Short Story: The Only Banker Who Repaid His Debts

This is another short story I wrote which gained a few rejections. I initially wrote it for an alternative fairy tale competition. I still quite like it but realise it’s more of a vent against bankers than a ‘pure story’ and now it’s probably a bit dated for anyone to publish it.

So here it is before the financial crisis becomes a distant memory we’ll all look back on and laugh, recalling how things were so much better in the good old days.

The Only Banker Who Repaid His Debts

Thomas Boom relaxed into his leather office chair assessing the cufflinks given by his latest extra-marital acquisition. Straightening his arm and taking a sideways glance, he forecasted their impact on his rising stock.

No matter how hard he crunched the numbers, it would be minimal.

Thomas sat forward, resolute in redistributing these sub-prime liabilities. Like a gambler betting his last penny on a flip of that same coin, Thomas allocated all decision making to that omnipotent divine; the market.

Thomas decided to bet the value of the cufflinks in an effort to secure increased funds for an improved asset. If the deal went sour he would rewrap them as a performance bonus for someone, claiming any losses back in expenses. Either way, Thomas’ mistress had proved negligent in sourcing mere cufflinks and continuing in her present position would only reflect badly on him. The only person doing the short selling would be him. Thomas tossed the cufflinks in a drawer; the thought of allowing mediocrity into his office, let alone the bedroom of his luxury flat, appalled him.

With sleeves rolled up, Thomas flicked through the 24 hour news channels to draft a strategy. Fat cats were giving themselves publicly funded bonuses, pigs in Westminster were snout deep in expense claims, city rats were escaping sinking institutions and all while the work horses of the economy were whipped into a stampede by the press pack hounding every lead into the doghouse. Thomas analysed, a vulture on high choosing which bones to pick over first.

Last night’s Mexican echoed from below, not pleasant but a source of inspiration. No banker ignored financial advice from the gut; many mistakenly took it from their bowels thinking it was a gut feeling, easily done when your nose smells profit in everything.

Swine flu originated in Mexico and their national team were wallowing near the bottom of their World Cup qualifying group. The national stadium, Estadio Azteca, owned by Televisa and listed on the Bolsa Mexicana de Valores, relied on two factors; fans and national team success. Thomas put his cajones on it receiving neither in the near future.

Are you writing a letter?

The universally hated Microsoft Word paperclip suddenly and joyfully appeared on the screen, a kindred spirit, someone as hated as itself; a banker.

“Not now you prat!” No Microsoft programs were open; what was ‘Clippy’ doing here? Thomas chased him with his cursor but Clippy jumped to another screen in escape.

“Oi mate!” A gravely, Mancunian voice announced the abrupt presence of a pair of black Dr. Martins lowering themselves from the top of a screen quickly followed by white trousers, a white bomber jacket with dragonfly wings protruding behind. A thick, tattooed neck and a big, bald head followed, hanging there like a rogue drop down menu.

The rough and ready graphical yob remained suspended by one arm as it pointed a sovereign ringed finger at Thomas, “Yeah, you mate. I fink you better watch your gob.”

Thomas froze. The white washed bouncer dropped to the bottom of the screen, kicking over the recycle bin leaving a trail of files and folders. Thomas moved his cursor, attempting to quit the pixelated hooligan but only saw him grab and crush it, before jumping to another screen, the force of his landing causing all the icons to shudder. Thomas tried his mouse again but it had been rendered useless without a cursor.

Thomas was impatient with the delay in closing his deal before lunch and contacted his secretary via the intercom, “Is this some kind of windup, Helen?”

“This ain’t no windup mate, this is dead serious.” The winged bouncer growled.

After no response from the phone, Thomas looked out of his glassed office to see if anyone was staring; no-one was. Thomas leaned down to restart his computer.

“Clippy, y’aright ‘ar kid? I fink you better scarper, I’ll handle this scally.”

The computer refused to restart. Thomas sat back up and looked around his office, “Who’s hacked into my computer?”

“No-one, there really is a fairy with boots on hijacking your computer.”

“You’re a fairy?”

“Ya calling me a ‘fairy’ mate?”

Thomas frantically hit CTRL, ALT, DELETE.

“I don’t fink you’re taking me seriously.” The winged thug ran towards the screen, quickly becoming bigger until he leapt. He froze in the air for a second until the screen smashed and from behind it the fairy broke through into the third dimension, landing on the keyboard, sealing his entry into reality by stamping a boot on one of Thomas’ fingers.

“Ouch!” Thomas shot back into his chair cradling his injured finger, slowly focusing on the improbability of a 6 inch tall fairy with an attitude posturing aggressively on his keyboard, “You are a fairy.”

“Top marks mate, you win the ‘Mr Obvious’ award.”

“This is a joke surely?!”

“I don’t see no-one laughing.”

“Fairies grant wishes right? That’s what you’re here for.”

