JJ’s successor lived on the edge. The still’s keepers were all like that — sitting outside the hierarchy, with a deal for everyone.
Louie Mint was just right. JJ approached him after school. They exchanged nods, and made small talk.
“I’ve got something that’ll interest you, Mint,” said JJ.
Mint arched an eyebrow.
“Step inside,” said JJ, vaulting into his convertible. They cruised out of town, to the hidden location of the still. JJ didn’t bother with secrecy. This wasn’t an interview; Mint was the only candidate, and he wouldn’t say no.
JJ detailed the operation, and the important part: one year, and then Mint must choose his own successor. Mint agreed, hiding his eagerness. JJ drove him back to town, knowing there was no need for promises of discretion. Money would be dancing in Louie’s head already. JJ drove back out to the still.
He was tired. He didn’t like it much. All year, the still had been feeding on JJ’s cool. He figured it happened to all of them — the still sucked out their chutzpah, and somehow used it to spice up the moonshine. JJ’s predecessors ended up faded replicas of themselves, becoming accountants and driving instructors; they joined school boards, and ran the utilities.
JJ chose the other path. He crawled inside the copper bowl, and lay down. Mint would find the still empty, but for now, JJ lay in its belly and waited to be consumed.