Archive for money

Executive Floor Executive

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2012 by javedbabar

Bobby couldn’t believe it. He had applied for a job at the Lucerne Valley Hotel and got it, and not only that, it was a job on the Executive Floor. Was it a mistake? Had two people with the same name applied, and they’d mixed up their applications?

A resident of the halfway house getting a good job was not a regular occurrence. At any given time, no more than six of the thirty-six people living there were working, mostly in short-term menial jobs. As far as he knew, no one from the house had ever worked at the Lucerne Valley Hotel. It was run by the fearsome Mr Kazantazkis who was said to be a fascist, believing in survival of the fittest.

Bobby’s letter confirmed his position as Executive Floor Executive. He would earn twenty-five thousand dollars plus tips, which he’d heard could exceed the basic salary, so this was a fifty grand job! He’d earned this kind of money before, but that was a long time ago when he was a different person in a different world, before the curse of drugs, but he was clean now. Why shouldn’t he make a fresh start?

Bobby wasn’t sure whether to tell his housemates. He didn’t want to seem like a show-off, but he couldn’t help mentioning it.

“What?” said Shama. “When was that job available? I didn’t see it advertised.”

“It wasn’t advertised,” said Bobby. “I sent them a letter mentioning my background, and the troubles I’d had, and how I had overcome them. I told them I would love to work again at a meaningful job, something I could take pride in, that would help to develop good daily habits.”

“What’s the job exactly? Executive Floor Executive. Is it a fancy word for cleaner? Will we see you leave the house wearing a frilly apron, carrying a feather duster, and bending over for businessmen to tickle your…”

“Don’t be stupid!” said a girl entering the kitchen. No one knew what her name was. “He’s got a good job. We should celebrate. Hang on.” She went to her room and returned with a bottle of cheap vodka. She poured them each a measure.

They downed them in sequence, the girl saying “Executive,” Shama saying “Floor,” and Bobby saying “Executive!” They laughed together and did it again, this time with the girl saying, “Floor”, and then finally, Bobby. Spirits were high at the halfway house.

Bobby’s first week went well. There was some cleaning involved, but the job mainly involved concierge and security duties. He got great tips, and the pile of cash under his mattress grew rapidly. He was so busy at work that he wouldn’t have had time to go to the bank, even if he’d had a bank account. The pile became huge.

One night he awoke, inspired. He counted out his cash: there was $7,200. He divided the money into thirty-six lots and walked around the house, putting $200 beneath everyone’s mattress. People were sick or drunk, and none awoke. It was enough for a month’s basic groceries.

He could use this money to get out of here himself, or he could use it to make everyone’s lives a little better. He had an additional role here: Forgotten Floor Executive.

Healing Hands

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 28, 2012 by javedbabar

Sophie was feeling unsettled. There were crises at work, family members demanding money, her landlord had given her one month’s notice, and she was about to hit forty and was still single. Left on the shelf. Many of her friends were single too, but at least they’d had a go, married, and failed. Some had wonderful children as awards for trying.

Why hadn’t she ever taken the plunge? There had been opportunities. Maybe she had been too fussy when younger.

“Will you marry me?” Adam had asked her, long ago, at Blackwater Lake. Her response was to run off. It’s right to not settle for second best, but what she’d then thought of as second best, was upon reflection first best, and those who had later won her heart turned out to be last worst.

She wandered across the park after work. The sky was glowing like there were two suns setting, golden and purple. TJ, the Lucerne Valley Hotel’s receptionist, said, “Welcome back.” She was a daily customer. She’d been there at lunchtime for a beer and burger, but now wanted something more and stronger.

The manager had found a clever way of getting around The Authority’s prohibition on cheap drinks. He promoted Happy Hour as a heritage event, harkening back to its nautical origins. There were wrestling, boxing, singing and drinking bouts, often all together. It was a barrel of laughs.

A buxom wench like Sophie was well appreciated aboard HMS Hotel Bar. Its sailors bought her endless rounds, and she was constantly engaged in jigs and reels. She danced with a small, dark guy with a great body. He didn’t talk much. He was either drunk or shy. He had a bright face which seemed to shine everywhere, and Sophie didn’t want to be without its glow. At the end of a reel, she grabbed his hand and pulled him outside. They smooched a little and then she asked him to walk her home.

