I became intimately acquainted with just how well Dollar Smack was catching on when a petit girl in an adorable knit cap and matching scarf stopped me on my way into the Caffeine Bean. Her eyes studied my face for only an instant before she reached out and stopped me at the threshold of the open double doors.
“Are you Jo Parks?”
“Yeah. Have we met?”
She didn’t answer, but looked over at her friend standing behind her, who wore an annoyingly similar knit cap and matching scarf of a different color.
“Take my latte and hit record,” she said.
“Got it,” her friend said as she took the paper coffee cup and took a step back to take in the whole scene with her phone’s camera.
That little firecracker methodically took off her gray knit glove and smacked me in the face with a bare-handed slap so loud that it made half the coffee house look in our direction. The force of her smack pushed me back on my heels and I instinctively covered my affected left check with my left hand. The cold November air made the sting that much worse.
I composed myself as best I could and looked at my cute little assailant. Her eyes were bulging as she stood frozen for a split second probably not fully comprehending that she just assaulted a perfect stranger. She snapped out of her trance and methodically pulled on her knit glove.
It looked like she was going to walk away. I was going to have to prompt her to finish it. She wasn’t going to say the phrase. I gave her another second or so as she finished with her glove and grabbed her latte back from her friend.
I had to tell her, “You have to say the words or it doesn’t count,” I said, still blocking the entrance of the coffee house.
“What?” she said.
“You have to say the words.”
“Oh, yeah,” she said, as the light bulb finally blinked on in her mind. “That was instant Karma brought to you by Dollar Smack,” she said and pointed her finger at my throbbing cheek before she turned and hustled off up the street.
I stepped back into the Caffeine Bean and got in line as if nothing had happened. I looked at my phone, rubbed my numb cheek and smiled. I had over a hundred hits on the new site. My App was indeed working.
Dollar Smack was borne of all genius ideas: defeat. In my case, it was emotional defeat. One glorious day, my significant other decided it would be a great idea to cheat on me, take my computer, my debit and credit cards and see how long it would take me to notice. It didn’t take long, but it was long enough to max out my credit card and empty my bank account. It was on.
I wasn’t a computer programmer or a hacker, but I grew up tech savvy and could do some basic things like set up a web page. But I called on a few friends who inhabited the dark corners of cyberspace for some help. After a bit of brainstorming we figured out a plausible way for me to earn my money back while ensuring my ex literally felt my wrath.
The result was Dollar Smack: The Instant Karma App. It works in three easy steps:
Step 1: Download the free App to your personal electronic device of choice.
Step 2: Agree to the terms and conditions. The most important of which is acknowledging that no one can hold Dollar Smack, LLC accountable for any mental or physical harm including medical or legal fees due to the pursuit or assault perpetrated by a Dollar Smack participant (simple assault is much better handled among friends and enemies with clear rules of engagement, specifically, no cops or lawyers aloud).
Step 3: Know your role:
The Smack Nominator: (1) Nominate a Smackee by first and last name and phone number. (2) Indicate how much money to pay the Smacker (or a fifty percent payment to the Smacker and the Smack Nominator’s favorite charity) to have the Smackee’s face smacked by a total stranger on video. (3) Enjoy watching your Smackee getting their due on YouTube.
The Smacker: (1) Track the closest Smackee through the GPS signal on their personal electronic device. (2) Record the Smackee receiving their instant Karma on digital video to include the Smacker saying the words, “That was instant Karma brought to you by Dollar Smack.” (3) E-mail the video clip to the Dollar Smack e-mail address.
The Smackee: Get smacked (and don’t whine about it; that’s your role).
Each Smacker will receive eighty percent of the Smack Nominator’s price once the video is posted to YouTube (Note: If you are not a current Dollar Smack App participant and are unknowingly nominated and smacked, you have the opportunity to order an initial Nominator Counter-Smack for half price).
I ran to the apartment I’d been squatting in for the past week and dove into the site where there were a few dozen e-mails in the Dollar Smack queue waiting for me. The anticipation of hot, guilt-free sex or racing down the highway at Autobahn speeds couldn’t match my excitement. My hand shook from anticipation as I clicked on each video clip.
