[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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