Relative Economics

Contributor: Ken Poyner

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It is to be the execution of someone. A crew of workmen have been building the fatal platform for nearly a month. Good government work. No benefits, due to it being a temporary job – but each could apply for a full time position, if they stand out and someone retires. We might see one of these platform builders inspecting imported fruit, or performing same-day civically approved surgeries.

It is to be the execution of someone. A small start up company has been gluing flyers to trees and telephone poles, and was putting them into mailboxes – until one of the constables told them that mail boxes were for mail and they would have to put a stamp on anything they stuffed into anyone’s mailbox. So they left the excess on car windshields, dumped a sheaf of them into the town fountain, folded them into the coin slots of parking meters.

It is to be the execution of someone. To mark the event, the hardware store is putting up a twenty percent off sale, and will give forty percent off for stock more than a year old. The grocery store next door is giving a flat five percent off if you bring in a receipt from the hardware store showing your twenty percent discount, and swear there is nothing in the transaction you might try to return. That grocery store has been a good neighbor for thirty years, and we need corporate citizens like that.

It is to be the execution of someone. I keep looking for the bars and restaurants to announce two dollar drafts, or to take up the peanuts and put out the mixed nuts: the ones you can go fishing for cashews in. A few barkeepers keep coming to their establishments’ front doors and looking both ways along the street, fixing the execution structure against the time of day and the parting of the light. If enough people are out and about who will be thirsty at full price, the alcohol managers will not be inclined to give an inch. And if the crowd is too small, they won’t give in either and let idlers toss back, in glasses that still have to be washed, all the profits in alcohol. No. The crowd has to be just right. They look for shadows gathering in alleys, for lone patrons where couples should be.

It is to be the execution of someone. The whole month’s worth of preparations comes down to tonight. Jobs and sales will be terminated. Discounts will roll back. The talk will turn again to weather; which girls becoming women sway with a more comfortable look; speculation on when we can get up enough tax money for another execution; and what the executioner does during his long time off; and who might have seen him patronizing businesses across county lines.

It is to be the execution of someone. Enough people will gather that we will look like an audience and not just a crowd. Women will wear gloves. Children will be told not to run too far. The librarian will be out to show too much bosom, just to prove she is not a stereotype. I will be watching. I could read that book like Braille. And I will count the number of children just because I like counting and I don’t like children.

It is to be the execution of someone. I am going to wait right here, on the corner left open forty-five degrees off center from the gut of the execution platform. I will wait as though I were wrestling with the librarian and fearlessly holding back - eyes bulging, pressurized forward - my already secretly sprung surging gift of children. I will be taking in the full practical view when the executioner strides square shouldered out, spins once to the applause of the perfectly tuned crowd, and then, with one hand enrolled and his business finger pointed like the bluff of a carpenter’s nail, the executioner says: you!

It is to be the execution of someone. Skip, and let your heart get ahead of itself. Taste the benefits of industry, for now, on your tongue. Slap your thigh and think of giddy nights with drunken girls and the wind in your testicles and nothing, not even the disharmoniously magical, beyond your control. Think that there is nothing beyond my control. Believe that out of the remains of the execution platform tonight there will be firewood to gather, scrap that might patch a porch or lengthen a scarecrow or surprise in inexplicable ways a wife. Let everyone make the most of it.

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Ken Poyner's recent e-book, "Constant Animals", 42 brief fictions, is available at the usual e-book retail sites. His previous two books of poetry are out of print. He loiters menacingly in the dark corners of the web.
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