Growth Inc

I am the victim of relentless economic growth.

It was an accident, really, that made my cash start growing.  I guess you could say it was the result of a chemical spill.  I had taken the few dollars out of my pocket and put them in a basket on the kitchen counter, along with my keys and ID card from where I work — Growth Inc. Investment Consultants.  I had dripped a little sauce from my micro-waved frozen dinner on the bills, not on purpose you understand, and after I ate, I looked for some way to clean the money.

I found a stiffened, crumpled rag under the sink, and a nearly empty, unlabeled spray bottle of pinkish-green liquid.  I did not recognize the smell or color of the liquid, but I had only moved in a few days earlier, and had no other cleaning supplies.  I used them to wipe off the money and the counter, and threw them in the trash.  I put the laundered money back in the little basket and took the bag of trash outside to the dumpster in the parking lot.  I watched TV for a while and then went to bed.

As I was getting ready to leave the next morning, I put a few of the bills, they were all one-dollar bills, back in my pocket.  It seemed like there were more than I remembered from the night before, but I didn’t think much about it.  I mean, more is better, right?

I eat lunch every day in a diner down the street from my office.  Most days I am waited on by Gary.  He is polite and has even taken the trouble to learn my name–Mr. Everson—from my credit card.  Everyone at the office calls me Billy.  Billy is not my name.  William is my name.  My mother called me William the Conqueror sometimes.  I have no idea where she got that, and I don’t think she did either, but we both thought it sounded pretty good.

Everyone calls me Billy because I’m just a low-level flunky.  Of course, they’re all flunkies too.  No one who isn’t a flunky ever talks to me… why would they?  I resisted being called Billy for a while, but it just backfired on me.  I never knew William could be said with such condescension and contempt, so ok, fine, I’m Billy.

Those brokers all fantasize they are masters of the universe, and a master, by definition, has to have slaves.  That’s my job, and why they insist on calling me Billy.  They get commissions and bonuses for pitching stocks.  I get fourteen bucks an hour for doing data entry and compiling simple reports.  None of the real masters even have offices in the building, it’s just one little franchise of a giant financial corporation.

Gary calls me Mr. Everson because I tip him in cash and he doesn’t have to report it on his taxes.  Sure, I bought his pretended respect but so what?  At least I get what I paid for.  That’s why I keep a few bills in my pocket.  They look at me funny at the bank when I ask for one dollar bills, like, what do you think you can buy with that?… but they give them to me.  I used to keep them in a little gold-anodized money clip, but I got tired of the smirks when I pulled it out, so I stopped doing that.

When I left Gary’s tip at lunch that day, it seemed like I had more bills than I had put in my pocket, but I figured I must be mistaken.  When I got home and went to put my keys and money in the basket on the counter I had a little shock.  I had more bills in my pocket than I expected again.  And there were twelve dollar bills in the basket already, which just didn’t seem right.  I tried to recall every movement of money in and out of my pocket over the last few days, and I simply could not account for it.  It was mystifying, but again, who’s going to complain about having more money than they thought they had?  I mean, more is better, right?

I had an even greater shock the next morning.  There were forty dollar bills in the basket.  I counted them three times.  There had been twelve and I had added eight, which makes twenty, and now there were forty.  I left them all in the basket because it was all getting just a little… creepy.

I went to work, but I was pretty distracted about the money.  When I went to lunch, Gary wasn’t there.  The woman who waited on me said he hadn’t shown up, hadn’t called in sick, didn’t answer his phone, she hoped he was all right.  I included her tip on the credit card.  I gave her less than I always gave Gary, I’m not sure why.

I work at Growth Inc.  Every day I hear those masters of the universe talking about investing your money and growing your money and leveraging your money and a long list of catchphrases for some kind of magical thing that is going to happen to your money if you give it to them.  The successful ones brag they could sell ice machines to Eskimos, and then sell them generators to power them, and then sell them gas for the generators, and then sell them stock in oil companies to drill in their own back yards, and then jack up the price of gas because it is so hard to drill in the ice.  They say they are super-salesmen and meta-investors because they always make money no matter what happens.  It’s some kind of alchemy they practice, a secret power they have because they are masters of the universe.  That’s the way they tell it, and then they go out for drinks.

I didn’t get much done in the afternoon either.  I got so wound up trying to figure the money thing out I almost got in a wreck on the way home.  Had some unpredictable blend of TV dinners and household cleaning products caused the money to start replicating?  Would it work on hundred-dollar bills?  It was turkey breast with potatoes and gravy, wasn’t it?  When I got to the apartment complex the first thing I did was run over to the dumpster to look for my bag of trash, but the dumpster had been emptied.  I raced up the stairs to my apartment and unlocked the door with shaking hands.

Yes!  The cash had filled the basket, flowed out on the counter, fallen into a pile on the kitchen floor.  I was going to be rich!  I was going to be a zillionaire!  William the Conqueror!  Fuck yeah!  I started hyperventilating.  I had heart palpitations.  I guess I passed out.

When I regained consciousness, the first thing I became aware of was a rustling sound, like dead leaves in autumn.  When I opened my eyes, the pile of money was huge.  It seemed to be breathing.  It was reaching for me…

Bizarre Counterfeiting Bust

Authorities revealed today the discovery of an apartment full of counterfeit one-dollar bills.  Police had gone to the home of William Everson because a neighbor had complained of strange noises and an awful smell coming from Everson’s apartment.  After forcing their way into the apartment, police officers found it loosely packed from floor to ceiling with paper money.  Treasury agents were called in to assist.

Everson’s body was discovered after some of the cash was removed.  The coroner estimated Everson had been dead for several days and may have died from what appeared to be thousands of paper cuts.

Everson was employed at Growth Inc., a financial planning and brokerage firm.  He had been absent from work since last Thursday, but was not reported missing.  “He just typed stuff into little boxes in spreadsheets,” said a Growth Inc. supervisor.  “He had no direct contact with any money transactions whatsoever.  Billy was adequate at his job, though kind of a loner.  We have no knowledge of his personal life.  He hadn’t even reported his recent change of address to us.  We’re as surprised as anyone, although frankly, we’d sure like to know how he did it.”

An anonymous Treasury source told this reporter they are puzzled by the cash.  “We haven’t looked at all the bills yet, but we can’t actually identify any of them as counterfeit.  We know they must be… there are tens of thousands of bills involved, but so far we have only found six different serial numbers on them, repeated over and over on multiple bills.  The weird thing is, each bill we have examined appears to be completely genuine.  There is no known technology that can replicate money like this.

“They say it takes money to make money, but this is something else altogether.  Money is just a convenient medium of exchange.  It is worth nothing in itself.  It only has value because it represents actual production of some kind, something real like shoes or bushels of tomatoes or something.  The problem with counterfeit money is that it represents nothing but human greed.  Every counterfeit dollar makes the real dollars less valuable.

“The Department of Treasury takes this sort of thing very seriously because it weakens the economy of our entire nation.  You may not be able to see the blood on their hands but believe me, the people who do this are vicious criminals who leave a trail of destruction behind them wherever they go.

“Clearly, there are bigger players involved in this than one lonely man in a shabby apartment.  We should find these people and put them in jail.”

No statement has yet been made by an official Treasury spokesperson.  Police and Treasury investigations are ongoing.

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