Champagne Mangos: Fifty-Nine Cents Each
I’m waiting for the market to crash. The man who rang up my mustard greens was adamant but playful in his prognostication. He was a child’s tutorial in the human figure-a precise overlapping of ovals and not a hair on his head. Money was on his mind. A woman and her two children, of the olive skinned and dark eyed races, had passed through his court before me. The boy must have taken the power of her speech, and the girl the sight in her eyes, for her gaze was without seeing and her mouth a closed purse. The boy spoke well and with purpose-the girl’s eyes suggested they saw more than you could understand. The clerk announced the total of their purchases and mother mutely handed over a twenty.
“Why do you love money so much?” The boy demanded of the clerk.
“Money! Money! Money!” he cackled, “It’s not the cure for everything-but it would cure me,” and then he reached towards the mother with a palm full of change. The boy jumped for it and the mother grabbed the change and quickly stuffed it into her purse.
“Gimme the change!” insisted the boy, and then, assaying to reason with his mother, quipped, “Change is good for you.” The mother and her children moved towards the exit, the boy trying to carrying one of the sacks the mother refusing, as if to say, ‘you’ve taken enough.’
“If they only knew what the future held for them, these kids wouldn’t be so cheerful,” said the clerk, now rueful, as he punched the codes for my produce into his register.
“We are all lucky not to know what the future holds,” I said, always willing to side with a child against an adult.
“But these kids…” and he nodded his head back in forth in the manner of someone juggling numbers. I assumed he’d invoke the old age of these children, 2060 or thereabouts, when the oil famine has taken a few billion lives and rising oceans have buried this and other cities.
“Tomorrow. Tomorrow the stock market will crash and then we’re in trouble. Depression, recession, unemployment, all of it. You follow the market? No? Well, let me tell you something, and then you’ll know more than most of those yahoos. The news won’t tell you this-they’ll make up some esoteric explanation. You see, it’s part of a 19 year cycle, in which there is a year cycle, and in each year cycle, there are three more four month cycles, this year, back in September 12th the market made a sharp jump-up five levels- and on January 9th it climbed another level higher. But now, starting tomorrow, and ending May 12th, the market’s going to come down with four times the force that it went up. 1929. 1987. All over again.”
“Well, now you’ve given me something to look forward to. Thanks.” With that, I strode light-stepped into the street, giddy at his proclamation in its incontestable mathematical foundation, a nurse-maid to Chaos and a despiser of wealth with a reason to get up in the morning.