Friday, September 1, 2017

A moral story

The last capitalist lied on his mahogany bed and coughed. He was thirsty, but his last most trusted butler had not been seen since lunch time. The last capitalist shouted a name which he hoped was the butler's. He used to be so good with names, but it was hard to remember. Almost everything was hard to remember now.

The last capitalist was a hundred and thirty-seven years old, and he had been starting to feel it. If only he had founded more Alzheimer's research before it was too late.

His bedsheets, although made of the finest silk, made his paper thin skin chafe and ache. He tried to stand up, and failed, but he tried again, and again, and then he made it. Third time's the charm, he said to himself, and laughed a mocking laugh at the ghosts of the many quitters who surrounded him. The laugh turned into a cough that rattled his old bones, and he had to steady himself with his ivory cane to keep his affluent ass off his marble floor.

The last capitalist walked, slowly, across his large room and looked through his window at the city far below. Bonfires burned on the streets and rooftops, almost like the streetlights used to. Even through his triple-layer window glass, and so many hundreds of yards up, he could hear laughter coming from down there. His lips twisted downward at the sound, but he didn't turn away. The neighborhood may have gone to the rats, but it was still his home. Bought and paid for. He was determined to endure the bad with the good.

And it wasn't like he could move to anywhere better anyway.

His stomach ached as it tried to digest the large portion of money. Money for breakfast, money for lunch and money for dinner. His bowels had stopped working a week ago. Greenbacks was all he had left, of course, and the irony wasn't lost on the last capitalist. He was going to die a very ironic death. Very ironic and painful. And soon. But at least it would afford some Generation X hippie or other a moment's entertainment. Never let it be said the last capitalist never did anything for the poor.

He stood for a long time and watched the lights of the city. For a moment it seemed to him the lights began to flicker and move hurriedly back and forth, like rivers. But no. That was back when people drove cars. It was pretty back then, thought the last capitalist, those endless streams of headlights and blinking neon dancing like fireflies in the dark. Now there were just the fires, which burned without moving, and the occasional oil lamp hung to a horse carriage, which moved oh so slowly down the street.

Give me some damn hustle, said the last capitalist to his window. No one listened to him, but he went on anyway, in a bitter whispering litany. Move your fucking asses, you're getting nowhere at this rate, let's see some damn hustle, some damn progress, you're never going to turn a profit unless you get the lead out. And. Hurry. The. Fuck. Up!

The last capitalist slowly slid down his spotless glass and found that he had no strength left to stand up. He coughed and crumpled, like a paper doll, down on his floor in an ungraceful heap.

Scattered thoughts raced through his head as he realized he was going to die. He did not see his life flash before his eyes, as most people do when their survival instincts go into overdrive to search through all of their accumulated experiences for a way out of their predicament. Instead the last capitalist tried to figure out where it went wrong, and who he should blame.

Like most of his brothers, he did not know just when it started, or how. He had kept on trading in stocks and bonds and mortgages and debts as he had all his life, always chasing after the best way to turn his money into more money. At the last count he alone had owned ten trillion dollars, close to twice as much as money as actually existed in the world by the best estimates of his economists. He and his brothers, the elite one percent, had such fantastic amounts of money. It thrilled him, even now, to imagine cashing in all his chips and leaving the whole world a broken ruin.

And he had kept right on trading for a long time before he had begun to take the second economy seriously. And who could blame him? It had always seemed such a ridiculous notion, the pipe dreams of hippies who believed themselves to understand the economy. It had grown right under his nose. Grew from such seemingly innocent, hare-brained soundbytes. The bank owns your house, we'll build you a new one. You're going to jail cause you can't pay you debts, we'll break you out. Your business is being bought up by a larger corporation, we'll help you start a new one. You can't afford an education, we'll teach you. You're forced to work a job you hate to feed your family, we'll grow crops for them to eat. What resources do the one percent actually own that you can't live without?

What can the one percent actually offer that you can't live without?

Who would have thought that could work? Not the last capitalist. But yet there he was one day with his tit in the mangler, suddenly trading money that didn't exist with his money-trading fraternity in a pointless circle jerk and it had lost all meaning. Their money didn't mean anything. His money didn't mean anything. No one wanted it for anything. No one needed it.

Now he had said the word money so many times it had lost all meaning, and he could not stop, and he did not care. He muttered breathlessly, money money money, money must be funny, monny, mommy, monner, monner. An image of his money and his mother mixed together was the last thought the last capitalist had.

Within a month he was buried, and five thousand hippies moved in to live in his tower.

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