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When I was a young boy, my mom would take me to the art museum. I used to love looking up at the paintings. I could stare at one for hours trying to find something I’d never seen before. Some indistinct brush stroke, a new color, anything that was special about it. But one thing I never noticed about the paintings were the frames. Out of all those years in all those museums, paying so much attention to detail, I had never once noticed the frames. You see, that was the mark of a truly great piece of work, you‘d never notice the frame — only the masterpiece inside of it.
That was a long time ago and I’d never given it much thought, but now that I was tied to a chair in a room staring up at an authentic Basquiat skull painting in the second ugliest frame I’d ever seen, sitting next to Satoshi Nakamoto’s wife, with the barrel of my own gun placed on the back of my head, it seemed like the appropriate time to reflect.
But let’s start at the beginning.
I had just wrapped up the final paperwork on a case. That’s when I heard footsteps coming towards my door. I could tell by the footsteps that it could only be one person, Miss Natoshi; the mayor of Blockcity.
You see a few years back, federal agents ransacked Miss Natoshi’s home looking for her husband. In the chaos, she tripped and fell down the stairs leaving her with an almost unnoticeable limp in one of her legs. You’d miss it if you didn’t listen close, but I listen close.
I was hired to. A private investigator in these parts wouldn’t last a day if they didn’t. And I was the best. Anytime there was an issue over in Blockcity that affected my town, they called me.
Blockcity was infamous for using cryptocurrencies to do business. It just didn’t smell right to the rest of the world. So Mayor Natoshi made it her sole duty to legitimize her city and the value that cryptocurrencies had.
And here she was, coming into my agency to put me on a case that would prove to be my biggest case ever.
She swung my door open in a rage. Eyes red hot with anger, a look I had never seen in her before. She threw a manila envelope on my desk, walked over to the window, folded her arms, and just stared outside.
Inside the envelope was a stack of photos. One after the other were pictures of Mayor Natoshi in a private residence having drinks, laughing and exchanging goo goo eyes with none other than the owner of all the banks in my town, Janky Jerome.
Janky J. got his nickname on account of each of his banks was pretty run down and old school; they couldn’t keep up with the times. But make no mistake he ran this town and you’d be wise not to call him by his nickname to his face let alone be the mayor of Blockcity and get caught schmoozing with him.
Miss Natoshi was being blackmailed. As I threw the pictures on the table and grabbed a cranberry juice with no ice, she sat down and told me how the meeting was nothing more than trying to find ways for our two towns to work together. But we both knew that if the press got a whiff of this, they’d have a field day.
Natoshi has a certain public appeal, she’s extremely alluring and she knows it. If those pictures got released, she and everyone in Blockcity would be ruined. Her anger quickly turned into sadness as she shed a few tears and confessed to me that she wasn’t bad, she was just pictured that way. What a dame.
Indeed Mayor Natoshi and everyone in Blockcity was misunderstood. The rest of the world didn’t see what they were all about and now all the progress that had been made was threatened with a few photos. If she didn’t resign as Mayor and give up information on where her husband was hiding, the pictures would get leaked.
Mayor Natoshi’s husband hadn’t been seen in public since 2008. It was widely believed that even though he had gone into hiding after creating the largest cryptocurrency in Blockcity, he still secretly kept in touch with his wife. As a response, Judge Frank, the most notorious federal official in my town established The Commission; a special agency made to track down her husband and any other cryptocurrencies that threatened business as usual by any means necessary.
No sooner than I could pour my second glass of cranberry juice to calm my nerves did we hear the local paperboy outside screaming “extra, extra, read all about it. Mayor of Blockcity having affair with…you guessed it Janky Jerome.” Whoever was hired to take those pictures had already released them.
I told the Mayor to go home and try to get some rest, that we could think this over the next day. As she left my office, I sat back to think. If the photos were released and Mayor Natoshi hadn’t even given into the demands yet, there had to be more to it. But what?
With the news released, the media went into a frenzy. In an hour it was all over the city and by evening, the press was swarming Mayor Natoshi’s estate demanding more information. The press camped outside of the Mayors until dawn, which is the time when I looked outside as they swarmed the house that I was now in looking down at a more sinister crime.
It was 4am when I received the call. There was a kidnapping. I hung up the phone, took a shot of cranberry juice, and rushed over to the scene of the crime. It was no other than Janky Jerome, kidnapped from his own study. The glass bookcase was broken, papers were thrown all over the room, and there was blood on the floor.
