Vol. 6, Issue 3, April 8, 2008
Money Isn't Everything, Except When it Is
The money-making schemes of my ne'er-do-well Nephew, Ephram, are both innumerable and Legendarily complex. His fallback position is, of course, to earn a Salary from me by Working, but despite the demanding Rigors of life as a Journalist he somehow finds plenty of time to devise plans involving mechanical Top-hats, bullion-laden Trains, and illicit Horse-trading, all to support him in the Lifestyle to which he has become Accustomed. Mind you, this involves largely sleeping on the Couch in the News-room and consuming cheese, so I am not sure Why he needs the money, unless it happens to be particularly Expensive cheese. And from the looks of things, that is Not the case.
His latest scheme however dwarfed All his previous efforts both in sheer Audacity and Inventiveness. It came to my Attention when a nattily-dressed gentleman presented his Card at my office the other day. The polished gleam of his Shoes, the careful brush-cut of the Hair, his carefully knotted Tie, and the pleasant but not overbearing Smile: it all added up to the whiff of Government, and I sighed as I waved him to a seat and locked my rolltop Desk, a habit of mine whenever Ephram's name comes up.
"I am here concerning your nephew, Mr. Watley," said the gentleman. "There is a certain matter of a financial nature which we need to discuss, and I am hoping we may resolve it discreetly."
"Can you not ask the lad himself?" I said. "He does but slumber right down the hall." I gestured expansively with my glass of Oban, which I felt certain would be the first of Several needed to get me through this meeting.
"I was not able to rouse him, truth be told," said the gentleman, who called himself Mr. Green. "But I understand you are in some sense his guarantor?"
A second glass of Scotch, to be sure. "I am indeed the lad's Employer, and of course he is my Nephew," I managed to say without sighing overmuch. "But I regret that I am in No Way responsible for any of his financial liabilities or wrongdoings, a distinction that I have taken the liberty of establishing in Court on several occasions."
Mr. Green looked somewhat pained. "Were you aware, sir, that your nephew was in the business of providing mortgage loans?"
At this I coughed out the contents of my glass. Regrettable, as the Oban was particularly nice.
"How on earth did the lad manage to pull that one off?" I asked. "He has barely two Nickels to rub together, and believe me, I have counted them." A fresh glass of scotch indeed, quickly emptied this time mind you.
"Well, the world of banking and finance is a bit more complicated than that," said Mr. Green. "The possession of actual currency is not entirely necessary for a banking institution to function, and your nephew's bank - the Third Monkey Trust of America, I believe - managed to get itself entangled in a rather large number of subprime mortgages. The whole house of cards is about to come down, I'm afraid."
Since I seemed at this point to be in need of another bottle of scotch, I stood to retrieve one as I asked the dreaded question: "I take it, then, that you are here to take the lad into Custody?" It would not be the First time. Usually, Ephram's monkey then has to fill in with odd Jobs around the office, but the diminutive simian does a Reasonably good job.
"Oh, no, no," said Mr. Green. "I am here to bail him out. When he awakes, or if you see his chief financial officer - a certain Colonel Worthington - could you please give him this cheque?"
Dumbfounded, I take the Banker's slip of paper from the man. The sheer number of Zeroes causes my eyebrows to rise so Quickly that my Spectacles fall into my drink. Without a further word, Mr. Green departs with a tip of his hat and a smile.
I found myself sitting, with yet another Drink, wondering what to do, when Ephram's monkey, AKA Colonel Worthington himself presented himself on my desk, fourteen inches of furry simian Executive. (Now, I understood why Ephram's monkey always wears such a nice Waist-coat.) With a polite nod and a bit of chatter doubtless intended as Small-talk, he took the cheque, folded it neatly, and tucked it into Pocket before swinging out the Door.
Well, that was probably the best solution Anyway. It's good to know that Someone at this banking institution has some Brains.