for more than 6 months.
Mallory: To google! Until next time.
Assassinly is brought to you by Murderopolis. Do you want someone you love-hate to go out like a Greek god? Murderopolis: Where murder meets Greek tragedy. What do you mean that was already a thing? Join the ranks of Oedipus, Achilles, Zeus, Son of Sam, and other names you remember from high school history class or something. Murderopolis: Our murders are epic. Get it? This week only, get a free Greek salad with your murder. Ask for our special white sauce and get a 10% discount. Murderopolis, because you deserve the acropolis, by which I mean that house in deep Queens with columns that your parents died in and your brother doesn’t appreciate.
Murderun club--whether you want to keep your sweet assassin bod in shape, or make sure you’re prepared in the event of an assassination, or just need an activity for Wednesday morning, murderun club and our cadre of murderous coaches will keep you machete fit.
If you’re in last place, we’ll kill you!
Mallory: From the borough murder committee? I love your work. No, I don’t actually know any of your work. Sorry.
Ben: So this isn’t about my...my mom?
Mallory: Do I need a lawyer for this?
Kill Witch: Should I call my doula for this?
Crystal Murderer: Clothes on or…?
Ben: I warn you, I’m surrounded by a hundred ghosts. OK, they all left. They weren't going to help me anyway.
None of them were lawyers.
Mallory: I mean, I’d call that guy who defended the Jacuzzi emporium but he...drowned in a jacuzzi.
CM: I’m just going to take the crystals out of my pockets and let them breathe on the chair. They need their space. And these jeans are like a little bit tight [clunking] aaaahhh
Mallory: I filed the paperwork! Ben sent it in.
Ben: the paperwork went straight into my cleanest trader Joe’s bag.
KW: I don’t even write my spells down. Do you know what writing her name down can do to a witch? I just wiped some blood on my subletting agreement.
Mallory: What do you mean, background check? Do I look like the FBI?
KW: I consulted a number of psychics, dowsers, drowsers, and the Genie from Aladdin. The animated film. He’s available online for a nominal fee.
CM: It’s just the moonstone doesn’t like being around the aquamarine, and onyx gets all panicky in my pocket. They have a lot of needs and moods. No, there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m a servant of the crystals. [pause] No, you’re right I wouldn’t have passed a background check. Maybe in the 3rd grade. Just kidding. My pencils were way too sharp back then.
Mallory: I mean, I checked their facebook profiles. Crystal’s politics say “murder.”
Ben: my mom told me I had to get a job. Mom…
Mallory: I don’t think we’re required to have this payroll you speak of. If I don’t have a social security number, why should anyone else?
Ben: She said I’d get royalties for the murders. The real money is in royalties.
Mallory: My mom said Santa took my social security card away.
KW: Yes, I can confirm the Drano came from family dollar. It’s actually a much more caustic chemical known as Dollar-o. You’ll have 80% less pipe at the end. It’s the leading cause of drano dripping on your downstairs neighbor’s head.
Mallory: Of course I filled paperwork out and printed it. No, I didn’t submit it to anyone! It was on the computer! Registered what?
Ben: You told me this room was for grief counseling! You don’t even have tissues! I’m bereaved! [pause] Sorry, bereft.
CM: Oh, yeah, I have all my crystals registered at family dollar. I got a guy. We go into family dollar and do the transactions. He’s kind of the only person who looks me in the eye anymore.
Mallory: I can’t give you a complete list of my addresses. Mausoleums don’t have addresses!
KW: I failed the evaluation based on my outfit? What do you have against upcycled mousepads?
CM: That’s...not surprising. I’ve actually never passed any sort of evaluation. I don’t even have my learner’s permit or a library card. Did you know you could fail the SAT? And the questionnaire to get a Stop N Shop club card. [laughs] Yeah they were pretty much doomed when they hired me.
Mallory: You’re going to do WHAT to us? You can’t! We have investors!
Ben: Can’t you at least give me a few hours? [pause] To use the bathroom. Can I have a ginger ale? And some capers? It’s my comfort food.
Assassinly - because sometimes you don’t want to share a pizza
Approximately 4 of you reached out to us with investment offers. All of which were $15 or less. So, um, thank you for your generosity and confidence. From the bottom of my heart. A special thank you to Julie, who tried to mortgage her house but the bank wouldn’t let her, because she rents. Tough, tough realities all around.
For our big surprise from last time. I know you’ve been wondering about it, googling, responding to Ben’s marketing emails with a flirty “unsubscribe!” well, here it is: Ben has secured us a spot in the hastily-put-together, confusingly publicized murder games. We’re hoping that will lead to some investment capital when we prove ourselves murdersome. We’re up against some big box murderers. They actually use boxes to do their assassinations--it’s kind of cool if you haven’t seen it. We could really make a name for ourselves.
Entries to the Murder Games are donation-based and tiered depending on company size. We’re four employees. Our required donation was three thousand dollars and a box of cheez-its. We tried to see if they would take only cheez-its. We are still negotiating.
Ben: If your cousin who made the app counts as an employee, which I think he does, it’s 19 thousand and 2 bags of cheetos.
Mallory: To raise money, we are going to sell your mom’s bakery cart. Her muffins are a crime against humanity.
Ben: That’s a playschool kitchen set she put wheels on, those aren’t muffins, and she’s a local treasure. People tag her on instagram.
Mallory: Those aren’t muffins?
Ben: They’re 70% play-doh. Stop eating them. They’re art and they sell for $50 each. I hate having to explain where they went.
Mallory: [confused] She puts one on my plate every time I come upstairs.
Ben: She’s just putting them on a plate and you are assuming they’re for you. She doesn’t know that you’re living here.
Mallory: She doesn’t know I’m living in her basement?
Ben: I don’t tell my mom everything. I have some secrets. Also stop eating capers out of the fridge. Trader Joe’s discontinued them and they are the main ingredient in my caper breakfast smoothie.
Mallory: You can get capers in other places!
(Calmer) Anyway. You might be wondering, what are the murder games? One of the events is probably having Ben’s breakfast smoothie and a side of his mom’s muffins without crying. The Murder Games involves competing in a series of games against other assasination companies and their specialists, just the way Subway names America’s Best Sandwich artist every year in a 6-episode primetime miniseries. Love your banana pepper work, Marco.
Ben: Marco, if you are listening, we are beyond honored. You made me and Mallory cry on night 4. We had dreams about how precise your 6-inch cut was. I bet your friends don’t fight over the bigger half..
Mallory: The Consolidated Board of Murder, the accrediting body for assasination companies in New York, let us compete in the Muder Games as an act of good-faith, and also because most other small companies can’t afford the donation. We...really can’t either.
Ben: You don’t think they could be using us to show everyone just why they should go with the professional experience of big box murderers who have an actual address?
Mallory: is that why they misspelled our company name on the team jersey? Ass-ly. I thought it was a stylistic choice. Or a character limit issue.
Ben: Do you think the giant macrame butt on the front was also a stylistic choice?
Mallory: I thought that was the logo for the murder games.
Ben: I’m not sure why they would go with that one.
Mallory: If they are mocking us, it would be mean-spirited. Bullying, even. We take clients they don’t take on principle. We deal with your trash, Murder-fi! And we treat them like treasure!\
Ben: um, maybe don't’ crap all over our clientele.
Mallory: I’m still a female CEO and I crap where I please! So, two of our mostly registered assasins, Kill Witch and Crystal Murder, who figured out how to take the L train, thank you for asking, are gearing up for round 1. Ben and I are part of round 2. Ben, tell everyone what Kill Witch and Crystal have to do.
Mallory: What do you mean, why? Because I delegated that to you.
Ben: That’s multitasking. It’s easier if you just finish your sentence yourself. You were already thinking about it. I’m not your trained monkey!
Mallory: Jeez. I throw my coat on you one time and suddenly I’m Meryl Streep in that movie. For round 1 they have to kill a real mark. Whoever filed the paperwork to have these people killed signed a waiver and got a serious discount. The public will know who they are, but I think they get a coupon for half off their next murder, too. Are they less human than other people who have their friends and relatives killed on cable tv Twitch? I’m not an ethicist, but, definitely.
Ben: Fun fact: there’s a 2 in 5 chance the people who filed the paperwork will be murdered, too.
Mallory: That is an estimate based on people we both know, and maybe not that fun, but, yes. Kill Witch and Crystal will be scored on stealth, precision, creativity of the murder--because we want or marks to go out in style, we’re not monsters--and time. They’re scored on a 1-10 in each category. So, an ideal murder would happen in 4 minutes in a back alley with a poison icing-covered grappling hook. Or after hours at a state fair with an assassin dressed up like a clown. From behind at work from someone dressed up like an old-timey saloon bartender, but no one ever sees them. You get the picture.
Ben: Do you just make this stuff up?
Mallory: No, these are suggestions on the rule cards. See, it even says here, “you get the picture.”
Kill Witch’s mark is someone’s racist grandma. She is being assassinated on charges of bad gifts, terrible gifts, forgetting to brush her teeth for several days and getting in close to talk, yelling at her grandkids for not wearing socks, and, of course, racism. Ben, do you think it’s a social good to do away with old racists?
Ben: [I don’t know noise]
A very philosophical answer from someone who can talk to racist grandmas after they die. Aaand crystal murderer will be taking care of a 3rd grade bully. Everyone knows bullies don’t get better after the 3rd grade. Their cuteness dries up. They either start hurting small animals, stealing their mom’s credit card, or pretending to have glamorous lives on instagram just to make their classmates and parents feel bad. Where did you go for spring break, Devon? Oh, you went to Iceland and hung out in the blue lagoon with Captain America? [getting more agitated] That was your family’s above ground pool that you dropped dry ice into, you monster. Captain America was your brother’s leg in a blue and red cast because you have no self-control.
