The story of the stain-resistant gorilla glass that currently encases the 2018 Apple/Samsung device that you hold in your very hands, today, at this very instant—doesn’t it feel cool against your fingers?—begins in the one of the remotest regions of the Earth: the steaming wilderness of the Batu-Akan jungle in Cambodia.

Batu-Akan’s ape premier was a monstrous gorilla named Baruch, a bloodthirsty creature who’d been terrorizing the surrounding villages for decades. His jaws bit through metal doors, his hide bounced back pistol shots like they were pebbles, and his paralyzing, inhuman gaze drove many lesser apes insane.

Worst among the articles within the litany of his infernal powers were the flaming ropes of sulphuric excrement that Baruch would propel from his rear, with the ferocity of a napalm assault, whenever his diet of jungle snakes and hapless villagers was interrupted by the monsoon season or a concerted assault by the metropolitan police forces—when he was forced to subside on defective merchandise (cast off from the sweatshops in the area) and sour puzzleroot, alone—hiding or in refuge.

John Bhat Pepsi, the inventor of gorilla glass, was just a child when his only surviving family member—his sister—was abducted by Baruch and taken to the monstrous creature’s monkey harem in the middle of the forest.

Once, much later, I found him out of bed, looking out at a near dawn San Francisco from his expensive penthouse windows; he’d clasped his hands behind his back; rain-rivers formed and broke apart against the glass.

Even after so many years of living in America, his accent was still strong (it was hard for me to understand him):

“Nothing left. Do you know what that’s like, for a person to have nothing left?”

I couldn’t say I did, so I just crossed my legs.

This is what it meant: he’d picked up his grandfather’s machete, he’d clutched it to his chest (beside his heart) and braved his way into the jungle, ready to die for the one he loved.

Soon he’d breached the bone-strewn compound of the monkey king. The air was heavy with humidity, mosquitoes buzzing in his ears…

Bhat Pepsi unrolled his meager rags and laid them on the ground. He knelt and prayed to his ancestral spirits; he strengthened his resolve. He stood, plucked his machete from the ground, and strode out, nude, to meet his foe.

What a battle! What a mêlée! What a great gory maelstrom!

But his faith preserved him. He drove the machete into the ape’s thick skull, splitting the coarse fur, thick skin, viscera—the skull cracking like a chicken-bone—draw back, John! Rear back and strike the frothy ape!!! Bone, dura mater, arachnoid: Newton’s third law of motion; the echo of the death blow traveling up one’s arm.

“I understood the meaning of the term ‘evil spirit.’”

He shook his head, rocked the champagne in his glass, and took a sip.

He licked his lips. “This country is full of evil spirits.”

I leaned back with a frivolous turn of my head and smiled. “What, here?”

He frowned. “Yes, here. The evil spirits of Cambodia can be cut down by discipline and prayer. What can contend with your own evil spirits? What is there, on Earth or in Heaven, that has the power to resist them?”

I scratched my neck. “What…like capitalism?”

He scoffed, and his champagne burst back into his glass. He wiped his mouth with a handkerchief. “Don’t be absurd!”

I blushed and felt stupid. “Well, what do you mean, then?”

He licked his upper lip and smiled at me.

“Don’t sweat it.”