Category Archives: Writing

What should I write about?

I’ve been pretty happy with my posts on economic basics, so I was wondering if there are any economic terms that I’ve used or in the news that I should cover. What economic terms can you think of that you’d like to understand better? Or what talking points should I try to make sense of?

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Reflection

Note: Trying to get back into the fiction groove. I’ll be getting back to Stranger soon. This was kind of a stream of consciousness piece, and it’s a little more creepy than my standard fair. If you’re not a fan of horror you might want to skip it.

Red eyes stared at her through the darkness. Slowly, she became aware of herself. She was leaning down, balanced on her toes with her arms on her knees, looking down. It was dark: she couldn’t see anything except those eyes looking up from below her feet. Without taking her eyes off them, she slowly tried to stand up. She was only half way when she bumped into something. Still keeping her eyes on the red eyes below, her hand reached out and found a rocky ceiling above her, about four feet from the ground.

She tried to remember. Where was she? How had she gotten here? Why was she here? Nothing came to her, all she could think about were those eyes. She moved her foot a bit and water rippled. She slowly bent down and touched the ground near her feet. About an inch of water, cold, above a floor of uneven rock. She moved her head to the side and the eyes followed. Reflections, then? How could they be reflections, her eyes weren’t red. They were… she couldn’t remember. She couldn’t picture anything but the eyes looking back up at her from the water. But they couldn’t be hers.

She wanted to look away, to close her eyes, to blink even. But she couldn’t make herself do it. She felt around, trying to orient, trying to find anything that would jog her memory or allow her mind some focus other than the reflected eyes that couldn’t be hers. The ceiling seemed to slope upwards ahead, so with her eyes still locked on the reflection she started carefully moving forward.

She hadn’t moved far before she noticed that the ground was sloping downward, and by the time she could stand straight up she was up to her knees in water. She kept walking forward, shivering and keeping her hand on the ceiling. By the time she was waist deep she had to stand on her toes and stretch to keep her hands on the ceiling. It felt like a lifeline, like something important. Her fingers desperately stretched to hold on to it while her feet slowly moved her forward.

But the only way to keep going was to let go, so she did. It wasn’t much farther before the water reached her neck. By the time her eyes touched their discolored reflections she had entirely given up wondering what she was doing or why, and she was completely unaware as the red light flowed from the water in to devour her.

Stranger, part 7.

The next day a description of the man was given out to police in the area, to less official security personnel in the employ of the Pierce family, and a patrol car was temporarily stationed outside of Joe’s house. So it was that he went about his day normally, completely unconcerned with the crazy vagrant, and confident that he’d just admirably dealt with a trying situation.

But some time after midnight, while he and his wife slept, he was awoken by a tap on his shoulder. He slowly opened his eyes, and found another set of eyes, surrounded by many collars and hats, mere inches away. He was so startled that he jumped, but his breath caught in his throat and his yelp of surprise and anger came out silent. The little man held a finger up to his mouth and shushed Joe, pointing at his sleeping wife with his other hand. He didn’t wait for Joe to recover before he started whispering.

“Now, we had a bargain, fair and square, and I could press my rights. But I’m a reasonable sort, I’m fair and generous to a fault, and I’m in the mood for some sport. So, you meet my challenge, and you’re off the hook, scot free. Fail, though, and you’ll owe me another favor.” The little mans eyes twinkled as he said all this, and his mouth twitched up into a vicious, joyful, unsettling smile. He said it all blindingly fast, and was finished before Joe even had time to reach for him. When he did, the little man had no trouble avoiding the groggy swing, and he shook with amusement.

“You’ll be lucky to end up in jail. You break into my house in the night to play this stupid game of yours? I’ll have every cop in the city and worse looking for you tomorrow.” Joe growled through clenched teeth.

The little man responded with a snicker and a tip of the pile of hoods and hats he wore, then disappeared.

Stranger, part 6.

It was nearly two years later when Joe Mitchell met the strange man again. His day went normally enough, a day spent in the office managing his now extremely successful business, followed by a quiet dinner at home with his wife. After dinner she told him the good news, that they were going to have their first child. He was nearly as excited as her, and twice as nervous. But they had decided together that they were ready, and they were both happy. It was just as he prepared to leave, anticipating the congratulations of his rich and powerful friends at his restaurant, that he was surprised by a knock on the door. He opened the door to find a short man, piled with ratty clothing.

He hadn’t, since the night he first met him, given another thought to the little man, and seeing him brought back no particular memory. So it was that Joe greeted him by saying “Yes, what do you want?”

“What do I want?” The little man replied, sounding a mixture of wounded and mocking. “Why, only what I’ve earned. We had a bargain, you and I, struck 500 days ago to the hour. I’ve fulfilled my part” and at this he peered into the house and whistled “oh, quite well indeed. And now I’ve come to claim my favor.”

A dim memory of their first meeting came to Joe, and slight recognition. “My goodness, you’re the guy I talked to that night, when I thought I was finished. Wow, that feels like another life time. So, what, you mean to take credit for everything I’ve accomplished since then? Listen, if you want to waste my time come back when I’m not on my way out to work.”