“I’m not sure,” he said. “Is that a good idea?”

“What kind of man are you?” she said. “Not a gentleman at all. I should have made you walk the plank!”

“Okay, I’ll walk you home,” he said immediately. Nobody likes to be called a barbarian.

When they reached her home, Sophie opened the door and pulled him in. He made an unconvincing attempt to resist and then gave up. He was not much heavier than Sophie but with extra muscle instead of extra curves. He leaned back on the sofa.

Sophie played some ambient tunes and pulled him up to dance. Despite the music being unsuitable for nautical antics, she forced her guest to engage in further jigs and reels. He was a really good dancer and somehow made them work.

His moves were great, jumping, skipping and twirling around the lounge. Her body pulled along with his, her heart was in tune with his, their hands joined together, and now their lips…

“Ouch!” she said, breaking off and pulling away. “Your hands are so hot!” She looked at them. They seemed to be glowing.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “Maybe I should go now.”

“No, wait.” She didn’t know why she said it. There was something about him, about his hands. He looked at them in shock too. They were glowing faintly, golden purple.

He looked up at her and said, “I am from a family of healers going back to Pharaonic Egypt. I thought the gift had passed me by. My grandmother said that it would come to me when I met the one I must heal.”

Sophie’s head now reeled.

Asset Stripper

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2012 by javedbabar

The young blonde woman pushed the man in his wheelchair. He was old, fat and bald, and it would be fair to say he was unattractive. That was not Dimpy’s judgment on his character, merely on his appearance.

As Lucerne’s part-time Registrar of Weddings, Dimpy’s concerns were not superficial. She needed to know people’s reasons for getting married, and ensure there was nothing untoward; no force, coercion or deception. She would discover what she needed to know by interviewing them separately. She made small talk with them together, and then asked the woman to wheel out her fiancé.

When she returned, Dimpy gave her a severe look and said, “Please tell me how you met.”

Without a moment’s hesitation, the woman said, “I was a stripper at his seventieth birthday party. One of his friends paid me a lot of money to make sure that he enjoyed himself. I did my job and left and…”

Dimpy couldn’t help interrupting. “Is that your profession, a… an exotic dancer?”

The woman looked surprised at being called that, but continued matter of factly. “No, not really. I am unemployed at present. I haven’t had much luck with finding work. This is something I used to do a long time ago, and I needed the money, so…”

Honesty is good, thought Dimpy, but brazen hussy! Marrying a person you stripped for, and did God knows what else too, in front of his friends! Dimpy calmed her thoughts. She was a marital professional. She must continue the process. “How did the relationship develop?”

“He gave me his card that night and asked me to come again the next week.”

“On a date?” said Dimpy, hopefully. Regardless of the need for interrogation, she secretly wanted peoples’ relationships to work, especially those leading to marriage,.

“Yes, sort of,” said the woman.

“For money?”

“No,” the woman looked away. Then she said quietly, “Yes, for money.”

Honesty is good, Dimpy thought again.

“Is that still how your relationship functions?”

“Not anymore,” said the woman. “He gave me this ring” – she showed her a whopping diamond set in white gold – “and asked me to marry him.”

“Do you love him, really?” Dimpy couldn’t believe she’d said that. She could be disciplined for such a boorish question.

“That I do,” said the woman.

“And the fact that he’s in a wheelchair doesn’t bother you? Will he meet your physical needs?” God what am I saying, thought Dimpy.

But it had been the right question. The woman flushed and couldn’t face Dimpy. It showed that her physical needs were being met elsewhere.

Cash Centre

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on March 30, 2012 by javedbabar

Harry had worked nightshifts at the Cash Centre for five years. It was boring but steady work. Lord knows there are few good jobs in Lucerne. Most families sent their earners to Strattus, but here was a way for an unskilled man to support his family locally, for which Harry was grateful. He was not an ambitious man, and had a friendly yet somewhat oppressive relationship with his boss.