Then they’re all, I spent the weekend kayaking in the Delaware. It was dreamy AF. Don’t lie. You were going to visit your grandma, who has cancer. Not even the dramatic kind that will kill her. Just the kind that makes your parents spend a lot of time cleaning her house and lighting her blunts. And don't act like you drove to her house yourself. We all know the backseat when we see it.
Ben, to prove we’re better than this kid, and that we have awesome lives, let’s take a selfie to commemorate this moment.
Ben: It’s called a selfie. Take it of yourself.
Mallory: That’s a misnomer. A selfie alone is sad. It means you have no friends. A selfie with others is a memory. Watch.
Ben: Hey! Don’t photo me! You don’t have a release! And you’re getting way off track. Do you think our shareholders care about the existential definition of a selfie?
Mallory: In the murder games, there is no off track!
Ben: there absolutely is! It’s timed!
Mallory: Ben is way less tolerant of my quirky nonsense today.
Ben: I told you--it’s not quirky nonsense. It’s irritating inconsistencies. You ate playdoh muffins, you monster. You’re off the rails!
Mallory: I’m being called off the rails by someone who drinks chicken soup instead of coffee in the morning.
Ben: It has way more caffeine!
Mallory: Wow, Ben. I think you need to take a chill pill. And that ghost, Cornelia, doesn’t even love you. She’s just using you to talk to her great, great, great grandchildren.
Ben: (whispering) She’s in the room right now!
Mallory: Sure she is, Ben.
Ben: There is no deeper connection than between a ghost and her medium.
Mal: Is that what you told her? Can she hear me? Cornelia?
Ben: it’s Cordelia!
Mallory: Corndelia, I think you’re a fraud and you killed that judge. I think Hamilton glossed over some of the more vile, hot oil-related aspects of your life
Ben: Cordelia has no association with Lin-Manuel Miranda! We’re working on making libel cases legal after death. The dead still have feelings and they can still be mocked to their core!
Mallory: She should be honored that people remember her. Unlike this racist grandma. What is her name? We can’t say it; privacy laws and all, but it’s probably Constance, Ethel, Thelma, Harold, something like that. We’re going live to watch the events unfold from our headquarters. Kill witch is at the senior center and there are multiple cameras to catch cheating at bingo and card games, which happens often. Often multiple times per hour. You won’t believe the number of people who “misehear” B3 as E7. Kill witch is in a secluded location brewing her potion. We can see from her body cam...and that it is straight drano. I hear drano is an ingredient in a lot of witches’ brews going back to the 1700s. Ben can verify.
Ben: there were a lot of real witches burned in Queens. They made people drink drano and told them it was absinthe. They added a little paper umbrella for authenticity. That’s why we put tiny paper umbrellas in fancy drinks today.
Mallory: That’s a Queens fact! Here’s another: In the 90s they put witches in Arkham asylum.
Ben: Currently known as Azkaban.
Mallory: OK, it appears that Kill Witch is usinga plastic cauldron from Party City. Very popular in October. My mom bought 2 of them. Did she need two? No, but there were 2 left and the kid behind her wanted one for his Hermione costume. Anyway, the cauldron is dissolving quickly at the plastic seam on the bottom. I feel like most people would have seen that coming. Perhaps one of the 438 psychics Kill Witch corresponds with on instagram could have helped her there.
I bet this is all part of Kill Witch’s plan. She operates in mysterious ways, many of which start off like this, like that time we thought a skunk was chasing her and she threw it through someone’s window.
Ben: That was just on her way to lunch.
Mallory: Or that time we thought she was going to peacefully unplug someone’s life support, but instead she injected their IV drip with digitalis and arsenic.
Everyone at the senior center is currently taking part in canasta games in various stages and various levels of anger. The mark is currently in an altercation with another player. She called her an old shriveled titty. This would make sense if I knew how canasta was played, I’m sure it’s something offensive you yell when you win, like with old maid.
Mallory: You point and say, haha, you saggy weirdo, you’re the old maid, not me. That’s what my mom would always say. We play on Christmas and, weirdly, I’ve never won. It’s gotten increasingly poignant over the years. She says I’m allowed to stop the “tradition” when I finally win a game.
Let me assure you that there is not a body in this room without at least one shriveled titty. And that’s fine. Man or woman, breast cancer survivor or no, that’s just life. Your titties shrivel. Other things shrivel, expand, or get filled with stuff. Like how grandma’s tooth was completely hollowed out and filled with bacon and condensed milk.
Ben: Thank you for being so body positive.
Mallory: You’re welcome. I try, mom. OK, so, kill witch is coming out of the janitor’s closet
Drano is positioned in the cauldron like a beer in a margarita, a coronarita if you will.
Drano is dripping, dripping, dangerously close to her thighs. Be careful, Kill Witch: This could lose you points. Also, um, I care about your personal safety.
She’s inching toward the light switch. Mind you, she’s wearing about four pounds of silver and bells on her wrists. Fortunately, age comes for your hearing. That’s why seniors looove wind chimes. They don’t know they make a sound.
Ben: She thinks the bells keep spirits away.
Mallory: it doesn’t work?
Ben: Only for the spirits of bears.
OK, Kill Witch has turned off the lights. They should call her kill switch, eh? Eh?
Ben: [grunts, annoyed] I think that’s the pun she was going for. Cordelia hated that one, too. She says leave the comedy to the professionals, like John Wilkes Booth.
Mallory: Ouch. I can see the light of a hundred iphones. I estimate she has between 14 seconds and 3 minutes before someone gets to the switch. Oh, she’s done it! There’s screaming. The lights are back on. The horror, the horror.
Kill witch has dropped the cauldron full of Drano on grandma’s head and slit her throat with a not very good razor. Kill Witch maybe didn’t sharpen her tools, or she used the wrong edge. Or, she’s a clever witch and wanted to make her escape! Grandma is bleeding out, drano dripping all over her, and everyone is crowding around. Ben, I can’t watch.
Ben: Then don’t. Think of muffins instead.
Mallory: This, everyone, is a truly masterful kill. Kill Witch is writhing on the floor, doing kind of a side worm, oof, it looks like she went down on some of the drano, going between two chairs and under a table. Good thing senior centers love long tablecloths.
The other seniors are gathering around, staring, crying, calling for lestoil and scrubbing bubbles, or just playing their game of canasta because they’ve made peace with death in their midst. Kill Witch is everything and nothing. She is drama and mundanity. She is a witch of skill and craft. And, very worrying, she is badly in need of medical attention. By the law she must either wait in silence until the body is gone and canasta is finished, or slither out unnoticed.
And now we wait. Ben, can you get the timer out?
Ben: You know, you have a phone. Unless your grandma turned that off, too.
Mallory: Ah, hang on, I see the table cloth moving. Kill Witch is emerging from under the table in a gray wig and her most outdated, bleach-stained sweatpants. It looks like they were used as an ashtray. She walks with a limp that could be real. Her face is wrinkled mostly from pain but maybe also from smells. Senior Centers are not known for good smells. Her pockets are bulging with what looks like counterfeit bingo balls.
Ben: they’re called dabbers.
Mallory: She’s dropping the balls on the floor--I don’t know why, that just seems malicious with all those walkers around and and all that drano--and making her way out. They’re bouncing like hailstones Seniors are tripping, half a dozen people have fallen into the Drano streaks. Some of them are diving on the floor for the bingo balls, because they’re cheaters and maybe not very discreet.
Ben: Discreet cheaters rob casinos and don’t play canasta at senior centers that smell like pea soup.
Mallory: Kill Witch heads for the door, sweatpants revealing a little bit of crack.
Mallory: People need details! A senior center employee asks if they can call her an access-a-ride but she shoves them over. OK, that was uncalled for.
Well, I think we can agree that was masterful.
Ben: Can we?
Mallory: I was a little bit skeptical, and Kill Witch is mean to me and spent all my money on lint rollers, so there’s a part of me that wants her to stink at her job. But it was expert, worthy of our boutique label and a much higher price point. The assasination blogs will talk of nothing else. That was high-quality murder at its finest.
Ben: Or was it forgettable, crude slapstick comedy from the 80s?
Mal: Take note Ben’s critique of women supporting and holding up other women. Crystal Murderer is next, and she is a wildcard.
Ben: More like a hack who makes it up as she goes.
Mallory: I know you’re jealous
Ben: it’s like they didn’t even read the rules.
Mal: Good feminists don’t play by the rules. Our second target seems to have changed. That’s good because Chrys sometimes screams uncontrollably when she sees a child. Let’s see who it is. [pauses, nervous] Actually, before we get started on the next segment, Ben, can you go upstairs and make me one of your world famous breakfast enemas?
Ben: No. And they’re already getting started.
Mal: Go! Hurry up! And don’t come back until it’s fully liquid. You know that’s how I like it.
Mal: Ok, this is a conflict of interest, clearly. We have to stop this. I don’t know if I can stop it forever, but we--Assassinly--can’t do this. Here is the description of our next Murder Games target:
There’s a woman in Astoria who goes around selling 70% play-doh cupcakes for $50 a pop. She’s simultaneously infantilizing herself and degrading what it means to be an artist. Everyone thinks it’s so cute and endearing and authentic, and I can’t stand what she’s doing. It has to stop. There are actual hard-working artists out there. It’s making everyone dumb. Also, she’s been shoplifting from my dollar store every day for the past 4 years. Our profit margins are thin.
That’s it. There’s only one person this could be. I’m going to fix this. I am texting the game manager. Ok, they’re writing, writing. Still writing. Now it’s white. They're writing again. [text noise] They say, This is legal murder. There are no conflicts of interest. Well, that is unhelpful.