“Oh ho, of course you wouldn’t believe me, it’s always the way. But the bargain was struck fair, and I held up my end. I’m owed, and the eyes and ears of the city were witness to it. Just for that, I’ll raise my price, it will be the child your wife carries.”

Joe was dumbstruck for a moment. Only for a moment, though, before he yelled curses and threats a chased the small man off into the night. He didn’t trust the man, though, and so he called a friend, introduced by William Pierce himself, in the police department. Officers were sent out, reports filed, and he felt sure that the little man would be picked up and off to prison in no time. Satisfied and unconcerned, he went about his business.

Stranger, part 5

The man waited for Joe to compose himself, then began. “You likely aren’t aware that William Pierce owns a home only a few blocks from here. He uses it occasionally. He also has a number of business partners who wish not to meet him in public. This is not a matter of legality, simply discretion. Mr. Pierce has expressed an interest in using this establishment for such purposes. He requires your availability on short notice after hours, and that you personally guarantee the discretion of yourself and any other staff who are present.”

The man stopped, and for a moment Joe didn’t realize that the man was waiting for a reply. “Oh, well yes, of course, I’m sure I can provide whatever Mr. Pierce requires in terms of privacy, and I’d be more than, um, very happy to do business with him.”

Joe felt completely at a loss as they worked out details. Rates, availability, ways for Mr. Pierce and his associates to enter without drawing unwanted publicity. It all happened so fast and with such finality he felt as if he’d only watched it happen. But over the course of the next weeks and months, he met, served and talked with very wealthy and important people. He found they tended to like him, once he stopped being intimidated, and as they started to consider him and his restaurant safe he found he had a wealth of connections and favors available to him. It was scarce months before he began to use them, and barely a year before he had moved himself and his wife to a huge house far away from his restaurant, and had staff doing all the days work for him.

Stranger, part 4

Joe woke up the next morning unsure what the day would bring. He might be out of money, but there was no reason he couldn’t run his restaurant a few more days. And besides, he didn’t know what else to do. Joe was a man of routine. But the day didn’t go according to his routine. His regulars came and went, but so did new people, and it seemed that every person who left was happier than the last. There seemed no pattern or explanation, the new people had little in common, but for every one that left two more entered. By the end of the day, he’d done more business than the entire previous week. He and his small staff were much too busy to reflect on the oddity of it, and by the end of the day he could do little more than close the shop and drop into a seat. He went home and slept, and the next day started much the same. Mere hours had passed before he was forced to close due to an empty kitchen.

He spent the rest of the day scrambling to pay bills and restock his kitchen. That evening he and his wife talked about their unexplainable fortune, and dreamt together of success.

The rest of the week went much the same, and it wasn’t until then that he learned that he had been mentioned glowingly by a local newspaper. Days and weeks went by likewise, with people spilling out of his tiny restaurant. Joe was nearly as overwhelmed by this level of success as he had been by his near failure, until one evening, after seeing the last of the staff out and starting to clean up, a man in an expensive suit knocked on the glass door over the closed sign.

Joe waved away at the man and yelled “Closed!” through the thin glass. The man simply knocked again. Irritated, Joe unlocked the door and set his foot behind it, just enough to allow him to talk through the opening. “We’re closed, you want something come back when we’re open.”

“You’re a busy man, and I’d prefer to have your attention. I’m here to talk business on behalf of William Pierce.”

Joe could hardly open the door and stammer welcomes fast or enthusiastically enough. William Pierce was well known as the younger brother of one of the richest and most influential men in the city, possibly the state. Joe stammered and tripped over his tongue as he offered the man a seat.

Stranger, part 3

Joe wasn’t sure if he was more confused or frightened by the little man.. He backed up a step as he answered. “What do you know about my problems or my business? I haven’t said a word about it.”

“Oh, but you have. Not to me, no. But the empty streets have ears, even if most have forgotten, and there are still those who they’ll speak to, rare as they are nowadays.”

Joe was now very uncomfortable, and he decided that it would probably be wise to get as far away from the stranger as he could. But as he moved to walk away the little man under his pile of cloth nimbly stayed in his way. Before Joe could protest the little man continued “I ask only that you listen to me a moment longer, and consider what I offer.” Joe was trying to find a way past the strange little man without getting too close, and he wasn’t having any luck. The man made his pitch quickly. “Listen, you open up the little place of yours the next week, and you won’t be able to help paying all your bills. You keep it up for the next year, and that place’ll be known all over the city. You’ll have more money than you ever thought. And if it goes that way, then you just have to remember this little talk, and the next time you see me you pay me back the favor.”

Joe didn’t really pay attention to what the man was saying, but the man wasn’t asking him to hand anything over, so he hastily agreed. The words were barely out of his mouth and the man quickly backed into the shadows and was gone. It happened so quickly that being alone again wasn’t a relief, but another mystery. It felt as wrong as the stranger’s familiarity with him. But a few short blocks later and he was once again walking familiar streets, and by the time he’d found his way home he had nearly forgotten the few unsettling moments.