The Money Man, or, Look Out Belowyaagh!
by Roderick T. Long
[written age 12, on 29 April 1976, in Idaho Falls. I wish I could say Id had monetary policy and workplace hierarchies on my mind when I wrote it.]
The name of this story is The Money Man, or, Look Out Belowyaagh! That was not what I had intended to call it. I wanted to call it My Summer in the Bahamas, but The Boss wouldnt let me. The main reason is because I didnt go to the Bahamas in the summer. Why? Again, because the Boss wouldnt let me.
I was sitting in my spherical cubicle, contemplating the nature of the word adumbrate (which, by the way, is not directly descended etymologically from the word Charlemagnefarioustagnantmerimerihemoglobin, which does not exist, or at least not on Wednesdays) when The Boss walked in.
Cortiss! he shouted. (Thats my name Cortiss.) Stop contemplating the nature of the word adumbrate (which, by the way, is not directly descended etymologically from the word Charlemagnefarioustagnantmerimerihemoglobin, which does not exist, or at least not on Wednesdays) and get out of that spherical cubicle! The Boss bellowed. I obeyed.
I want you to know that they have issued an article about some scientists who have discovered a paper man, and they are going to do an article on the story tomorrow! I want you to get in touch with those scientists and cover it first! said The Boss.
Being an employee of the Morning Evening Weekly Monthly Daily New YorkSan Francisco Herald Tribune (The Boss tried to please everyone), I did not have to ask who they were. They were the publisher of our main competition the Morning Noon Afternoon Evening Midnight Hourly Weekly Monthly Daily Yearly New YorkSan FranciscoTokyoMoscow Herald Tribune Post Union Times Register Newssheet (Their Boss tried to please everyone too, and he usually succeeded because his title had more advantages than ours did).
So I went to San Abalone, where the scientists who had discovered the Paper Man were.
The Paper Man was all covered with mud, so that you really couldnt tell if he was composed of paper, or linen, or sugar frosted flakes.
There was quite a crowd, all milling around the paper man (crowds always mill, you know), but luckily, no reporters had arrived.
While I was taking pictures, someone in the crowd pulled away some of the Paper Mans mud to see if he were really paper. The crowd gasped! He was paper, all right a living bank! His entire body was covered with money orders, travelers cheques, and thousand-dollar-bills.
The crowd started grabbing at him, trying to tear away the money. The terrified Paper Man jumped into a helicopter and took off.
But he did not escape. The helicopter was sputtering and I knew it was about to explode. The Paper Man knew it, too, so he shouted, Look out below! At least, thats what he tried to shout, but at that instant the helicopter exploded, so that the warning came out, Look out belowyaagh!
As the helicopter exploded, so did the Paper Man. We could see bits of money orders, travelers cheques, and thousand-dollar-bills floating slowly downward.
Everyone started reaching for the money, grabbing madly at everything. People who had made a lucky catch started dancing. Suddenly, they stared in horror at what was written along the side of the money.
|Playhouse Bank Not Legal Tender |
It was play money! The crowd cried out in anguish (AAUGH!), threw the money away, and left. I wondered for a while how a man had come to be composed of play money. But, as they say, it takes all kinds. I was a little bit sad, however, that the Paper Man had not been made of real money. I could use a raise. Oh, well. Cest la vie.
When I came back, The Boss said, What are you going to call this story?
How about My Summer in the Bahamas? I suggested.
The Boss drummed his fingers on the table.
Of course, we could always call it something prosaic, like The Money Man, or, Look Out Belowyaagh! I said quickly.
The Boss stopped drumming his fingers on the desk.
Youre my kind of man, Cortiss, The Boss said. You learn fast. Stick around, and maybe Ill give you a raise for your birthday!
I thanked him. I didnt think it would be wise to mention that it was already eight weeks past my birthday.
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