“Not all of ‘em but old Dave here does.”

“Great!” The smell of opportunity quickly intoxicated Thomas, “Dave, let me…”

“Err, not so fast sunshine, I ain’t granting you nuffink.”

“You’re granting someone else’s wish?”

“Bang on son! I’m ‘ere for remuneration; recouping damages and writing off liabilities. It’s time to balance the books mate, dya know what I mean?”

“Hang on, I haven’t done anything wrong!”

“You’re the one living in the land of make believe mate! Money doesn’t grow on trees; someone owes and the ‘Wishes Services Authority’ says it’s you. Their repayment plan isn’t so ‘light touch’ since there’s a lot of interest riding on this.”

Dave flew up to the top of a computer screen and stamped on it, opening Thomas’ share tracking software with its pie charts, graphs and tickers. Dave hovered beside a graph, reached in so his arm became pixelated and pulled at an ascending line.

“Hey! What are you doing?” Thomas tried to intervene but was swiftly out manoeuvred by a miniature boot.

Dave crossed his arms in concentration to better analyse his work, “If I’m correct, I’ve just wiped off 25% of last months profits.”

Thomas double-checked the health of his precious bonus, “Not last month, last year!”

“Oops, silly me.” Dave said as he began restructuring a pie-chart.

Thomas appealed for leniency, “Wait! Someone’s wished ill on a banker and you guys need a scapegoat. We can make a deal, what do you need?”

Dave left the pie-chart, turning around in mid-air, “Well, my dear old granny, the Tooth Fairy, invested a lot of savings with a company you failed.”

“Great! I mean, I can reimburse her losses.”

“That’s very kind of you, she’ll be made up.” Dave clicked his fingers.

Thomas’ anticipation quickly depreciated, looking down he slowly opened his mouth. A tooth fell out, then another. Thomas raised his hands to catch them, spitting out the rest not wanting to swallow them. Dave flew over to Thomas and kicked the bottom of his hands so the teeth flew into the air and drew a sack out of nowhere, catching them all.

Thomas attempted speech, “Wha err hell!”

Dave dropped his swag of teeth onto the desk and flew back up to perch on a screen, “The ‘Wishes Services Authority’ has been inundated with so many wishes they’ve been forced into action. This isn’t personal Tommo, I’m just enforcing a message, adding a bit of bite to proceedings, dya know what I mean?”

Dave kicked the screen; Thomas’ wife appeared sitting at her home computer. “The wife Tommo. A loyal lady, a good mother and yet you disrespect her with the regularity of a quarterly report. Take a look Tommo as she open’s an anonymous email, reads about your infidelities and views the images…take a look Tommo.”

Thomas mumbled something but Dave ignored him as he gracefully fluttered to the next screen, kicking it into life, “Look Tommo, your latest expansion into new markets. She’s getting a call from the STD clinic about some toxic debt that didn’t go through the necessary due diligence.” A pretty yet horrified face appeared on the screen.

Thomas lunged in an aggressive take-over bid but was rejected in a puff of fairy dust.

“That stuff’s sound!” Dave exclaimed as he jumped down onto the keyboard pointing at the other screens; Thomas’s parents, his son and the trading floor, each of them viewing evidence of how much Thomas undervalued them and his willingness to trade them for younger, newer, cheaper alternatives.

The last remaining screen contained only words. Thomas propped himself up on his arms to read it, rubbing the last of the fairy dust from his eyes as he did so. Dave tapped a ringed finger on the screen, the document slowly enlarged so Thomas could read the title, “The Last Will and Testament of Thomas Boom.”

Thomas got on his knees, “Why are you doing this?”

Dave floored him with a boot, “I grant wishes mate.”

“Who would want me dead?”

Dave’s wings shimmered as he laughed. “Are you so detached from reality you need a fairy to bring you back?” Dave clicked his fingers; the printer buzzed into life, “Those numbers you play with are connected to real things; people, families, communities…” The printer spat out the last page as Dave spat out one last point, “…a long-term future you’ll never see.”

Dave dropped the document and a pen at Thomas’ side on the floor. Without any control of his own arm, Thomas picked up the pen and signed.

“No! I don’t want to die! This isn’t right!”

“It’s cashing up time Tommo. You’ve promised to pay the bearer, you don’t break promises, do ya Tommo?”

“I’m sorry! I’ll do anything!”

”I’m no angel mate, dya know what I mean?”

Dave leapt over to Thomas’ feet, putting one over his shoulder and dragging him towards the window. Thomas dug his nails into the carpet without gaining any purchase, his future projections falling…rapidly. The computer screens displayed the ravenous faces of those seeing their wish granted, laughter and cheers fading as Thomas crashed, the sacrificial banker abandoned to market and gravitational forces.

Dave took a breath before following Thomas out the window in the opposite direction, up. “Now off to Westminster…”