He’d left the office. Late. Late again. One of the awful effects of the New Technological Dawn was that the world was now a 24/7 non-stop Market. Floors were always opening somewhere, Tokyo or London, it didn’t matter. The numbers were perpetually going up or down, as the money moved around. If he ever met Dow Jones, he was going to punch him right in the mouth.
The world of finance had all seemed so magnificent when he’d started; he’d bought a Gordon Gecko striped shirt and made his bid to be a Master of the Universe. It hadn’t quite happened like that, of course. This was a game with winners, which meant, by default, there had to be losers. Not that he was a loser, exactly. He was in some Looking Glass World, where he had to run as fast as possible to stay in the same place. His dad had complained that the job wasn’t physical, but it was exhausting, like taking a SAT he had to pass in front of a critical audience, every single day.
He finally hailed a cab, glad to be going home to his wife. He smiled. He loved his wife. She was a pretty little wisp, not like the women around him who were career-minded and wore shoes they could kill a dog with. She was the first woman he’d met that didn’t start a date with questions about his salary, his investments and his portfilio. She was more interested in what he’d read, what he liked, who he was. He‘d fallen helplessly for this butterfly, who danced from one thing to another.
It was always good to come home to her. He’d mix drinks, they’d lounge together in the deep warm womb of those red leather sofas she’d chosen, and she’d rub his toes and tell him about the light, airy nothings of her day. Maybe she’d bought pretty shoes to show him? Maybe she’d have found a new delicatessen and they’d nibble Greek olives together? Whatever foolish, flippant nonsense she’d bought, it would be welcome after the heartless, soulless counting he’d done all day.
The house smelled strange. Powdery dry wall dust that he remembered from his father’s overalls,
mixed with the sour stink of abandoned furniture. The door creaked. Creaked! He pushed it open to stare in horror at the decay, the devastation, of his once beautiful home. The walls shed strips of paper like falling leaves and a rat poised for a moment of the arm of the tattered chair, before scampering away.
“I knew you’d love it!”
His wife appeared, carrying two cloudy-looking drinks in a pair of canning jars.
“Isn’t it wonderful? It’s the newest look! They call it Art Cou-Rouge!’ She pushed the jar into his nerveless hands. “Real Moonshine!” She winked, and clinked her glass against his.