Prose Header

Floozman: First Episode
Figs* and Riesling

* Depending on availability

by Bertrand Cayzac

Table of Contents

Vers la version originale

Part 7: What Are These Days I Do Not Desire?

“With a scandalous abundance, he brings deliverance”

Fred Looseman used to be the head risk assessor at World Wide Credit Corporation and the chairman of the Anti-Money Laundering Commission. Now he works as an automated teller machine repairman.

Sometimes he hears voices, and sometimes what he hears moves him to tears. His bank account overflows with the money of deliverance, and he becomes a financial super-hero: Floozman.

A security cordon is deployed around the hotel. A squad of armored policemen takes position in the hall. The assistants have found a refuge on the landing.

“The end time is nigh.”

“The police think it’s gonna start with an attack against the hotel. It’s a bit short...”

“It may not be the final struggle...”

Meanwhile, Fred, Melanie and the two smart inspectors from the blue light follow the lane that goes between chestnut trees and leads to the pier.

“Good! The patrol boat is here,” rejoices Siegfried.

A handsome old lady dressed in a navy uniform welcomes them aboard. Everybody is breathing again, but as soon as the embarkation is complete, Steven and Martine are quickly flattened on the deck and handcuffed by dwarfs.

Melanie and Fred are treated with more consideration. They are led to the upper deck while the ship goes up river, through the industrial zone.

All in the golden afternoon, full leisurely we glide. Have you read Lewis Chabrol, Mr. Looseman?” asks the lady, handing each of them a silver cup.

“Lewis Chabrol, Madam?” asks a flute player.

And there will be nonsense in the story; this is rather fitting!” Fred says.

“Ah... or Cromwell, maybe, I forget. Everything always comes around again; and I can still never remember names! Now, “Drink me!” Don’t be afraid. It’s a welcome-aboard cocktail. The air of the river makes me look younger, don’t you think? But let’s not talk about me.”

“What do you want from us?” inquires Melanie. “Are you working for the neo-communists? For the Mafia?”

“The insurgents and your friends at Worldwide Credit are on the right track, too. And so are more dangerous persons, up in the Phobos laboratories... But none of you understands what is really going on... The source... the source has found its way. It is again flowing into the world.”

“What are you talking about, exactly?”

“The source: be glad you have not beheld it! No one may see it and live; it is a divine emanation! It does not come from the creator of this world, second in order, but certainly from higher,” says the lady of the river, wide-eyed. “That’s why I’m worried for us all. Financial stability is not all it threatens.”

“What do you mean?”

“We think the source means to bring about the end time. The dissolution of the world.”

“Is that a joke?” Fred asks.

The pipe player offers pastries. Her teeth are pearly. Without thinking, Fred empties his cup... Immediately, the sky becomes deep, so deep that he can see the moon and stars carried along in their courses. He feels the wind and smells the odor of forests. As the nymph departs, her naked ankles trace out a glittering wake in his mind. Suddenly his reptilian brain thirsts for the world. The ship gains speed between steep hills. His hypothalamus distills a great feeling of adventure.

“Alas, it’s no joke. This time, the flow is spilling over into your financial system. Things will only get worse if we let you arrest Appleseed : we are counting on her projects to divert the energy temporarily. Moreover, you all know too much. And you, Mr. Looseman, you don’t know all you know; you don’t know who you are, and I have to protect you. I must protect us all. That’s why we cannot let you go home.”

She smiles. She seems to expand and grow taller with every breath. Her hair becomes supple and bright, her complexion pales to the shade of a blue lotus, her eyes widen, her form takes a powerful and slender shape...


“Have no fear. We are the creation patrol. Well, local agents if you will. I am the spirit of the place, and the dwarves have been my allies for many moons.” She closes her eyes and the oval of her face attains to absolute Beauty (which is rather round in shape). Time ceases flowing until her will emerges anew.

“But let’s not talk about me... We love this world, you know. This world which is always becoming... In making it, the workman who created it has looked to that which is always identical and used it as a pattern. Therefore his work is necessarily beautiful. See! Every fragment of creation is a miracle to dazzle you. See the dance of reflections on the waters, see the flight of the clouds. Think of the blue scarabs in the forest, the silver fishes, the birds... Remember love...”

“A happening?” Melanie blurts out. “A team-building exercise? And you think the time is right? I don’t buy it. Let us out of here!”

“Yes, it is a kind of performance... As for liberty... I understand, you are in the instruments of time... You think that the world is young and that life urges on to liberty. You cannot see things in any other way. “Then hey! For boot and saddle lad, and ’round the world away!” as the song goes. Be that as it may, we must be careful not to prompt the dissolution,” the lady adds, smiling. “The compound is unstable. The nature of the Other resists a mixture. It was necessary to use force to bind it harmonically to the Same, to introduce reality and distribute the parts, as Jean-Paul Sartre thoroughly understood.”

“Jean-Paul Sartre, Madam?” a dancer notes skeptically.

“Or another Greek... In brief: the source bombards the mixture locally with particles of that Other. Those who use its power to serve their interests don’t realize the danger. The hotheads who expect the apocalypse cannot begin to imagine the powers that all that agitation can unleash. They hope confusedly for a liberating chain reaction, but we may well have a fusion reaction leading to chaos. Or even worse. Who knows what will happen? We don’t know, either, any more than we know what the end of the world means...”