There ARE. That was the point of the legislation. That’s...not acceptable. I’ll tell Crystal to hold off while we get this sorted out.
[texting noises] Game off do not proceed.
Crystal is getting in her car. She’s buckling up. Sometimes her phone doesn’t work because it has a crystal case, and she’s replaced a lot of the parts she’s dropped in the toilet with crystals. She says crystals are very magical and her energy is very unpredictable. Ben says it’s just been on silent for--Oh, poor Ben.
Ben’s mom is out with her playschool kitchen. Someone bought a blue muffin near an actual muffin shop. The bakery owner is sneering a lot. Being a successful woman is hard. She might not know we live in the same house, or that I exist and Ben knows me, but she’s way nicer to me than my actual mom, and lets me eat way more capers.
Crystal is driving down a street. She’s close. I know that bagel place, Appetizing Bagels Deli Toasty.
I’ll tell Ben’s mom so she knows. She’ll come home. It won’t be legal to kill her anymore anymore. The dollar store owner will have to reapply.
[calling frantically] Ben! Ben! I need you to text your mom to come home!
[calmer, but still tense] Crystal shouldn’t be driving anyway. Her license is suspended. A cop actually burned it the last time she made her own highway exit. He said it was better for everyone, especially homeowners. Maybe I can get a cop to pull her over.
Oh, no. Ben’s mom is crossing the street. She’s looking at her phone. No, no, no.
[Ben walks in just in time to see his mom mowed down by a car]
Ben: Stop barking orders at---Oh...oh, no.
Mallory: That...there’s nothing left. Shards of plastic, a playschool hamburger, [voice breaking] colorful muffin crumbs all over the road like chunky new-yorkey pixie dust. I never noticed they were rainbow inside.
Ben. I’m so sorry.
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Assassin.ly - Because getting a promotion at work doesn’t have to be that tough
You cannot have subway performers murdered. It’s problematic for a number of reasons. Even this brave new world doesn’t want to touch that. You don’t even know their names. Like, who even are the go-time girls?
Bringing you some sensitive news--personally and familially. Grandma has pulled the plug, cut the cord, taken away our lifeblood. Her condo equity loan finances us no more.
Thanks, mom, AKA JUDAS!
And before you all go sending me unpunctuated emails saying that my mom just had grandma’s “best interest” in mind, and remind me that 4 psychologists testified that grandma was not of sound mind, it wasn’t that mom was trying to protect grandma. And one of those psychologists was my third cousin Dave, who has one eye, so he doesn’t even count.
It was that mom wanted to diversify her portfolio. Mom wants to launch an etsy store that sells custom knitted potholders and baby bibs. Custom meaning in the color you want, or the closest acrylic yarn she could find.
Mom wanted startup capital, knitting classes, tea, a comfortable chair, and a car to drive to Michaels because you can’t carry all that yarn on the long island railroad.
Ben: What did she say when you said that?
Mallory: Mallory James, you had your fun and now it’s my turn. Your thing is killing people and mine is bringing joy to the world with crafts. If both sides of the aisle can’t talk to each other, what are we going to do?
I asked if Dad’s social security was enough to cover some yarn. She said I didn’t understand marketing.
To be fair, she put up with more of grandma’s crap than I did
Ben: The wooden spoon sounds like a harsh mistress
Mallory: But I had to go potpourri shopping with her. And clean up after her cats.
Ben: You mean clean the litter box?
Mallory: Grandma doesn’t believe in litter boxes. She believes in shag carpets. [pause]
I’m going to be straight with you. We are in a difficult position: we need to fundraise.
I know I taunted all of you about not needing funding earlier, and made up a little song
Ben: it was more of a jingle
Mallory: Everyone, I’m not sorry for taunting you or burning that taunt into your minds like a 3rd-grade bully. Good leaders never apologize. What I did was right in the moment and receives no further context. We are succeeding with subscription pricing.
Our overhead costs are low. We’re not paying for accounting software. Our app is live-ish on apple and Zune OS. Assassin.ly has a band of merry murderess occult killers who will do it in style.
Ben: With minimal bungling!
Mallory: What more could you ask for?
Ben and I are working off the assumption that if you have time to listen to this, you’re either deeply unemployed, independently wealthy, or retired.
Ben: Or a hipster looking for the next thing no one can find.
Mallory: No matter which category you fit into, you’re looking for an opportunity and maybe even an experience. Retired people love experiences. It’s so hard to find new ones. By that point you’ll have gone to Hawaii or at least watched a movie about it. Depending on your age, you might not know the difference.
Well here it is. Don’t spend that sweet pension on your ungrateful daughter’s knitting business. Invest in legally vetted murder subscriptions at competitive prices.
Worried about your immortal soul? Remember: If it’s legal, it’s ethical. I think St Peter said that.
[Exhales] How was that?
Ben: you might need to work on the pitch.
Mallory: Cut and print! Do you have any idea where that phrase came from?
Ben: That’s the way my mom says cut and paste.
Mallory: Charming. In short, investors, one at a time, please. If we did a good job, you get a piece of the pie. So, show your support
Here are some other promos we’ve been working on to fund in the meantime. You get a free souveneir wine glass from a failed winery called Brooklyn Fermentery with every murder. We don’t know why it works, but we’re up 400%. It turns out you can only grow grapes for so long in prospect park before someone calls the bomb squad.
Ben: I also started sending out a newsletter.
So far, more than 2 people have signed up. Including my mom and Mallory. I try to give everyone a little something extra, bring something new to their day. We have this week’s murder highlights on our instagram, blooper reel--
Mallory: I told you, that’s not a blooper reel!
Ben: Industry news, links to some memes I like that no one else seems to get, and some stories about Mallory’s uncle Gerald.
Mallory: Thanks to everyone who reached out and told me that uncle Gerald was a crapbag. It means a lot to me.
Ben: It was one person. Mallory celebrated by buying herself a box of frozen cocktail wieners and not letting me have any.
Mallory: They took a long time to thaw. I was starving.
Ben: Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Mallory: We’ve also started offering merch. Our research showed that there weren’t enough openly inflammatory t-shirts on the market, so we developed some products. Had a brainstorm sesh. Listened to people yelling on the subway. Very legit. So, we’ve got mugs and tumblers that say I had my [blank] assassinated, if you choose to self-identify. We have shirts that say We #legalizedit so #dealwithit. Assassinate or be assassined. That was a misprint. My fault, and we ordered a thousand of them. But we’ve still sold a few. I think it has kitsch value. I bought one for each of us as a gift.
And, somehow our most popular t-shirt, Don’t mess with me: I have a subscription to a legally vetted assassination service.
Ben: The back says “And I’m not afraid to use it.”
Mallory: I felt that part was unnecessary, but I guess some people appreciate the thoroughness.
I am required to disclose that all these products are banned in most workplaces. But, weirdly, not at church. And, most churches ask that you wear clothes, soooo.
Ben: Most churches?
Mallory: Not the one Uncle Gerald tried to take Grandma to. He got three of his cats there, and an OK used car, too.
KW: Excuse me?
Mallory: (surprised) Kill Witch, you finished what was meant to be a very long ikea trip?
Ben: Oh, God. How did she get through IKEA so fast? It was supposed to distract her for at least three hours. THe meatballs alone should have taken 45 minutes.
KW: Oh, I didn’t want to go all the way to that would have meant going all over the store, and all the way to Brooklyn. I just went to home goods and got a cart full of lint rollers instead. Don’t worry, I spent just as much money, and eliminated a hundred times as much lint. So, I’m up?
Mallory: Even though she doesn’t really need to, Kill Witch wanted to contribute a segment called, Potions my coven doesn’t endorse. So, here she is. Hopefully this appeals to someone.
KW: I’m so excited to share these occult secrets with everyone. Here’s a recipe for a magic munchie. So you take the celery, and you’re gonna chop up the celery. A little peanut butter, some raisins. And, my personal favorite, salsa verde and ketchup.
Mal: That just sounds like ants on a log. That you ruined.
KW: Try it.
Mal: You didn’t even say what it was supposed to do.
KW: It’s just an appetizer before you get your tarots cards read. Not every potion has to DO something, Mallory.
Mal: Isn’t that kind of their schtick?
KW: Don’t tell me about potions and I won’t tell you about running a business.
Mal: But you do. You wrote me 40 pages of recommendations and had them spiral-bound at kinkos. Most of them were just snacks you wanted. You sent 14 hand psychics here and told them they were on payroll. Do you know how awkward that is? You said we should kill famous people just to get our names out there. Listed celebrities that you felt “stole your thing,” some of that being “having an instagram account” or “wearing flare jeans” or “wanting to go to Bucharest.”
KW: It’s the most haunted city.
Mal: Do you want to do a practical potion that showcases your skills? And maybe helps our listeners a little?
KW: Well, you’re putting me on the spot. Fine, um. How to get rid of unwanted parking tickets. I do this at least 3 times a week for myself.
Mal: Unwanted parking tickets? Are there parking tickets you want?
KW: (annoyed) I don’t know your kinks. Maybe sometimes I just want to feel like someone thought of me, noticed me taking up space next to a fire hydrant or in a crosswalk. It’s like getting a letter from the mail on your windshield while you’re buying scratch-offs. Maybe there’s a police officer you want to curse, and you need his handwriting.
Mal: I’ve gotten 14 parking tickets this year and they’re all digital. No handwriting. They’re onto you.
Ben: She doesn’t even have a car.
Mal: it’s true. I just stepped into the bus lane to give my mom some space when she asked for it.
Ben: Her mom doesn’t want her on the same sidewalk when she’s mad.
