Flash Fiction #2
Three stories for the price of none
I woke up today and I didn’t know who I was. Or where I was. Or why anything.
At first I panicked. Where’s my phone? Then my fatal inquisitiveness kicked in. Let me just lie here and see what this is.
My bedside clock read 5 a.m. There was a figure in the doorway. My mother. She held up a card with six numbers on it: 8 13 17 24 32 41. Why?
If I knew my mother, then I must know who I am. I looked back at my body, motionless in the bed. And that digital clock with the bright red numbers, now reading 4:50 a.m.
Immediately I saw my way out. Wait til the clock ticks back to my bedtime. Lo at 11 p.m. I sat up at the edge of my bed, feet touching the floor, evening slippers still on. Suddenly I knew who I was. There was still a figure in the doorway, Aha, my wife. She bent to the floor.
“What’s this paper?”
“And what are these numbers about?”
I squinted, “That’s the number for Myrtle Hill Memorial Park in Tampa, ext. 41.”
“That’s where mom is buried.”
“And why did you need to call after all these years?”
My mumbled response was a dog whistle to stop asking any more questions. Then I headed downstairs determined to stay awake all night.
“I’ll call my brother in the morning.”
Johnson had been interviewing candidates all day for his company’s unique accounting position. The numbers that this executive would provide to the CEO would enable him to meet the tough and rather liquid objectives of the investing community. The usual Harvard and Ivy League applicants had impeccable resumes, but all failed on one critical question. Well this scrawny Italian kid from Brooklyn College had a less than starched interview.
The moment arrived. As he was about to leave, Johnson asked him, “Tell me. What is two plus two?” Mario was now in his element. “What would you like it to be?”
The job was his.
The meeting of the Parish Council turned acrimonious. Some wanted to declare bankruptcy and sell the day care center and other parish buildings just to keep the historic financial district church functioning. Our Lady of Dow Jones was in similar straits five years ago until Fr. Al Tomaine came up with the brilliant idea of renaming the church for the highest bidder.
The chubby cleric had just finished the last cannoli at the celebration dinner when he keeled over dead. Some saw it as God’s retribution for those who preferred approaching Bethlehem Steel as a more appropriate name sponsor. Cardinal Fogarty’s objections had subsided after the Dow Jones Baptistry was added to the Cathedral.
Morris Solomon, the Dow Jones VP who negotiated the original name deal, couldn’t afford the PR fallout from its failure. His rescue plan: cryptocurrency. From now on the church would only accept Bitcoin as donations. The council objected, “We can’t have parishioners buying Bitcoin just to contribute.”
“It’s like buying nothing.”
“Actually, you’re buying a belief that it will increase in value, and if will as long as there are enough believers,” Solomon explained.
“Nothing for something. That’s certainly a twist.”
Fr. Marco Baldelli, the new pastor freshly returned from the Vatican College in Rome, chimed in authoritatively, “That’s not a strange concept for the Church. We used to sell indulgences.”
“It was a sort of credit a sinner could buy to reduce the penance he had to perform in order to get into heaven.”
“I remember a bit Fr. Guido Sarduci used to do about paying for your sins.”
Solomon bolted from his chair, “Thats it! We’ll sell Crypto Indulgences purchasable only with BitCoin.”
Shrewd Fr. Marco nailed the idea down, “The Church rules only apply to regular indulgences. Not even the Lutherans can object to this.”
A somber voice came from the back of the church, “If we are wrong about this, we’ll all be going to Crypto Hell.”
And so it was that Our Lady of Dow Jones entered the metaverse. Every Sunday it’s empty pews we’re filled with Avatars from all over the world seeking to lessen the penance for leading greedy lives.
Fr. Marco wondered if their forgiveness would hold even if the crypto bubble burst.