Money Grows On You

Money grows on our family tree, son, and you’ve got to start learning how to keep those greenbacks alive — nourished, and always growing bigger. Sooner the better you learn to accept the harsh realities — like the barbed wire fence and the rifle in the cabinet. And of course how to maintain the calculated scarcity of the fruit for maximum market value.

As Jesus said: “the poor you will always have with you”, so don’t let yourself get pulled down by all the outstretched hands. Don’t get me wrong, philanthropy is excellent — it’s a sheen on our logo — and yeah, it keeps Uncle Sam from getting to interested in the orchard’s books.

Have to always look like you’re doing your best to be fair and square and ready to share — the thing you most want to avoid is appearing cold-hearted.

If we go down, they go down — that’s the thing to teach them, in as many subtle ways as you can. Their uncertainty is a fine and necessary fertilizer.

Don’t look at me like I’m saying something evil.

Has it ever been otherwise? Oh sure — small percentage shifts happen here and there. But there is always the rag man and the penthouse, the pyramid workers and the pharaoh.

Besides — our sheen gives people’s lives’ meaning. Look how they love the Queen. And how they relish details about the celebrities’ loves and divorces.

Now come here, look at these plans for the The Ice Palace Mall.

As I looked down at the plans he was pointing to — where dazzling fountains and majestic skylights would impress; and the glass elevators, organic food courts, ten screen cinamaplex. His question — “has it ever been otherwise?” seemed to echo in the room. Today his sales-pitch to me was even more desperate than usual. He knew I lacked interest in this monopoly board, somehow deficient of any strong enthusiasm for acquisition.

My branch of the tree was just barely maintained. This offspring just showed up, did a little accounting, and kept warm the seat in an office down the hall. Expectations from me were very basic — enough to comfortably take care of my wife and four kids — but in him there was some eternal spring that watered his hope that I’d get it, that this abstract lust he carried would infect me.

He rattled off the stores that had already committed to the project — Aeropostale Abercrombie American Eagle Anthropologie Apple AT&T Armani A&W — and by the time he got to the B’s I just stood and stared at him spinning the scripted words; telling me all about the magic kingdoms of the world and their splendor.

Sitting now in his office, recalling that day when I found out about his illness, I can no longer recall which one of us said:

Never mind going back to hunter-gatherer, we can’t go back to the horse and carriage. No way to bring it back to Ozzie & Harriet. Heck, we can’t even go back to Star Trek. We’re stampeding.

I’m still in pretty good health myself but I just sent a text to my kids, who all have offices down the hall, calling everyone to a meeting.

“Winter Heart” — AleXander Hirka, digital photo-montage

Published April 2017 as part of the “Two Stories Up!” Series (2016–2017). 
Two Stories Up! was an ongoing project that had AleXander Hirka and Tammy Remington (The Anomalous Duo) each composing a new (extremely short) short story every two months which was then sent via postal mail to interested readers.