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Speculative Contemporary Coming of Age

For the Money of Love

They were a pain the backside, the ATM machines at his local supermarket. They always had the sun shining on them and you couldn't see the screen. Glyn tapped in his credentials from memory. He hoped he'd got enough credits to cover the tokens he wanted to extract. They said today that every citizen should keep at least 200 universal credits in cash tokens because of predicted power failures.

Oh, what the heck. He may as well take the full 200.

He held his breath as he keyed in the amount. Thankfully there were no nasty pings nor annoying electronic voices telling him he had insufficient funds.

He shaded the screen and checked the option for his current balance. The machine whirred and clicked again and then the screen lit up. 

78000 credits. That couldn't be right?

He quickly exited and took the 200 credits worth of tokens, folded them up and put them carefully in his pocket. He was aware of a queue behind him. Perhaps everyone was heeding the warning from the government.

But what was this about 78000 credits? Where had that come from?    

He walked away from the machine and over towards the entrance to the supermarket. Perhaps he could sit in the cafe and check his balance again on his phone. But by the time he'd bought a coffee he decided it would be a bad idea; this was unsecured Wi-Fi here and if he really did have 78,000 credits in his bank account he didn't want anybody around here knowing about it.

How could that be?

He was just about managing now. He'd got some work and although it was neither as pleasant nor as lucrative as the free-lance work he used to do but at least it kept a roof over his head - albeit again not as pleasant as the one he used to have. He now had a studio down by the docks. He used to have a two-bedder with views of the sea and the mountains.

He checked his email. There was the usual rubbish there but there was one very strange message. Something about did he like their big surprise? That had to be to do with the money, didn't it? It had a large attachment. Perhaps it would be better to look at that when he got back to his apartment.   

He finished his coffee and set off home.

As soon as he got in he booted up his computer, downloaded his email and read the strange one very carefully. It was from a company called Friendly Enterprises.

"We buy up the estates of people who are intestate and who have no living relatives. We award one fifth of the estate to the government and then we take care of all the legal work. This frees the government from a lot of administration and speeds up the process for them. We then assign the remainder to deserving individuals. You have been identified as one such person. Now, open the attachment to find out how we came to this decision, how your pot of gold is made up and see some examples of what others have done with their pot."

He opened the attachment. He had been chosen because of his good nature, his recent ill luck and his creative ability to make resources go a long way. His money had come from a family where the grandfather had died and one of the people who were supposed to inherit from him had died before all of the financial to-ings and fro-ings had completed. There had been a clause in the old man's will that should he outlive any of his heirs, that portion should go to Friendly Enterprises after the government had taken their cut. He wanted some enterprising young person to benefit. So, here he was.

Glyn looked through the examples of how people had used the pot of gold. It was all very impressive. One woman had given all of hers to her choir so that they could afford a really nice place to rehearse, put on lovely concerts and subsidise anyone who couldn't afford to go on some of their trips away. The choir had really thrived. They had now made twice as much money as the initial investment. Someone else had set up a small publishing business and now had over 100 titles in print and they too had made as much money again as the original investment. Another had set up a jewellery-making business. He was now actually employing other people.

But why had they really chosen him? He didn't think he could do any of that.

There was a link to a chat line so he followed that.

"How may we help you today?" asked someone called Wendy.

He explained his concerns.

"We have total faith in you," said Wendy. "And there are no terms or conditions. You don't have to give us an account of what you do though you may if you wish; we like to hear success stories."

"What if I fail?"

"It doesn't matter at all. At least you will have tried. Do you accept that challenge?"

"Yes," replied Glyn. Could he resurrect his drag queen costume design company? It was not having the cash flow that had scuppered him last time. He could manage this amount so that there was always some contingency money.       

 He should talk to Jodie about it. Bang on cue his mobile rang. Seconds later there was her lovely face on his screen.

"You look a bit flustered," she said.

"I've just had some huge news."

"Oh?"

He told her all about it. How he now had this unbelievable sum of money. How he thought he didn't deserve it. How he didn't know quite what to do with it.

"Right," she said. "No arguing. I'm coming over."

They had this arrangement that they wouldn't meet more than three times a week so that they would give each other space. And it kept the romance alive. This would be their fourth meeting this week. "We shouldn't..."

"This is too important. It's worth breaking the rules for. And you have to do something that gives some back as well. Hold on in there; I'll be round ASAP.         

 "So," said Jodie, "do you really want to know what I think?"

Of course he did. He'd shown her the email and told her again what he thought. Now he wanted some sort of reassurance. He nodded.

"Well for starters, you should get rid of this manky studio and I'll get rid of my one-bedder; we should move together into a two-bedder. I'm sure the powers that be will agree. We'll need to be together 24/7 if I'm going to help you get your business up and running again. There's enough there to support two of us for a while, isn't there? And I have some savings. And you should put one tenth of any profit to one side. Maybe give it to a company that works the same way that Friendly Enterprises does. It really will work. You'll see."

"You'll stand by me with this?"

"Of course." Jodie grinned at him.

He smiled back. "Well yes, let's do it." Then then he kissed her.    

Within just a few weeks Glyn and Jodie had secured a nice two-bedder with a view of the river and the surrounding countryside. Glyn's business was up and running.

"Let's offer wardrobe makeovers for the ordinary person as well," Jodie suggested,

Those had been very popular.

Within six months they were paying themselves a salary and even thinking about taking someone else on.

"We've always got to remember the 10%," said Jodie.

They looked for different charities to give it to but nearly always ended up giving to Off the Streets, an organisation that helped homeless people find somewhere to live and find jobs that really suited them. Occasionally rather than giving the credits directly they invited someone to work for them for a few days and get some training. Of course they paid whoever helped them out.

Any profit over and above what they paid themselves and the ten percent went into expanding the business.

"This is all thanks to Friendly Enterprises," said Glyn one day. "I wonder why they didn't reply when I sent them the details of what we've done.

Jodie sighed and put down what she was doing. "There's no such company actually," she said. "It was me."

"How? I don't get it?" Glyn had to sit down.

"It was my grandpa's money. It's what I inherited when he died. But I did keep back one fifth in case this didn't work out. That would have paid for me to upgrade my accommodation."

"So, why didn't you tell me?"

She punched him gently on his upper arm. "Because you would have never agreed to take it, would you?"

She was probably right.

"So what are you going to do with the money?"

"Keep half of it for a rainy day? And wouldn't the other half pay for a decent attachment ceremony?"

What had she just said? It was several seconds before he could speak. "Was that a proposal?"

She looked away from him and blushed. "I guess it was."

"Then yes, let's do it."

He felt tears pricking at his eyes and fumbled in his pocket for his pack of tissues. He realised he still had the 200 credits he'd got out of the ATM that day. "It's funny how we never had any of the power outages they threatened us with," he said as he took the notes out of his pocket.

Jodie giggled. "That was me as well. I wanted to make sure you went to an ATM straight away. But don't you think that will be just about the right amount for a ring?" 

August 15, 2022 08:21

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1 comment

Graham Kinross
13:38 Aug 24, 2022

Excellent title, great story.

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