Checking in with the Duke
by Daniel Clausen
Long after people stopped needing fishing boats, Duke Thompson
he would build himself one. Not buy one, build one.
Without any idea where to start, he sat down in his office and
his assistant over his vapor phone, "Find me a planet with a beach, an
ocean, and lots of the neon-glowy fish that like to blow bubbles with
bubblegum… yes, and relatively warm."
Duke Thompson sat back in his 32nd-story chair, in his 32nd-story
office, to celebrate his 1,032nd day as the richest man in the galaxy.
He overlooked the megatropolis of Venus, the subject of one of the
largest debates amongst galactic economists--whether the existence of
galactic megatropolises in particular places in the galaxy was
accidental or based on some kind of comparative advantage.
The Duke himself rarely gave the idea any thought, instead
why so many of these so-called economists had wealth that was
economically insignificant. He liked to think it was because they
debated such useless drivel as the reasoning behind the location of
megatropolises in the galaxy. He was so infuriated by one article by
one particularly insignificant economist that on his 632nd day of being
the richest man in the galaxy he had personally ordered the buyout of
economics departments providing shelters for these professors. In their
place he built megatropolises with big statues at their center, his
statue, with the words engraved: "I refute you, thusly."
He could have added, "And, by the way, megatropolises are
built on the
whims of the economically significant. Now piss off!" But that would
have been showboating.
In the process of proving his point, the Duke happily drove
these professors to unemployment, or worse, lifetime servitude as
associate professors in departments overstaffed with displaced
Still, he wasn’t entirely satisfied.
He returned to his idea of the fishing boat.
Yes, he would build it. He would do it himself, the Duke way.
build the thing alone on this tropical island, with the
bubblegum-bubble blowing fish, sweat pouring off his back, and his own
two hands aching to remind himself of the two things he liked most
about himself: one, that he was still that poor boy raised in the harsh
patches of Cahill, desperate to crawl his way out of poverty; and two,
that he was the kind of man who could afford to be this boy in a place
of his choosing at a time that he divined.
© 2014 Daniel Clausen
Bio: Two of Daniel Clausen's stories have been previously
published in Aphelion: "Plan 9 from Hollywood" and "Buddy." His fiction has also
been published in Leading Edge Science Fiction, Slipstream, and Zygote in my
Coffee, among other places.
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