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Short Stories - Fiction
including Snake Tongue
For mature readers
Sample - from The Motherlode Man
What is a rich man to do, when his wife is no longer alive, when he has gotten old and he has no children?
He was such a man, and he owed his wealth to no one. He'd made it all by himself with no small difficulty over no short time against all the odds, and protected it against the savage hordes. Against. That was his word, his motto. It was him against them, all of them.
And them against him. Always had been. Always would be. That was the way of it. And exactly why he'd fired everybody. Except the grounds man. A well-ordered outer appearance mitigated against potential incursion. Anyway, the grounds man had no access to the inside; all the other ones had.
How could anyone be expected to be able to defend against them all all the time. A frail old rich man was a sitting duck. Eventually he had to break with everybody, in order to protect his fortune.
Ironic because soon he wouldn't even be needing any of itl. He knew that very well. But for now it was the only thing that separated him from them. That was the fine green line between being at home in his baronial though mostly closed-down mansion and out on the street with nothing, to die like a dog in the gutter, like a homeless. He shuddered. There but for the grace of....
God helps those who help themselves. His mother had told him that a long time ago, and it was still true. If he hadn't done it by himself and for himself, he wouldn't have it at all. And if he didn't protect it, it would all disappear, just like that. He snapped his fingers unconsciously, shocking himself out of the reverie. What had he been thinking? Oh yeah. How rich he was, and how he'd made it all by himself. How he didn't owe anybody anything to. How everybody wanted to take everything away from him.
The price of wealth has to be eternal vigilance. The enemy never sleeps.
Even now, while he was contemplating the various aspects and intricacies of defense, the Conspiracy was in full flower. But what? How? Had he neglected anything? He was certain he had left no stone unturned. But had he? How were they going to come at him this time? Because one thing was for certain, they were going to come at him.
He'd already converted all of his assets into cash, which he kept in several banks. He could live quite well off the interest of any single one of the accounts. And they couldn't all collapse at once. Could they? Cash was the only real value. Well, wasn't it? Yes, cash was king, but....
But what? He was wracking his brain. There was a plot to do him in, no doubt about it, if he onlycould figure out what it was. Multiple plots. Had to be. He could feel it in his bones plain as day, like a storm approaching. But what?
Inflation for one thing. Cash was just paper. When you got down to it, what was it really worth? Only what they said it was worth, no more, no less. And, damn it, the banks could in fact collapse all at once. And, thanks to the FLIC's centralizing lock, it was starting to appear that that was just what was most likely to eventually happen. When it came to banks, you could very well reverse the old saying. Divided we stand; united we fall.
Well, there it was. That was it. He'd figured it out. Federal centralization virtually guaranteed that it was going to happen. And he was sure he was the only one who knew it for sure. Others might have their fears. He had knowledge.
Say you take your cash out. Keep it in the safes around the house. You'd have to hire a guard, but guards cannot be trusted. You hire a bonded guard. Bonded schmonded.
Even iIf you did get it out in time, they'd just devalue it on you until it wasn't worth the paper it was printed on. He couldn't be the only one to know it. If he knew it, somebody else knew it too. And if anybody else knew, they'd all know, or would very soon; and they'd all hit the banks all at once. And that'd do it.
So what do you do? What is of real and lasting value? Real estate? No. Who needs properties when the system collapses? Just something for the rampaging mobs to ravage. Something they can't manipulate so easily? Gemstones? Too complicated. Too much to know. Too many ways to get ripped off.
Then there it was. He had to laugh. It was so true. Too true. Always had been. Always would be. The answer had been right there in front of his nose all along. So simple, so obvious. It might go up. It might go down. But it wouldn't be it going up or down; it would be the value of the cash it represented. It would always be the same, the one true standard.
He figured it out on a Saturday night and was barely able to contain himself until Monday morning, when he started calling on the banks. He ordered his money converted into gold bricks and delivered to his mansion in unmarked utility vans. This was unusual apparently, because there was shock and reluctance among the bankers, which he overrode with the dispatch reserved for the very rich and to which even banks must acquiesce. It was a more complicated maneuver than it would seem on the surface. And then there was a change of plan, and he had to call each one back and rechoreograph the entire event.
It had to be done in a two-stage operation. It had to be all delivered someplace else, and then moved with stealth later on to the mansion. He leased an entire estate complete with staff for six months for the first step. Couldn't let the bankers know anything, or no way you'd be safe...ever. And the servants of the leased estate of course had no idea either. All they knew was heavy locked trunks were being delivered and locked in the garage.
He sold the limo. Who needed a limo at a time like this? He bought a white van without windows. And he bought a gas station with an enclosed shop. He closed the gas station and had the trunks brought from the garage at the leased estate, orchestrating the deliveries to span the course of one day. He hired a man to drive the van and deliver the trunks. He rode with the van and had the man pull directly into the shop and unload behind locked doors. Each trunk was immediately covered with canvass. The driver never saw anything but the trunks he was delivering. Thus he would not be able to catch a clue as to the meaning of the job he had been hired to perform or of its significance in the context in the greater whole, or even a glimpse of the idea that there was a greater whole.
This phase of the operation complete, he locked the shop and had the man drive him back to his estate, where he paid him in cash and called a cab for him.
© Charles Martin Simon