His wife had discovered that he was missing when she heard the struggle and went downstairs. She arrived to the study with the back door busted open hearing screams of her husband yelling for help. By that time, it was too late. When I arrived at Jerome’s, the only thing in seemingly perfect order was a picture laying on his desk. A picture I had seen before, of Mayor Natoshi and Jerome together a few nights before in this same residence laughing, drinking, and exchanging goo goo eyes with each other. Someone had drawn a heart around Miss Natoshi’s face with lipstick. A deep red lipstick that smelled like a lotus flower. There was only one person who wore a lipstick like that in this city and only one other person who’d be jealous enough and have the ability to get that lipstick.
Of course, Natoshi couldn’t be a suspect since the press had swarmed her house all evening from the moment she had walked in. This job reeked of a jealous husband but something in my gut told me it wasn’t. Something about that picture laying their perfectly while the room was in a fritz didn’t sit right with me. But the way the cards were falling, it didn’t look good for the Mayor’s husband, Satoshi. Once again, the press would go into a frenzy.
The next day, accusations of Satoshi kidnapping Janky Jerome in a fit of passionate rage had surfaced. As expected, it was all over the news and now, I needed a drink. I stepped out of my office, went downstairs, and drove to the edge of Blockcity to my regular juice bar. On a drive that would normally take 5 minutes, today day it took fifteen because there was an unusual amount of construction going on leading up to Blockcity.
When I got to the bar, I asked about all the construction going on. Judge Frank had just gotten approval for The Commission to extend our town’s public transportation line through Blockcity. It would be used to monitor the dealings within the city and track any use of any fraudulent cryptocurrencies. They called it the FUD Rail. Strange though, I hadn’t heard anything about it being approved — and I hear everything. Maybe the stress of the case was distracting me. The news about Mayor Natoshi and Janky Jerome was plugging up the media. Everyone was talking about it and I soon realized that I was right in the middle of it all.
I looked outside and reporters and cameras had swarmed the juice bar. I could only imagine what tomorrow’s story would be — Down and Out Detective Drowns His Woes in a Bar. I made a B Line to the back of the bar and called a cab to my office. As I approached the door upstairs, I heard water running from inside my office. I pulled out my gun. It was special issue; an extra resonance caliber. 20 bullets in the magazine. I called her Ethel. Whoever was behind my door unannounced did not want to meet Ethel.
I slowly opened the door peering around the corner to where the water was running. With my gun drawn, I crept slowly towards my bathroom and that’s when I saw him. I lowered my gun and took a deep breath as he turned the water off, wiped his face with a towel, and looked at me with an unusual serenity in his eyes. Then he told me that I had better take a seat. It was Satoshi Nakamoto.
It had been almost ten years since I nor anyone had seen Satoshi, except perhaps his wife. I couldn’t help but think that maybe I should have arrested him right then and there but my gut told me otherwise. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this business, it’s that you listen to your gut. However, I had to remain skeptical or risk looking like a fool.
I grabbed a drink and invited Satoshi to sit down and talk. He let out a long sigh and told me how he didn’t kidnap Jerome and thought that he was being framed. He told me how he loved his wife and knew that she wasn’t having an affair. He didn’t have all of the pieces together but he needed me to prove his innocence. I told him that even if I believed his story, why would people choose to frame him now?
He looked at me, his eyes filled with pain. Satoshi told me that he didn’t know why people would choose now, only why they would choose him. That he was being framed because people fear what they don’t understand and hate what they can’t conquer. Right then, a lightbulb went off — it wasn’t Satoshi who was the only one being targeted; it was all of Blockcity. But by who?
Just as Satoshi and I were about to start making a list of people who’d have the motive and the means to frame him, there was a knock on my door. I’d been so caught up with Satoshi that I couldn’t hear anyone come up the stairs and I was caught blindsided. The doorknob began to twist and I looked towards Satoshi to tell him to hide but he had already disappeared.
The door swung open and there in front of me stood Mayor Natoshi. In that moment I wanted to tell her that I’d seen Satoshi just moments before but I knew that could compromise the entire case and if things went further south, her image would never be able to be repaired. She walked over to my desk with that same sadness I had seen a few days earlier in her eyes.
As I gestured for her to take a seat, I noticed that her hair was frazzled, no makeup, and no lipstick. Even without it she was still a stone cold knockout which only added to how misunderstood she had to feel. I chose to start conversation with light banter; “no lipstick today?” I asked. She told me she must have forgot to put it on. She reached into her purse to look for it, but to both of our surprises, she couldn’t find it.
