They had been acquaintances, rather than friends before the basement. They had been at some of the same parties and gigs, but never cohered until they were confined by need and opportunity in that windowless room.
The Perfect Man was not yet known by his real name – remarkably it took his two caustic new friends to point out his overabundant virtues, which led to a rise in his self-estimation and of the rest of world, particularly its prospective sexual partners for the PM. O had still been Ben; Lazy, incredibly, had been called Josh. When asked to recount how they got to know each other, it was hard to deny the basement had been at the very least formative, given their identities seemed barely fixed or understood prior. They hadn’t even found their real names.
Their undergraduate bonding in that room had been abetted by the jaded old pros and assorted wannabe hacks filling the other seats. Young, arrogant and feisty - even kind PM - the trio soon put paid to all but the thick-skinned or desperate. There had been hope that these Lord of the Flies expurgations would earn them a reward, a payrise, a bigger share each of the collective idea-generating pot, but being network TV, their boss, who had gone out on a limb by scouting them all, accepted the discount.
“You’re all lucky to be getting anything,” he said when he came with bread and water and the cheques.
It was true. $300 bucks a week was scandalous, but so was having kids with no experience brainstorming ideas to a network. ‘Real writers’, who would have been paid properly, were not invited. It was amateur hour
“You’re lucky I need a smartarse perspective,” he had said once.
They loved giving things names. They called themselves Shakespeare’s Monkeys, originally hoping that if they could survive long enough, they would come up with the big network idea which would propel them to …
Well, they didn’t even know what success meant. They had nothing to lose, or didn’t know the dimensions of the loss they faced. Old David Caton knew, and when he eventually was the last hack standing of the Others, they took pity on the sour old bastard. They insisted he had contributed to their weekly submissions even though he had taken a clerical job and showed up only to collect his cheque on Fridays.