WHO GOT THE MONEY?
Furthermore and I were talking in the car the other night on our way home from Lodge. The old raven had done a very nice Second Degree lecture, most of it from atop one of the pillars. There was a certain gothic touch to the whole thing, which suits Furthermore just fine. He refuses to admit how long he’s been a Mason, but after a few martinis, he has occasionally claimed credit for the rough draft of the Ancient Landmarks. Who am I to argue with a Brother? (Actually, he was initiated by accident. He was resting in the rafters of an old lodge. Before anyone noticed, he was an Entered Apprentice and they had to finish the job.)
“Where do you suppose it went,” he queried as we arrived at home.
“What,” I responded without thinking. I do know better.
“The money, of course,” he drawled back, knowing that I had just lost total control of the conversation.
“Of course. Don’t you read the newspapers anymore? Didn’t you hear about the stock market taking diving lessons? Bill Gates actually lost $1.7 billion. That’s with a ‘b’. So I want to know. Who got the money?”
Conversations with Furthermore tend to be a bit surrealistic, so this is the point where I just shrug and go with the flow. We continued the conversation in the great cavern below my house. He shares this with his cousin, Nevermore, who keeps the bar stocked.
“What are you talking about,” I asked, offering up a sitting duck straight line.
“Well,” the bird flapped over and selected an olive for the martini, “one day Bill Gates has $1.7 billion. The next day, he doesn’t. Somebody just made out like a bandit. What I want to know is who got the money.”
I poured for both of us. “You should know better,” I admonished him, raising my glass. “Who didn’t get the money. Who’s on first base and is making millions. He doesn’t need the money.”
“Who didn’t get the money?”
“Well somebody got the money1”
“No, somebody is on third and he’s got more money than Who on first.”
I was beginning to enjoy this. I don’t get the upper hand—wing—on Furthermore very often. As you have probably noticed.
The old bird slugged back the entire martini and did a neat little back flip. “Now wait a minute. Who didn’t get the money.”
“No, he didn’t.”
“And somebody didn’t get it, either?”
“Well, if who didn’t get it and somebody didn’t get it, where did it go?
“It never really existed. That’s how the stock market works.”
“What!” The bird was stunned. “It never existed?!”
“No, not really.”
“Well, what the hell is Bill Gates doing trying to get money he never had! What a scam! Somebody ought to arrest him! Filing false reports!”
He slugged back the second martini, shot straight up and did a really wicked three-rail bank off the flying buttresses above the main cavern. Hurling downward at mach two, he pulled up at the last second and settled gently to my shoulder.
“Pretty damn sneaky, if you ask me.” Leaning over, he whispered, “You know what? I’ll bet he stole the money from himself and he had it all along. Let’s call him and put the wing on him. I’ll bet he’d be willing to pay big bucks to keep this out of the papers. Why, it would ruin him. No one would trust him with the money. He’d lose it all!”
I pondered that for a moment.
“If he did, Furthermore, who would get the money?”
He grinned. “Nope. Remember? Who’s making more money at first. He doesn’t need it. I, however, need it.”
He flapped off, making plans to blackmail Bill Gates as he went. I just settled back and picked up his copy of the Financial Times. Conversations with Nevermore are positively surreal. And I always wind up wondering just what it was I missed and if he might be right. I mean, maybe Gates did steal it. You know, a billion here, a billion there. Pretty soon it starts to add up to some real money.