I quipped, “that’s okay — you don’t need that lipstick. It needs you” fearfully knowing that Satoshi might still in the room secretly listening. She smiled and I offered her a drink to shake off some of the nerves plus my glass was empty so I needed a refill. I reached down to grab my glass, which was resting on top of the photo I had found at Janky Jerome’s with Mayor Natoshi’s lipstick on it when I noticed something. I looked straight down through my glass, which magnified the image of the lipstick shaped heart. I froze. Then the entire case fell on me like a ton of bricks and in an instant I grabbed my coat, picked up Ethel, and ran out of my office leaving the Mayor in a state of confusion. Before I shut the door, I yelled to the Mayor reminding her that she wasn’t bad, she was just pictured that way.
When I got outside, there were no cabs and my car was a few blocks away at the bar. I hopped on the FUD Rail straight to the edge of Blockcity. On the way there, I couldn’t help but feel fear for if Satoshi was caught before his name would be cleared, and uncertainty on if I could get to the center of Blockcity in time. There was a wave of doubt that came over me but as I got off of the rail line and looked up at the entrance of Blockcity, an unusual confidence renewed me.
Since the new construction hadn’t finished yet, I had to change lines at the city’s edge. I hopped onto Blockcity’s main rail, the Hodl Line and took it straight to the center of Blockcity where City Hall was. Right outside stood a statue of one of the city’s most prominent advocates — Clif High. Deep inside City Hall was the Clif High City Plan. It was a blueprint of the city’s development to date and future plans for working with surrounding towns and how Blockcity would become a beacon of progress. New businesses, new technologies, transportation lines, and more was all shown on that blueprint.
I rushed through security and ran downstairs to where the blueprint lay sealed in a highly protected glass case. I looked at the print to where my town and Blockcity bordered but couldn’t find it. It along with the other bordering towns of Blockcity had been ripped out. I turned around and looked up at the ceiling where the security cameras stood watch. Each ones cords were ripped out. It looked like a dead end.
I looked up at the cameras in disarray. I was so close, but yet so far. It had proved to be another loose string tough to tie on this case. Maybe I was losing my skill, maybe someone was always 2 or 3 steps ahead of me. There was only one thing to do at that moment. I needed a drink. I hopped on the Hodl Line back to the edge of Blockcity to my juice bar. As soon as I stepped in, there was a drink already waiting for me. I downed it, paid my tab, and walked to my car that sat outside since earlier that day.
I sat behind the steering wheel staring out the front window blankly into space. I didn’t care to stick my keys in the ignition. I looked down at the papers in my passenger seat and let out a long sigh when a hazy feeling came over me. My eyes slowly drifted down as I sat parked in front of the juice bar. My head nodded to the side, I couldn’t speak or make a sound. Someone had drugged my drink.
I woke up in a haze, tied to a chair in a room staring up at an authentic Basquiat painting, sitting next to Mayor Natoshi, with Ethel placed squarely on the back of my head. I looked around the room to get a bearing on where I might have been. On every wall hung expensive paintings by the most notable artists in history. There was only one person who could afford a collection like this- Satoshi Nakamoto, and now we were in his private gallery, the kind of place that you’d only hear rumors about.
Behind me, I heard a door slowly open and footsteps coming towards us. Ethel was quickly pulled away from me and as I took a deep breath, whoever held the gun was now swinging it with all of their might towards the Mayor’s head. Her body fell unconscious. Laughter followed while two sets of footsteps walked around to the front of where I was sitting. Standing before me were two people; one who despised me and the other who outright disgusted me.
Judge Frank and Janky Jerome, together looking down at me smiling and laughing with pride. I told them that Satoshi wouldn’t take too kindly to them hitting his wife. My words fell on deaf ears, as they continued laughing and began to tell me that the more pain she was in, the better.
They needed the Mayor as bait, to lure in Satoshi. Without her, their plan of taking over Blockcity would never come to fruition. Someone needed to take the fall for kidnapping Janky Jerome and someone had to make the Nakamoto family seem so unstable that no one would dare use cryptocurrencies again. Since Satoshi had created the largest currency, and amid all of the scandals and accusations, it was easy for The Commission to get approval to connect the FUD Rail to Blockcity keeping a watchful eye over to stop anything that would get too big too quick.
