Thursday, February 17, 2011

44. Paying

It was finally warm enough to go outdoors and C.W. said he would meet me for a walk. When I met him near the Clinton School for Public Service he was dressed a lot like Brad Pitt in the move “Troy.” There was one exception, he wore a paisley robe and he affected a mincing sort of walk like John Wayne’s.

“Who the hell are you supposed to be?” I said.

Without missing a stride, he turned his face toward mine and said, in a voice somewhere between tenor and soprano, “I am the Great Alexander, come to save your species.”

“Say what?”

“You are treading on the eve of destruction and I am going to lead you back.”

“And how exactly,” I said. “Are you going to accomplish that?”

“Have you not read of my exploits?”

“Oh yes.”

“And how I solved the problem of the ‘Gordian Knot?’”

“Well, sometimes that is treated more as myth than history. But yes, I remember the story.”

As he reached for it, I noticed his sword for the first time. Its sheath was encrusted with pearl and the material was color-coordinated with his robe.

As he grasped the handle, he explained. “Then you know how the great king Midas had tied an ox to a pole in the middle of Gordium using a knot so intricate in design that the ruler allowed as the one who could loose the knot would rule all of Asia.”

“Sounds familiar.”

“And you know how I loosed it?”

“With your sword?”

“And I didn’t even have to whack it very hard,” he said rather softly.

“So what does this have to do with saving my species?”

“It seems,” he said. “That your government has gotten itself into a mess by spending more money than it takes in.”

“Seems so,” I agreed.

“And there was this ...,” he stopped for a second and looked out across the river. “I can’t force myself to call him a ruler.”

“What are you talking about?”

“There was this man who started two wars without a plan to pay for their cost.”

“Oh, that man,” I said.

“And now you are in a real mess and on the verge of financial collapse.”

“Seem so,” I said.

“I know a little something about wars.” He said.

“So I have heard.” I always go along with him when he is on a roll.

You folks really don't have a clue, do you? - C.W.
“First, they are almost as much fun as flower-arranging.”

“I’ll take your word for it.”

“Second, I made my people pay for them as long as they would.” With this he drew his sword and brought it down upon the imaginary knot binding the country’s financial freedom.

“You know,” he said. “If I were to fly visitors into your country from all over the galaxy—and I won’t because some of them are quite scary—they would be amazed at your species’ blindness in the connection between having things and paying for them.”

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