I was hoisting a few over at the Constock Bar when I felt a cold chill run up my spine. I turned quickly and espied an old hag occupying the barstool next to me. She gave a little wave. Wild of hair and eye, at first she seemed a total stranger. Then I recognized her as my broker.
She fixed me with a beady eye and spoke. "Hello, my pretty! Fancy meeting you here!"
"Hello," I replied warily. "What's new?"
"Welp," she cackled."I have something special for you today. Yes, yes, very special!" She was muttering into her whiskey shot. "Precious, precious." I didn't like the sound of it.
It was reminding me of the time she talked me into dumping a fortune into the newly salted Nortel Mine. Or that printing press with 18,000 small parts that never quite worked all together. I shook my head in sorrow, and ordered another double.
"Ooooh don't fret, dearie!" she said. "This one's very reputable. No risk. Cutting edge. The new boom! Socially responsible too! Called ComCon."
ComCon! Sounded familiar. "What's their product?" I queried.
"Hmmm, product, product ..." she trailed off. Then she rallied. "Why, it's whatever you want it to be! Gas! Grids! Broadband! The future! No product, every product! The market is a wide-open highway and you're in the driver's seat!" She turned away, absently whistling, "See the USA in your Chevrolet."
"I dunno. I'm washed up. Busted. Borrasca."
"Oh don't be such a sissy! This stuff is cheap, cheap! It's hitting bottom, and then it's going straight up! What goes down must come up, heh, heh," she lapsed into a scary wheeze.
"Well, OK, let's hear it. Who's running the show? My granddad always said, 'A company's only as good as its chief executive. If you can trust the board of directors, you can trust the company!' "
"A quaint notion!" my broker agreed. "And yes, yes, their CEO, Con N. Steal, is a real straight arrow. Houston boy. Pals with the Prez. W. calls him Con-Boy. And generous! Gave half a mil to the Bush/Cheney campaign. Spread dough all over Congress. Absolutely free of obligation! A true-blue American company!"
"ComCon, ComCon ... seems like I've heard that name before. Didn't they have some trouble with the SEC? Something about cooked books and shredders?"
"Relax, honey! They were audited, completely checked out! And the newspapers are reporting record profits! It's all right here in the Territorial Enterprise!"
"Besides," her eyes glowed as she leaned close, "I can get us a special deal -- a deal from Inside. More money than you ever heard of." She intoned. "One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them!"
Just then we were interrupted by two men in white jackets. They appeared on either side of my broker, quietly taking her arms. "Sorry she bothered you, lady. We have to take her back now. She's been missing for three days."
"She didn't try to sell you any stock, did she?" The other one rolled his eyes. "How many people do you suppose she's snookered since she escaped?"
"Yes, yes stock," I gasped shakily. "What goes down must come up ... precious, precious."
The men in white looked at me strangely. Then as they dragged my broker to the door she rallied once more, "Deregulation! Unbridled capitalism! Irrational exuberance! God Bless America! Don't worry, my pretty! I'll be back!"
Kit Miller is a local photographer, specializing in documenting Nevada's people and communities.
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