The photos and their release before any demands were met. Janky Jerome’s kidnapping. The press surrounding the juice bar where I left my car. It was all a set up, perfectly timed, and made to throw anyone who believed in Blockcity under the bus and to keep things in the world the way they were. The Commission and these two sinister men had it all figured out, or at least they thought they did.
From the moment that the Mayor had come into my office, a full scale plan had been orchestrated to cause a mess in the papers and keep the public consumed with the problems in Blockcity. Everyone would be so caught up in the negative news that they wouldn’t even notice Janky Jerome and Judge Frank’s plan to expand The Commission, spread the FUD rail through Blockcity and surrounding towns, and set it all up for it to seem like it was because of Satoshi Nakamoto and cryptocurrencies like his creation that so much turmoil was infecting the community like a virus.
The plan was to make it seem like a disease was spreading that had to be stopped. A disease that would make any future uprisings against the way things were virtually impossible. Judge Frank had made plans with Janky Jerome to act like there was a way to connect Blockcity with the surrounding towns in a positive way. They planned to use that as bait to lure Mayor Natoshi to his private residence, where Judge Frank would take the pictures and send the demands. Within hours, they’d release the photos to surface news about an affair hoping that it would turn the media on their side about Satoshi coming to claim vengeance.
To add fuel to the fire, Janky Jerome stole the Mayor’s lipstick and with it, they faked a kidnapping. All Jerome had to do was lay low enough until Satoshi surfaced where they’d have him arrested before he could speak and in an act of “heroism,” Judge Frank and the Commission would put the missing puzzle pieces together and rescue Janky Jerome. And who would be responsible for it all? Satoshi Nakamoto and turning him into a villain would stop Blockcity from ever bridging the gap between the rest of the towns.
But what Judge Frank and Janky Jerome didn’t count on was me. They knew that Mayor Natoshi would come to me to solve the case of her photos, but what they didn’t count on was how good I am at my job. Earlier that day, when Satoshi showed up in my office and he told me about his love for his wife and Blockcity, I was skeptical. But when his wife walked in and he left my office, I knew two things.
The first was that whoever walked through that door, for the first few moments or so, Satoshi would stay and listen to the conversation to see who had come to visit. The second was that when he heard his wife’s voice, he didn’t budge. He knew that her safety was important and if he made himself present she’d be in more jeopardy than she already was. It was icing on the cake that I learned that Miss Natoshi’s lipstick had been stolen.
I ran to City Hall in Blockcity to check the blueprint and my assumptions were correct. Every neighboring town on the blueprint had been ripped off, which meant that no one could see what the transportation plans were scheduled to be. Whoever ripped those off had a new plan in mind for what was in store. Enter: the FUD Rail, something that I hadn’t seen in the news when I went to the juice bar. It was in that moment that I realized I was being followed. How else would the reporters have known I had gone to the juice bar?
I looked up at the cameras in City Hall for theatrics. Whoever was following me had to think I was thrown off my game. I rushed to the juice bar knowing that they’d make a move. Whether it was my juice or my car was rigged, I needed to be removed from the picture. And here’s what Judge Frank and Janky Jerome weren’t counting on. That their framing of Satoshi Nakamoto was the ugliest frame I had ever seen in my life. It was so blatant, so glaringly obvious, that it overshadowed their scheme. Every great criminal mastermind intentionally designs a misstep, an accident, something that just doesn’t fit in their plans. Everything can’t be perfect, otherwise, you’d risk making it look like it was planned. But that’s exactly what the Judge and Jank did.
They put a bad picture in an even worse frame so when I left my office and reminded the Mayor that she wasn’t bad, I knew Satoshi had to be listening and he’d know exactly what to do. He knew I believed in him and that whoever was up to this would have to try to get me off the case. And from the moment I left my office with the Commission following me, Satoshi was following them. Right up to his private gallery.
I looked up at Judge Frank and Janky Jerome and told them once again, Satoshi won’t take too kindly to them hitting his wife. They let out a huge laugh that was silenced in a few seconds by all of the electricity in the gallery being shut off. The Judge, Jank, and the Commission all yelled and ran around in a frenzy searching for the power box. I felt hands behind me untying my arms and legs from the chair. A gun was placed into my hand, but it wasn’t Ethel. I could tell by the weight and the handle that it was a Golem Glock, a MacGyver type of gun that was made from recycled gun parts.
