Saturday, December 27, 2008

Join Me at the Bottom of the World

Here's an excerpt from Market Adjustment and Other Tales of Avarice:

New York—October 28, 1929

“A hotdog, mister?”

“Got any money?”

Myron Barnes patted his tattered overcoat, knowing he didn’t have any money. He caught the vendor’s eye and tossed his hands out to the side. “I ain’t had no money for days. Thought I might find somethin.” Myron turned away. “I understand. You got a business you’re tryin to run.”

“Hold up now. I think I can spare one.”

Myron turned back around to face him. Their eyes stayed locked and the vendor’s motions were mechanical, assembling and wrapping the hotdog, handing it across the cart to Myron.

“Jeez, thanks mister. When I make my fortune I’ll make sure to pay you. Consider this a loan.” He held up the hotdog before taking a big hungry bite of it.

“I wouldn’t count on that. Don’t think nobody’s makin money today. Head down to Wall Street, you’ll see a whole lotta panic. That is… unless you got somewhere else to go.”

“I think you and me both know I don’t.”

“Enjoy. I think a whole lotta people’s about to join you.”

Myron turned his back on the vendor with a dismissive wave. He took another bite of the hotdog and headed toward Wall Street. The vendor’s words stung him. Had it become that obvious he lived on the street?

Luckily, Myron thought, he still had his youth and some vestige of his looks. Maybe it was just his eyes. Somehow he was able to compel people to do things for him. Maybe they just saw poverty and desperation. So, yeah, he lived on the street, but it wasn’t hard to find some girl to take him in for the night. More often than not, he had a place to sleep. And he had the Enclave.

He crouched down in front of a sewer grate and took one last, longing look at the remainder of the hotdog before dropping it down. He rose and wiped his hands on his filthy pants, his stomach now gurgling pleasantly as it broke down the food.

He breathed in the crisp October air and turned onto Wall Street.

It was choked with panic. People shouting in disbelief. Running hands through their hair and clutching their pockets like something could reach in and take whatever was left right out. A palpable buzz binding everyone together.

Who were these captains of industry?

Materialistic money worshippers, Myron thought. No one knew which gods they worshipped anymore so these people had chosen to worship their bank accounts. They had built a house of cards and now, watching a man’s hat fly off as he kicked the tires of a nearby Nash with great fury, that house of cards had fallen. This was the fallout.

Myron did his best not to smile. Not that anyone would have noticed.

Join me, he thought. Join me here at the bottom of the world.

A rain of glass exploded from above, followed by a heavy wooden office chair. The crowd gathered on the sidewalk backed out into the street and craned their heads upward.

A collective gasp. A man flying through the air, framed against the gorgeous blue sky, his jacket and pants flapping as he clawed at the empty space around him.

He hit the ground in an explosion of bone fragments and gore. Myron crossed his arms to shield his eyes. A woman to his right screamed. An eyeball had slapped against the lapel of her jacket. She did a weird little dance as it sluggishly slid down before plopping onto the greasy asphalt.

Myron felt blood spattered against his palms. He held his hands out in front of him to examine them, the gesture of begging all too familiar.

A hundred dollar bill rested wetly in each palm.

He casually wrapped his hands around the bills and slid them into each of his pants pockets before disappearing down the nearest alley.



The Whole Freakin Fam said...

Thank you for writing about this. ESPECIALLY from this point of view.

Andy said...

You're welcome! If you get a chance to check out the rest, let me know what you think...