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Short Story: "Scaling K2" (part 3 of a series)

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"Carver." He extended his hand. "What did you have in mind?"

"I don't know how much you know about the man behind JonesCo, Mr. Carver, but a good deal of Wendell Jones' fortune, and most of his construction empire, was built by slipping through gaps in the law. He did a lot of trading in collateralized debt obligations -- bundled mortgages like yours -- in which the chain of custody was broken."

"He what?"

"It's like this," Angela said, "in order for Jones to legally buy your house, the outfit that holds your mortgage must have clear title to it. Since Jones prefers to trade in CDOs, there's a good chance that your mortgage-holder has actually sold the loan, and its only acting as payment agent for all the investors who own a piece of it through the bond it was cooked into. Unless someone can prove that they own your mortgage, he can't buy it from them."

A twentyish young man with a neatly trimmed beard quietly slid a box into the van beside Carver's, turned, and glanced expectantly at the newcomers.

"Oh, I'm sorry," Carver said sheepishly, and introduced them to Thad. He was a volunteer from the First Assembly Church who'd been helping him to pack out. Thad explained that he'd come down with a group organized by John Avendale Simms, the church's Pastor, to welcome their new neighbors into the religious community in the complex that Carver and several others on the block were moving to. But when Angela explained that she and Ifan were part of OWS, he excused himself, and said he'd be back shortly with Pastor Simms.

"That's friendly of them," Ifan said. "Is there anything we can do to help?"

Carver glanced into the van, and then turned back towards his house. "Now I'm not so sure," he said. "If what you say is true, maybe I shouldn't take their offer after all."

"Whose offer," Angela asked, "JonesCo's or the First Assembly Church?"

"Both, maybe. Simms' congregation is deeply into outreach, as you can probably guess from their presence here. Well, they also encourage their parishioners to open their homes to people who are living on the street."

"Kinda like what the city's been doing to the Occupy lately," said Ifan. "How strong is their encouragement?"

He frowned. "Very. I got the strong impression that it might as well be mandatory. And as much as I'd like to help others, that's really got to be a personal choice."

Angela nodded. "So you're feeling pressured from both directions."

Carver eyed her suspiciously. "What's your angle anyway? I mean, why are you two here in the first place?"

"To be perfectly honest, it's partly out of frustration. A few days ago, I was helping a bunch of folks work the kinks out of a new street theater project. Unfortunately, the mayor's new tech toy -- that police drone he got from Homeland Security, caught us on video, and he pushed through an absurd new rule to shut down Occupy Wall Street's ability to conduct business or stage a protest."

"I've never been much a fan of the guy. What rule was that?"

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Ever since I learned to speak binary on a DIGIAC 3080 training computer, I've been involved with tech in one way or another, but there was always another part of me off exploring ideas and writing about them. Halfway to a BS in Space Technology at (more...)

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