Stones Novella Excerpt

He said in fact that Wall Street had already done this, had done one better and made the pogs out of electrons, so that all they did was buy and sell on computer, and it happened faster than a butter fly blinks, and the computers did nothing but make up new mathematical calculations, and all the numbers were made of the electrons from the power grid, and some of those numbers in the calculation were money traded in the markets, so that when the calculations were done and the electrons combined, there was always more money, and it was even slicker than making pogs, because it bypassed everything and everyone, just a machine sitting in a climate cooled brick building, taking in electrons and spewing out vast quantities of heat and wealth, the slickest money tree ever invented. There was only one step left in the ultimate pursuit, because some of those numbers in the machines still represented real things, like barges of grain on the Mississippi River, chemotherapy drugs given to children who had leukemia that cost $46,985 a dose, negotiations with workers over their wages, so that they only made $13.85 an hour instead of $15.45, but they got to keep their health insurance even though now they would have to pay $1220 out of pocket annually before the insurance actually paid for anything, and it represented the price China was paying for scrap copper collected from foreclosed homes in Detroit and Milwaukee, as well as the tonnage price of diesel fuel used to ship it there, and it also represented the price of the AK-47 ammunition bought to guard the ten year old children who worked the pits in Gabon so that they could find the tiny diamonds that would crust the sides of the rings bought by these men for their lovers, or for their wives when they found out about the lovers, but none of this accounted for the price of rice or manioc used to feed the child miners as that was grown locally and organically and didn’t amount to much.

And when those children died it cost nothing to bury them because the holes had already been dug, and you didn’t have to pay anyone to bury them because the rains would collapse the banks back over them, and there were no papers to run obituaries, and even if there were, the children only had first names, and when they died in the pits, and the guards with the AK-47’s got the other children to carry their bodies to the collapsing pits that didn’t produce diamonds, and they were instantly replaced by more children who also only had first names.

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