Well, now that I've started, I find it is suddenly easier. Much easier to write about it. I won't go into long explanations. Brevity is the sole of wit. That much, at least, I have learned.
I don't know why I did it, but I ripped that little section out of the newspaper and stuffed in my pocket.
Then I went back to my desk and looked at numbers the rest of the day. I studied numbers. I placed them upon charts and watched them go up and go down, waiting for just the right moment when all the numbers lined up just right. Then I would push the big green button, or sometimes the red one, and a million dollars would change hands. Well not really change hands. The green and grey bills all stayed put wherever they were -- if they ever really existed -- only numbers moved. Numbers from one column to another column in the blink of an eye. When those numbers moved, other numbers moved, and other numbers, and other numbers, and so on and so on.
When I try and explain this no one understands. I don't even understand and it was my life. It was a life of imagination of betting games. Betting what 200 million people will buy next year. Betting whether there would be two hurricanes or three. Betting on what the temperature would be in New Mexico on a certain day. Betting how many people would die of the same drug that had been hailed as a miracle cure. I led a life dependent on imagination. And I wanted to touch something real, so I stuffed the little scrap of paper into my pocket.
But I forgot it was there, all day long it was there, and if I had thought about it I would have crumpled it up and nothing would have happened. Numbers might have moved, but numbers are always moving. No one would have died that's for certain. I wouldn't be here where I am now. God help me! I kept the scrap of paper in my pocket all day long until I got home and then, as I sat down in front of my screen (as I always do) I threw the contents of my pockets upon the desk. And there it was.
And there it stayed as I read sports on sports sites and news on news sites. I paid my bills and contributed to the movement of the numbers I made my living by. One can not breathe without contributing to the chaotic flow of numbers! I ate dinner. I sat before the television. I might have gone out of my apratment, but I was too weary and too frustrated. I sat back down by the screen and saw the scrap of newspaper there. I looked at the number for a long while. I thought about it, considered it, and dismissed the idea as absurd. I was happy enough, wasn't I? Well not exacty happy, but content. By content I mean secure. By secure I mean safe. I was safe, wasn't I?
Yes, I was safe and for a second, I was also stupid because safe was not enough for me. I needed something to happen, even a joke. And so, in a reckless moment I picked up the phone and I dialed the number.
It rang twice but I hung up before anyone answered. I crumpled up the newspaper scrap and I threw it in the trash by my desk. I was still safe and that is all that really matters in life. If anything else matters we can find a way to forget about it by distraction. That night I played AlternateLife until three in the morning. I had not been so content for a long time. I went to bed and slept well. I got up the next day and went back to the numbers.