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There was one with George Bush painting Britney Spears, or Christina Aguilera, in pixelated squares. I’d never heard of an NFT before. But ever since I laid my eyes on that one, its ads followed me everywhere I went, lighting up my screen with side profiles of King George’s smile. The painted hard right angle of a pop star's jawline. The usual ads used to offer simple steps to debt relief.

It was a part of my life. He was. She was. And if I were to describe the feeling of the ad’s presence, I’d say that it was something like being on the computer in the basement, knowing your parents need to make a phone call. Just checking that IM one last time before they come beating down the stairs.

Due to the nature of the assignment, I spent countless hours searching those strange droves, collecting the implications for my client, and what it all might say about her husband‘s spending habits and social agenda. She was sure he’d fallen down the rabbit hole, but wanted to know the level of his culpability. What he’d contributed to this whole shit show.

It was a vague assignment, she acknowledged. But she would be sure of the proof whenever I showed it to her. So I kept clicking. And I kept scrolling.

I found an NFT of a seal burning a $100 bill. A glowing neon typography of the word “fuck” rendered in the shape of a Chili’s logo. A deep fake of Robert De Niro waving a knife at Myspace Tom.

All of it blurred together. I’m not sure any of the single images I processed weren’t just amalgamations of the thousands I saw during the assignment. But still, George Bush painted Beyoncé in pixels. He even captured the eyebrows of Ariana Grande on the left side of my desktop. The ads wouldn't quit. They were everywhere.

Even at a small local market as I signed my name across the tablet at checkout, I saw something bright and blurred on the bottom banner of the screen. It took a block of walking away for me to put together and realize that I’d seen him again, this time rendering who had to be Lady Gaga. Maybe Adelle. One of the singers who can really play piano, classically trained.

I started to see the NFT’S TODAY under George’s shoes glowing behind my eyelids. So, in the light of morning, I bought a VPN from a service overseas, and the ad disappeared from all the screens around me.

I continued my research, threading together trails that might lead back to my client’s husband‘s presence across the more narrow corners of the web. There, I stepped over teenagers, cut through crowds of investors, and rubbed shoulders with a few others like myself. All in my search for this man that she had described as previously passionate. Looking for the shit he’d posted to the Internet for mob amounts of money.

I still felt like my parents were coming down the stairs, going on about how I was holding up the phone line.


When I brought her my findings, she was wearing a red dress. The kind you’d see on the first row of a Las Vegas heavyweight fight. Viewers at home would notice and lose track of the right hook ending the match and all of next month’s wagered rent.

“It’s only breadcrumbs,” her face all lit up with the blue, purple, pink, light of my phone screen, shifting in front of her with each swipe.

“Not following you, ma’am.”

“I need proof of where he’s been. An image. A screenshot. Something incriminating. All you’ve brought me is a trace of where he’s been. It’s impressive. I know it’s not easy to trail someone through the internet. But what I need, you don’t have.”

“It’s the nature of my work, ma’am.”

“That may be true, but I don’t have to pay you if there’s no result.”

“But you haven’t seen everything,” I shifted to the other side of my seat.

“You came to your client’s home, and didn’t offer up the whole package?”

“I didn’t want to show you because, frankly, I didn’t want to show myself.”

“It can’t be worse than the reality of what's going on with my husband.”

“Of course not. It's just that, it’s odd. I can’t put my finger on it. Why it makes me feel the way I feel. When I look at it,” I winced.

“I’m not paying you if I don’t see some kind of proof.”

“Jenine, I’m not sure this is what you’re looking for. But, you’re right. You deserve the whole picture. I’m sorry.”

I held up the phone, the 43rd president painting an image of Michelle Obama. I dropped my head, sheepish.

“That son of a bitch,” she walked angrily toward the door. “I knew I’d find him.”