A fool and his money are soon parted…
This proverb pulsated through Barney’s ruminations as he stared down into the empty, darkening water…
Inventing paper clips, staplers and post-it notes had set him up for life. His world-wide patents on these three simple items had kept his annual royalties growing, in step with increasing sales.
Despite computer-driven changes to data-storage, Barney’s inventions had maintained the tactile security of handling actual documents instead of the virtual kind, with few surprises for office staff - unlike the complexities lurking behind IT’s seductive promises.
His sustained success had prompted his generosity for other aspiring inventors, through a fund to supply seeding grants, so they may fulfil their dreams of changing their world – just as he had done.
But Barney soon discovered another side of the old proverb: A fool and his money are soon … popular!
Besieged with requests from Edison wannabes from everywhere north of the Antarctic Circle, he knew he needed help. And help had arrived in the form of Marge; a vivacious, intelligent MBA.
They had met at a yacht club dinner and quickly fallen in love. And with her incredible business acumen, she put everything into shape; running every inventor’s request through her strict SWOT analysis of STRENGTHS, WEAKNESSES, OPPORTUNITIES AND THREATS! (capitalised to add her emphasis.)
Barney and Marge had been blissfully happy; but he had begun to feel uneasy and constricted. Bypassing Marge’s strict regime, he’d started to take young hopefuls out for lunch to hear their ideas and to give them mountains of money.
Marge detected this run on finances in no time, but she held her peace…..
Poor Barney was rocked to the core as he now sat at the end of the jetty.
Only a few hours earlier he had discovered his office lock changed, with an envelope taped to the door – and addressed to him.
He recognised Marge’s elegant handwriting as he opened it and read its contents.
I married you for better or for worse, but not so worse as to see you waste our money. What planet are these useless inventors going to visit next? The schemes I’ve listed are so brain-sappingly stupid! Whatever possessed you?
I’ve transferred all your money and your annuities into my name. Don’t bother looking for me. I’ve taken a lover; I’ve taken your yacht and given it a new registration number, so you will never trace us. So long, sucker!
Yours ever so gratefully,
He had turned the page over, his heart sinking as he awoke to the absurdity of what she had listed:
An acupuncture clinic for haemophiliacs,
Air-conditioners for canoes,
A campaign to stamp out quicksand,
A correspondence course in how to swim,
Designer frames for contact lenses,
Dishwashers with tumble-dry cycles,
Full-scale road maps,
Humorous sympathy cards – “We’ll put the F-U-N into your next funeral!” (Yeah, sure!)
Kosher recipe books for Ramadan,
One piece jigsaw puzzles – for impatient people,
Numbly crumpling the parchment, he had shoved it in his pocket and hurried to his car. After driving unseeingly down to the yacht club, he had showered nearby vehicles in a spray of gravel and dust as his car halted and his door flew open. Hoping against hope, he had sprinted along the marina to his yacht’s mooring; to see the bollard devoid of ropes, and his yacht missing.
The sun was lowering itself over distant hills, shedding its warmth and stretching its shadows, but Barney had nowhere to go. He just sat there; shoulders hunched and legs dangling over the edge; reading and rereading his terse note of termination. Every so often, his red-eyed gaze lifted from the vacant berth before him to the equally-vacant horizon, before drooping again.
He was enshrouded by a deafening silence that was shouting inwardly to him about all he had lost.
Anyone in the yacht club’s facilities that afternoon may have wondered about seeing him; distant and forlorn; but those who ventured up close were not “Bard” from hearing him softly murmuring, over and over again:
“Marge … our dough … our boat… Nothing!”
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