The variety of what I found after each double click gave me a perma-smile as I watched my instant Karma creation in action. A janitor smacked a stuffed suit waiting to board a commercial flight, a college soccer player smacked his coach, there were a bunch of red necks giggling and slapping each other, one brilliant guy even wore a GoPro for hands free slapping pleasure. Each Smacker did their part and said the words and sent the videos. I was so mesmerized as I watched the most base of human entertainment, someone else’s suffering, I had forgotten to check the working account.
I bought a list of a few hundred recently deceased identities from a cyber-pirate friend on the dark web to include Social Security numbers, bank access numbers and full account information. My plan was to use a different account every other day to hold Dollar Smack funds. I checked the current holding account and almost dislocated my shoulder as I danced around the room. Nearly thirty thousand dollars awaited distribution to all the dedicated Smackers out there, minus my twenty percent processing fee, of course.
It took almost eight hours to get through the first couple hundred accounts before I had to sleep. Even as I worked steadily to disperse the funds, more Smackers were adding to my workload. It was the happiest and scariest day (that melted too easily into night) of my life. A phenomenon like this doesn’t stay in the underground for long. I had to work out an escape plan if it went viral, but first, sleep.
I woke to an incessant knocking at the door. I was on top of the covers, wrapped in a blanket, shoes still on. I got up off the bed and half stumbled to the door and opened it as far as the brass chain lock would allow. A man’s furrowed brow peeking through long greasy black hair filled the one-inch opening.
“Are you deaf in there? Answer your damn phone. It’s been ringing for an hour,” his voice said, carrying his words along with the smell of skunked beer and barbeque sauce.
I slammed the door shut without a word and checked the message machine. There were twenty-two messages. I hit the play button and listened to what amounted to crank callers demanding immediate payment for their slapping duties. But there was one that was very different from all the others that had come in only a few minutes before I woke.
The deep and slightly bored voice of a man who identified himself as a New York City Transit Police Officer said he would like to speak with Greg Stonehart, my ex-boyfriend.
I stared at the machine as it replayed his droning voice, “It seems a man with connections to organized crime shot and killed a teenager on the subway after eyewitnesses said he slapped the man in the face and told him it was ‘instant Karma,’ or something to that effect,” he said.
My heart began pumping so fast I could hear the obnoxious muscle pumping overtime in my ears. The situation was glorious. It was better than I could have imagined it. But I couldn’t allow myself to celebrate before I collected my money and made a clean get away.
I logged on and the shooting had, of course, made the news. The whole thing was caught on the subway closed circuit video cameras. The shooter was clearly assaulted by a teenaged Smacker and then shot to death. I felt bad for the Smacker, but then again, he had agreed to the Dollar Smack terms and conditions. He knew there might be consequences for smacking a complete stranger out of the blue on the subway. That was on him.
Next, I checked the Dollar Smack holding account and couldn’t believe my eyes. Over one hundred and twenty thousand dollars worth of instant Karma contracts were waiting for me to liberate them. I had prepared for a clean profit transfer, but not for such a large amount. I had set up a legitimate bank account with illegitimate information complete with fake photo identification of an unsuspecting Internet doppelganger that would take the brunt of questioning after facial recognition software identified her unlucky face.
In less than thirty minutes, I made a wire transfer for ninety-eight thousand dollars, wiped down the apartment, packed my backpack with my few belongings, and made sure the computer was on and connected to the Internet. I looked around my ex-boyfriend’s apartment and smiled before I shut the door and headed for the bank to collect what I had rightfully earned.
I wished I could see the pathetic look on my ex-boyfriend’s face when he and his new girlfriend returned from the vacation they enjoyed courtesy of my credit card and savings account to realize that Dollar Smack was set up in his name and linked to the exact computer he stole from me: Smack! And a police officer would welcome him home with questions about a certain homicide as a result of his company’s operations: Double Smack!
This, I truly believe: Karma is as real as a slap in the face. So, remember, if someone comes up and randomly slaps you in the face, unless you are His Holiness, The Dalai Lama, you deserve it.
Todd Tavolazzi is a full-time Naval Officer stationed in Norfolk, Virginia and a part-time writer. He usually writes on his porch with a drink and a smoke. He is a frequent contributor to Potluck.