“Morning boss,” Harry said to Timothy.

“Morning slave,” he replied. “Did you sleep well today? Do your neighbours still think you’re a vampire? Do you still howl at the moon?”

“All of those things,” said Harry. “Now do you want me to stand around chatting, or do some work so you can get your bonus?” He switched on his Daylight, Ultraviolet, and Infrared lamps and sat down. He often thought how strange it was to work in a place like this – a high-tech workspace on the edge of the wilderness, toiling in artificial light through the darkness.

Harry worked in the Operations team counting cash. Trucks arrived throughout the night, bearing labelled and tagged canvas bags. Workers were allocated eight bags each, one per hour being the standard work rate. Harry emptied the bags into a raised metal bin and worked through the bundles conscientiously. Most were Clean #1, meaning that they contained what they said – a hundred twenties, a hundred fifties, or a hundred hundreds – but some held misallocated notes. There were fake notes and foreign notes; torn and worn ones too. Occasionally there was a cheque – how those got in he had no clue.

The process was simple. Stage One was sorting the notes through machines. They were macro- and micro-weighed, and graphically, structurally and chemically analyzed. Every note, and each batch, must be acceptable, or the bundle was rejected. Stage Two was manual checks. His hands had developed incredible sensitivity. His fingers were like radio antennae – picking up every bump, hollow, and ridge. Stage Three was alerting Timothy to irregularities. Stage Four was the CCTV monitoring everything, though this was out of his control.

“What are you doing?” Harry had warned a new colleague. “You’ll never get away with it.”

He said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You know what I’m talking about. You’ve been up to something all week. Why are you being so stupid? And coins! Why coins?”

“It’s a test to see if I can get them out. They won’t care about coins. It could be loose change in my pocket. How will they know?”

“Believe me, they’ll know,” said Harry. “They’ll know.” Harry never saw that worker again. Another man arrived at and left work in a taxi daily. It was only a $10 fare from the Village, but that was $100 a week, and $5,000 a year. He could never afford that on his lowly salary. There was a reason that Timothy called them slaves. After five years Harry was only making $25,000 annually. It was company policy to pay people badly, so they didn’t attract ambitious people – like the taxi guy. Eventually he was caught with notes rolled into his nostrils. That’s why they’d never found them in his ass. You’d think that three rear cavity searches would be warning enough. He was caught when he sneezed one day and Queen Elizabeth shot out. GB. Great Booger. HMS. Her Majesty’s Snot.

With hundreds of thousands of dollars passing through your hands daily, even millions some days, sure it was tempting to steal. But Harry was a practical man. He knew that he wouldn’t get away with it. He also liked to think that he was honest.

Staff were required to be discreet about their employment, and only to tell their immediate families. Wilderness, discretion, and nightshift – boy they expected a lot for their silver. But he knew others that couldn’t resist showing off. It was human nature. Some daytime workers had big houses and flash cars. They must be working in the other half of the operation – Analysis. But there seemed to be so many of them – what did they analyze? Everything was done already by the Operations team.

Timothy called Harry into his office for “a chat”. Harry sensed that it was more than that. He was asked if he was happy with his job. He said that he was, but could do with more money, for he had a family to feed. “Well how about triple your current salary?” Harry didn’t know what to say. Here was his boss offering him a cut in some high-level scam. If he refused then he’d be fired for sure. If he accepted then he’d be caught for sure. He was being set up here. What could he do?

“I know what you’re thinking,” said Timothy. “That I want you to commit a crime. But that’s the furthest thing from my mind. You’ve proved to be an honest and loyal worker. I’m offering you a promotion. You will leave Operations and join the Analysis team.”

“Doing what exactly?”

Timothy said, “Follow me.” and took him into the other half of the building. The labs where fingerprints and DNA from every note was collected, deconstructed, and integrated. Every user of that note was recorded. The Authority used the information from notes to value individuals – their worth to the province, how many services they were entitled to, and which opportunities they deserved. Ordinary people had forgotten that money itself has no value. It is merely a symbol of what can be done by people. They create its worth, and by that, mark their worth.