“You’re holding a baby in your arms and it turns into a baby pig, for instance,” says Fred who finds that he really likes the lady.

She laughs. “Exactly! Do not believe that this force is some sort of cosmic death drive akin to your own fantasy of non-being. We cannot assert that it tends to take the universe back to a previous state. You know, Mister Looseman... no, I cannot tell you. Where was I? Yes! The end of everything makes your head spin, but in the end, nothing could be more boring. Don’t you think so? What do they tell children? The end is near? And what about toothaches? Aren’t they happy to be cured?”

“But no one is telling you otherwise!” interrupts Melanie. “Just let us do our job!”

“No, YOU must let us do the work. You must understand that we have been doing it since the dawn of time. It’s complicated enough as it is. We’re not prepared to bring in new intermediaries. And your peers have done a lot of damage in the last alert, only a few centuries ago.”

“Oh really? I’d like to know who.”

“What’s the good of telling you; you will forget it all soon enough. Those who demonstrate at Frankenhausen, at Scherwiller, and everywhere else will soon have forgotten, as well, and all things will once again become as they were.”

“Precisely. Why don’t you tell us everything?” Fred asks.

“Okay. We have the time now. We will be happy to tell you the story. I can’t let you keep any memories of it, but I will see to it that your spirit retains the noble feelings it will certainly awaken in you. If your police friends are willing to remain calm, they may join us.”

The lady of the river takes her hosts towards divans installed under silky veils. A lute player joins them. Martine and Siegfried, sullen, are brought in by the dwarves. The sun lowers toward the hillcrests.

“We have been telling this story for more than five hundred years. I am not talking about the previous manifestations of the source, nor am I talking about future ones. For everything comes around again, eternally...”

The Ballad of the Accursed Banker

Beautiful ladies of the past,
In the light still alive
Flames in the generations cast,
In the light still alive

A Dutch banker was trading gold
For mines in Castilla
His holy soul as he was told
Was but a scintilla

He loaned to the great adventure
But dreaded his last sail
His lady’s love was no quencher
And she was left to wail

In the country fools were marching
From every poor parish
Where the battles had been raging
Raising the rebels’ wish

Kings! Ferdinand! Duke of Lorraine!
Behold the end of times
For a thousand years the Lord shall reign
And be done with your crimes

In deep sorrow the banker’s spouse
Turned to the highest might
One day on the road to Mulhouse
For the wretched she became a knight

The shop of a doomed magician
Became the man’s mansion
To find the risky equation
He dealt with the legion

And so was born the vehicle
Which never meets its end
Or finishes the great cycle
Its assets shall not bend

“Tell me... these financial vehicles are not very much in the style of the sixteenth century, are they?” interrupts Martine, with a laugh. “Excuse me, but isn’t this a pretty funny story?!”

With a single gaze, the lady turns her into a seagull. Then she smooths her skirt, laughing. “We are updating this tale, like every other... You don’t like our ballad? Okay, you’ve been punished enough for now. And don’t think of flying away if you want to return to your human shape.

“Here is the story... Centuries ago, a Dutch banker married the heiress of a very old, very rich family of merchants. They had a magnificent wedding and lived in bliss for many years. They were friends of arts and sciences, kept company with the best minds of their time, and surrounded themselves with the most beautiful works of art. They also lent to great adventures and listened attentively to the fantastic accounts of explorers. They had handsome children. Nothing was missing in their happiness.

But with age, the Banker became bitter, deserted his spouse and became engrossed in his business. He made long journeys to Spain and Italy. It is impossible to express Lady Sophie’s distress. To overcome her grief she turned herself to study and prayer.

The banker cared only for his fortune, which had been made uncertain by the wars and the turmoil of his time. He was so tormented for the survival of his soul that he knew no rest. He spent his nights designing financial products in the workshop of a magus who had reportedly sold his soul to the devil.”

“Doctor Faustus?” asks Martine.

“Maybe... or professor Cuthbert Calculus? They devised a financial instrument infinitely mysterious and complex. The treasure consisted of gold (lots of gold, gold from Mexico and maybe gold from this very river), precious gems, salt, bills of exchange and also securitized Turkish debts, indulgences and relics. It is thought that the risk models at the heart of this activity relied on a mathematical secret transmitted in an occult way by Pythagoras’ disciples.

“As both material and immaterial riches expanded, the fund extended its influence. The banker’s castle became the focal point of an exchange network reaching far beyond the most far-flung European institutions.”

Siegfried seems to be excited by this account. He asks questions, still with a scowl. Martine is perched on his shoulder with her head bowed.

“A sort of hedge fund?”

“Precisely. To hedge against risks but also against the invisible: death, oblivion. All those things which worry human beings...”

“But, come on... were they using risk and performance models, leveraging and deleveraging, performance smoothing?”

“There was some of that...”


Silence... She looks at him blankly and then resumes the story. “But the place was soon shrouded in a baleful aura. With the immense profits, the Mana — the treasure’s magical power — increased to the point where it became palpable. Violent electrical phenomena occurred regularly around the castle tower. The peasants encountered demons. In truth, the source had awakened. It had merged with the treasure...”

* * *

To be continued...

Copyright © 2005 by Bertrand Cayzac
Dépôt S.A.C.D. 174 627

to Challenge 351...

Table of Contents

Home Page