Mallory: Mom needs her space. You don’t want to be near her when she’s like that anyway. She gets loud and accuses me of a bunch of crimes in, like, a weird amount of detail. Cannibalism, stealing a subway car and selling the technology to the soviets, vagrancy. Well, that one’s sort of true, and being the worst piece of crap daughter Queens has ever seen. That may seem very specific, but Queens is famous for having the worst daughters, like Awkwafina and Fran Fine.
Ben: Or Kevin James
Mallory: The cops hear. They always hear, and I think they kind of know us now. They give me a parking ticket sort of as a compromise to calm her down. We don’t really go to Best Buy together anymore. Except next week. I said I’d go next week.
Kill witch: [clears throat] How do you take care of parking tickets? Here’s the best way. Get your slow cookers out, witches, and cook up your best stew. Instead of adding spices, add the parking tickets. If you have one, put them in your spice grinder first. Then, cook them in the slow cooker for a long, long time. I like to cook mine for a few days because it makes the magic stronger and electricity is included in your SRO.
Now, here’s the important part. As delicious as your salsa picante sriracha lentil soup is, don’t eat it yourself. Feed it to your friends, and then your friends have the parking tickets.
Mallory: I’d be really suspicious of the stew you just gave me last week if I actually thought this worked.
KW: I know you can’t afford parking tickets. That one had my pubes.
Mallory: (outraged) WHY?
Kill witch: Please subscribe on youtube!
Mallory: Kill Witch, please go return every one of those lint rollers. Oh, I see, you used them all. OK, um, finally, let’s look at some murder and murder-adjacent job updates.
Ben put together someone’s bookshelves. It only took him 7 hours.
Ben: They paid me thirty five bucks and I got to keep the extra screws.
Mallory: He spent it on hot sauce.
And, listeners, Ben’s neighbors paid me $20 to watch their cats while they were away. Ka-ching! I opened some cans of tuna. We shared them. I’m gonna spend that money on more tuna, branded for cats. It’s actually pretty good. Oh, and Crystal murderer was hired to kill some roaches at a house in Bensonhurst. She was unsuccessful. It’s very hard to stab roaches with crystals. But she charges by the hour and she’s still there. They made her breakfast. And dinner the night before that, and lunch. They may or may not be swingers.
Ben: Yup, they’re swingers.
Mallory: Hi, Chris! I hope you’re listening.
We’re also working on something big--beyond doing good in the community and helping people with menial tasks for less than minimum wage. We can’t say anything for now, but as soon as we can, you’ll be the first to know, and the first with the option to contribute money.
And, finally, Grandma, you don’t have to listen anymore. Actually, I’d prefer it if you didn’t. Mom, too. You’re just using it to get sympathy from your friends because of your terrible daughter, just like that time you had to take me to soccer and play with a last place team every Saturday morning for 6 whole weeks. Yes, it was my fault the entire team lost and I didn’t deserve pizza and ice cream. I’ll never do it again. Stop bringing it up.
Ben: Until next time!
Mallory: Yes, next time.
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Mallory: Because boundaries take consistent effort, but murder is a one-time thing
CEO Note 402: To survive in the business world, you have to adapt, you have to be ruthless, you have to skip flossing and sleep with one leg out from under the covers. You have to go outside thinking you’re going to be attacked by a bear. EVERY. SINGLE. SECOND.
You have to hire brand managers, steal their ideas and refuse to pay unemployment. Frame them for misconduct. Say they were taking light bulbs from your fixtures, where in reality you never had any lightbulbs or fixtures. Did you know that Elon Musk works only in total darkness wearing nothing but an ice pack?
Ben: On his genitals.
Mallory: Never, ever, admit that your products transmitted disease because then you’ll be jack in the box to McDonald's, Cousin Frank’s Refurbished jacuzzi warehouse to Uncle Carlo’s secondhand jacuzzi emporium.
Ben: Which used jacuzzi place didn’t infect people with the herpes?
Mallory: You have to metaphorically and literally kill people. [excited] EEE! Which we finally did last week. I’m so excited to tell you about it. But first, let me introduce you to a little idea invented by TV pastors and netflix: Subscription pricing.
New York State hit its murder quota pretty quickly. If the program continues, and I’m betting my grandma’s retirement it does, there’s currently a waitlist until 2034. At that point, the list devolves into friends’ hypothetical children, you know, just in case. These make great baby shower gifts by the way.
If people can’t get assassinations done safely and legally, you have to wonder if they’ll take things into their own hands. Imagine how much business could be lost, how much in legal tax revenue. Um, anyway, we big CEOs went on reddit and found out that there’s a loophole. If someone pays for a subscription to a single assassination service before December 31st, they can contract as many murders as they can get approved by April.
We in the industry are having to reinvent ourselves after...having just invented ourselves. It’s like asking a pupa to switch gears and turn into a ford fiesta. That’s what my cousin who sells refurbished jacuzzis said after 3 of her warehouses became herpes testing sites. And they know A LOT about pivoting.
What will be the impact of this loophole? Well, I’m not an expert in, um, anything, really, because it’s important for CEOs to be Jacks of all trades, and not just one trade. But I think my opinion is very important. Economists are currently disagreeing with each other about the effect on unemployment, GDP, used jacuzzi sales, 401Ks, 5Ks, and the environment. Philosophers are mostly curled up in a fetal position next to their macbook airs. Many of them have already ripped off their elbow patches and are using them as tissues.
But what does it mean for us at Assassin.ly? Deck the halls because That’s right, we’re working through Christmas, Chanukah, the Winter Solstice, Festivus! The subscriptions are rolling in. It turns out, when options are limited for, what I see as an essential service, people are willing to pay a premium.
How much does a subscription cost? Short answer: more than netflix but less than Mrs Field’s Cookie of the hour club.
Ben: I love their slogan. (imitating John Goodman's voice) Hi, I’m John Goodman for Mrs. Fields.
Mallory: Ben was a founding member of that club., Assassin.ly, we charge $750 plus taxes and fees. And, well, we know this is a heavily taxed service, there are a lot of government fees, and we couldn't resist throwing in some of our own. We’re basically a rental car service.
Bet you can’t tell which are ours and which are the government’s!
Hmm, I don’t know what that last one does. Overall, it ends up being about $1200 a year. Not bad, if you can get two assassinations in. Of course, the system doesn’t allow a single person to contract more than two per year, and the government sends a crack team of a police dog, federal investigator, psychologist, and psychic to interview you once you apply for the second one. They’re determined to assess you from...every possible angle. My aunt Denise didn’t pet the police dog and they denied her request. The altar in her bathroom dedicated to the Purge films didn’t help.
Ben: They picked up pretty quickly that Uncle Herald was just Uncle Gerald
Mallory: It was worth a try!
Some people are desperate to instagram their first assassination experience, or just desperate to kill before they’re killed. It’s rough out there. For $750 plus taxes and fees, Assassinly will take care of you in style.
Now, moving on. In an effort to remain accountable and transparent, remember those others have lost, and celebrate company successes, I’m pleased to announce we had 3 semi-successful assassinations last week. Congrats, guys! I’m so proud of you.
First, I want to highlight Crystal Murderer’s first multi-murder. Technically unintentional. We started calling her Crystal and then shortened it to Chris, by the way. She had some feelings but I think she’s leaning into it now.
After sending two women who mostly met the intended victim’s description to the hospital with blood poisoning and accidentally slaughtering a third, and this is reading from the official documentation, “with her tainted and magical crystals” Don’t worry-- we have insurance -- Chris posed as an uber driver outside the target’s place of business. Apparently the victim had an inkling that she was being targeted, and was taking lyfts home from work every day. Very expensive.
After accepting and rejecting countless rides and frustrating hundreds of customers, to the point where her license plate appears on some sort of anger website and Uber’s DO NOT RIDE list, Chris was able to identify her target by name on the app. According to Chris’s write-up, she had to pee really badly and didn’t have time for the cyanide to work. She screamed in a rageful vibration and slit the--correct--victim’s throat from the front seat with a very large and sharp rose quartz. She says you can only get a crystal that powerful on Etsy’s black market or in a part of Brooklyn so edgy it only appears on Tuesdays at 3:00 PM. She was in the front seat and the target was in the back, so it wasn’t quick or clean, in fact I believe she missed the first time, so it was also loud. Thank goodness for child protection locks. The cleaning fee for the car is...truly incredible.
We also found out that Chris has prosopagnosia. Congrats on your diagnosis, Chris. I hope we figure out what that means, soon. The goal is, of course, for the mark to never know that they’re the target, and I will be including that feedback on your quarterly review. She...definitely knew. Which is very clear on our Instagram story. If you are a person who needs that level of detail, which, now that I think about it, seems pretty likely if you’re listening to this, go check out our page.
She’s a crystal murderer. She stabs people with her crystals. Request Chris on the app, and be nice to her. She’s very sensitive when you give her unexpected feedback about how many people she was supposed to murder. Professionals, artists, crystal empaths, they’re touchy. It’s their way and you have to respect it. That’s what Ben keeps saying.
Ben: Dead people teach you things sometimes. Mostly about how to talk to sensitive people who want to pretend they were underappreciated vaudeville performers in the 1880s, and not water taxi getaway drivers in the 1980s.
Mallory: Ben talks to me and thousands of dead people. Should I feel special? On to murder #2, which took place in a public restroom.
Ben: Ha, number two. You are most likely to get murdered in a public restroom on a Thursday. Ghosts told me that.
Mallory: Do they mean that the most murders happen on Thursdays, or is Thursday some kind of National Restroom Murder Day?
Ben: It’s really hard to get clarification. Ghosts just kind of get mad and repeat themselves.
Mallory: Just like my alive uncles talking about why they lost custody.
Anyway, on to Kill Witch’s murder. Note to Kill Witch: mixing bleach and ammonia is not a witch’s brew, and we wish you the swiftest recovery. Being under 5 feet tall doesn’t make you impervious to vapors.