The worst part — I had made a promise to only shoot with Ethel. But I knew my role for Blockcity outweighed my glock. It was time to get gritty. The lights turned on and Satoshi had already gotten his wife out of the room. I dove behind a desk as bullets flew past my face. I let out two shots dropping two Commission members. Judge Frank had Ethel and shot a few rounds towards me. They shot through a glass full of sand and marbles that came crashing down on my head in tiny pieces. There was gunfire everywhere. The desk I’m behind was getting torn to shreds.
I hear a clip drop and pull up to take the only chance I have for less fire. I let off three rounds and before I could take cover behind the desk, Satoshi ran in with two guns unloading towards the Commission. Two people took hits. As he ran towards me, I started firing at the Commission to provide cover. My gun runs out of bullets in the magazine. Judge Frank turns from behind the wall he’s using as a shield and let’s off one from Ethel.
My heart dropped as the bullet hit Satoshi in the leg as he dove behind the desk for cover. I was furious. I looked around for anything to throw or use. I picked up the marbles from the floor and loaded them into the Golem Glock’s magazine. Here goes nothing. I rose up above the desk and pulled the trigger six times. The loudest bangs I’d ever heard sounded out from the striker hitting the marbles.
Unfortunately, the marbles didn’t shoot out of the gun. They just exploded before being released. Fortunately, however, the bangs were loud enough to give Judge Frank, Janky J, and the last Commission member a good enough scare that they dropped Ethel and ran out of the gallery. I bent down to check on Satoshi. The bullet went straight through his leg, but nothing vital so he’d be okay. I ran towards the door, picked up Ethel, and ran outside of the gallery to chase after the Commission.
When I got outside, they were already in the car speeding off towards the edge of Blockcity. I’d never catch them at this point. I went back inside to check on Satoshi who was being held by the now conscious Miss Natoshi. I told them that the Commission had escaped but the only thing we all felt was relief for still being alive.
I waited for the police to arrive to document stories, and take photographs of the scene, then headed home to get some rest. The Commission had escaped, but we’d be sure to clear everything up in the morning. Something told me that they’d be singing to the tune of their own horn very soon. I walked outside, hopped in my car, and drove towards my town. On the way, I decided I’d stop at the juice bar for a nightcap.
When I arrived, there were police cars and caution tape everywhere. I flashed my badge, walked under the tape, and laid my eyes on an incredible sight. Judge Frank, Janky Jerome, and the remaining Commission member were speeding through town when they lost control of the car and crashed into the late night FUD Rail. It wasn’t fatal and fortunately, the news had already spread about their involvement with framing Satoshi Nakamoto and blackmailing Mayor Natoshi. I looked at them as they were in cuffs limping to the police van.
I let out a smile and waved at each of them. I jumped in my car, drove home, and got some rest because I knew that tomorrow would be filled with excitement across the city. The next day, a press conference with Mayor Natoshi, myself, and the police force was called. While Mayor Natoshi chose to keep her comments brief and off of her husband, I chose to use this as an opportunity to bridge a divide.
When I first saw the crime scene of Jerome’s kidnapping, I thought that this may have been the work of a jealous husband. I was only half right; it was the work of jealousy but not of a husband. It was a feeling that established institutions have felt ever since Blockcity was created. In its rapid development, Blockcity and each of the cryptocurrencies within it have come under intense scrutiny. But it isn’t their fault, and it isn’t the fault of the neighboring towns.
Blockcity is a beautiful place, but only together can we realize the potential that both of our worlds have to work together, to progress, to create technologies that serve us now and in the future. We must remember that the path towards a brighter future depends on our ability to step back and look at the entire picture, not just how it’s been served up to us.
And that’s exactly how I framed it. After the press conference, Natoshi invited me to her and Satoshi’s private estate for a much needed glass of wine. When I arrived, as expected, Satoshi was there with a huge grin on his face. I thought that if I ever received the chance to meet Satoshi, that I would have so many questions for him. But today, I only had one. Why would he put such a beautiful original Basquiat painting in such an ugly frame?
He told me that it was intentional. It was something he and his wife had agreed to when he decided to fade into obscurity years ago. They placed each of their paintings in that gallery in ugly frames to remind themselves that no matter how ugly things became, no matter how much the news bashed them or the Commission came after them, underneath it all was something beautiful — the message that they and Blockcity had to get out to the world.
This series was created by The Framewrk Agency — a consultancy that makes decentralization digestible for mass markets. We help get platforms + technologies understood and adopted to build a brighter world, together.