Boom (9)

There were millions of people with terminal adenocarcenoma. Tens of thousands of those could put together tens of thousands of dollars. A whole lot more could borrow it. And most of them didn’t have much time to argue. Prices would drop and rise. I have no idea what people were paying for this stuff: it sure wasn’t FDA-approved, but it seemed to work and didn’t seem to do much else either. And even if there turned out to be long-term side effects, that didn’t mean a lot to a person who’s just climbed out of their grave.

More people showed up every day. I put on a hundred-dollar cover charge. Didn’t make a dent. Made it a thousand-dollar cover for brokers. None of them cared, they just billed it to Corporate and settled down. Set the drinks menu to the best Champagnes, wines and sauternes, those hundred-dollar bottles of vodka that only casinos buy. The bar was full, overbrimming, from nine in the morning almost until dawn.

I wasn’t sleeping much. I wasn’t doing anything else. I was loving every minute of it. I was rolling in money.

One night I opened my safe, emptied it onto my bed, and rolled, rolled, rolled in fucking money.

More hunters showed up. From doctors and lawyers looking for a weekend thrill to bums and bastards who wanted or needed money. The buyers, now, they had the choicest jobs in the world. Bid with other people’s money. Drink all day, drink all night. Fight over who gets the better suite at the resort.

All the hotels were filled. People were sleeping three, four to a single room. It’s not like there are a lot of Hiltons in Northwest Maine. People were renting rooms on Craigslist for two hundred a night – people whose property taxes weren’t much more than two hundred a year.

The restaurants were overflowing. I heard somewhere that the Dunkin’ Doughnuts at the 7-11 down the way was the most profitable franchise they had. The gas stations kept running out of regular, then super. Every local with something to sell was making money.

Girls started showing up. It was just hilarious. They hardly had a place to stay. They’d be working out of some old couple’s basement room but they’d show up on the mountain in furs or bikinis, pay their own entrance fee or just stand there waiting for someone to buy them in. I thought about those signs you can buy at gift shops, those old-timey signs about Fancy Ladies needing to pay five dollars to work the steamboat. I felt like putting up a sign like that. For a whole lot more than five dollars.

It didn’t matter. I had brought in a few cases of Chateau d’Yquem and was selling them for three thousand dollars a bottle. The best wine in the world, I said, to every hunter who came in with a haul. I couldn’t keep it in stock.

I bought one of those credit card scanners for my cell phone, started putting the occasional order right into my account. The pay-at-the-door, the boss didn’t know about that. That went right into my safe. He didn’t care. Every day the bar was making more than ten times what it would have made on its best weekend right after a foot of powder. And Sugarloaf didn’t get powder very often.

It was like a club. It was like the hottest fucking club in the biggest baddest city in the world. It was like the trading floor at an investment bank and a prince’s private yacht and a Wild West saloon rolled into one. I couldn’t keep a handle on it. I didn’t try. I just kept people’s glasses full, and took their money coming and going.

I thought to myself: are there bars like this in the world, the regular world? In Vegas, New York, Paris, Tokyo, normal places where normal people spend money like this – every day?

The weather started to cool. Nobody cared. Not the buyers. Not the hunters. Not the girls. Not the guys who were selling coke in the bathrooms. Not the girls who were fucking in the kitchen’s root cellar. Not the busboys who’d never left the Carabasset Valley and were getting fifties and hundreds thrown at them by buyers flown in from Rio and Milan.

I heard on the news that the government had passed a law declaring the Genny trade illegal, at least up until such time as clinical trials could be concluded. I think two buyers went home. The rest were either from foreign countries or from American companies that didn’t care. Prices dipped for a day or two. Then they doubled. Just flat-out doubled. Buyers kept buying. Hunters kept hunding. Everyone kept spending. I kept pouring, and watching, and being.

I changed the name of the store to “Pine-woods Hiking Supply.” Didn’t want to be encouraging illegal activity. By then the store was as much a staple as the bar. Couldn’t keep anything on the shelves, no matter how much I marked it up. I knew the old folks were skimming off the top and I didn’t care. Everyone should be making money. Everyone had to be: if they weren’t, they’d go somewhere else where they could.

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~ by davekov on 9 March 2014.

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