Fortunately, she was also carrying a gun. She crawled across four stalls on her elbows and shot through a giant roll of toilet paper meant as a silencer. If you were wondering, that doesn’t work. It still makes a lot of noise and causes a cloud of dust so fine that it actually cuts little holes in people’s lungs. KIll Witch was OK because she was on the floor, and very short. Between the ammonia bleach and DIY asbestos, a lot of people who went to Arby’s on Thursday are in the hospital.
Finally, someone requested Ben, who has no skills.
Mallory: And he’s the only one who didn’t land himself or someone else in the hospital by accident. Doing his best to keep our hospitals uncrowded and health insurance costs down.
So, how did he do it? Well, Ben sniped a little boy brushing his teeth in the morning.
Ben: Not brushing his teeth.
Mallory: Right, his parents wanted him assassinated for not brushing his teeth. I mean, that’s pretty disgusting. Kids do it all the time, but that doesn’t make it not gross. And I hear this one liked his tuna sandwiches. Ben shot the child from his treehouse. Wow, that’s dark. Ben, do you want to talk a little bit about that?
Ben: He was running the water and eating sweet tarts in the bathroom. If you have any objections, look at the three things this kid was doing:
Mallory: Do you think all these bathroom murders will cause people anxiety? They could get constipated.
Ben: More time in the bathroom in case we need to murder them.
Mallory: A win-win! Did the ghosts help you snipe the boy?
Ben: No. A few of them kept singing you’re gonna miss and tried to get in my way. Apparently, you still have bad breath after you die.
Mallory: Imagine 18th century bad breath. [clears throat] Please, A moment of silence for our victims, intended and unintended. And probably the ghosts around me who will complain if they’re not mentioned.
Ben: They complain anyway.
Mallory: Now, on a positive note. Our chief investor celebrated her 87th birthday this week. Happy birthday, grandma!
Ben: Isn’t it in poor taste to talk about your octogenarian grandmother when a child is dead?
Mallory: You’re right. That kid could have collected tiny ceramic animals to fill the void, disowned 3 out of 4 children, not stopped talking about where he was during the Kennedy assassination, and confused 9-11 with the OJ trial.
Ben: Sounds like we saved that kid a lot of grief.
Mal: If he couldn't handle brushing his teeth now, what could he handle? Anyway, the subscriptions are rolling in. Overhead is low, as is Ben’s mom’s basement’s ceiling. Keep that paperwork and the investment offers coming!
Ben: What investment offers?
Mal: Until next time!
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A frame with an old person in it
A brene brown book
A spray bottle filled with tears
A sage smudge stick...just in case
An inspirational quote inside a fortune cookie
A blanket your grandma could have knitted...but didn’t
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Don’t ask if you can re-use their coffin. Leave that to murderclean.
Don’t bring a belated birthday gift or card for the deceased. That cardigan is yours now.
DO send griefbox!
Let’s hear from some satisfied customers
I had my coworker’s son assassinated because he was spending too much time with family, and not enough time on work. Plus, the kid pulled all the leaves off the office poinsettia. But I got him Griefbox, so it’s all fine now, well, as long as he sends me a new plant. You know who you are, Eric.
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Kill Witch: (excited) Hey, subscribers!
Ben: Not like that. You’re not doing some sort of youtube tutorial on how to open microsoft excel.
KW: Last I checked you’re not here to direct, Ben. You’re here because your phone has a microphone and your mom’s basement has asbestos insulation. Mallory is letting me do this because she thinks I have a following.
Ben: She thinks you're her best chance at a following. That’s different.
KW: She thinks I can be like that psychic assassin who can move pizza, and other Italian food. But mostly pizza.
Ben: It’s just what tends to be in the street.
KW: Is Crystal doing one of these, too?
Ben: When Mallory asked, Crystal murderer scratched her up using crystals with a little bit of everything she’s allergic to, or could be allergic to, or just raw sewage on the top. She yelled, I am cursed. Do not ask me to share my curse with others. I must wallow! We would have just let her wallow.
Mallory’s arms have scratches on them that are scabbing over with crystal. It’s getting harder for her to bend her elbow. She’d get it checked out, but she doesn’t have health insurance.
Ben: Thank God she didn’t touch me. She knows if you hurt me, an army of ghosts will boo you. They might even remember to be kind of rude to you after you die, so...
KW: (mystical) Do you think someone who has delved so deeply into the spirit world would be afraid of ghosts?
Ben: If I met anyone like that, I’d use different threats.Like, next time you get a coffee from me, don't assume it's a pleasant drinking temperature. Or, I’m going to the bakery but I might not pick you the biggest muffin with the most visible chocolate chips.
KW: (angry) You can’t go to a bakery and not pick the best muffin. That’s like throwing your money in the trash!
Ben: Don’t cross me. I’ll make your morning mildly less good, and that could affect the rest of the day in ways you don’t pick up on because they are subtle. Maybe you don’t have enough glucose. Anyway, my mom needs me to look through a box of old papers and decide to keep all of them, so let’s cut to it. What are you going to do today?
KW: A nice, accessible intro to *magical* potions that I call, potions you can pull together with just 5 ingredients, in the time it takes you to fly into a rage.
Ben: Do you think when you’re flying into a rage is a good time to throw together a potion?
KW: Oh, it’s the best time.
I call this one, lipstick of tragedy. Picture this, you’re on instagram, and one of your coven members is going live. Four of your 40 closest sisters are sitting with her, enjoying a new restaurant several boroughs away. They didn’t invite you.
Just because you refuse to pay for tip or anything anyone else bought, including appetizers, which you totally didn’t have any of. And because you insist on change from your five dollars. For every sweet, conscientious, boundary-enforcing, budget-conscious person who has experienced this exact scenario, this one’s for you. And you can make it with stuff you already have in your home. I just grab my stone mortar and pestle, one that has been blessed by a priest AND someone who placed in the Chicago marathon. Remember, they only have to have placed. Anyone who tells you that you need a winner is trying to rip you off.
KW: First, we have a mandrake leaf
Ben: (sniffs) that’s basil
KW: Heart of a cloud
Ben: That’s sour cream. The container says sour cream.
KW: That’s just where I keep it. If you don’t have heart of cloud, go outside and stab the nearest cloud right in its heart. True witches know where a cloud’s heart is.
KW: Fresh nutmeg. I’m going to grate it.
Ben: That’s a dog turd that’s shaped sort of like a nut. You better have a separate one for parmesan cheese.
KW: (sarcastic) Because parmesan cheese smells so good. Finally, the silent princess, straight from Hyrule. If you don’t have this, you can use a fire flower from Mario. It makes for a spicier vibration.
Ben: It’s, um, it’s nothing. She’s holding nothing.
KW: I like to throw in a little toilet water, or as the french call it, eau de toilette, just kinda mix it around until I feel good. Then I get a little rage out. Really channel your rage when you pestle. Remember the people who have wronged you. Think about times they could have been better. Think about times other people could have been better and pretend it was these people. Make up stories to tell your therapist. (crystal is full of rage now)
Ben: So, what do you do with this?
KW: You give it to the friends who betrayed you like it was nothing. It’s probably better to put it in different tins, so they don’t all have to use the same lip balm, but I only had this takeout container I got roasted red peppers in.
Ben: I see it still has a roasted red pepper in it.
KW: Let them smear the potion on their lips. It smells so good, they won’t be able to resist. It’ll probably do what cersei did to that lady in Game of Thrones.
KW: No, Brahn Stark.
Ben: Do you have any potions for making someone psychic?
KW: I have a special face mask.
Ben: Is it just pureed frozen burrito? Because I do that already.
KW: What? No! I’ll tell you what’s in it if you say you’ll try it.
Ben: I sat in a graveyard in the rain trying to move chalk that already disintegrated. You think I’d say no to a little eau de toilette?
KW: OK, everyone. Ben is going to try my special face mask. Here it is, guaranteed to enhance anyone’s psychic powers. First, we grab some Valentina hot sauce, and you mix it with sriracha, any generic is good, but I like this one that’s been blessed by the coach of the Toms River track and field team. Athletes make it better. Finally, my secret ingredient: bear spray. Bear spray is so spicy, even bears hate it.
And they put hot sauce on everything. If this doesn’t open you up to spiritual experiences, nothing will.
Ben: I don’t know about this. Maybe we should just put a little on my big toe to test.
KW: Don’t worry about it. It’s like acids and bases, the spices cancel each other out. Here we go!
Ben: (distressed) Oh, my god it burns!
KW: That’s just the psychic powers making their way into your pores.
KW: Until next time! How do I stop this thing from recording?
Ben: Pour some milk on my face. Get yogurt and sugar!
KW: How about a frozen burrito?
Ben: There are 3 in my desk drawer. Put one in my mouth..
[intro music] Assassin.ly--because not everyone was meant to be a parent. Or a grandparent.
Mallory: Hello and welcome, as always, to Ben’s mom’s basement.
Ben: It’s my basement, too.
Mallory: The smell of thawing breakfast burritos makes that abundantly clear. What exciting startup stage are we in this week?
Ben: I think denial.
Mallory: I’m using some of my investor capital and next month’s rent and some of the money my roommates gave me to buy toilet paper to hire two new employees
The landscape is crazy right now: There are currently over 40,000 incorporated assasination companies in Queens County alone.
Ben: Who calls it Queens County? What is this, Australia?
Mallory: **sighs** I’m trying to be professional. What do dead people call it?
Ben: Queens. Long Island, WIlliamsburg, the place where we wanted to put our trash because it’s convenient, airport city USA, and Not Brooklyn.
Mallory: That all sounds true. Anyway, All you need to register, according to the bill, is a minimum $15 investment capital, defined as someone to venmo you $15 without using more than 3 emoji, and 5 potential weapons. Those can be anything--drano, a large keychain, an understuffed la-z-boy, some uncooked rhubarb, or pretty much anything you can purchase at Family Dollar and hide in your shoe.
Ben: Family dollar was actually part of the legislation.
Mallory: Weapons actually make up 35% of their revenue now. The other 65% is different types of cheetos. Because there are so many start-ups, and, much like podcasts, most of them don’t have even one review, we have to be competitive with other agencies.
We need to hire qualified professionals and offer our customers unique services. That’s what my cousin who is a spokesperson for Long Island’s largest secondhand Jacuzzi warehouse says in her commercials. We can’t just employ someone the ACC won’t let adopt cats anymore and adult Haley Joel Osment. So, here’s the situation.
It’s mostly an employee’s market because so few people are qualified. The best candidates are ex-marines and anyone who got off on murder charges. For some reason you’re not allowed to hire anyone with a criminal record.
Ben: I thought you had a criminal record.
Mallory: I bypassed that by owning the company. No one said the no pants subway ride required panties. What if I’d been British and wanted to participate? Was I supposed to infer from context? Go to the store and buy underwear? Anyway, there was a class of 2nd grade students going to the natural history museum that made it sort of a mass felony. It wasn’t my best day. To be honest, It wasn’t my worst day either.
I want to talk through the image we’re going for. In this landscape, which is quickly unfolding and I will be completely honest we have not kept up. You’ve got major players already: big box MurderFi, high-tech QuickKillDeluxe, and a bunch of indie hipster-type places like saw & cedar, or the hammer poke poet--that’s one guy, he does all his murders. He’s already a legend. Then there are a bunch of companies with no reviews that don’t have an angle or anything to distinguish them, and it’s like, well how are you going to make this assasination unique and special? It costs a lot, takes a lot of paperwork and sometimes you want something special--an experience--more than you want to get it done. Sometimes you cared about the person and you want them to go out in a flash of rainbows, unicorns, and shards of la-z-boy.
So I’ve had some time to consider what we in the industry call “the brand.” For example, my cousin’s is jacuzzis that don’t give you herpes; and if you test positive, you probably had herpes already.
I didn’t have enough time or money to take the entire 6-week course on digital marketing, but I did watch a 20-minute youtube video on logo design and sign up for an email list for a “mini MBA” at CUNY. Gotta be realistic. I think that’s enough to get me started.
Based on a couple of applicants I’m hoping are really good, like, better than their resumes would indicate, we’re going for a boutique, new age, spiritual-ish vibe. I think that’s a space not really occupied in the market yet, and it’s a type of murder that makes stealth really easy. It fits in with Ben’s whole “psychic groupie” schtick.
Ben: I am a psychic.
Mallory: And you’re gonna Carrie those 13-year-olds who borrowed their parents’ car and look good doing it.
Am I spiritual? I took a yoga class once. I tried to meditate while I was stuck in a train car between 2 homeless people. Doors were locked. Airflow was limited, It didn’t work. I passed out from smell exhaustion. Official cause. That’s when your brain is overwhelmed by trying to parse two very different, very pungent smells. The World Health Organization reports 400 cases a year and 350 of them occur in New York City between the hours of 8:30 and 8:40 AM. Now, if I go into a public restroom, my blood pressure drops and I lose my vision for two, maybe two and a half hours.
but I get spirituality - I’m into it. I’m not religious, and I think that’s the first requirement for becoming “deeply spiritual.” I also like picking and choosing from different cultures without even knowing where it’s coming from. I enjoy the phrase “inspired by.”
Mallory: Yeah, I just learned a lot about myself, and so did our shareholders. Big spiritual journey for today. I am learning and growing as a leader.
Ben: My spirit pokemon is Ratichu
Mallory: That’s not...OK. So, anyway, for our shareholders. Hi, grandma. I hope the volume on your tablet that you’ve set up next to a megaphone goes high enough for you to hear this. Those neighbors making noise complaints don’t know what they’re talking about. I do talk too low, and that is a sign of poor leadership skills. In the spirit of optimism, transparency, and not being hexed, Here are the interviews with the two fabulous and accomplished women we decided to hire.
Name redacted, Registered assassin name, Kill Witch. Nice.
Mallory: Skilled in the witchy arts, including spellcasting, potions, candle magic, saging, Excel, word perfect, ooh, that’s a throwback, and romeo-and-juliet style poisons. That’s...very specific. Can you say a little bit more about these poisons and your formal training?
KW: I learned from my coven. It’s one of the good ones--it’s in Brooklyn. I can’t say the name, but I have to take the G train to get there and we meet in the spirit of an abandoned domino sugar factory.
I usually make up my own spells and potions in my kitchen, which only includes an air fryer and a set of handmade chopsticks. I’m a very intuitive potion stylist. Very creative.
Mal: My dad was that way with cooking. One time he made a meatloaf that was just ketchup and canned pineapple chunks. He served it with tiki drinks and tried to tell us it was polynesian aspic, but we knew.
KW: That’s actually a really good recipe for starting off a friendship right. Not eating a ketchup loaf is why 90% of friendships fail.
Mal: 90% of friendships fail?
KW: Your dad is a natural born witch.
Mal: That is literally the only possible way to explain why my mom stayed with him. Let’s see...got some classic questions here. Are you a good witch or a bad witch?
KW: I don’t subscribe to a good and bad binary. I feel like that’s very damaging.
Great. Fine. Moving on. What is your strength?
KW: I would say probably, hmm, improvisation.
Mallory: Can you say more about that?
Mallory: Do you mean like improv comedy, improv murder, or like making up recipes when you cook?
KW: All of those things.
OK. What is your weakness?
KW: Well my doctor says I--
Mallory: No, don’t talk about that. What’s something you’re working on?
KW: Well, my coven asks that I stop making up my own chants when we’re in the middle of a spell.
Sometimes I just feel compelled to do a little Lady Gaga-inspired dance. Usually when we’re trying to communicate with the spirit world. They love lady gaga, and so does the spirit world.
Mallory: I see.
Ben: No, they don’t. They say she’s a hack. A Lady Gaga song is actually the only way to get spirits to leave you alone. I would do it more, but I care about my reputation. And I respect myself.
KW: My coven says, Kerry, Can you do that later, or you stepped on the candle and now we have to do the spell over again and it takes 3 hours, you’re inconsiderate and if you’re not going to take this seriously and bring the donuts we asked for to the potluck please stay home we don’t like your protein bar coffee ground meatballs, or don’t dance into that open grave, your shoe’s on fire. Stuff like that. I’m too creative, so I guess I’m working on that. And maybe, like, too connected to the spirit world.
Mallory: Sounds like you might need to find a new coven.
KW [angry; offended] They’re my sisters.You can’t just get new sisters, even if they ask you to.
Mallory: Let’s move on to some practical questions. Let’s say your target lives in an apartment with two roommates. As far as we know, the window is locked, the fire escape is rusted together, and there are no trees to help you up or to hide you from view. The target is a 43-year-old female with sleep apnea, meaning she wakes up intermittently.
KW: I’d cast a spell to help her sleep deeply--classic, simple self-care spell--and let the apnea kill her.
Mallory: All right. I think we’d like to move forward with your application. [papers rustling] Can you kill this 14-year-old boy who won’t stop sticking gum everywhere? Ben can help you with the paperwork. He’s human and posthumous resources. Get it? No. OK.
Mal: Believe it or not, the conversation actually got worse after that. Not that I regret my decision, but usually after you make someone a job offer, they don’t cross-examine you. Several spiritual advisers were called in and I didn’t go home until 4 AM. I redacted most of the recording because it was long, repetitive, and also humiliating. It was also a lot of screaming and pointing at me, not easy on the ears for you, listeners. Apparently I don’t just frighten astrologists, but also numerologists, shamans, and dulas. Kill Witch doesn’t have children, but she has a doula who coaches her through small tasks, like going to CVS or making a TV dinner. Kill Witch just kept agreeing with them, “Yes, I see Beelzebub in her eyes, buuut I need a job.” A few of them got down on their knees and begged that she practice her calling elsewhere. All of them gave me a wide berth and wouldn’t look directly at me. One made a big show of shuddering and convulsing . She laid on the floor and yelled that she needed flamin’ hot cheetos and a black coffee--the way harry potter needs chocolate after a dementor attack. One of them accused Kill Witch of prostituting her god-given skills. Kill witch just said she was bringing together the oldest and second oldest profession under her star signs. Spiritual people have a lot of respect for old stuff, like age creates credibility. Anyway, I’ll be up late thinking about that maybe until I’m so old I’m credible. Here’s the second interview.
Mallory Ok, Rebecca. You go by Crystal Murderer. That seems very niche. Can you tell me about that?
Crystal Murderer: I failed my certification as a crystal healer.
Mal: I didn’t realize that was possible.
CM: Six times. That could only mean that I’m a crystal murderer. They’re very rare.
Mal: My mom took one of those exams. The first question is what is a crystal?
CM: Have you ever tried to write 200 words and answer 5 true or false questions in an hour? I’m also a vampire killer. The killing blood runs strong in me. And a notary. I didn’t fail the notary test. That one requires you to have a signature. I didn’t freeze up on the third try.
Mal: Have you ever met a vampire?
CK: Not yet, but I hope to someday. So I can kill them.
Mal: That’s how I feel about my great grandpas.
A note for all of you at home, Crystal Murderer just showed me the inside of her coat, and she is NOT getting through security at the courthouse. So, crystal murderer. That means you murder crystals?
CM:. I mean, sometimes they crumble to dust. That’s usually because someone sold me dried liquid soap again instead of a crystal. You have to be careful with etsy. But sometimes the crystals crumble because of my powers. You can’t really kill crystals because they’re pure life. My name means that I use crystals to kill.
Mal: Cool. That’s semantically confusing, but catchy. And, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think life is the only thing you can kill.
CM: You can kill someone’s spirit, joy, motivation. I could go on. I specialize in doing that, too.
Mallory: Fair point. Can you tell me, without being tedious, or calling any spiritual advisers, how being a crystal murderer works, functionally. From how far away, at what speed, any other details that can help paint a picture of your abilities?
CM: Don’t worry. No spiritual advisers will take me on because I’m a hopeless case. And my credit card always declines. [whispers] I rubbed it with crystals. [stops whispering]. For me, the crystal does the exact opposite of what it’s supposed to. Instead of finding love, someone might be celibate for years or lose the only cat who ever sat in their lap. Instead of promoting good health, they might get herpes from a used jacuzzi and die of a related infection.
Mal: That never happened!
CM: Little pustules everywhere.
Mal: (recomposes herself) and how do you distribute the crystals?
CM: I give people crystals as birthday gifts, shower gifts, engaged to my ex gifts, congrats on passing your crystal healer exam, mom gifts. They’re great gifts for so many occasions. So small, no one ever feels obligated. Here’s a thanks for interviewing me gift.
Ma: Oh, um, my pockets are already full.
CM: I also lace the crystals with cyanide or common allergens, like scorpion venom.
Mal: Should I be worried about this crystal you clipped to your application?
CM: Lemme see [lips smacking lightly] [pause]
It’s either scorpion venom or the Hudson/east river CD. You can wash your hands, but it probably won’t help you. Let me know if you have any weird dreams tonight?
I had to hire someone that stealthy. And I did have very strange dreams. I think I might still be in one now. Ben is talking to a pokemon that looks like koffing merged with my grandma? Does that make me half pokemon?
Ben: A quarter pokemon.
Mal: Is that an evolution of Evie? Ben wanted to know how I felt being the only one without a supernatural talent. I asked him how he felt about being the only one with diabetes.
As an industry, assasination companies are approaching the legal quota for the set 6-month period, and it’s only December.
Ben: The legislation passed in November.
Mallory: Yes, Ben, stop reminding me. And we moved fast. Just not as fast as big box companies with huge budgets and backers. Our home-spun murder business needs its chance, and it will get it.
Legal murder--as state representatives remind us on instragram every day--is an experiment with an expiration date.
Ben: It’s coming up fast.
Mal: Stop interrupting me. We want to get our perfectly legal, potentially bad and discountable data in before the buzzer. It’s time to move forward with some of these...incredibly dubious requests. Like this one for a priest whose homilies are too long, or a friend who instagrams her workouts, well, that’s legit, A 4-year-old who, quote, “can’t get her act together” and a bodega cashier who charges more for a half gallon of milk than a gallon.
But, hey, we’re in a dubious business. Thanks for sticking on this wild bureaucratic journey with us.
Ben: Until next time!
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Assasin.ly: Because it’s not cheating if you’re a widow
Mallory: Hello. I guess Grandma can hear recorded audio because she keeps asking me who Ben is. At least, she’s sending me the word “Ben” in the middle of a bunch of emojis. Some of these texts are kind of upsetting in a gendered way, like a baby and a wedding dress, and others are just confusing, like a Christmas tree and a bunch of lobsters. I don’t know what kind of existential crisis you’re trying to induce this time, Grandma, but this one won’t end in me crashing your car for the insurance money.
Let’s cover the invasive, unimportant questions first, and find someone to translate the cryptic seafood symbols later. Is Ben my boyfriend? Will we be giving her mediocre great grandchildren soon? Is he coming for Christmas and bringing lobster? No, Grandma, and I promise that mediocre would be wishful thinking. Since you’re old and my chief investor, I’ll give you a pass on making assumptions about our sexualities, even though I came out to you 18 times in the past 4 years. That’s right--every Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and sometimes Administrative Professionals’ day. It’s a hard thing to tell you, and it’s even harder that you don’t remember.
Fortunately, this conversation where I answer emoji-based questions about my relationship status isn’t even a detour. I have to disclose all my personnel files to the public. Some companies are terrified of this level of transparency, but I think it’s our chance to shine, and to let everyone know how and why we hire the best people. Some of these people already have huge fan pages, like that guy who trained from the age of 10 to become a Naruto-style ninja. He has a leaf symbol burned into his forehead. The headband he got from Hot Topic stuck to his head and he didn’t take it off for 2 years. His tan lines are incredible. He can actually travel by jumping from tree to tree. He has the citations to prove it. He fell on a lot of people. Too bad Manhattan doesn’t have very many trees. I guess all his victims would have to be in Central Park.
Ben isn’t that cool. Sorry, I mean, he’s just uncool in the conventional sense, but now the nerds are cool, right? So, why would I hire Ben as my executive assistant-slash-landlord? Let’s see...
I can vouch for Ben. And not just because I’m sitting in his mom’s basement right now. I’ve known him since elementary school. At least, that’s what he told me. I’m not accountable since I spent most of elementary school in a drunken rage. Sure, maybe he likes ferrets a little more than most people are comfortable with, but he’s a good dude. He’s better than those guys who are into feet. He’s not into feet. Right, Ben?
He spends a lot of time talking and thinking about things no one is interested in. I think that’s hard for him, but probably harder for the people around him. We went out for coffee this morning and all he wanted to talk about was aquarium maintenance. Not even real aquarium maintenance. Fishbowl maintenance I literally said can we change the subject fourteen times. I’m an assertive lady and not scared of making bold moves in conversation. He talked about algae and whether his goldfish Toots was dead or just sleeping for 90 minutes. That’s 45 times longer than Toots’ memory.
Ben: When I was little, I read Matilda. I felt this recognition. This camaraderie. Not because I had the same, um, parental experience. My dad wasn’t as cool as Danny DeVito--I assume. I was never intimidated by chocolate cake. It wasn’t even that I liked to read as a kid. I just thought I could probably move chalk with my mind. They never use the P word, but you know that’s what she is. Psychic.
It took a while, but I can move things with my thoughts. Like a really tiny bit. I usually need help from a breeze, but once there’s a good wind and if the object is light enough, no one can stop me!
Becoming a psychic just seemed so attainable for me. I got a 1000 on my SAT. I can do anything I put my mind to.
Mallory: There are real psychics. But Ben isn’t one. Whenever I pass a psychic on the street, they yell You’ll be alone forever and your mom shouldn’t have invested in Beanie Babies, why did you let her. I was 9, Jesus. They usually go back inside, or give me a wide berth, and refuse to take my money, which I see as a reverent offering. I just give off really strong vibes to psychics, like my fate is made of iron. Or it’s toxic to them. They tell me that my star sign disowned me. I was disowned by cancer. Can you imagine being disowned by cancer? I hope that means I’m immune.
Never once has Ben mentioned Beanie Babies or my eternal loneliness. And he knows that all twelve cats I’ve gotten from the Humane Society have escaped through the vents, drainpipes, or, in 3 cases, an empty pizza box brought down to the recycling room.
Ben: Fine, I am technically a psychic. I worked at it for years and years, but it turns out I’m not the kind I wanted to be. I can see and speak to dead people. It was soul-crushing when I realized it.
I was hanging out in a graveyard, like I usually do, trying to move flowers, rocks, and American flags with my mind. I realized that graveyards aren’t usually filled with people gliding around and asking you questions. I’m a New Yorker--I ignore people when they try to talk to me, especially if they’re on hoverboards. Those things can explode, and if someone fell off I’d have to call an ambulance and talk to someone on the phone. And this is a graveyard, show some respect! Here I thought these people were treating it like some skate park to do 19-th century cosplay, or Brooklyners having an ironic steampunk festival, and...yes, some of them were, but most of them were in fact dead. I’d cultivated the wrong type of psychic ability.
Can you feel the deep, painful irony of being able to speak to the dead but not being able to make people dead? Sure, I could cash in and become a TV psychic, or stay on retainer with some rich family and use my powers to ask dead grandpa or Andrew Carnegie for financial advice--Andrew Carnegie, incidentally, hangs out around Carnegie Hall. He really loves Midtown--or use the dead’s testimony to prove art isn’t stolen, but that’s not my dream. I want to be an assassin.
The problem with dead people is that they’re just as annoying as they were when they were alive. Everyone thinks you get all enlightened when you cross over. Being able to watch the people you used to be close to actually makes you pettier. It gives you more choices to judge. You see all the different reasons people spend way too much time in the bathroom--constipation, toilet shopping, using Pepto Bismol as salad dressing, eating a bag of uncooked Parker House rolls--and you just lose all compassion. You can’t make any more bad decisions when you’re dead, so of course you’d assume you wouldn’t add frozen SPAM chunks to your acai smoothie. Even when previous evidence suggests otherwise, Aunt Helen.
My grandma, who passed away 8 years ago, is always going on about her estate sale that was actually just the credit card companies sending an repo gentleman to recoup some of their “investment.” According to her, the day we put all her Christmas snowmen in a dumpster was the day we took a dump on Christmas and her heart. She thinks she’s being clever and won’t stop saying it until I laugh.
She’s upset that we responsibly recycled her collection of classic Sprite bottles. Coke bottles were too expensive and “vulgar.” She says we could have at least brought them to Central Park and thrown them at the rocks one by one while shouting her name and looking sad. She made fun of my grandfather for having a stroke. She said he looked undignified and she told him all along he should have smoked Virginia Slims like she did. Those were the only cigarettes that wouldn’t give you a stroke. Ladies don’t have strokes.
Great Grandpa’s financial advice? He says he’ll connect you to some moonshiners he knows -- they’re dead, too. Dead Uncle Larry can connect you to one of those guys who brings his camcorder to the movie theater.
I was planning to live this life of tragic, anticipatory remorse for all the people I’d killed untraceably. I’d say to Mallory, why, why am I allowed to play God? Why do I wield this power? And she’d say, tears misting her eyes, you’re the only one responsible enough. And I’d know it was true.
I’d watch movies and read books, like PsyDog, or Cop Dog 2: Psychic BowWow. To try and understand myself. But in reality, the only person who’d be able to understand me is me. I know--profound. Still rivers run deep--especially rivers that live in the basement.
Mallory: I keep Ben around because he’s even sadder than me. And all my equipment is in his mom’s basement. And he’s surprisingly good at admin stuff. I’m more of a big ideas girl. Also, all my cats left me and I’m lonely. I know it’s not personal but it hurts.
One night, my roommates kicked me out saying they didn’t even know me anymore, and that I was morally and ethically bankrupt. I was actually financially bankrupt, so this wasn’t ideal. I stood my ground and said they were just intimidated by a strong woman.
I stayed with Ben for a couple of nights. He let me sleep on the carpeted part of his floor. Well, it’s either carpet or a place where multicolor moss has grown and melded with the floor. The light never really gets bright enough down here for me to tell. I put down a Trader Joe’s bag and an old refrigerator door. It was fine. Well, it wasn’t fine. He has sleep apnea. At first I thought the house was being demolished above us. My life was a shambles, so I made peace with being buried alive pretty quickly.
Apnea can be kind of soothing in an erratic way, like that sound you hear when getting an MRI. Almost like a Rorschach test for the ears. 8-10 hours of an oral Rorschach test in total darkness. What do you hear? I bet it’s different for everyone. I hear a car crashing into an avalanche and all my cats screaming for me, telling me that I’m the problem. Hmm.
Like Haley Joel Osment, Ben sees dead people. He prefers to ignore them, says they’re stagnant. It comes with the territory of studying to become a registered psychic. Most dead people don’t know what Bluetooth headphones are. They just think he’s an idiot wearing earmuffs in his house. Dead people judge others, like, real hard for what they do in private behind closed doors. They look so close. Get up near your privates and point and jeer and criticize. That’s why Ben is celibate. Partially why.
Dead people are critics with no potential to create new work. I’m sure they don’t like strong women like me. That’s why, when I ask Ben why he paused and what they’re saying, he says don’t worry about it. They’re probably critical of my bold, somewhat divisive choices. And maybe that I’m wearing jeans buttoned with a safety pin.
Ben: It’s actually the same three ghosts showing me a mole or a lump and asking me if they should be concerned. I say it looks fine. Maybe it’ll turn into some kind of ghost cancer someday. I know that’s not how they died because they tell me all about their deaths like it’s their wedding day. They maybe embellish a little: Barack Obama, sitting president, drove to Holmdel, New Jersey to thank someone for their service? As an animal control officer? Frank swears on his life, but what’s that worth?
Mallory: I don’t remember elementary school because there was a zoning error when my parents went to enroll me. It involved crossing three boroughs. They couldn’t fix it because it involved 3 separate districts, and the Board of Education couldn’t figure out the paperwork. We stayed in an iron cubicle with a paperwork specialist for 4 hours and she said the error had to stand because the forms contradicted each other. She kept crossing and uncrossing her eyes, pulling the paper farther and closer away like she was trying to see a magic eye. At one point she pulled out a thermometer and tried to balance it on her finger.
In the end, I had to take the BSQ 117 at 4:30 AM to get to school. That’s a rare bus that runs from Brooklyn to Staten Island and then somehow straight to Queens. It only runs every 3 hours and it’s not actually listed on any transit schedule. It’s mostly word of mouth, or, on page 7 of the local Russian newspaper next to ads for massage therapy. And it always showed up in a cloud of either fog or cigar smoke, whether it was a clear day or not.
There was a woman named Greta I saw every day. She always said she was going to the courthouse. I was never sure which courthouse, because she got on before me and got off after me somehow. Her clothes were stained in such a way that she could have been a beleaguered public defender, or someone with a trunk full of parking tickets and a perpetual boot on her car, going in to fight the system. I never asked. She never asked me about myself, even though I was a 7-year-old on a public bus alone crossing 3 boroughs before the sun came out. I guess the Barbie backpack with a pepper spray keychain was self-explanatory.
Greta always had something spicy in a paper bag to share with me. She’d take a slug, I’d take a slug. It takes a local bus 35 minutes to go a mile. We were in it for the long haul. Sometimes the bus driver would hand us a beer with a chipped cap and the label ripped off. After the first week, I learned to carry a bottle opener. Clipped it right next to my pepper spray.
New York One did a story about me. I didn’t know they were doing it, but I guess that’s why someone was pointing a video camera at me on my morning commute one day. I just thought it was a regular day--someone pretending that they’re putting together a documentary exposing exactly how many butts and thighs sweat onto those fabric bus seats every day. My pants were usually soaked from knee to hip. I was an early sweater. Anyway, the story was 72 seconds long and it was called “A Child Without a District.” It came after a story about a burst sewer drain in Gowanus that no one noticed for six years because the Gowanus is naturally sewage. My grandma taped it and said, “look at this kid. She’s so sad. Isn’t that sad? Doesn’t she go to your school?”
You know, my roommates had stickers made that said “Strong Women Don’t Murder People, Also, Please Stop Mixing Up the Recycling.” I said what about She-Ra, Molly Weasley, or Laura Bush? I want to have this dialogue about double standards. Strong men murdered people all over the pace. Ulysses S. Grant, Captain Picard, the Quaker Oats guy. No one’s boycotting their apps.
I’m an entrepreneur who failed out of business school, or never got into business school, just like Bill Gates and Albert Einstein. It’s a little bit romantic what I’m doing for women. Kinda makes me tear up a little.
Since I gave out those flyers, I’ve gotten a few emails. Most of them telling me what a horrible person I am. You gotta have thick skin....it’s just, some of them are so accurate. Yup, my dad did say that when he left, and, sure, I didn’t have any friends in middle school, and my grandpa did pick a sandwich over me. Oof, you gotta just move on and make your own way.
A lot of people made fun of my nose ring and my hair. Those are the perils of being a female CEO--you get picked apart for your appearance. I’m an individual and I can’t figure out how to take my nose ring out. I have other skills.
We have some weird requests coming through. Um, these are not supported. Someone is asking us to destroy evidence, steal a car for insurance money—is that you, Grandma?--pick up milk from the grocery store.
Let’s see...we got an inquiry asking Ben to help them find some keys. Hey, Ben!
Ben: Ghosts won’t help you find keys. They say “just walk through the door you nincompoop.” They think because they figured it out everyone else is stupid.
Mallory: We hate ghosts. Hmmm...
There are a couple of legitimate requests from people who managed to get through the paperwork. Oh, wow. There are a few of them. Ben just sent over a few more. We’re the lowest prices in town if you don’t factor in people standing on their stoops waving around machetes. Don’t go with them--that’s like going to the dollar store for your wedding. You deserve better. Obviously I can’t reveal details because if the targeted person finds out you filed assassination paperwork on them, the whole thing is off. By the way, sorry, Aunt Denise. I’m sorry to everyone in the family who ever wanted a pig in a blanket. Really. But, hey, you can try again in a few years, or just buy a lot of pigs in a blanket and see where that goes. We’re moving on--moving forward. And I’ve got some paperwork to do. Until next time!
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Mallory: You’re here. You voted for state-regulated assassination. Or you stayed home and didn’t vote, but maybe you’re ready to take advantage--
Ben: Stop making this political! Besides, the election is over.
Mallory: I was just giving some context.
Ben: Switch gears!
Mallory: Is there someone in your family like my great, great uncle Teddy? He showers once a week and uses air freshener in between.
Ben: There was pee smell. I smelled it from outside his car when he came here to drop off his dead wife’s set of collectible Welch’s jelly jars.
Mallory: If only it was just a pee smell. Could you enjoy Christmas ham while he tells dirty jokes and is dirty? And he’s young for a great, great uncle! He’s not going any time soon.
Ben: Do you think he ever learned to do laundry?
Mallory: Do you have a great, great uncle Teddy? Assassinate him before he ruins another holiday that’s already bad.
Or, what about my cousin’s step dad, Jeff? Jeff thought he could eat for free because his stepson worked at chili’s. There’s no such thing as a free jalapeno popper. Especially not a step jalapeno popper.
What about my uncle Robert? He bet the money he and aunt Claire had been saving for years for a weekend trip to the Poconos on an episode of the property brothers.
Ben: Most episodes of property brothers do not include a TKO. He wanted a specific property brother to beat the other property brother
Mallory: They have names?
Ben: And the couple to not buy a house.
Mallory: I thought the second brother was CGI.
What about Grandpa Carl who keeps trying to out his grandson as a cannibal? He’s all, I found an arm in your room. Where are the arms coming from? Stop breaking into mausoleums, grandpa Carl! And stop putting your “treasures” in your grandson’s Lego box!
Ben: Mausoleums have very lax security.
Mallory: He likes them because you don’t have to dig. You just get cursed every time you enter one.
Ben: you’ve been cursed once, you’ve been cursed a hundred times.
Mallory: He opens the casket with a crowbar. His garage is filled with crowbars. When I was a kid, he’d carry one around the neighborhood and just show me how he could open people’s trunks with them. We found two kidnapping victims that way. One of them was alive.
Ben: and the other was and is very indignant. Wait, quick! Tell them what it’s about! You’re way off track!
Mallory: We kill people.
Ben: They already know that. We’re running out of time! Sell it!
Mallory: Assassin.ly! Because hiring us is less emotional work than having an honest conversation with someone who has upset you.
Ben: What would your family be like without those people?
Mallory: It would just be a collection of Hummels.